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Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

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Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby Frank » Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:55 pm

IMHO, having used one for 2 years/40 odd washes, I have absolutely no problem in determining that
YES they are.
The proviso, of course, is a well fermented wash and decent distillation practices similar to any potstill (strip/final runs, experienced cuts, appropriate maturation).
Patience and 'reasonable' expectations are necessary too. The true benefits include convenience, purchase/running costs and accessibilty/simplicity for novice distillers.

Afterall the distilling device is but a (small) part in the production of desireable spirit.
'
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby stubbydrainer » Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:59 pm

Yes Frank I agree
but it is the rate of output I have trouble with, But that is just me
different boats float different folks
I get excited when I dilute my spirits to 40% ABV...... It means I get more to drink more often
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby the Doctor » Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:05 pm

Absolutely they are a legit distilling device...for people living in shared or small residences ...they are often the only viable alternative...also they are introducing a whole new group of users to the worlds best hobby.
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby Maheel » Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:54 pm

if it works then use it i say :)

i often think they would make a pretty reasonable stripping device
when you have a little spare time plug it in and let it go
do it every day of the week and then run the wines up a reflux at a later date :)
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby Granpappy » Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:35 pm

My 'lil jigger puts out at 80% - using a turbo wash and needed to be charcoal filtered pretty heavily. ;)
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby scarecrow » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:41 pm

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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby scarecrow » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:42 pm

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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby Frank » Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:39 pm

Well then...where was I (Oh yes, thats right, I was asking this thread question in light of the Doctor's vision for this forum) .....

I was introduced to this 'art' through an Airstill and have not for one moment regretted the journey (thus far). There are many, many folk in this country and overseas that regularly use an Airstill as their choice of still. Some of these folk do so regardless of longevity in the home distiller world. I beieve I understand why this is so. From my experience, an Airstill is a convenient, discreet, simple to operate and, with a little practice, effective tool for producing acceptable distillate with minimal effort.

However, also from my experience, such Airstilling folk (esp. if/when they admit to being so) are potentially likely to feel they are not welcome on most distilling forums in this country and overseas. The reasons for this are complex, but I think are primarily based on the negative and, at times, aggressive responses to their posts: opinions and questions. Such responses, IMHO, defy logic and are often of questionable purpose, regardless of intent.

As this forum evolves I expect that, and would wish for, Airstillers to be part of the membership/community here. I trust we all do.
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby Maheel » Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:53 pm

hey frank your question "Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device" is going to get opinions of all members some for airstills some against...

but people posting need to consider their words and how they will be interpreted when they post (even if trying to poke fun at a loyal airstiller)

i think the air still is a very clever piece of marketing and brings in a heap of new hobbyists to the hobby it would also sell many on-sell-products for LHBS (local home brew shops)

having never had or used one i hope they perform as well as they should and they are not used as a tool to sell lots of products at the LHBS that users may not need

it would be great if you could post more info and any tips you have for users that browse the forum hopefully it will get them also posting :)
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby the Doctor » Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:27 pm

I must say I cannot see any reason that Airstiller's cannot hold their heads high here.. we all love this hobby and the path to it is as varied as our personalities...good god if you saw my first still...you would shake your head in contempt...but fortunately owning it led me to a hobby I love ...so it is with the Airstill to some people it is the only still they will ever know or want...for others it is a starting point, either way it is a way of being a part of an amazing community and a part of a hobbiy that encourages you to drink...TRY THAT WITH MODEL TRAINS!...so good on you Airtillers let's see your swag!
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby stubbydrainer » Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:00 pm

the Doctor wrote: a part of a hobby that encourages you to drink...


I knew there must of been something about them :lol:
I get excited when I dilute my spirits to 40% ABV...... It means I get more to drink more often
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby the Doctor » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:16 am

Temperate responses make good communities...as do carefully worded questions...Whatever your opinions on Airstills their operators are as much a part of this forum as anyone...but I can see that the framing of a question to seek a black or white, yes or no, response can be divisive...there is a lesson in here.
Ah, c'mon Frank...you know very well the forum is going to be respectfull to airstillers by the very fact that there is a section here.

there is truth here...when framing the forum at no stage did I ever consider a forum without Airstills...I may as well have left out pot stills...Airstills have now for a number of years been a part of distilling and are now an accepted and mainstream method for many who are limited in space, power etc...even asking the question of whether they are distilling equipment harks back to the fringe days when people just did not understand these stills.... Keep the conversation temperate...and know that as far as this forum goes Airstills are embraced and welcome.
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby Aidanmac » Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:57 am

Temperance and Tollerance! :lol: :lol:

I've had an Airstill for three years now and I swear by it as a great learning still. It's a pot still with stabilisers on. ;)

The cock-ups are small, the disasters are easily handled, it's almost impossible to blow it up and the beginner learns by more frequent running through the established procedures for operating a still.

To this day, if I'm trying a new recipe I'll make it in a DJ, get it dry, clear it till it sparkles then run it through the Airstill and pass it through my Essencia Filter. 8-)

The drawbacks with the Airstill -
1. You must use a serious activated carbon filter after the spirit run.
2. For best results you need to make sure the wash is cleared properly
3. Conditioner, while not mandatory, is advisable.
4. It takes forever to process a 25lt wash and anything bigger is not feasible.

It makes me cringe when I read about people running a dirty wash through the Airstill once and drinking the output. :mrgreen:

Having said that I recommend any beginner to start on an Airstill and progress to more serious kit when appropriate skills and experience have been acquired. 8-)

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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby the Doctor » Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:40 pm

I've had an Airstill for three years now and I swear by it as a great learning still. It's a pot still with stabilisers on.


that is such a great description Aidan..especially as it comes from a person with experience with Airstills...I like that there is an option like the Airstill for people who do not necessarily have the room or desire to have a larger unit...think of all the people who would be lost to the hobby of distilling if not for these stills...I started life on a small home brew store still from NZ. it was functional small and my wife hated it on the kitchen bench...but without it I would not be here doing what I love..so the more airstills the better I say...because the users of todays Airstills will be the master distillers of tomorrow.
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby chill » Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:30 pm

Aidan,

I am curious about your insistence on a carbon filtering after the spirit run. I do this when I am making "neutral" (AirStill relative) but not for rum or bourbon. Do you think that carbon filtering is needed when double distilling a quality wash (all grain, mostly grain, molasses etc.)? If so, why?

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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby the Doctor » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:37 pm

Chill I think I can go someway to answering that...I spent my first 15 years of distilling on a small reflux still I bought whilst living in New Zealand...in its day it was "The Still" to buy...it was one of the first to get a 90 - 94 Abv product with little effort, whilst not an airstill it was an efficient little producer...the problem was that even though the product was purer than some of the runs on larger plated stills available now...it tasted awful...everything I did to fix this was a waste of time...so carbon was my saviour...as I finally worked out it was simply the design of the still...the column whilst efficient ...allowed the worst of the flavoured congeners through...try as I might I could not prevent this...some things helped, like using TPW and not using turbo yeasts...but without carbon filtration the product never came up to scratch...design is so important...now I can drink an 80% abv white dog watered down straight out of the still...why...well the still i use now has enough interplay between the rising hot vapour, falling cooling vapours and surface liquid to stop the nastier congeners from making it to the shotgun ...the airstill is an ingenious piece of equipment which has opened the world of distilling to people who otherwise would not have the space to distill....but there is a downside...they lack the ability to strip all of the off congeners...these are not harmful, just undesirable...so with carbon they can easily be eliminated...I no longer use carbon...but I had to start somewhere, and am thankful that carbon filtration stopped me from abandoning my hobby.
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby Killthepig » Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:38 am

Stick to your guns Frank
My apprentice ship was on an air still, the first run was according to the book
Result - not bad !
On the second run ,copper mesh was placed on a copper wire frame for the vapor to pass through,no carbon.
Result -excellent !
I'd still be using it but it was on a short term loan,which led me to source my own.
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby Stinger » Sun Feb 17, 2013 4:12 am

IMHO - Yes they are a legitimate distilling device. :text-bravo:

My old Airstill is a modified regular water distiller NOT the one designed for alcohol. I must admit that I found it hard to make cuts on those small quantities as a beginning stiller - easier now that I have years of stilling experience, but harder than any still where 20L or more are being run. Once you have a recipe and its cuts sorted it is VERY easy to repeat based on time.

I now use it for small trial recipes and runs, and it works perfectly for a small starter for a new sour mash, but I always use it to run macerations whenever 3 or 4L is all I want. I'm happy with gin made in it and I'm delighted with the pastis/ouzo/arak it will produce - based on clean neutral made in my column. It is very easy to make the minimal cuts required when you are starting with 40%abv clean neutral. It brings over the desired flavours VERY WELL.

I'd advise anyone who ever bought an Airstill to hang on to it.
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby chill » Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:00 pm

I've been trying to make a satisfactory pastis/ouzo/arak in my AirStill. I've gotten OK, but not excellent. I'd like to hear how you are doing it!

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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby Stinger » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:36 am

chill wrote:I've been trying to make a satisfactory pastis/ouzo/arak in my AirStill. I've gotten OK, but not excellent. I'd like to hear how you are doing it!

Chuck


viewtopic.php?f=38&t=1469

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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby emptyglass » Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:15 am

All you air stillers seem to complain about the same thing. Bad seperation of fractions.

They are a cool looking bit of gear. Getting hooch from the air??? Thats pretty cool. I'd love to try the theory on a bigger scale, but,
I think I got seperation anxiety.

I've thought of an air cooled worm/coil on a plated column.

I got my knickers in a knot about how it would work. Its a bit of coin to spend for the experiment. I reckon you air still guys have a leg up in the fact that the inputs are lower. howto hrness the power in a plated column has got me off thinking.
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby Kapea » Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:40 am

Air stills seem to me to be like the automatic bread machines of the stilling world. The product is not ideal, but passible, and gives the user a sense of DIY pride.

I never have used an air still, but I was given a bread machine as a Christmas present 25 years ago. That set my feet on the path to serious breadmaking. These days I make bread at least twice a week. Thank God for my Kitchen Aid mixer! (My KA mixer was a Christmas present the year after I received the bread machine). I was fine banging out the bread dough on the kitchen counter, but SWMBO hated the noise and flour dust in the air.
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Re: Are Airstills a Legitimate Distilling Device

Postby chill » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:10 am

EG, Riku's book on automatic stills has a fair bit on his air cooling experiments. I think you will find it interesting. One thing that I recall is using the finned tubes used for heaters for the condenser.
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