Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Putting older posts here. Going to try to keep the novice forum pruned about 90 days work. The 'good' old stuff is going to be put into appropriate forums.

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eric_pwb
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Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by eric_pwb » Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:33 am

I am looking at starting into distilling my own alcohol, and after a couple of years brewing my own beer and wine, it doesn't seem like too far of a stretch.

I have been told that one could use one of those countertop water distiller to distill alcohol (sears, megahome... etc) and I know where I can get my hands on one fairly cheap. So my question is, how well should I expect it to work, and does anyone else have/use one and have any advice for me.

My eventual goal is to have a reflux column still, but I figured if using one of those water distiller units worked half arsed, then maybe that would not be too bad of a start.

Eric

myles
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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by myles » Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:48 am

Don't bother. Some may disagree with me but I never had any success with anything smaller than 5 gallons. Sure it is possible to put a column on a smaller boiler, but I never managed to make it work properly. You can multiple distill with a small pot still and get neutral that way but am not sure it is worth the effort. It really depends on what you want to drink.

Neutral - yes it is possible. Flavoured - it is just too much hard work with a small boiler. But that is just my opinion.

I am sure there is someone out there that can build an ultra sensitive control system to work with a 1 gallon boiler to make a single glass of scotch per run.

eric_pwb
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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by eric_pwb » Thu Apr 02, 2009 12:18 pm

I am not sure if you understood me right, My plan was to start out with this small 1 gallon water distiller, unless someone here had reason not too, and then at some point in the future upgrade to a full out 10 gallon column still.
What I was wondering was if someone here had experience using one of those small self contained water distiller to distill alcohol and was looking for maybe some tips or experience with those types of units that they were willing to share.

minime
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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by minime » Thu Apr 02, 2009 12:46 pm

eric_pwb wrote:I am not sure if you understood me right, My plan was to start out with this small 1 gallon water distiller, unless someone here had reason not too, and then at some point in the future upgrade to a full out 10 gallon column still.
What I was wondering was if someone here had experience using one of those small self contained water distiller to distill alcohol and was looking for maybe some tips or experience with those types of units that they were willing to share.
I don't have experience with one of these stills but lets look at it in a logical fashion. If you put a gallon of wash into the distiller @ 10% alcohol that's less than two cups of alcohol available in there and in that two cups you have heads, hearts, and tails cuts. I don't think it's a practical way to try and achieve your goal. Most of us are in this hobby to try and achieve high quality hooch. It really is a "go big or go home" kind of hobby. (bigger than a one gallon boiler anyway)
Check out Rad's small scale column distiller. He's reporting good success and it's likely cheaper than the distiller you want to buy.
Good luck and stay safe.

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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by punkin » Thu Apr 02, 2009 1:13 pm

eric_pwb wrote:I am not sure if you understood me right, My plan was to start out with this small 1 gallon water distiller, unless someone here had reason not too, and then at some point in the future upgrade to a full out 10 gallon column still.
What I was wondering was if someone here had experience using one of those small self contained water distiller to distill alcohol and was looking for maybe some tips or experience with those types of units that they were willing to share.

We understand you just fine.

You don't like the answers you're getting is all.

If you want answers that agree with what you're asking, do a search of your question or just scan the titles of the first couplea pages of this Novice forum. The question is asked every week and the answers are there.

It's only most of em that don't agree with what you want to hear, some of em will suit you fine.

eric_pwb
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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by eric_pwb » Thu Apr 02, 2009 2:02 pm

punkin wrote:
eric_pwb wrote:I am not sure if you understood me right, My plan was to start out with this small 1 gallon water distiller, unless someone here had reason not too, and then at some point in the future upgrade to a full out 10 gallon column still.
What I was wondering was if someone here had experience using one of those small self contained water distiller to distill alcohol and was looking for maybe some tips or experience with those types of units that they were willing to share.

We understand you just fine.

You don't like the answers you're getting is all.

If you want answers that agree with what you're asking, do a search of your question or just scan the titles of the first couplea pages of this Novice forum. The question is asked every week and the answers are there.

It's only most of em that don't agree with what you want to hear, some of em will suit you fine.
When I posted that there was only the one reply, and this thread was in the wrong section at the time, it was moved here by the mods, and the way I read what he wrote it appeared he didn't understand what I was talking about as I must have worded it incorrectly. I am fine with the answers I have gotten, this is what I wanted to know, the opinions of persons more experienced than I.
As minime pointed out, most here are "go big or go home", and at this stage I am not at that point, and am just looking for a small scale way to gain some experience.

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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by Tater » Thu Apr 02, 2009 2:19 pm

I would think a minimum of a 6-7 gallons. Would be the smallest still thats yet big enough to learn on easily. That way ya could practices with 5 gallon washes .
I use a pot still.Sometimes with a thumper

junkyard dawg
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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by junkyard dawg » Thu Apr 02, 2009 2:33 pm

thing is, you're not going to be learning much about how to do it right with a counter top unit. If you are planning on being that small, I would just practice with some freeze distillations or try it like the cute girl in the video Hook posted does. Its in off topics titled Sigh...

Better yet, get a hold of a 7.75 gallon keg and build a simple potstill. It can be done on the cheap if you set your mind to finding the right parts. If you do that then you can do 5 gallon batches, get a decent yield and learn cuts and proper stillin technique. Using a countertop distiller is like using screwdrivers for a chisel... it sorta works, but its a pain in the ass and never gonna be as clean as it should be.

Welcome to the forum and good luck.
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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by LWTCS » Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:19 pm

8 quart pot.
4 to 5 liters distilled in less than an hour (start up to clean up).

Distilled a spirit run today (max) 6 liters got me 14/ 8oz vessels after I dumped 50ml of fores.
I am still struggling with cuts and hope to continue to improve. I need some measuring tools.

I will need to up grade my pot to SS.

Maybe not better reasons, but there are lots of good reasons to run a small scale unit.
Attachments
Potstill 003.jpg
Potstill 003.jpg (36.97 KiB) Viewed 1258 times
I need to change the orientation of my cooling lines and my discharge as the primary burner is on the left hand side. An oversight during the build.
I need to change the orientation of my cooling lines and my discharge as the primary burner is on the left hand side. An oversight during the build.
Potstill 002.jpg (34.09 KiB) Viewed 1256 times
Potstill 001.jpg
Potstill 001.jpg (30.62 KiB) Viewed 1252 times
Trample the injured and hurdle the dead.

rad14701
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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by rad14701 » Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:41 pm

I have to agree with everyone here, eric_pwb...

Going too small just gives you cheap booze, but limited experience in proper operation... The only reason I am currently running a small scale unit is because I can't run my larger equipment due to apartment life... While I have been having success with my small scale stove top still it's mainly because I have experience with larger stills and know what to expect - but it all happens way too fast to be considered a good educational tool...

An air still just gives cheap booze and cheap thrills... Your choice - cheap booze or learning the skills required to make good spirits...

Good luck, and welcome to the forums...

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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by Hawke » Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:49 pm

A 20 litre Stainless stockpot and 10 to 20 feet of 1/2" copper tubing would make a great potstill. The countertop water distillers are just too small to do a decent job. Usually only a cup or two of distillate. If you make several stripping runs, collecting 1 or 2 cups at a time, then put 4L in for a spirit run, it has too much heat input for the low wines. It really is a lose lose situation with a countertop unit.
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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by trthskr4 » Fri Apr 03, 2009 3:48 am

LWTCS, my wife's gonna skin you when she catches that thing on her stove. LOL.

I like the stand to offset the weight by the way, looks good and I was wondering how you'd keep it from tipping from the condenser weight.
15 gallon pot still, 2"x18" column with liebeg condensor on propane.
Modified Charles 803 w/ 50gal boiler, never ran so far.

eric_pwb
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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by eric_pwb » Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:08 am

Thanks guys for all your input,

I had to ask for opinions as I was looking at purchasing one for distilling water anyways, and thought If it works....
I did end up buying one last night as I got it fairly cheap, and again intending it for water, I may try it anyways just for the sake of trying.
As I am in an apartment, I do like the look of LWTCS's unit, as it is fairly small and I do not have a huge amount of room.

Thanks again for all the help

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Scribbler
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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by Scribbler » Sat Apr 11, 2009 6:29 am

Hey there. I am with you with the whole "just starting out thing" and wondering about sizes. Unfortunately, what I THOUGHT would be the easiest part (finding a good sized pot locally) has turned out to be the hardest... But I don't want to wait for a month to see what comes up locally, so on my next paycheque, I'll probably get something from the intetnet.

in the meantime, I have a stainless steel mini stock potthat my wife said I could use (as long as I only modify the lid, and not the pot). I poured water into it yesterday to measure the volume, and it is eight litres (canadian milk jugs), but this puts it right up to the rim with a bit of a hibiscus forming! so I figure it can take between 5-6 litres of wine.

I am building one hell of a condenser though so that I can move it over when I upgrade...


take care...


JMK

manu de hanoi
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Re: Just starting out... looking for some advice.

Post by manu de hanoi » Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:50 pm

Hi,
Purchase the baby still (I started with a saucepan), but don't expect your friends to ask for a second glass. After you're done experimenting for a week or so, you'll start reading more about it, then within a month, if you like the hobby you'll get a better still.

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