the modern distiller

25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Mr Four Square » Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:04 am

A man needs a hobby and a couple of years ago I chose this one. I'm a family man with not much money or time to spare so there are always compromises. Here is the kind of thread I would like to have found when I started out. My advice to early me is that you will learn more from your mistakes than your successes, your mistakes tend to be memorable and as long as you can work out what went wrong that's where your best learning comes from.
still shot.JPG

Boiler
The 25 litre Still Spirits pot still has worked out ok. As a beginner if you don't know how serious you want to get with distilling, 25 litres of wash is more than enough to be getting started each week. The main drawback with this set up is that you don't have any temperature control. I bought the one Minime recommended http://www.ebay.com/itm/170963635395?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649 and that changed everything. Without a controller the wash temperature slowly takes off heading for boiling. You do your best with cuts and cooling but really you are rolling downhill without brakes. With a controller you can dial it back when you get to the good stuff, now I spend a lot of the run sitting round half power and the cuts are clearer and I'm getting a tastier drop.

Kit
Get several airtight barrels or buckets. One for your wash on the go but also for spares. Keep one with a few litres of cleaning solution ready to use and another to store your cleaned equipment. Keep a little sterilizer in your spares so they are only a rinse away from ready. It's difficult to find cheap airtight food grade barrels without shelling out brew shop prices. Restaurants have plenty of free 22 litre ( mayonnaise) buckets. Till you find what you are looking for its all compromises.

Yeast
I have never used turbo yeast, just ordinary bakers yeast or EC1118. I hydrate yeast before pitching, it opens them up and gets them working soon as they hit the wash. Might not make them work any better but it is reassuring to start off with a bubbler. Keep your wash temperature in the yeasts happy range. Any time you add liquid to a yeasted wash remember this. And add sufficient yeast to convert all the sugars in the wash.

Wash
Check your OG at the start. That way you know there is enough sugar for the yeast and can measure your potential alcohol % when done. Measure your FG so know the sugar has gone and can estimate your alcohol %. Don't worry if your wash stalls or fails to start. You can usually leave it airtight while you work out what to do next. Aerate your wash and keep the temperature where the yeasties like it. When the wash has fermented out, leave it to cool, ideally in a fridge to settle all the suspended yeast and solids.Rack it off before putting it in the boiler. It pays to repeat this if it is a sediment or yeast heavy wash.
I have used TPW, Rads Allbran, kiwifruit, plums, apple juice ...here's mine on a heatpad in an old sleeping bag.
wash tub.JPG

Links
http://homedistiller.org/
http://homedistiller.org/forum/index.php
http://www.aussiedistiller.com.au/
http://www.artisan-distiller.org/
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Last edited by Mr Four Square on Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Stinger » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:27 am

:text-goodpost:
With heat control, this still will do the job for some tasty products. Definitely a step-up from my first venture into stilling (an airstill) for ease of making cuts. An excellent choice for those who need a ready-built still.

The boiler and heat control would also work well with a column for neutral - if you also want to go that route.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Mr Four Square » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:34 pm

Thanks Stinger. Here's a modification that I did early on. 2 x stainless shims OD 60mm and ID 21mm. They fit either side of the T500 lid and let you fit a still spirits pot condensor straight on to the T500 boiler. I have read a bit of comment about packing and unpacking the column but this way you just swap heads and run what you want.

pot head.JPG
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Last edited by Mr Four Square on Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Stinger » Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:14 am

I didn't realize that you also had the T500 reflux head. I was thinking about the possibility of adding a self-built boka to that boiler to get azeotrope.

From what I read, it is definitely best NOT to use the reflux head as a pot by increasing coolant temp - because of implications for damage/leaks in the plastic parts and an inadequate product condenser at strip speeds.

I'm sure it's fine for a spirit run, but how does that short product condenser on the pot head work on a strip run?
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby chalmer » Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:32 am

Does any one know if you can still get the pot still to go on the boiler?
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Spud1700 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:26 am

chalmer wrote:Does any one know if you can still get the pot still to go on the boiler?


Do you mean can you still buy the little store bought stainless pot still head? Yes you can but I think it would be cheaper to get one made in copper.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Mr Four Square » Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:35 am

If you are talking about this boiler (T 500) yes you can fit the store bought version on to the reflux lid and boiler. Just make up or get made 2 shims as per my photo above and the boiler arm will fit right in. You will have to use a power controller (link a couple of posts back) because the T500 has a 2000 watt element and the pot still boiler is only 1350.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby chalmer » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:58 am

Yea the head is what i was asking about.I have a T500.
I'm getting a thermostat to control the heat
Might build a top later just for fun.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Spud1700 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:04 am

Just use 40 mm tube with a 40 mm tube bush and it is good to go, I'ld post a photo of one but I can't find it.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby BareKnuckles » Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:21 pm

Great post :clap: I wish I had it layed out like that when I first started! Nicely done...


-BK
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Mr Four Square » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:04 pm

chalmer wrote: I'm getting a thermostat to control the heat


Hi Charmer you mean a controller don't you? A thermostat will give you very poor temperature control
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Mr Four Square » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:15 pm

BareKnuckles wrote:Great post :clap: I wish I had it layed out like that when I first started! Nicely done...


-BK

Thanks BK It's a terrible time. You know so little it hurts. And of course you have the classic beginners curse, you don't even know what you don't know. I looked so hard my eyes hurt but the idiot proof guide to everything doesn't exist.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby chalmer » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:23 pm

Yea not sure if i want a controller like u posted or put a thermowell in and use a thermostat to turn the element on and off.
Still looking around.
What flow rate do you start with on the cooling water?
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Mr Four Square » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:22 pm

chalmer wrote:Yea not sure if i want a controller like u posted or put a thermowell in and use a thermostat to turn the element on and off.
Still looking around.
What flow rate do you start with on the cooling water?


Think I have this right chalmer , you absolutely do not want to use a thermostat. Your wash temperature will be yo yo ing up and down every time your thermostat switches on or off. Plus there wont be any real connection between what the probe reads and what your wash needs to release the ethanol. Its too crude a way to measure and control temperature. The controller gives you a nice steady input and a gentle ramp up or down if you need it. $10 us for the controller

The manual says 500 mls (17 US fluid ozs) per minute. It is quite fiddly to keep measuring the flow rate so I watch the stream of out flow water and keep it the size thread I think it should be. I also keep running my hand down the condenser arm making sure that its roughly hot halfway down and cool for the other half. Read that somewhere. It seems sensible enough.
Last edited by Mr Four Square on Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Bushman » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:53 pm

:text-goodpost: I also agree with Punkin The setup for stripping!
I started my liquid diet and so far it seems to be working! I've already lost two days.

"24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not."
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby chalmer » Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:45 am

I saw the controller link.What is the digital reader you mentioned?
Condenser arm is the arm where the product comes out? Cool from bottom to about halfway up?
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Mr Four Square » Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:34 am

Removed mention of the dual digital meter as mine burnt out.

Can the wise ones let me know if I am on the right track ... You have 2 "levers" to pull when trying to control the collection of spirits on a pot still. Loosely speaking the heat of the wash will control the amount and type of alcholol, flavour oils etc that are coming up the spout and the cooling will control the speed at which that is collected.
Last edited by Mr Four Square on Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Mr Four Square » Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:50 am

chalmer wrote: I saw the controller link.What is the digital reader you mentioned?
Condenser arm is the arm where the product comes out? Cool from bottom to about halfway up?


The meter gives you a reference point as to how big an adjustment you have just made and a value to note if you want one. You could just calibrate the knob and note where it was (eg halfway? ) or you could just watch the thread as she comes out of the condensor and adjust cooling and power and see what happens.

When I get more experienced I may want to duplicate the wash by recording power settings. While I am learning the controller and the meter help me to manage what I am collecting and that seems essential.
Last edited by Mr Four Square on Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Mr Four Square » Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:58 am

punkin wrote:Nope. The flavours, type of alcohols ect will do as they please, the heat of the wash is determined by it's makeup not by the amount of heat you put into it.

Think of it this way, if water on a stove boils at 100C with the flame half way turned up and you turn the flame all the way up, what temperature will the water boil at?

100c.

There'll just be more 100c steam coming off it and the boil will be more rapid.

You can't control anything by adjusting your cooling on a potstill except by turning it down enough to let vapour escape (you DON"T want that).

The only adjustment you have once the wash is in the boiler is the amount of heat you apply will determine the amount of steam forced upwards, therefore your collection rate.


Thanks Punkin let me know if I've got it...the heat controls the amount of vapour coming off (not what is in the vapour) and the cooling controls the amount of vapour that is collected
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Mr Four Square » Thu Apr 11, 2013 12:42 pm

Understood.

So a stripping run is typically flat out on the heat and maximum cooling through the condensor?
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby chalmer » Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:29 am

Thanks for all the information guys it is a big help.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Billythefish » Tue Sep 23, 2014 2:50 pm

Hi there everybody I'm very new to this and was hopping mr foursquare could help me out, I have got the turbo 500 boiler with a copper pot still that I bought off ebay, I have also just ordered the power control seen in the above posts.
Any chance I could get some instructions on wiring this to my boiler? I know it's just two wires in and two wires out but in what order, if someone could tell me the order of the colours of the wires from the back of the controler to the front that would be great, I'm going to try my first spirit run of ujssm when I get it sorted so any advise on that would also be welcome.
Cheers
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Billythefish » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:15 am

Really just need to know if it's LNNL or LNLN
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Zombie » Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:56 pm

Take it from the top. Most people will not respond to electrical questions for safeties sake.

What controller is it? What voltage is it? Are there circuit breakers inside the controller? What country do you live in.

I only ask to be able to answer precisely. I also noticed you made no mention of ground or earth. That is the MOST important aspect of a controller.

I may need to be "put down" soon.
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Billythefish » Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:50 pm

Hi, it's the same controller as in the ebay link in the first post of this thread, I'm Australia and I was just going to cap the earth wire, any advice on this would be great
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Billythefish » Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:52 pm

I have now got a controller with the wiring institutions so all good there but still unsure about the earth ?
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Re: 25 litre ( Still Spirits) pot still

Postby Stilman » Mon Apr 03, 2017 11:42 am

since I wired my controller to my T500 boiler, I have far better control over the speed at which I get to boiling (meaning I can ensure no puking) and in my spirit runs (doing AG now), I can bring the rate down and definitely alter the character of the final product. The heat control seems essential to effective running of this unit but with it, my neutrals (using T500 column) are wonderful and my brown liquers are tasty.
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