Configuration and run time

Reflux still design and discussion

Configuration and run time

Postby Tin chucker » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:26 am

Hi guys. Bc Canada here. I’ve been makin rum for a few years now. This past year I tuned into vodka as the wife .... and myself like the fruity drinks on hot summer days. Long story short. A buddy and myself made a still 25 years ago. We made some whisky and rum. Just from info form the old guys in our lives at the time. We made the hooch. And after trying some ( it ripped the enamel off your teeth.) we gave the still away. (Had no idea about aging) Well I’ll be darned , the dam thing fell into my lap 20 years later. If ever there was communication from a higher power , this was it. ( make shine) was the message I got . The only original part on it now is the beer keg. I now have a 2” Triclamp column filled with marbles and 1/2” copper wrapped outside. With the biggest thermometer you ever saw on the top ( reminds me of those rappers with the huge clock around there neck) the column is a good 3-1/2 feet tall then comes down to the secondary condenser and then to a parrot. I wanted to ask you guys about the way I run , if there is any reason I shouldn’t run the way I do.(spirit run) I start her up and let her heat up .once it’s close to temp I turn on the secondary condenser to collect the fore’s. once the fore’s are done I turn on the column . It never fails , 15-16 min a litre @93-94% when it takes 19-20 min /litre I turn her off and am left with 8-10% abv in the keg .the total run time depends on the batch but the timing of the jars is always the same
My cuts by nose always seems to be a third .out of 24 jars 8-heads,8-hearts,8-tails ;with the fore’s already tossed into lawnmower and the heads and tails get used next time .i then mix it down with equal parts distilled water(that I make after my cleaning run ),just before my spirit run and run it through my home made charcoal filter ( I make charcoal out of any natural wood I can find in my yard ) I run the product through the filter at least 3 times , sometimes slow ,some times fast ( its adjustable) and I see no difference in product. More of a convenience to my schedule than anything . The stripping runs are done without the main column , like a pot still , ive converted my burner to nat gas to run off the house , it’s turned on full for entire runs , I’m guessing I got lucky with my build as it’s as trouble free as they come ,and efficient judging by stories I’ve been reading online. Thus the questions about how I run.
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby Tin chucker » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:47 am

Few notes after I read it.

The original batch of whisky and rum was bottled with oak chips and gave to family and friends. Was ten years later and my brother in law brought it out at Xmas. The spiced rum was excellent. The whisky .. not so much

Also my column is turned on as low flow as I can get

Also when it takes 19-20 min /litre. The % drops to about 90% , this is the indicator I use to end the run

I also don’t always get the same amount of jars but the 1/3 cut is always the same. I’m almost willing to not use my nose. And always error on the side of cleaner hearts

I had better also say that we don’t drink it all ourselves. This hobby brings plenty of friends.

Let me know what you guys think.
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby woodduck » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:28 am

At a glance I can't see anything wrong with what your doing. Have you tried not filtering? You may not need to if your cuts are good.
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby RC Al » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:33 am

G'day mate

Sounds like you are running a bit fast, 4L/ hour is kinda quick for a short 2"? - you say that your getting 1/3 1/3 1/3 and then 10% ABV left in the boiler, if you're running a 40% charge, it is smearing to all hell, your hearts should be in the 50% or so region

As the burner is set low already, you will need to look at the cooling side, up your flow if you can, try for a temperature corrected 95, it's going to take a lot longer, but I reckon you'll be happier with the results.

On the charcoal bit, you may want to have a good look at the woods you are using, from what I've read, it's better to stick with woods used for aging or smoking, random could be bad....
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby bluc » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:39 am

4l/he def fast but I don't enough about reflux stills to comment on that. But would have thought 1-1.5l/h would be more like it on a 2" colum. Rc what you mean hearts at 50%? :think:
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby RC Al » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:58 am

Nah, 1/2 of collected product, I finish at around 20% at the collection point - possibly what OP means with the 10%, though he said boiler, 1/3 is a lot of heads either way
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby Tin chucker » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:20 pm

Hi guys. Thanks for taking a look at my post. Lots of great feedback. .. let’s see..
yes the charge is usually 40-45%
Not sure about smearing. The taste is clean , cuts are by smell -his and hers nose. And most importantly no headache . Could that be because it’s smeared and I filter it?
I could I think take more hearts on both sides of heads and tails but I have experienced a shiners hangover ( a few times) it’s much much worse than a conventional hangover. :angry-banghead: :angry-banghead:
The column is 2”S.S. pipe and 43” tall
I have been re using the heads and tails in new runs. And it really helps us smell the cuts
I think next time I’ll split my water making and spirit run into 2 days so I can increase the cooling and slow the run. If I can go from 1/3 to 1/2 that’s a big increase . Though it’s hard to finish the 21 750 ml bottles of 45% stuff I get now.
I usually use a soft wood for charcoal as the soft wood charcoal is more porous than hardwood. I’ll have to look up if there is a danger in different woods as I thought carbon is carbon when it’s done. At the end of the burn ,no mater what you burn organically , carbon is the final product. I will be looking into that one , thanks for the heads up
I’ll be running a few sugar wash stripping runs in the next few weeks and will post the results of the spirit run
I’ll try to post a pic of our machine.
Thanks guys
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby RC Al » Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:54 pm

I think I know where you got that method from, the idea of more of a particular chemical present, it concentrates better, comes out as a better defined cut, on my to-do list to try....
How much have you run this way? If it's a lot, you can have a good compare on a batch run the traditional way for us
How much heads n tails are you using? Could explain the numbers a bit
Have a look into sodium carbonate and calcium carbonate as an alternative
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby hillzabilly » Tue Oct 09, 2018 6:45 pm

Mate I am not a fan of marbles for packing,could be sure ta get a better tasteing and higher ABV ifn ya went with copper mesh packing.cheers hillzabilly ;-)
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby scythe » Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:00 pm

There was another post on this forum over the weekend that spoke about the cabonates well i thought.
Essentially my understanding is that they control the pH of the wash to a more neutral zone rather than acidic or basic. And this limits the formation of esters or breaks them down back to acid and alcohols.

Maybe it increases the available ethanol or maybe it just makes it easier to pick the different fractions, jury is still out on that one.

Copper packing instead of glass marbles will help remove sulfides from the vapour path further reducing off smells and flavours.

Slowing your run down will also help to separate out the different fractions and make them more identifiable.
As will airing the jars for 24-48hrs after stilling and the lighter more volatile alcohols amd compounds evapourate which also might gift you more end product.
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby hillzabilly » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:00 pm

Some pics would be helpful,we refer to condencers as either a RC reflux condencer or PC product condencer ifn we all use the same lingo it will make it easier for all,also with a spirit run ifn you recycle too much feints you make it harder ta get a clean product.I like ta double distill for quality neutral,strip then do ya first run and discard all heads and tails,then do the second run and put heads and tails aside for ya next batch adding it to the wash after fermentation is done.Wich means I throw out forshots plus about 20% of each batch wich gives me a great spirit .cheers hillzabilly ;-)
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby Tin chucker » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:26 pm

Cant seem to upload pics from my ipad. Pics to big?
Ive run all my batches with previos heads and tails added 4-5 runs so far
I have no copper on the still ,its all ss . I will look into getting some copper balls for the column
And yes the adding of heads an tails makes a big difference in the cuts. Im sure it must stack up over time
But it also airs over time between runs so im not sure if it stacks or lets good stuff go
I like the smearing idea , a low and slow run will or should sort that one out.
Then i will try copper in the column , and do some taste testing (the fun part)
Ill try and get some pics up , its off to work now. 6 am here
Cheers
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby Tin chucker » Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:35 am

Hey guys. Anyone have any tips on posting pics from an iPhone or iPad. I can’t seem to get them small enough to post.
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby RC Al » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:33 am

Turn the camera resolution down, easiest no tech solution
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby Doubleuj » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:56 am

Tin chucker wrote:Hey guys. Anyone have any tips on posting pics from an iPhone or iPad. I can’t seem to get them small enough to post.

I email them to myself first, just choose a file size less than 1mb
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby Tin chucker » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:45 am

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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby Tin chucker » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:53 am

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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby Tin chucker » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:54 am

Other than sideways. Here it is. Thanks guys
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby Tin chucker » Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:10 am

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This is the original still that came back to me 20 plus years later. Unmistakeable
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Re: Configuration and run time

Postby Tin chucker » Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:22 am

Omg ,the amount of time I’ve spent trying to find copper marbles to replace my glass ones. I’m not so interested in copper mesh ,but I did just read in another post about cutting copper pipe up and using in there. This to me seems to be a more permanent and serviceable solution. I’m thinking if I use 1/2” copper I’ll cut them 1/2” long ? And fill up the column .. any thoughts about this from you guys? Is copper plumbing pipe ok to use.? I’m thinking about the better flavour you guys suggest I’ll get and I just read that copper is a way better conductor of heat so my column would be more efficient . Maybe I could still get a fast run and more final product?
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