Carbohydrates For Fermentation

Carbohydrates and their chemistry can be an extremely complicated subject. In this appendix, we're going to give you just a taste of that complexity, and then simplify back down the few simple points that apply directly to fermentation and distillation. Knowing about the complexity and the vast numbers of different kinds of sugars can help appreciate how valuable the traditional fermentable sources truly are. Carbohydrates are materials made up exclusively of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, in a...

Safety

Working with metal creates many hazards to beware of. Cutting and drilling create sharp edges and burrs that can cause nasty cuts, and can cause small, sharp pieces of metal to fly around at high speed. Wraparound safety goggles (which can easily fit over spectacles if you wear them) are a must So-called safety glasses that permit objects to get to your eyes from the side can be worse than useless because they create a false sense of security. Soldering metal pieces involves the use of very...

Final word

There now In this, the last chapter, we have discussed subjects ranging from basic physics and chemistry to the design and operation of fractionating stills, stopping along the way to examine the reasons why they are built and operated the way they are. We hope that this journey has been interesting and illuminating, and that it has given you at least a few ideas that you will follow up as you enjoy the activities involved in distilling. We sincerely believe that the more deeply you understand...

Daltons Law for Gases

In 1808, John Dalton stated that the total pressure in a system of gases is the same as the sum of the pressures of its components. This statement, made in his book A New System of Chemical Philosophy, is now known as Dalton's Law, and amounts to saying that the total pressure is the sum of the pressures which each gas would exert if it were confined alone in the volume occupied by the mixture. For example, we know that at 90C a mol of water vapor occupies approximately 30 litres at atmospheric...

Home Distillation

NOTE page numbers are not given in the Index to this pdf version of the book as Adobe Reader has an efficient Edit Find search facility. Activated carbon Activation Adsorption Cleaning used carbon Preparation for use Procedures to use van der Waals forces Airlocks, standard Alcohols Beers and Whiskeys Congeners Ethyl alcohol Fusel alcohols Meads Root vegetables and Vodka Sugar based washes and Rum Synthetic alcohol Wines and Brandies Alembic Annealing Antoine equation Aquarium starter kit...

An illustration of vapor pressure

The vapor pressure of a substance is the amount of pressure escaped molecules can exert on the surrounding environment. A simple experiment often performed in schools illustrates this. Warning Mercury is toxic please do not attempt this experiment yourself at home. Take a long glass tube that is closed at one end, and fill it with mercury. Upend it with the open end submerged in a beaker of mercury. If the tube is long enough, an empty space will appear above the mercury in the tube, and the...

Operation

This controller provides fully variable heater element control by means of burst fire control of two triacs, one feeding power to the heater element under control, and the other to a dummy load with the same wattage as the heater element. Another heater element of the same value as the boiler heater element is the obvious choice, heating a quantity of water in a separate container. As was noted in Chapter 4, the water in the separate container will heat up very slowly, as it's only absorbing...

Surge boiling

Everyone knows what boiling is, and we discussed it at some length in Chapter 2, where we stated that boiling occurs when the vapor pressure of a liquid becomes equal to the external pressure exerted on it, and that the boiling point temperature therefore depended on what this pressure is. Now, we have to admit that reality is a bit more complex than that, and that the real situation is that when the vapor pressure of a liquid reaches the point where it's equal to the surrounding pressure, a...

Slightly Modified Consumer Goods

Another simple approach is to find and modify a piece of equipment that already exists. A wide variety of electric soup kettles, deep fryers and coffee urns are available, and most of them have heat capacities in the correct range. Probably the easiest item to modify for a boiler is the 14-20 liter 60-80cup coffee urn. This usually has two concealed heating elements, one for quick heat up and the other for keeping the coffee hot. All you need to do is remove the percolator basket, improve the...

Designing and building stills

Cold Distillation Alcohol

Perhaps the simplest still you can build is the Wok-in-Pot device. This incredibly simple still is actually quite efficient, and may be assembled or dismantled in seconds. To assemble one, place a trivet in the bottom of a large pot, and then partially fill the pot with the liquid to be distilled. Put a smaller container on the trivet in the center of the pot, then place a wok on top of the pot and fill it with ice. When the liquid in the large pot vaporizes, it condenses on the cold wok, runs...

Sugar management

Controlled fermentation requires control of the initial sugar concentration. Assuming that fermentation is about 90 efficient, it takes about 17grams of sucrose per liter of solution to produce 1.0 alcohol by volume. Some fermentations will do better than this, and some worse, but it is a decent rule of thumb to use with pure table sugar. Glucose or Fructose require 17.9 grams per liter per percent alcohol. This is explained in Appendix 2. Most home brewers or wine makers have a hydrometer to...

Condensers

The purpose of a condenser is to extract heat from a vapor so it condenses into a liquid. It's as simple as that. Or is it Supplying energy to something can be as easy as striking a match. Removing it can be much more difficult. When we discussed vaporization, we showed that it takes a lot of energy for molecules to move from the liquid to the vapor phase, and vice versa. When a molecule goes from the vapor to the liquid phase, this same energy is given up, and it must go somewhere. This is a...

Vapor Management

Fractionating Reflux Still

A vapor management still head is very easy to build because the concept is so simple, and is a considerable advance on all previous liquid management techniques that utilize small, temperamental needle valves that can be difficult to procure and which often change their settings with temperature. once calibrated its settings remain the same it maintains a constant selected reflux ratio for any boiler power setting or vapor composition the quantity of product distillate automatically reduces at...

Z surface area of packing volume of column occupied by packing

Note it's the volume of the column that's packed, not the volume of the packing material itself, because we're interested in the free space left for vapor and liquid flow. We know D, and we know V, so all we need to know is N. This may seem simple. After all, if we know the size of each marble it should be easy to calculate how many can occupy a volume V, shouldn't it Unfortunately, the answer is no The problem of random particle packing has been fascinating mathematicians since ancient times,...

Equipment Design

In this chapter we discuss the design and manufacture of stills. Please remember the warning we gave at the beginning of the book Distillation of alcohol is illegal in some countries, and stills intended for use in processing of alcohol should neither be imported nor made in those countries. Furthermore, in some countries, even a still intended for purifying water or some other chemical compound must be registered if it exceeds a certain size. It is extremely important that you make yourself...

Mixtures and solutions

All substances are made up of atoms and molecules that contain electrical charges. Depending on the type of charge and the way it is distributed, substances can attract or repel one another very much, very little, or not at all. When substances are mixed together, different things can happen depending upon the nature of their interaction. If the molecules actively repel one another, like oil and water, they will separate from one another as completely as possible and are said to be immiscible....

The Compound Still

Fractionating Column Home Distillation

The Fractionating Still provides a rich product, but one that is a mixture of volatile components. It does a better job than the pot still, if it is not driven too hard. The best product is obtained at the slowest operation. The Compound Still offers a way to obtain almost perfect separation of each volatile component, in order of increasing boiling points. A compound still has a reflux condenser on top of a fractionating column, which returns most or all of the condensate to the column. This...

Condensers Summary

Distilling With Steam Whiskey

We have discussed the designs that we've found most useful for small scale distilling. You may think of others, and we encourage you to do so, because innovation and experimentation are the most enjoyable parts of this hobby. Throughout history, thousands of people have worked to design a better mousetrap. You can join this happy band of inventors and design a better condenser As you design your equipment, you may even start with the old moonshiner's coiled tube or worm in a barrel of water -...

The gate valve

Plate Distillation

A 2.5cm 1 gate valve controls the size of the opening through which vapor flows to the product condenser. This valve is at the heart of vapor management, and allows adjustment of the reflux ratio. As its name implies, it works by sliding a flat plate or 'gate' across the whole width of the tube that runs through it. Gate valves sometimes called 'slide' valves are readily available from any plumbing or hardware store as they are a commonly used item. It is connected to the side arm of this...

Techniques for employing either the Cone Protocol or turbo yeast

Home Distillation

The turbo yeast packets are generally sized for a fermentation volume of 25 liters 6.6 US gallons , too large to fit in a standard carboy. The Cone methods may be employed on any volume from one gallon to 10,000 gallons or more, provided the equipment is capable of handling the tasks of oxygen, pH and temperature management. For the home producer, 25 - 50 liters 6 - 13 US gallons is a very reasonable volume to work with. The easiest technique is to utilize one of the large plastic fermenters...

Antoine Equation

The Clausius-Clapeyron equation is a very useful tool, but to use it, you need to know the vapour pressure P0 at a temperature T0, and the LHV of that substance H. For our purposes, this is not as difficult as it seems, because P0 is 760mm.Hg 1000 mbar at the boiling point T0 of the substance, and the LHV is in the table above. There are several other methods of calculating vapor pressure. One of the easiest to use is the Antoine equation, and it has some advantages. It is more accurate than...

Direct heating

Direct heating features a hotplate or heating element in close proximity to or even inside the boiler. Three common modes of direct heating are the hotplate, the concealed element and the immersion element. A hotplate is an external device used for heating a pot or kettle. We would include the burner on a kitchen stove in our definition of a hotplate . Hotplates may be fired by gas or electrically heated. There are a wide variety of hotplates available, and in general you get what you pay for....

If only 120V is available

Using a single power supply voltage gives you the opportunity to use two heater elements to safely achieve power level control. 120 V circuits are generally rated for 15 or 20 amperes, depending upon the wire gauge used. In North America, the largest 120V heating element available is 1500W, which draws 12.5 amperes. 1500W hotplates are readily available and inexpensive, and 1500W 120V water heater elements are available at most hardware stores. If you are willing to accept the long heat-up...

Variable Control

The methods we have just discussed allow power to be changed between a few pre-selected values. For most small stills, this will be more than satisfactory, and is inexpensive. If you intend to process a wide variety of different materials, or have batch sizes that vary a great deal, you might need fully variable control, which allows you to continuously adjust the amount of heat produced. Most hotplates and electric stoves, have a good power control built in. This makes boiler control easy,...

Batch and Continuous Distillation

These terms don't require any special definition, because they mean exactly what their names imply. Continuous distillation is characteristic of large, commercial operations, whether oil refineries or gin distilleries. The process just go on and on as crude oil or fermented brew is fed into the input and a distilled product is continuously withdrawn from the output. Batch distillation is characteristic of smaller scale production. Small quantities are dealt with one at a time, and this is the...

Types of Still The Pot Still

The Pot Still is the simplest possible still, consisting of a boiler or evaporator directly connected to a condenser. The Survival Still and the laboratory retort both qualify as pot stills. A more sophisticated pot still will have a boiler usually electrically heated with a tight-fitting lid and short tube to carry the vapor to a condenser. The alembic, with its very long spout, used air for cooling, but modern stills usually use water cooling. This simple, straightforward design makes the pot...

Fermentation Basic biochemistry

All living things require energy to continue living, and many different ways of obtaining that energy are found in nature. Plants convert the energy in sunlight into chemical energy their cells can use and store. Sugars, starches and fats are the most common energy storage products. Animals, fungi, and most bacteria break down the chemicals that are stored by plants to extract the energy they contain. There are two fundamental methods of extracting this energy - with and without the assistance...

The traditional Whiskey Still

Fractionating Reflux Still

You can increase the final concentration of ethanol by re-distilling, and this is exactly what is done in practice. Two or even three distillations are done before the product is ready for storage and maturation. This traditional process works well, but is time and labor intensive. Re-designing the still can save a considerable amount of both, by creating reflux. Whiskey stills are large copper pots topped by lovingly crafted copper alembics. Each distillery has its own unique alembic design,...

Distilling water

Distillation Alcohol Experiment

The simplest distillation you can perform is to heat up water and then condense the vapor. This results in a distillate that contains only water, and nothing else. It will contain no salts or any other nonvolatile dissolved substances. Many people distil water at home, using a variety of small commercially produced water distillers. Industrially, enormous plants produce millions of gallons of distillate from seawater for irrigation and drinking water Textbooks often present the classical...

Continuous Fractionating Still

Fractionating Still

The recycling principle at the top of a Compound Still applies all the way down inside a Continuous Fractionating Still. The Coffey still mentioned previously was an early move in this direction. Changing the rectifier section to a packed column with a reflux condenser on top creates the modern Continuous Fractionating Still used in many industries like oil refining and industrial alcohol production, better known as a Fractionating Column. In a long column at equilibrium, each fraction...

The Coffey Still

Coffeystill

In 1831, Josef Coffey patented a still design that revolutionized the whiskey and spirits industries. The Coffey still, also known as the patent still, was the first continuous still to achieve commercial success. The patent still combines two batch operations into one single process. The analyzer performs the function of the wash still. Steam is fed into the base of the analyzer and pre-heated wash into the top. They meet on a series of perforated plates, condensing the steam and boiling the...

Cleaning and Polishing

We mentioned earlier that the 'tasty stuff' in flavored spirits such as rum or whiskey is derived from congeners present in the fermented mixture. Unfortunately, the congeners are not very pleasant when fresh - in fact, they can be downright horrible or even poisonous These congeners include fusel alcohols from the German Fusel, or bad alcohol , oils and volatile esters. Some of these substances contribute nicely to flavor and bouquet, but most do not. Some of them are the major source of...

Types of Condenser

Shotgun Condenser Vapor

The survival still is a classic example of a flat sheet condenser. The plastic sheet has plenty of area, but makes a poor condenser because it is not well cooled and also has high thermal resistance. Placing one end in the shade improves the performance, and providing more cooling through evaporation makes it work even better. Placing a sheet of metal on top of the plastic above the collection cup boosts the efficiency tremendously, because metal has much lower thermal resistance than plastic...

Flanges

Bolt Circle Drawing

There are times you need the extra strength of a flanged connection that is bolted or clamped together. The flanges that make this possible are relatively easy to make yourself. A flange is just a flat rim on the end of the pipe or tubing, produced by soldering or welding on a flat plate with a hole in the middle that matches the size of the pipe. Flanges may be any shape, but round and square are the most common. Spring clamping flanges together may be enough to hold two pipes securely, but...

The Fractionating Still

Fractionating Still

The Fractionating Still is a compact device for increasing the amount of condensation and evaporation of reflux. A fractionating still has a vertical tube called a fractionating column, filled with packing material, between the boiler and the final product condenser. It's important to note that the fractionating column is just a part of the whole still, just as the boiler is a part. If this column were empty and had no packing material, then it wouldn't be a fractionating column, but would...

Relationship between the Boiler and the Condenser

The boiler must not produce more vapor than the condenser can handle. In a still, all the heat that's produced must also be removed. Some will be lost if the system isn't insulated well, but let's assume that we have perfect insulation, and all the heat coming from the boiler has to be removed by the condenser. This means that we must know how to match the condenser's capacity to the power of the heater element. Let's start by assuming that we have a 1 kW heater element 1000 watts . If you look...

Foreword

Worldwide, there is a growing interest in distillation by those who enjoy making alcoholic beverages, essential oils, botanical extracts and perfumes. We have read books that purport to describe how distillation works, but got it wrong in whole or in part, and some that detail how to build a particular type of still and operate it, but which are based more on myth than sound scientific and engineering knowledge. We came to the conclusion that there was a crying need for a book that gives a...

Compound still management

Offset Distillation Still Head Reflux

Choosing the type of condenser is simple compared to the question of how to control reflux and withdraw the product. There are three fundamental methods of accomplishing this Liquid management. Divide and distribute the liquid condensate directly. Cooling management. Divide the vapor into two flows by managing the amount of cooling in the reflux condenser. Vapor management. Divide the vapor into two flows mechanically. Liquid management The still head does two things taps into the reflux stream...

Pot on a hotplate

We mentioned several types of boiler in chapter 3, but a simple pot on a hotplate is by far the most common in amateur distilling. The pot on a hotplate approach can range from a standard kitchen pot or pressure cooker on a kitchen stove up to large pots eg a 55 gallon drum set on an industrial cooker. This design can also be used to provide semi-indirect heat by placing the actual boiler inside a larger pot, filling the space between the pots with a heat-transfer liquid Water, salt water,...

Boiler control

Directly heated boilers can suffer from the phenomenon of surge boiling. The more advanced fractionating and compound stills require a well-regulated and moderate heat input to operate correctly. Whatever type of boiler you have, and whatever kind of still you use it in, you do need to think about controlling the boiler. 1 kW of power will vaporize 1.6 kg of water each hour at its boiling point. That same kilowatt will vaporize 4.2 kg an hour of pure ethanol, and a mixture of water and ethanol...

The Pot Still

Home Distillation Alcohol

The pot still is also a very simple device, consisting of a boiler, a condenser, and a connecting tube. Many successful pot stills have been made from everyday kitchen pots and pans. Pressure cookers are a common choice because they are sturdy, and can also provide steam for processing botanicals by steam distillation. A common pressure cooker is more than ample for producing steam for botanicals, but rather small for producing spirits from a batch of fermented brew. Amateur distillers...

Steam distillation

Reflux Still Whisky Diagram

Volatile materials, like essential oils, evaporate in the presence of heat. Even compounds that are sensitive to high temperatures can withstand them for short periods of time. Steam distillation is a process that produces localized high temperatures for a short period of time, and very effectively extracts materials like essential oils. The simplest way to practice steam distillation is to simply place the materials in a small pot like a coffee carafe with water, collect and condense the steam...

Indirectly heated boilers

There are many advantages to an indirectly heated boiler, but other than the pot in a pot technique, they are difficult and expensive to build. You might be able to find a jacketed cooking vessel at a used restaurant supply store, and that would be the best way to create a true indirect heating system. Vessels with heating coils are generally too large to consider for a small-scale boiler. This method is used extensively in industry, because a single boiler can heat many pieces of equipment....

Cooling management

Reflux Cooling Management

If you reduce the amount of cooling water fed to a reflux condenser, at some point it can't condense all the vapor, and some will begin to flow past the condenser. If you do this by design, then the vapor getting past the reflux condenser can be condensed by a second condenser and collected as product. Consider the operation of the unit in diagram 4-14. Initially, tap A is wide open and tap B fully closed. All the cooling water flows through the reflux condenser, and 100 reflux occurs. After...

The Graham Condenser

Twist a small central tube into a coil, and you have made a Graham condenser, which is more efficient than the Liebig, but also more difficult to make. The Graham condenser must be held vertically with the vapor flowing downwards, so the condensed liquid will not collect in the coils and impede vapor flow. We believe that a finned Liebig is at least as efficient as a Graham condenser. You can make a Graham condenser by the same simple method used for the Liebig if you leave the ends of the coil...

The Cold Finger

Copper Cold Finger

This design is very easy to make, and useful when you want to insert a condenser in the top of an open tube. Its efficiency is poor due to the limited surface area, but may be improved by confining the vapor with a shroud keeping it close to the cold surface. It is most useful for small amounts of vapor, as in the processing of botanicals. This design is simply made by sealing off the bottom of the outer tube which is the Cold Finger and then inserting a long, open tube through the middle of a...

The Reflux Coil

Many people prefer to make this type of coil condenser to condense vapor at the top of a column because it is simple to make, despite its complicated appearance. Since it is most often used to condense reflux, it is simply called a Reflux Coil. Soft copper tubing 5mm 3 16 inch to 6.5mm inch in diameter is the best material to use. This size tubing is widely sold in coils for use in hydraulic lines, refrigeration and some plumbing applications. The smaller diameter tubing is better, because it...

The Firebox Condenser

Home Distillation Cool Management

This design is useful when you have limited space, especially when the vapor is going up the tubes and the distillate coming down - the situation with a condenser on top of a column. A limitation of this design is that the tubes have to be at least 7mm inch internal diameter or you may experience choking, where the surface tension of the distillate causes the liquid to block the tubes. This is the same effect that causes liquid to remain in the bottom portion of a drinking straw. Although...