The Beginner's Guide to home distilling all the introductions around the title page and all of that stuff. Yes, we're going to talk about stills. Now, this is the beginner's guide, but it's also helpful to many,people out there. And we want to talk about what we're going to do, we're going to break down stills, of different materials, different styles, different types. And there are only two basic types. We're going to describe what they can do, what they will not do. And also some variations. That's the easy part. So please buckle up. Sit back. Enjoy because we got a lot of information.
There are two real basic types of stills.There's a thing called a fractionating column. Now you're talking about something a little bit different in the industry, where you're drawing different substances at different levels. And it's more in the petroleum industry. They use a fractionating column where there are certain fractions that you can pull off at different levels.
Now, you already know there's a lot of science behind this. So the two types are Pause Pot and Reflux and they both serve very useful purposes.
So what does a pot still do? Well, a pot still allows you to do one thing it allows you to separate ethanol from water in an Avaya in an environment that you control and that's what it does. It's just nothing more than a means for you to get to the end which is to separate your wash, mash whatever you have that you ferment and you want to separate that alcohol by volume from the water. What it does also is it allows you to retain the majority of the flavors and or the profiles of whatever was in the kettle.
Now, the other type of still is a REFLUX. We've all heard this term but sometimes we get it confused with other things or reflux still is nothing more than a pot still. That's been primarily enhanced a little bit. Reflux allows you to go one step further in the separation of ethanol from water molecules. it allows you to do an initial separation than another separation than another separation and then another separation based on your efficiency. So what you want up with is
a much pure ethanol content, a higher proof. Absolutely no flavor. You're going to drag out everything. And what you're going to have left is not pure ethanol. But you're going to have ethanol in its purest form that you can produce in your own home.
We're going to describe some specific features about stills in general. Also you check here on our website a variety of stills offered at an affordable price and build to last. Either one of these would be fine. It all has to do with your budget and your comfort level. Let's start with the smallest one, we have one gallon.
This is copper, just understand is one gallon capacity. And we already know that alcohol by wago means so we've got one gallon and there's 10% alcohol by volume. What do you get? If you're going to get out of this, this is really good for the guy who's you know, he's out in the middle of the village, have a gallon of fermented mash and he happens to have one of these, and he just wants to make enough to get himself and his buddies happy. That will work for you.
This is a straightforward design. It's just the kettle, the cap or column, of course with the button on the top, that's where the thermometer goes. And here's the condenser. This is nothing more than a tube wrapped around the tube. Cold water in cold water out and hear your spirits drip out right here. Caution you can use this on a regular stove. Use it on a gas stove, you can use an electric stove. Please don't put this on the stove before you fill it.
Remember the bottom has been soldered so it doesn't take a whole lot of heat to melt solder.
So what do you think happens? You pick it up and the bottom stays there. Really neat. But now look at this as well. It's tarnished. Can you imagine what the inside of that is going to look like? And you can barely see inside there that it should be shiny but it's not. So cleaning this becomes a challenge and keeping it clean becomes a challenge because it does develop a lot of toxic coatings.
Next on the list is 3 gallon. This is a three gallon still. So in this particular case now you're going to notice there's some similarities between how each one of these are designed in there, they're actually all the same.
This is the kill. This is what we could call the long arm if you wanted to, but this is where the ethanol vapors and water vapors come out of this we could fashion into a gin basket if we like. It's a little bit high. And there's a short space in between here but it does work excellent as a slobber box. And you can drop out if you potentially go a little get too hot and puke.
And this is the condenser cold water in cold water out and all this is is a coil, stainless steel and your spirits drop out of here.
Our next discussion is going to be on heating because there's many options and we need to fully understand heating before we go into that in this particular still works extremely, it has a magnetic bottom so it works on an induction cooker you can use it on the stove, small enough to actually operate in your own little kitchen. So, a very good well built, well designed still but the thermometer is in the kettle. It's a Pot still It's just a standard pot still both of those were standard Pottsvill.
So when you have a column that separates your vapors to exit your exit port and your condenser here's called a Liebig condenser. I call him a shotgun condenser because it's a big hole. And it's just a tube wrapped with another tube water in water out. Remember, water always goes in the bottom some way, water always goes in the bottom and comes out the top.
Now, this particular still called a dual purpose still it can be run as a pot still or it can be run as a reflux still, and the option is totally up to you. And they do that by including this jacket around the column. Because what happens in a reflux still is your vapors begin to rise now I'm not even have to draw so I'm just gonna do it now. Your vapors once you achieve the proper temperature, and ethanol boils at what 170 2.31 73.4 It depends on which book you're looking at and what your elevation is and all that stuff. As a general rule, when you have water and ethanol together.
The boiling point of that mixture, which is known as an A positive AZ tropic blend is always going to be, this is ethanol, this is water, your boiling point is always going to be a little lower than your ethanol, your lowest constituent, so it'll be somewhere in the 171 71 range.
As that happens, the vapor begins to arise. If you've got a water control hooked up here, water in, remember, in the bottom, out the top, in bottom, out top, when you trickle water in here, As opposed to here, this is just full loan. It's nothing more than a condenser.
This is what you could consider a pre condenser. It's a chamber, a pre condensing chamber. But what that allows is that vapor begins to rise and your column stacks, because it will take time to balance, it will stack with ethanol vapor that is also laden with water molecules. When it gets here, and you've got that trickle of water flowing in here, the most volatile substance continues to rise, and some of that other substance starts to drop out.
Now, as that happens, it drops out and it starts to achieve a higher temperature again, and guess what those volatile substances start to re vaporize and rise. Now they meet again in the chamber and the same thing happens Separation starts to take place, it's a pre condensing, your water droplets start to fall out again in some of your other substances as it hits that heat those the most volatile substances, in this case being ethanol because it's going to in the four shots on a reflux Still are very easy to determine and very easy to identify because of their strength on a pot still we use the rule of thumb in a five gallon still the first two ounces get tossed out that are start collecting in a reflux still, it's about the same thing.
It's only the first two ounces, but you can definitely tell the difference because of the height of the alcohol content and some of those other substances that are going to come out first, methanol being one of them. This is a combination pot reflux, you can do either one. And if you want to run it as a pot still just don't run water through the condenser, or the pre condenser or what we would call the reflux chamber.
This one's close to like four and a half gallons. five gallon. In this net, it's not really full five, about four and a half gallons, but you don't want to fill these all the way up, you always have to make sure that you've got some headroom in your still, and then they travel up your column so it makes sure that you don't fill this up all the way, always leave about or at least a couple of inches so you get some headroom in there in the same thing with your three gallon mighty mini or any of these other skills.
Now this one in particular, almost set this one on the floor because it's a little Bit taller. What do you notice is the difference between this one in the mighty Mini, the only difference is the location of the condenser. This will also have a reflux chamber. So this is a dual purpose as well. And you can run this as a pot, which means you just don't even hook these up.
And remember, if you're using a reflux chamber, you need a method to control the water flow, too much water flow and you have absolutely no output because all you're doing is rising, condensing and dropping everything to include ethanol, it's just dropping back if you got too much water flow.If you don't have enough water flow, it's really low. You skip in any of the reflux activities. It's just running so slow that it starts running out and starts running like a pot still.
How do you know the difference? Very, very easy, if you're at the beginning of your run and you're running a reflux, and it's only pumping out like 140 proof, your reflux chambers are not operating efficiently.
Turn the water up a little bit, get that balance, you'll feel it. Now on the other hand, if you've got it running and you've got it up to temperature, you know where it's supposed to be, you've got nothing coming out. You've got too much water going through here. Slow the water down, give those vapors an opportunity to transfer over. We've got a bone in the very top and that's where our thermometer or sensor for our PhD goes. It is just at the point of no return.
For my thermometer, or my pee it probe, because this is called the point of no return, you see the ethanol starts to move up this column and it makes that term for forevermore, not to be seen back here. It drops through your condenser and then out of your spout. Now what do we say about water flow? This is your condenser. It goes in the bottom, it comes out the top.
Now this is a ten gallon model from American Copper Works they do a better job polishing. What that does is it allows you to run, you're still not any better. And even a smaller one, not any worse of it just has everything to do with time at that point.
All things being equal, if you're running your stills at equal efficiency, and you're running a two inch column, you got one next to it, you're running a three inch column, you'll run your three inch column twice as fast as you'll run the two inch column. That's the, that's the only difference.
So what you have is you have a series of tubes with tubing that connects them all and what water in the bottom water comes out the top right. And this is the condenser, water in the bottom, water out the top in the condenser 200% full power flow water. In the reflux chamber, make sure you meet her water.
And then there's an aging process. And we'll get into that at some point as well. I hope I've answered all of your questions. Let's talk about copper. The only steel I had was copper. This is made out of copper from American Copper Works. If you're using copper scrubbers, and the same thing with marbles, marbles have a wonderful surface area that increases the surface area you can use pennies, you can use cut up pieces of copper tubing, there's a bunch of stuff you can use.
But just remember one thing please, whatever you use, once you place that in the column, place your mouth over the end of it. And breathe. If you can breathe through it, well then it's not packed too tightly. If you can't breathe through it, you've got too much in that column.
And now you're starting to create a dangerous environment because now you have back pressure. We've covered everything you need to know about stills, pot reflux, we even said we weren't gonna talk about thumpers fractionating columns, and every one of these systems are an open system, meaning that they're perfectly safe unless you do something to make them unsafe, such as overpack the column, then you start to build up pressure inside your system.