First Step Pot still

Post your builds here

Moderator: Site Moderator

First Step Pot still

Postby Midwest » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:01 pm

Well have been reading and following the threads for some time now. I think I have enough knowledge to at least get a good start. I have just finished putting together my first pot still. I chose to go all stainless initially, and just use some copper packing. I have a batch of UJSSM in the fermenter. The SG reading was 1.02 as of this morning, so I'm heading in the correct direction there. I'm powering the still with a 220v/5500 Watt low density element. I did put a thermometer at the top of the head along with a sight glass section, if for no other purpose to give me something to look at. Have done the vinegar cleaning run and will do the sacrificial run this evening with a bottle of cheap vodka. I do have a couple of questions however.

1. does it matter if the sacrificial run is diluted down so the alcohol content is in the 5% range?
2. The union that I installed I may have backwards. The male end is attached to the Liebig and the bowl portion is attached to the still head. If this is backwards, will it make a significant difference or cause issues? I did have a small leak there during the Vinegar run and have addressed that with Teflon tape at the joint.
3. On initial power up to get to temperature do you put it at full power?
4. I'm going to use some copper packing to capture some of the sulfides during actual runs.. Should I have the packing in there for the sacrificial run?

Thanks, Reguards
Attachments
rsz_1still.jpg
User avatar
Midwest
Novice
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby yakattack » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:09 pm

1. That will be fine.
2. Potential leak point but shouldn't be an issue. My pot still had one like that for 2 years. Never caused an issue.
3. Generally yes but that again is going to depend on what I'm running. Stripping run yes. Brandy I prefer slower heat up. Watch for foaming issues at high power with some washes.
4. Absolutly. You should have had it in there for the water and vinigar runs too. Beat bet is do a boil in water and then in vinigar and water before adding it to the still head for the sac run.
Seems like a tidy rig. Should serve you well. Congrats.
HDNB wrote: The trick here is to learn what leads to a stalled mash....and quit doing that.
yakattack
Site Donor
Site Donor
 
Posts: 1755
Joined: Sun Nov 16, 2014 5:37 am

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby nuntius01 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:31 pm

nice rig, yaka has it covered. if you dont mind post your pic in my link below. thanks
I'm just the bank and the mule

post your still pics here
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=66917
User avatar
nuntius01
Rumrunner
 
Posts: 705
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2017 4:51 pm
Location: upper midwest

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Twisted Brick » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:16 pm

Sweet rig, Midwest. Looks like a bit of welding has been done on yer keg. Is that a 15gal vessel?
“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite, and furthermore, always carry a small snake.”

- W.C. Fields
User avatar
Twisted Brick
Swill Maker
 
Posts: 259
Joined: Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:54 pm
Location: Craigh Na Dun

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Midwest » Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:05 pm

Thanks for the replays! Yes it's a 15.5 keg and a bit of welding. Fortunately I have a neighbor who is a professional welder. Yaka, will definitely boil the copper first thanks for the heads up
User avatar
Midwest
Novice
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Kareltje » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:17 am

Nice still!
I suppose you will support the condenser when running it.
User avatar
Kareltje
Distiller
 
Posts: 1488
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:29 pm

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Midwest » Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:35 am

I did not support it for the first Vinegar run. Suppose it wouldn't hurt to. Better to " have it and not need it" then "need it and not have it".
User avatar
Midwest
Novice
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Playhard » Tue Dec 12, 2017 6:02 pm

Midwest wrote:Well have been reading and following the threads for some time now. I think I have enough knowledge to at least get a good start. I have just finished putting together my first pot still......


I have been asking around about the liebig condenser. Can you tell me how you built yours and how to you like it. I plan to build one in the next couple days. My question is about the copper tube nominal pipe sizes you used. Right now, I am looking at 1/2" ips (.625" od) inside and 3/4" ips (.875" od) on the outer shell. What sizes did you use. Also, how long was your actual cooling water condensing chamber?
Playhard
Novice
 
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:26 am

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby MoonBreath » Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:02 pm

Hey here's your complete answers...
1. No
2. No
3. Yes
4. No
Packing is only to rid your drinkn spirits of sulfides and such.
No need to waste it imo.
Most folks use 1/2" id inside of 3/4" id..But I prefer 1/2" id inside of 1" I'd @ 36" total length, will prolly never have any issues.
Looks good tho.
Hopefully I caught ya in time.
Good luck.
*Spend it all, Use it up, Wear it out*
Beware of sheet-sniffers and dime-droppers!
User avatar
MoonBreath
Site Donor
Site Donor
 
Posts: 2061
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:34 pm
Location: Horseshoe Bend, Ky.

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby zapata » Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:56 am

Unsupported liebig may be why that union leaked. The whole point of a union is that they shouldn't need teflon (though yes, I understand some are just made crappy and actually need it need it). Try supporting that liebig, and if you need to run a fine sandpaper over the mating surfaces of the union. Tighten it up with wrenches, but you shouldn't have to put too much stink on 'em to seal.
zapata
Trainee
 
Posts: 851
Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:06 pm

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Midwest » Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:38 pm

My Liebig is 3/4 over 1/2” and its 36” long. I’m running a 5500 watt 220v element and it knocks down everything I throw at it. I did support the Liebig during the runs and haven’t had any issues with the Union leaking since. Have not done a final whiskey run on it yet, but have done three stripping runs. It takes about 2 1/2 hours to strip a 10 gallon wort, from start up to finish.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
User avatar
Midwest
Novice
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby zapata » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:56 am

Sounds like you're on your way so a couple other things.
1. Insulating the sides of your boiler will speed up heatup time considerably, and probably speed up strip runs too. Good for strips for sure, some say a slow heatup for spirit runs is beneficial though and it at least makes sense chemically. I've used both cheap blue foam camping pads and the silver bubble wrap style insulation. Insulate sides, but I wouldnt insulate the top for the spirit run so you get some passive reflux on the top.

2. You didnt mention a controller, but I'd run at less than 5500 w for the spirit run. 3-4 kw seems a nice balance between speed and still under control to me.
zapata
Trainee
 
Posts: 851
Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:06 pm

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Midwest » Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:01 pm

zapata wrote:Sounds like you're on your way so a couple other things.
1. Insulating the sides of your boiler will speed up heatup time considerably, and probably speed up strip runs too. Good for strips for sure, some say a slow heatup for spirit runs is beneficial though and it at least makes sense chemically. I've used both cheap blue foam camping pads and the silver bubble wrap style insulation. Insulate sides, but I wouldnt insulate the top for the spirit run so you get some passive reflux on the top.

2. You didnt mention a controller, but I'd run at less than 5500 w for the spirit run. 3-4 kw seems a nice balance between speed and still under control to me.


Just getting back to this thread. Zapata, I’m using a PID controller for the still, which I’m learning how to use with my setup. I have the boiler insulated and the 32” column also insulated. I did pack the column with copper for the distillation runs (three of them) but took it out for cleaning and did not put it back in for the final spirit run. In hind sight I should have done just the opposite, not packed for stripping and packed for final spirit run. Or not packed at all. I found that during a fast stripping run the packed 32” column wanted to flood at high heat and those nasty smells were left behind in the copper. I have removed them now and cleaned them well.

The thing that I am finding, it doesn’t matter how much reading you do, you have to do some runs to really figure this craft out. I learn something new every time I fire up the still. Now after doing my first final spirit run I look back and take stock in my mistakes and figure out how to do it better next time.

It’s the cuts that i’m figuring out now. I collected 200ml at a time in to pint jars and filled up 23 jars. At that point the ABV was at 73 and I figured I was getting into tails. I then collected another 3 liters pouring them all together. I now believe I made that decision to hastily. I think I was just getting to the transition of the hearts to tails and may have not collect some drinkable whiskey. Good thing is they’re still in there just have to add them in to the next spirit run so no real foul there. I also only collected down to 50% ABV and think I wasted some feints I could have reprocessed had I collected lower.

After all it’s the journey :) next time will be even better.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
User avatar
Midwest
Novice
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby NZChris » Sun Dec 24, 2017 1:12 am

What, exactly, are you controlling with the PID, and how?
User avatar
NZChris
Master Distiller
 
Posts: 4675
Joined: Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:42 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby zapata » Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:08 am

I wouldnt insulate the column, without a reflux condenser you arent trying to establish a temperature gradient at equilibrium. Just let it do what it does.

Sounds like you know what your learning which is great. Now about that PID...
zapata
Trainee
 
Posts: 851
Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:06 pm

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Midwest » Sun Dec 24, 2017 7:48 am

NZ I’m really not controlling anything at this time. When I was looking to get a controller I was told, by the person who sold it to me, that I would need it. He said that after I learned my still I could use it to set up the cuts. My concern is that it pours on full power when first turned on until it reaches the first hold temperature, 170 degrees. I have concerns that if the wort is not completely clean, I could get some scorching. Right now after I reach the initial 170 I switch it over to manual mode and control it from there. I do like the fact that I can control the amperage one point at a time though.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
User avatar
Midwest
Novice
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Midwest » Sun Dec 24, 2017 7:58 am

Zapata, my thought process with insulating the column is that with an insulated column I would get less passive reflux. Here is a question for you all though. When my boiler reaches 170 degrees should I be waiting until the top of the column reaches 170 also before adding more power. I’m thinking that if I did that I will get better separation of the foreshots. On my last whiskey run the head temperature rose to rapidly after I applied further power after reaching my initial 170 degrees. I noticed this in the initial flow out of my condenser was to fast and I had to greatly reduce the amperage to slow it down. I was worried that I did not get good compression of the foreshots. My head temperature was real low until I heated the pot enough to get the higher temp steam up there. Then it rose to rapidly.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
User avatar
Midwest
Novice
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby still_stirrin » Sun Dec 24, 2017 11:01 am

Midwest wrote:...my thought process with insulating the column is that with an insulated column I would get less passive reflux.

On a 3” (or is that a 4”) stainless steel riser that is only 24” tall, you won’t get much, if any “reflux”. What you have is a high speed vapor highway. The copper packing will help sulfur reduction, opportune for a corn mash, but it’s not going to create reflux.

Midwest wrote:I’m thinking that if I did that I will get better separation of the foreshots...I noticed this in the initial flow out of my condenser was to fast and I had to greatly reduce the amperage to slow it down....My head temperature was real low until I heated the pot enough to get the higher temp steam up there. Then it rose to rapidly.

The size of the riser (diameter) allows the vapor to rise quickly once you’ve reached saturation temperature. The mass flow is then forced into an increasingly smaller vapor path, which will cause the vapor speed to accelerate. It will essentially “choke” in the product condenser inlet, or the bend immediately before the condenser. This high speed vapor will cause your foreshots and heads to smear into the late heads/early hearts. The choked flow will make separation more difficult up front. A slow start will help you tho.
ss
Attention new distillers: Cranky's spoon feed info
What is a Proof & Traille hydrometer: Alcohol-meter
Enzyme info: SebStar
HD Google search info: HD Google-how to
All about mashing grains: Braukaiser
User avatar
still_stirrin
Master Distiller
 
Posts: 5609
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:01 am
Location: where the buffalo roam, and the deer & antelope play

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Midwest » Sun Dec 24, 2017 11:15 am

still_stirrin wrote:
Midwest wrote:...my thought process with insulating the column is that with an insulated column I would get less passive reflux.

On a 3” (or is that a 4”) stainless steel riser that is only 24” tall, you won’t get much, if any “reflux”. What you have is a high speed vapor highway. The copper packing will help sulfur reduction, opportune for a corn mash, but it’s not going to create reflux.

Midwest wrote:I’m thinking that if I did that I will get better separation of the foreshots...I noticed this in the initial flow out of my condenser was to fast and I had to greatly reduce the amperage to slow it down....My head temperature was real low until I heated the pot enough to get the higher temp steam up there. Then it rose to rapidly.

The size of the riser (diameter) allows the vapor to rise quickly once you’ve reached saturation temperature. The mass flow is then forced into an increasingly smaller vapor path, which will cause the vapor speed to accelerate. It will essentially “choke” in the product condenser inlet, or the bend immediately before the condenser. This high speed vapor will cause your foreshots and heads to smear into the late heads/early hearts. The choked flow will make separation more difficult up front. A slow start will help you tho.
ss

still_stirrin what modifications to the vapor path would you do to improve the fractions compression? It is a 3” column 32” long. Would a larger condenser help and larger diameter tubing on the reducer end?


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
User avatar
Midwest
Novice
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby still_stirrin » Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:33 pm

Hey, please turn the Tapatalk ads off. We don’t need them here. It’s in the settings of your mobile device. Thx.

What I would do is try to reduce the vapor velocity. You could increase the diameter of your vapor tube, from the bell reducer all the way through the product condenser. Or, if building another condenser anyway, consider building a shotgun. And keep the vapor inlet to the shotgun at least 1” ID (or larger).

With the 3”, you’re capable of pushing a lot of vapor. One thing, if you reduce the heat input it will slow vapor production and that will help with the heads cut.
ss
Attention new distillers: Cranky's spoon feed info
What is a Proof & Traille hydrometer: Alcohol-meter
Enzyme info: SebStar
HD Google search info: HD Google-how to
All about mashing grains: Braukaiser
User avatar
still_stirrin
Master Distiller
 
Posts: 5609
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:01 am
Location: where the buffalo roam, and the deer & antelope play

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby boda getta » Sun Dec 24, 2017 1:23 pm

Great looking still; you are off to a great start. That is the exact setup I have ran for the last 6-7 years with good results. You were smart to start off electric, I ran with gas the first several years and consider going electric the last couple of years the best thing I've done. IMHO you do really need an controller with a 240/5500 setup, I don't think I could run mine without one. I also insulated my 15.5 boiler and it really improved the efficiently. Just take your time and enjoy the journey. Read and reread the safety sections. UJSSM and Sweet Feed sugar heads are a simple, low cost way to learn the basics and get to know your still. I suspect you will start looking into all grains after a while and That will a game changer.

Good luck
BG
boda getta
Site Donor
Site Donor
 
Posts: 1169
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Midwest » Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:44 pm

I have been running my still now for a couple of months and have a couple more questions for the more advanced distillers. I have a concern about the restriction the I’m getting going from the 3 inch column down to the 1/2 inch over 3/4 Liebig. (See picture at the top of this post) I have not had any trouble knocking down any vapor that I able to produce with the 5500 watt element during a stripping run. It’s during the spirit run I have my questions.

Understanding the issues with increased vapor speed with a diameter reduction my question. Am I causing excessive smearing because of the vapor restriction. I feel my last spirit run was smeared more then I think it should have been. I could have run it to fast, my take off was 40000 ml an hour. I understand I will always get smearing with a pot still, but feel I shoul have had a bit better separation. Does the restriction cause vapor to back up in the Lyne arm and cause more smearing. Would I be better off adding a shotgun condenser right off the Lyne arm which has a minimum input diameter of 1.5 inches. OR.....If I run the still low and slow can the current configuration be managed well enough to overcome the vapor speed issue and still give me descent separation. I have decided to rerun the last spirit run at a lower take off rate and see if that helps. Any advice is appreciated.
User avatar
Midwest
Novice
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby zapata » Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:31 pm

Well SS says it's a problem. I don't think it is. That said, I don't have a 3" riser, so maybe he knows something I don't. Or maybe it's just one of those things folks have different opinions on, you would have to try it differently to decide.

In my case, I've run a 2" riser through a 1/2 liebig and through a shotgun and don't see a difference in smearing. So I'm going to extrapolate and say reducing from 3' to 1/2" doesn't cause smearing. Just a guess for me though. But I also don't understand the supposed mechanism. I read the words, they just don't compute to me at the part where it gets to smearing happens. Vapor doesn't back up to any real degree, it just compresses/expands, and speeds up/slows down. As it applies to your still I don't think that will cause any smearing.

One thing that might is your horizontal lyne arm. Unlike vapor, liquid most definately can back up. If you have a low spot at the union like it looks like in your first post, that is a definite sight where a pool of bla can sit and slowly smear over into the blabla fraction. I feel strongly that lyne arms should angle a good bit, up or down will have an affect and is up to you, but liquid should not be able to pool in them.

I would get another 3" 90 and go straight from it into your reducer and liebig doing away with the angles on the liebig.
With the two 90's connected to each other you can angle your lyne arm at any downward angle you want to conveniently hit where you want to collect. The horizontal section will be just a few inches and will definitely not have a low spot where liquid could pool.

But, um, not to be captain obvious but 40,000 ml an hour will definitely cause smearing! I assume you mean 4 liters an hour? Thats pretty fast, again I don't have a 3" still, but I don't think it's unreasonable fast. You can slow down a bit, though I'm definitely not a believer in "slow and low". I think the main problem is the horizontal/possibly pooling lyne arm.

I assume you gave up on the PID and aren't causing any problems trying to use it? Unless your PID has a manual percentage power mode, it's worthless for controlling a distillation boiler. If you are trying to use it, it well could be causing any number of problems. Did I miss where you have a normal power controller?
zapata
Trainee
 
Posts: 851
Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:06 pm

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Midwest » Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:21 am

LOL yes it should have read 4000 ml an hour or just over a gallon an hour. The controller is run in manual mode where I adjust the amperage of the out put. I did inspect the lyne arm and there are no lips or restrictions so that should not cause pooling. I do think however, I will invest in another 45 degree piece so there will be no horizontal paths just to eliminate any possibility of pooling. I am going to take the 32 inch stainless riser off it when I run this weekend. I will just use the sight glass as the only lift to my elbow and insulate it well. That may reduce some of the passive reflux I was seeing off the head on the previous run. I thought I was pulling slow enough on the last run it was a pencil size stream but it was not broken or twisted so it may have been fast. This time I will bring it to a fast drip then increase just till I have a twisting stream and see how the product pulls off then. I realize now that the biggest thing to this hobby is gain experience. Its the self doubt that is the real challenge. "Have I done it correctly, Is that really heads or tails I'm smelling etc.etc." I'm sure hat will come in time.
User avatar
Midwest
Novice
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Midwest » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:43 pm

I thought I would update my post for posterity. I did rerun the last spirit run. In addition I added in two more stripping runs of UJSSM those were the 7th and 8th generations. Well I did run it much slower. I took the foreshots of at a real slow rate then increased the the power to take off the remaining run at a rate of 2500 ml an hour. In addition I removed the 32 inch riser and only left the sight glass as the only riser. I have to say that the difference was amazing. The transitions were very easy to detect and the smearing was very gradual as I would expect it. I have to say that this has been a real learning experience. It has only taken 8 stripping runs and three spirit runs to begin getting This hobby dialed in. Now I can’t wait to do another spirit run to see if i can repeat my results proving to myself that I am finally figuring this still out. My next challenge is all grain. Finished my grain grinder this weekend and the steam wand is ready for cleaning and system checks. Hopefully can start my first batch by next weekend. Thx all
User avatar
Midwest
Novice
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Twisted Brick » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:36 pm

Congrats, Midwest! It must feel gratifying to get to the config that gets you the product you want.

I'm pretty close to the point where you are, halfway through the strips of my first AG (bourbon) and the mashes smell so freaking good I cant wait to get the first batch on oak.
The last strip run on my 3" pot I clocked just shy of 7L/ph and am totally stoked. Have you ever considered a 2" shotgun? I think you would be able to fully take advantage of your 3" riser and a ~20" condenser that you can run at an angle would most definitely make collection neat and tidy.

Just a thought...
“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite, and furthermore, always carry a small snake.”

- W.C. Fields
User avatar
Twisted Brick
Swill Maker
 
Posts: 259
Joined: Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:54 pm
Location: Craigh Na Dun

Re: First Step Pot still

Postby Midwest » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:01 pm

As my distilling advances I have decided to build a steam masher. I am doing a vinegar seam cleaning of the mash wand today and hope to be doing my first all grain by the end of next week. After reading about steam wands and safety valves I decided to use the simplest and what should be the most fool proof method, the Manometer. If you look at the attached picture you can see it coming off the boiler and looping up the the ceiling. Simple effective method!
Attachments
3E0F04F6-F9C1-4834-8DB1-DA3752C16E4A.jpeg
CFF15183-1E14-4FC3-A01A-DA3D60F6B182.jpeg
User avatar
Midwest
Novice
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm
Location: Missouri


Return to The Construction Site



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests