SAFETYDanger of accidents and other important points

Implosion of the boiling vessel can occur. After distillation the mash cools in the boiling vessel and a vacuum forms. Air cannot get into the vessel through the column in time (the hose can also be twisted) so the boiling vessel shrinks like a rag. Following completion of the distillation the thermometer shall be disconnected and the connector between the vessel and the column should be undone immediately. This allows the entry of air. The forming of the vacuum begins as soon as the heat is turned off.

Explosions have also occurred. This is nearly always when mixing chemical mash comprising ethyl acetate and sodium hydroxide. Alcohol in gaseous form (the mixture gets hot) spreads into the air. The gas formation is ignited by a an open flame or a spark, such as from a thermostat.

Alcohol vapour can leak from a distillation apparatus in a few ways. The column can leak from a welded joint, not be tightly connected, etc., or distillation has started without the cooling water tap being turned on. When one have built a distilling column and/or still, the column should be mounted on the still, and tested by placing under water and connecting a source of compressed air to the outlet of the condensation cooler, to ensure that there are no leakings. If there are any leaks the air will bubble through the water.

If the apparatus leaks, or the cooling hose jumps off, pure alcohol vapour will enter the room when you use the still. Therefore cooling water must be turned on from the beginning, Equipment must be in good condition, and all hoses fastened with hose clips. Absolutely no provisional (ad-hoc, short-term, quick & dirty) solutions should be allowed in connecting the cooling hoses to the equipment or the cold water tap. If alcohol vapours do leak the smell will be immediately apparent.

Risk of fire is not relevant as we use electric heating. There have been cases where heating has been speeded up by the use of open flame propane, butane, natural gas or spirit heaters. The first 2 dl of output have been measured off, then the distillation has progressed unattended, with the cooling water on. All has been well until the container has filled up and the alcohol has spilled over and run towards the open flame and ignited. Therefore one only uses electricity and don't smoke either.

Flooding can arise if the cooling water hose jumps off. All cooling water hoses must be properly fitted with hose clips. There must also be a proper coupling between the tap and the cooling water hose. The exiting cooling water discharge must be fixed properly, connected or fixed to the sink or a drain.

Poisoning from spirit can never occur. Not even impure spirit is toxic, it just tastes bad because of the fusel oil (which exacerbates any hangover). However, one can drink too much, with known results

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