advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

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advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby ratpiss » Sat Jan 11, 2014 9:25 am

Hello!

I've been reading all the various threads on different controllers for water heater elements, but I'm just running a small still, so I wondered if I could get an opinion on the best or easiest way to heat it indoors. My options are:

Use my gas range in the kitchen, really don't want to for safety reasons
Use a water heater element and jimbo's electric conversion, seems like it might be overkill for a small pot and I don't really want to wait for that controller from hong kong, but it seems pretty simple to set up.
Use an induction hotplate, sounds like it might take FOREVER, a little more costly
I could go propane outdoors but probably not really the best idea in the suburbs with neighbors watching, but at this point it sounds like the best way?


I'm only using a 3 gallon stainless pot so I don't have a huge volume to heat up and I'm not really sure what I'll need. I don't have the can yet, it'll be here soon so I'm not even sure it'll work on an induction hot plate yet either.

thanks, I appreciate the opinions!
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby Prairiepiss » Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:16 pm

Options.

Use the gas range you have. Will give you the control you need. There is a safety risk. But can be less of a problem if collection is done away from the flames. The collection container van also be set inside a pan. As a secondary safety feature. Actually a good idea all around.

Regular hot plate. It would need to be modified. To bypass the thermostat. So a good controller can be used. What the controller needs to be able to do is covered in the thread I put together in the new distiller reading lounge. These hot plates are generally between 750w and 1500w. Both should be plenty to run a 3 gal pot. Not as efficient as an internal element. But really better fitted for a small pot. Because the need to keep the internal element covered.

Induction hot plate. Well you already know the pot needs to be induction ready. Not all pots are. And the other thing is. The control system it has. Many are temp controlled. Which after reading the thread I suggested. You will find its not what you want. Can you modify it to use a good controller? Don't know. Haven't seen anyone actually do it. Matter of fact there has only been a couple reports of using an induction hot plates. And not much good info on them. So choose wisely. Making sure the controls will work for this purpose.

Gas burner outside. Turkey fryer. Well a little over kill for a 3 gal pot. The ability to turn it down far enough may be a challenge.

Now I will say 3 gal is small. And will make your experience less then great. Low production amounts. Not having the ability to make good cuts. Is just why we suggest a larger boiler.
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby NineInchNails » Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:17 pm

I'm switching over to electric right now. A basic controller can be put together for around $35 if I recall correctly. Electric is real responsive, generally easier, generally safer and more cost efficient. Lots of reasons to go electric. You can easily insulate your boiler. Could distill easily indoors with a small still. A lot, if not most, eventually switch over to electric. No more gas, tanks, regulators, burners, etc...
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby ratpiss » Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:57 pm

NineInchNails wrote:I'm switching over to electric right now. A basic controller can be put together for around $35 if I recall correctly. Electric is real responsive, generally easier, generally safer and more cost efficient. Lots of reasons to go electric. You can easily insulate your boiler. Could distill easily indoors with a small still. A lot, if not most, eventually switch over to electric. No more gas, tanks, regulators, burners, etc...

Which design are you using?
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby ratpiss » Sat Jan 11, 2014 2:00 pm

Prairiepiss wrote:Options.

Use the gas range you have. Will give you the control you need. There is a safety risk. But can be less of a problem if collection is done away from the flames. The collection container van also be set inside a pan. As a secondary safety feature. Actually a good idea all around.

Regular hot plate. It would need to be modified. To bypass the thermostat. So a good controller can be used. What the controller needs to be able to do is covered in the thread I put together in the new distiller reading lounge. These hot plates are generally between 750w and 1500w. Both should be plenty to run a 3 gal pot. Not as efficient as an internal element. But really better fitted for a small pot. Because the need to keep the internal element covered.

Induction hot plate. Well you already know the pot needs to be induction ready. Not all pots are. And the other thing is. The control system it has. Many are temp controlled. Which after reading the thread I suggested. You will find its not what you want. Can you modify it to use a good controller? Don't know. Haven't seen anyone actually do it. Matter of fact there has only been a couple reports of using an induction hot plates. And not much good info on them. So choose wisely. Making sure the controls will work for this purpose.

Gas burner outside. Turkey fryer. Well a little over kill for a 3 gal pot. The ability to turn it down far enough may be a challenge.

Now I will say 3 gal is small. And will make your experience less then great. Low production amounts. Not having the ability to make good cuts. Is just why we suggest a larger boiler.


Yeah, I can always get a larger milk can I guess but a qt at a time is about all I can really get rid of anyway so I'm hoping it'll work out ok
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby S-Cackalacky » Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:42 pm

With the 3 gallon pot you'll need to leave some head space. So, the most you will be able to run is maybe 2 gallons of wash. You might get enough to drink out of one run, but it will be difficult. With a small volume it will be important to manage the cuts on a small scale. I would suggest using no larger than 4oz jars for collection. This will allow you to do closer cuts.

For heat I would suggest an internal element. You can find short 120V 1500W elements that should fit your small pot. You will also need a controller. There are plenty of threads here on the forum that will help you with building your own, or you can purchase one ready-made. I would select the controller with the notion that you may want to upgrade to a larger boiler at some point. Just make sure it's capable of either 120V or 240V opperation.

If you want to get started before doing the electric installation, I would suggest that your gas range is your best option. Just be sure to take safety precautions - keep a fire extinguisher handy and maybe a bucket of water. As someone else suggested, set your collection jar inside something like a cake pan to contain any spills and position the collection point as far away from the gas burner as possible.

Good luck and stay safe,
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby ratpiss » Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:05 am

Well, if you guys think it's fairly safe I'll just use my gas stove. I'll run some vinegar and water to clean the still and see if I can see any steam leaks. That's the easiest and cheapest solution anyway.
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby aj2456 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:56 am

thats what i settled on, only regretting that im banned from using it when anyone else is about (could do electric in the garage), otherwise great :(
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby ratpiss » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:24 pm

aj2456 wrote:thats what i settled on, only regretting that im banned from using it when anyone else is about (could do electric in the garage), otherwise great :(

Thanks, it sounds like the best solution and my stove is a pretty big burner, easy enough.

Any tips from experience on what I should look out for besides the obvious (leaks and drips?) to do this safely?
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby ratpiss » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:25 pm

S-Cackalacky wrote:With the 3 gallon pot you'll need to leave some head space. So, the most you will be able to run is maybe 2 gallons of wash. You might get enough to drink out of one run, but it will be difficult. With a small volume it will be important to manage the cuts on a small scale. I would suggest using no larger than 4oz jars for collection. This will allow you to do closer cuts.


The cuts I'm still foggy on, I keep thinking it'll make sense once I start playing around with it and see how it works I guess. I'm really fine with running 2-2.5 gallons, I don't drink a lot.
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby NZChris » Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:03 pm

Are you aware that the first pass through a pot still is called the stripping run and most of it you would find undrinkable?

If not, you got whole lotta learnin to do.
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby ratpiss » Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:15 pm

NZChris wrote:Are you aware that the first pass through a pot still is called the stripping run and most of it you would find undrinkable?

If not, you got whole lotta learnin to do.

Yeah?
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby S-Cackalacky » Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:30 pm

ratpiss wrote:
NZChris wrote:Are you aware that the first pass through a pot still is called the stripping run and most of it you would find undrinkable?

If not, you got whole lotta learnin to do.

Yeah?

You can do a single run - just run it slow so your fractions don't get smeared together. It's really a matter of personal choice. Some folks do multiple stripping runs followed by a spirit run of what they collected (diluted to under 40%). Others do a slow single run to retain as much flavor as possible.

If you look in the "New Distiller's Reading Lounge" there's a biginner's guide to cuts that should help. I would suggest doing a lot of reading while you're finishing your build. There's a lot to be learned about fermentation and running your still.

Good luck,
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby ratpiss » Sun Jan 12, 2014 6:04 pm

S-Cackalacky wrote:
ratpiss wrote:
NZChris wrote:Are you aware that the first pass through a pot still is called the stripping run and most of it you would find undrinkable?

If not, you got whole lotta learnin to do.

Yeah?

You can do a single run - just run it slow so your fractions don't get smeared together. It's really a matter of personal choice. Some folks do multiple stripping runs followed by a spirit run of what they collected (diluted to under 40%). Others do a slow single run to retain as much flavor as possible.

If you look in the "New Distiller's Reading Lounge" there's a biginner's guide to cuts that should help. I would suggest doing a lot of reading while you're finishing your build. There's a lot to be learned about fermentation and running your still.

Good luck,
S-C

I think it'll make sense once I see how the still runs. I was going to do 5 gallons of all bran first time around and run it hot and fast in two 2 gallon stripping runs with no cuts. then do the last gallon with the low wines. If it sucks it sucks, I really don't care it'll come together eventually but I need to see it work to understand it. At the size of the runs I'm doing I can afford to throw away the product and not care.
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby NZChris » Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:28 pm

Sounds like you've been doing your homework. That plan is a good one.
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby ratpiss » Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:17 pm

well so much for cheap, dam $16 for 2 boxes of all bran and 10lb of sugar. OH well let the fun begin. thanks for the advice guys.
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby greybeard_biker » Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:32 pm

just to give you a hint, many stores mark down damaged product, & if you can make friends, you may be suprised how cheap you can get stuff for. and a friend will hold product for you & call you when they see something damaged that you may be interested in. or tell you when product will be put out for customers, some stores cant hold items, but employees do so anyway. I havent built my still yet, however I been buying marked down groceries for years, and have friends in several stores, as does my wife, & it really helps, & it could help anyone reading this that didnt know to ask or inquire, and to make friends. some stores do it in mornings, some in afternoons & others in evenings.

for example I know 1 place that marks sugar to .25 cent a lb for all damaged bags, cereal .79 to .99 a box for damaged boxes. I already been looking, but not bought anything except for what I wanted to eat presently.
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby DAD300 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 4:02 pm

5 gallon wash should net you about...3 quarts of corn flake whiskey. S even at that it's about $5 a quart. I can't buy any for that in my town.

As you get better at getting the ingredients, it will get cheaper. Sam's sugar is at 40 cents a pound right now. It's always cheaper just before Xmas. Corn flakes are corn flakes, it doesn't have to be Post Toasties.
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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby Fruit Squeezer » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:44 pm

[/quote] If it sucks it sucks, I really don't care it'll come together eventually but I need to see it work to understand it. At the size of the runs I'm doing I can afford to throw away the product and not care.[/quote]

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Re: advice on the best way to heat a small still easily?

Postby Fruit Squeezer » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:59 pm

P.S.
My set up is simmilar (3gal pot).
I heat on the stove to ~120°F =non volatile.
Then I move it to an electric plate to get the last 40-50° safely simmering.
When the first drops drip from the coil, I turn the plate down to where it cycles off/on.

She happily and safely squeezes the yeast piss and the need to turn up the heat slightly, helps indicate the cuts.
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