Conversion Factors

Throughout the text you will find an awkward mixture of metric units and the foot pound gallon system still used extensively in North America. Different individuals, depending on age, occupation and whether they live in a British Commonwealth country or the United States, will use a different mixture of the two systems. So, for everyone's convenience, a list of conversion factors is provided below. 1 Imperial gallon 1 Imp fluid ounce 20 Imp fluid ounces 1 U.S. gallon 1 US fluid ounce 16 US...

Headaches and hangovers

Headaches and hangovers are well known consequences of overindulgence in alcohol, but what is less well known is that these unpleasant side-effects are largely due to the impurities, the congeners, and not to the alcohol per se. This interesting fact will be confirmed by many people who habitually drink gin or vodka rather than pot-distilled spirits such as rye, bourbon, scotch, rum or even wine and beer. More objective proof that the congeners and not the alcohol are the bad actors can be...

The Question of Legality

This chapter is written specifically for readers who live in countries where it is currently illegal for amateurs to distil their own home-made beer and convert it into gin or vodka. The rest of us can happily jump ahead to the chapters dealing with equipment and procedures. The conflict between governments and moonshiners has been going on for centuries and the reasons are not hard to find. From the government point of view alcohol in one form or another is in such demand that it can be...

Alcoholic Beverages

All alcoholic beverages are made by fermenting a sugar solution with yeast, a process which converts the sugar to carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol. Usually, one does not start with a pure sugar but with fruit juices for wine, the starch in grains for beer and whisky, molasses for rum, etc. Over the centuries trial and error have shown that a bewildering variety of sugar sources can be exploited in this manner, even such an unlikely substance as milk being usable because of the sugar lactose it...

Single boiler system

The preceding discussion has been based on the use of two boilers a large one for beer stripping and a smaller one for fractional distillation. As discussed in an earlier chapter dealing with equipment, it is possible to make do with a single boiler of intermediate size. In this case proceed as follows Make 50 to 60 litres of beer and place half of it (say 30 litres) in the boiler. With the packed column in place and the collection valve WIDE OPEN, bring to the boil and start collecting...

Beer and wine

Alcoholic beverages can be divided into two broad categories according to whether or not there is a distillation stage following fermentation. Beer and wine fall into the non-distilled category whereas whisky, rum, brandy, gin, etc. have all been distilled. The latter are often referred to as spirits or hard liquor. Simple distillation removes some of the more noxious congeners produced by fermentation. Because beer and wine do not receive any such purification treatment it is necessary to live...

Costs Economics

What does it all cost you ask All that equipment and those elaborate procedures The answer is quite a lot, perhaps as much as US 1,000 or the equivalent if you buy everything new. Is it worth it Well, that is a very individual decision and to help you decide, an estimate has been made of all the major costs involved. The costs provided below refer to the United States in 1997, even though none of the experimental work and none of the purchases were made there. It is simply a shopping list of...

Activated Charcoal

Most amateur distillers are familiar with activated charcoal, using it to remove some of the more noxious substances present in their crude spirit. An ordinary pot still - the standard type of equipment used by amateurs - is incapable of producing pure alcohol so activated charcoal remains the only hope of cleaning it up and producing a palatable beverage. By contrast, the alcohol produced with the equipment and procedures described in this book should conform to the definition of vodka given...

Procedures

As a practical matter the purification of beer by distillation is carried out in two stages. The first stage is known as beer-stripping and consists of a crude, rapid distillation in a pot still to contain the alcohol and impurities in a smaller volume. This smaller volume is then purified much more slowly and carefully in the second stage of fractional distillation. Beer-stripping Beer-stripping is not essential and if one wished to avoid the expense of the equipment required it would be quite...

Principles

Much of what needs to be said about the principles of distillation was covered in the chapter on beverages. There, the distinction was made between the comparatively simple pot stills used in the manufacture of whisky and the more elaborate still with fractionating column used to remove all the impurities and leave a pure alcohol, as in the manufacture of gin and vodka. The present chapter will explain just what is involved in carrying out a fractional distillation and how you go about it, but...

The column

Inch Copper Tubing Distilling

The fractionating column consists of a 3 ft. length of either 1V4 or 1V2- inch I.D. copper tubing, whichever you prefer. The bottom end of the column is joined to the top of the boiler by means of a union to permit disassembly when required. You could use either a 11 4 inch or a 3 4 inch union, and of course the smaller one is cheaper, but use the large one so that you will have free access to the column for introducing the packing see later . At the top of the column a tee is provided for the...

An Alternative Stillhead

Inch Copper Tubing Distilling

The offset type of still-head shown in the preceding diagrams works very well, but you may prefer to use the linear design shown here It has several advantages over the previous model. They are 1 It is cheaper to make since it involves no T's or elbows 2 No corks are involved for the thermometer 3 It is more streamlined and elegant in appearance. Construction. The diagram illustrates the design concept but a few construction details are necessary. a The collection spoon is cut from 3 8 inch...

Singleboiler Distillation System

Simple Steam Distillation

The purification of a crude beer by distillation is a 2-stage process. In the preceding pages we have described a system which uses two boilers a large one with a high-wattage heating element for the first stage of beer-stripping and a smaller one for the smaller volume of liquid involved in the second stage of fractional distillation. At the sacrifice of a little time and convenience it is possible to carry out both stages with just one boiler, thereby saving the cost of a second boiler and...

The stillhead

Steel Fractional Distillation Unit

The purpose of the still-head is to divide the vapour emerging from the column into two streams. This it does by first condensing the vapour to liquid in a heat-exchanger and then, as the liquid runs back down towards the column, diverting a portion of it to the outside world via a small valve. This valve has only a small volume of liquid to handle so for fine control choose a needle valve. Solder a short length of 5 16 inch tubing to the still-head as shown in the diagram and attach the valve...

Whisky brandy rum etc

The distiller of these products uses a simple pot still for batch distillation and this, as mentioned above, effects only a crude separation of the fermentation broth into heads, tails, and middle fraction. The skill in making a palatable whisky consists of a fermenting the mash under conditions which give rise to a certain mixture of chemicals followed by b distilling the mixture and discarding a portion of the heads and a portion of the tails. The middle fraction, consisting chiefly of...

Glass apparatus

Raschig Rings Arrangement

For those people who have access to a glassblower and, through him, to a scientific supply company, an all-glass still may be appealing. The boiler will be exactly the same as in the copper system shown in Figures 3 and 4, but the column, still-head and condenser will be put together with standard-taper ground-glass joints. The details of a glass still-head are shown in Figure 6. At the base of the column use a spherical glass ball-joint which will rest on the female half of the brass union...

The Distillation

Fractional Distallation

OF ALCOHOL A Professional Guide for Amateur Distillers Making pure ethyl alcohol at home could be a satisfying and profitable hobby for those who live in countries where it is legal to do so. Do-it-yourself types who currently enjoy making beer or wine would find it particularly interesting because it is a logical extension of both these activities. There is the same fermentation stage where sugar is turned into alcohol, but instead of drinking the brew we subject it to a very rigorous...

Fractional Distillation Apparatus

The crude alcohol produced by the beer-stripper is transferred to the fractional distillation apparatus shown in Figures 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Whereas the beer stripper is an elementary piece of equipment, easy to understand and easy to use, the fractional distillation apparatus is rather more complicated. Few non-scientists have ever heard of such an animal, and have never seen or read about one. Yet a fractionating still is the one essential piece of equipment required to produce pure alcohol and...

Table of Contents

Beer and wine Distillation what is it Simple distillation pot stills Whisky, brandy, rum, etc. Fractional distillation Gin amp vodka Health amp Safety Headaches amp hangovers 3. The Question Of Legality 17 Fractional distillation apparatus The boiler The column The still-head The flavouring still Beer-stripping Fractional distillation Collection rate Yield of pure alcohol 7. Flavouring 8. Summary of procedures 9. Costs amp Economics I. Conversion factors II. Activated charcoal III. Distillation...

Beer Stripper

Beer Stripper Distillation

Beer stripping is simply a fast, crude distillation of the beer in a pot still in order to obtain most of the alcohol in a smaller volume of water. This smaller volume of distillate, about a quarter of the original volume of beer, is easier and cleaner to handle in the small precision equipment used for the final stage of fractional distillation. An effective and fairly inexpensive beer-stripper can be fabricated from a 30 US gallon 113 litre domestic hot water heater. A sketch of the water...

Gin and vodka

In sharp contrast to all other alcoholic beverages, gin and vodka are made from almost pure alcohol, i.e. alcohol from which all the heads and tails have been removed. This, when diluted with water to 40 , is vodka. To make gin, a flavouring essence based on juniper berries is added. Using a pure alcohol as the basis for a beverage has many advantages in terms of the ease of manufacture, the raw materials which can be used, and the quality of the product. In terms of ease of manufacture, the...