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Moonshine Without A Still


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#21 pharmer

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 12:13 PM

Keep this up Heirloom. I'm subscribed

 

It has been a goal for years now to learn to distill. We can trade the ethanol for weapons and women when the SHTF.

 

I've made hard cider. It's surprisingly uninteresting and tastes strangely. It can be tinkered with by using different yeasts but from what I hear from the brewer supply guy hard apple ciders are the volkswagens of the luxury car market. I love Angry Orchard and Foul Breathed Woodchuck brand ciders but they're heavily flavored after the brewing or distilling is done. Which is not a bad thing. I was surprised to find out how little like the commercial products the home brewed ciders are.


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#22 Juthro

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 03:10 PM

If your not feeling very DIY, Mile High Distilling has one of these amazingly cute 8gal stainless pot stills for cheep (though, admittedly made in China).

A nice thing about a setup like this is you can grow with it. The pot still top comes of with a clamp, and can be replaced with a column later if you want to make neutral spirts, or fuel/solvent. The all stainless setup is also easy to clean.

I like the 8gal size because its a good size to work with a 5gal pail of mash.
https://milehidistil...pot-still-head/
 
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Edited by Juthro, 22 September 2017 - 03:10 PM.

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#23 pharmer

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 03:14 PM

What are the (apparent) drain cocks for near the bottom of the can?



#24 Juthro

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 03:23 PM

The one on the bottom is a 1" threaded coupler to take a hot water heater element. The one higher on the side (1/2" coupler) is usually used for a thermometer.

Though you could put a plug in them as neither one is needed to run. A propane burner (think turkey fryer) works very well to drive this size still, or so I have been told......

Edited by Juthro, 22 September 2017 - 04:24 PM.


#25 Juthro

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 03:37 PM

For the record, that pot still head could be attached to an old beer keg if it has a sankey style valve.

You have to remove the lock ring, and internal valve and spring, and then a 2inch stainless sanitary fitting with gasket will clamp right on to it. Just like it clamps to the milk can boiler.

You can also put whatever fittings you need on a keg, with the use of TIG welder. You can save yourself a lot of $ if you don't mind doing the work. One of those 8gal stainless milk cans runs about $200-$250 by itself.

Edited by Juthro, 22 September 2017 - 03:38 PM.


#26 coorsmikey

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 06:16 PM

Dang Juthro I wish you hadn’t posted that 8 gal. Looks like I’ll be eating Roman Soup and potatoes for lil while now. Good find!
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#27 Juthro

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 07:32 PM

Different manufacturer (Brewhaus), but a very comparable still for about the same price. This one comes with a pump and the hoses for cooling water, but has no couplers in the boiler (they would be happy to add them, for a small fee).

Hell, for just a few dollars more you can move up to a 15gal boiler.....

https://brewhaus.com...still-complete/
 
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Edited by Juthro, 22 September 2017 - 07:35 PM.

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#28 coorsmikey

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 08:48 PM

The 8 gal looks better to me because of the ability to add the thermometer and heating element. The latter has a better colum with that upright length that can be stuffed with copper wool. I love my lil homemade 1 gal but for the same reason Heirloom mentions, is that it is nice to gift others with a pint or quart of just pure Airplane Fuel. Anyway you look at it, even with the best yeast one is only gonna get like 13% on a ferment. So basically you will only get one pint of fuel per gallon so at lest with the 8 gal one could possibly a gallon from one run.
That 8 gal from the looks of it really is a good price and fits what I use my still for on an ethanol perspective. My lil 1 gal will still work great for other extractions and essential oils.

Edited by coorsmikey, 22 September 2017 - 08:54 PM.

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#29 Juthro

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 10:45 PM

I looked it up on their web site, and they do stuff 'build to order'. They want $15 apiece for stainless steel 1" couplers welded into the tank. They will put in as many as you want, wherever you would like them.

8gal is a good size (IMHO), and if you ever decide to go with a larger column(shorter run time), you can still use the same boiler. You just get a new lid with the proper size adapter for the diameter of the new column.

The lids are another nice feature. They reduce from 8" to whatever size your column is (the stills we are looking at are 2" columns). So when the lid is removed it allows fairly easy access for cleaning the boiler. A lot easier then trying to clean a 15gal keg through a 2" fitting, centered on its top.

Shoot, some of you all live close enough to make it a road trip to pick up the still from their factory in Denver. That could save you some pretty good coin on shipping.

EDIT: I've been window shopping these stainless milk pail based stills for a couple of years now, and IMHO this is a really good price on one of the better quality units available commercially. They are the real deal.

Edited by Juthro, 22 September 2017 - 10:54 PM.

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#30 Juthro

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 01:43 PM

I'm glad you brought up ABV and yield, Mikey. A run on an 8 or 15 gal boiler can last 10 or 12 hours if your running your still tight enough to get a real high ABV# (90+).

If you are just running your fermented mash (ABV 12-13%) like this, its a lot of time and work for not that much rocket fuel. The way to get around this is to make fast stripping runs of your mash. You force it though your rig fast and furious, just trying to get rid of a large percentage of the water.

What you have now collected is called low wines, and after a couple of stripping runs you have enough low wines to do a fuel run. This will let you collect around 40% of your charge volume, instead of 12 or 13%. That's a lot more yield out of long careful run.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: NEVER, EVER RUN A CHARGE OF GREATER THEN 40% ABV IN YOUR STILL!!! Above 40% it is flammable. Your charge will never gain ABV while in the stills boiler. So its safe to heat and run at that strength and under.

If your low wines are stronger then 40%, you need to add water to bring it to that ABV or bellow before you run it.

Edited by Juthro, 24 September 2017 - 01:45 PM.

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#31 coorsmikey

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 02:38 PM

Who said anything about being safe darn it Juthro? I agree that is a good practice to stay under 40% but I don’t always follow safe practices. To me safe is moving the still outside and keeping a fire extenguisher close by but not next to the still. My first runs usually get me ABV 60% or so. I pour the heads in solvent container and use around the the house for cleaning odd and ends. The rest I pour back in to the empty and cleaned still and run it again. See that wheel barrel under my avatar? I also do not use open flame heating.

Absolutely for anyone that doesn’t clearly know exactly what they are doing, listen to Juthro’s advice and do no boil anything with ABV40+.
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#32 Juthro

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 03:18 PM

LOL, {shakes head side to side) I love ya brother Mikey :) For the record I don't always follow my own advice either.

I just don't want to see you or anyone else get hurt because I didn't warn them of potential risks. And fire and explosion are pretty serious risks, even if it is a fairly minimal chance.

That's a good reason to upgrade to the 8gal boiler, Mikey. Its going to allow you to get a lot more yield from your efforts without having to compromise safety.

Figure you can run about a 5gal charge in an 8gal pail. So if your low wines were 40%, that would be a potential for 2gal of rocket fuel from a slow and careful run.

Now we know your not going to get the entire 2gal. Heads, tails, and the angels share take there toll, but your still left with a worth while amount for your efforts, and you don't need to push safety as much.
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#33 Juthro

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 05:35 PM

Sorry Heirloom, I kinda sidetracked your thread. I'll try and control my impulses brother :)
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#34 Heirloom

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 07:05 PM

I'm glad you posted the stills I might just buy one, faster than making one. I'm learning some important stuff from you guys. Please feel free to post it makes a thread more interesting. I feel more determined to try distilling than ever. I spent a good while looking at stills and thinking about asking a friend who goes to CO if they would pick it up and bring it back for me.
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#35 Spooner

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 07:20 PM

I'm glad you posted the stills I might just buy one, faster than making one. I'm learning some important stuff from you guys. Please feel free to post it makes a thread more interesting. I feel more determined to try distilling than ever. I spent a good while looking at stills and thinking about asking a friend who goes to CO if they would pick it up and bring it back for me.

 

One mark of a wise person is the ability to adjust your position to reflect the input of new data.


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#36 Juthro

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 08:45 PM

Another thing I might mention. When you want to use an electric element to drive your boiler there are some issues you have to deal with.

To get a smooth, and reasonably pure distillation (aiming for 95%ABV), you want to be able to control your heat very precisely. One way of achieving this is to make your controller regulate the power given to the element (think volume control), and not just turn it on or off at a set temp (like a thermostat).

The on/off style of temp control will send surges through you still and can make it very difficult to control.

There are plenty of easy to follow DIY's for making your own, as well as some premade from company's like Brewhaus, and Mile High. The thing to remember is you want the element to be able to run at reduced power, and not just turn off like when the thermostat reaches a set temp.


EDIT: This is one of the advantages of running off of a propane burner. You get precise control, and an easy visual reference to the heat being applied to the boiler.

Edited by Juthro, 24 September 2017 - 08:51 PM.

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#37 Heirloom

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 03:15 PM

How long would a 5 gallon run take, & how far could someone smell my still operating? Is this the best design for a still? My fermenter is 20 liters an 8 gallon boiler makes sense. I think propane would work best for me.

Those Brewhaus still sure are beautiful, I imagine one would last generations & pay for its self in a year or 2 give or take.

Thanks

Edited by Heirloom , 25 September 2017 - 03:18 PM.


#38 Juthro

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 06:47 PM

I copied a link from Brewhaus's forum that asks the same question. http://www.brewhausf....aspx#post24004

A lot of it depends on what your looking for results wise from your run. Stripping all the alcohol (+ some impurities) from your mash to make low wines can be done much quicker then a spirt run (working hard to keep impurities in the boiler and not the bottle).

Basically it says with one of their 2" column stills, a stripping run takes between 4 - 5 hours. A spirt run takes a little longer, say 7-9 hours. IIRC, STM Hunter runs a converted 15gal keg for his still with a 2" copper column, and says that a spirit run on his setup takes 12-14 hours.

Propane works very well (IMHO), it generally cuts some run time as it can bring your boiler charge up to temp faster then most electric set ups. I suggest that even if your going to go with propane that you still get couplers put in the boiler. You can put plugs in for now, but at a latter date you might want to go electric, or maybe put in a drain valve.

You can also DIY them into place later with either silver solder, or a TIG welder.

As far as smell, yes there is smell, but its not bad, or overpowering. A full grow room in flower smells MUCH stronger the a distillation operation, At least IMHO. I have smelled corn whiskey being processed, and the smell in the air always makes me hungry for fresh hot corn bread, lol.

Edited by Juthro, 25 September 2017 - 06:49 PM.

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#39 coorsmikey

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 07:33 PM

IME the smell from a cook is very distinguishable and once you have smelled it you alway remember and recognize it. But it is not strong at all and doesn’t travel far. The ole saying Takes on to know one, comes to mind. If a neighbor caught a whiff it would not turn a head. Infact I will often do pulls indoors and grain in the PC is a 100 times stronger in smell.
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#40 Heirloom

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 09:29 AM

A word about molecular sieves, used to absorb water from your distilled alcohol. Ebay and amazon both sell 3A molecular sieves and they are junk. For high quality molecular sieves you need to purchase at a chem supply company like Fisher or Sigma-Aldrich they cost more but are real high quality. They cost 10-15 times more but are worth it.

Testing molecular sieves requires a thermometer a heat resistant container and the molecular sieves. Dry the molecular sieves @ 200 degrees Celcius to prepare them for use. Let cool.

Add sieves to container, put in thermometer add water to the top of the sieves. High quality 3A molecular sieves will get hot enough to burn you, 156 degrees F / 65C. The heat is due to van der Waals forces.

The cheap molecular sieves will barely heat up, they barely absord water.

Another test using methanol

When methanol is added to the high quality molecular sieves the temp will barely change if any, they won't absorb the alcohol ( in this test methanol was used )

the temp of the low quality quality molecular sieves will increase indicating that the low quality ones are absorbing methanol, the pores are larger than 3 Angstroms

Another test involves weighing them before drying @ 200C and weigh them after . If they gained weight they are fake the weight gain is due to oxidation. They should lose weight as water is driven off during heating.

I got everything to build a still but due to severe joint pain in my hand I can't work right now. I wonder what caused it this inflammation. Not gout as my lad tests indicated normal uric acid levels in my blood. My hand swelled 3 times as big and the pain was a level 9. I got opiods prescribed for pain predsinone. My hand hurt un believably to even touch. My wife though it was a spider bite, I had carelessly wiped away spider weds outside and reached into areas I could not see. Started to hurt a little the next day then the second day it was so bad I went to Dr. Any ideas on what caused this? My resting heart beat was over 90 bpm I also could not sleep even after taking 2 ambien and flexeril/ muscle relaxer

thanks

Edited by Heirloom , 28 September 2017 - 09:35 AM.

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