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Making a simple still for absinthe


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#1 thepope

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 06:37 PM

I imagine this might be of use to someone.........


My foaf used a still like this to make a bit of absinthe,
but I don't think it can be used for shine, cause it has a short path, ie it doesn't have and fractionating section

Using a standard large coffee can, set into a pot of hot water on the stove, and using the sink as a reservoir for cooling water.....
you could also use a steel paint can with a tight fitting lid as well, this is probably better even (due to the lid)

A copper pipe comes out from the top, which uses a fitting from the home improvement store to make a right angle turn , another pipe leads out from this and is slightly bent (by hand) and has a condensor made around it from PVC, just silicon seal two PVC reducers with a length of PVC between them, with holes drilled into it to accommodate the cooling water,
the condensor was tied up to something to support it

use a fish tank pump in a bucket/sink/bowl of ice water to condense upwards of three quarts per hour.....

I realize that this is a pretty low capacity, shabbily made piece of thrown together shit,
but it works, and well
and its cheap toostill.jpg


Much love, tp

#2 Pedestrian

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 07:14 PM

Cool... I kind of get it..

Perhaps you could elaborate a bit more on the process and the function of the different sections?

#3 visualosophy

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 07:24 PM

I am assuming that the water is to boiled on high. What is the length of the condensor from end to end? :headbang:

#4 Guest_jay pheno_*

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 08:22 PM

:pirate:

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#5 thepope

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 09:15 PM

Ok, I have made a new picture, I hope this makes it more clear.....
diagram.jpg
The stuff to be distilled sits in the steel coffee/paint can, which is sitting in a pot of hot water on the stove -(For my foafs stove this was about 6-7, the water doesn't need to be boiling, just hot)
This causes the stuff to boil and turn into a vapor, which will then try and escape via the copper pipe set into the tight fitting lid of the paint can(use teflon tape to seal leaks)
You can use a product called J B Weld to bond any metals.

The vapors travel through the 90 degree angle pipe fitting, all these copper pieces can be found at your home improvement store.
The pipe leading to the left is bent by hand so that vapors which condense will run down to the tip and drip out. The condensor is made around the copper pipe by bonding two bell reducers to the pipe with a piece of PVC pipe in between, about a foot and a half long is PLENTY long, a foot is just sufficient

This piece of PVC pipe has holes drilled in it, with clear plastic hose sticking out of the holes, and sealed with silicone sealant

These hoses run down to a fish tank pump sitting in ice water, whether this be in a bucket, your sink, or a big bowl,
but ice is required to ensure proper condensation, and you will have to add more, if you're distilling a lot.

The vapors travel through the condensor and are exposed to the ice-water-cold walls of the copper pipe, due to the water from the reservoir flowing through the PVC via the hoses, and they are thus condensed into a liquid, which drips into the reservoir bowl.......


In the case of absinthe, the alcohol, water, herbal oils and assorted compounds boil off together in a mixture called an azeotrope- this means the molecules sort of get caught up with each other as they are boiling out, while other, heavier molecules get left in the liquid phase, resulting in only certain things coming out of the pot.
This leaves ALL the bitterness out of your absinthe, resulting in a much smoother, nicer stuff

I think that about covers it......... Any more questions?
Oh yeah, the pipe he uses was 1" copper, and 2" PVC.
Using a smaller pipe resulted in too small asurface area for the vapors to condense on, and lots of absinthe steam escaping into his kitchen- MMmmm Aromatic

Go for the 1" for sure

Also, I think that you need fractionation(the purification caused by vapor condensing and then re-evaporating from a column packing providing lots of surface area)
if you're going to be distilling from nasty mixes like mash

#6 thepope

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 09:16 PM

um mods,
I just realized looking at the title of the thread that it has little to do with botanicals

#7 Nabby

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 01:21 AM

The best still I ever heard of was a bucket inside a bucket. You put your mash or whatever inside a little bucket, and set it on a raised platform inside a bigger bucket. You put a submersible heater into the little bucket and plug it in, then you put the lid on the bigger bucket, and put a few bags of ice on top. The heater in the little bucket causes the mash to raise in temp, evaporating the alcohol, then when it hits the icey cold lid, it condenses and runs down the sides of the bucket, gathering in the bottom.

#8 SWIM

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 06:43 AM

I've got the .pdf on building that bucket still on a cd in the stack. Doesn't look like I bookmarked the site where I got it.

The real value of the immersion heater is that you are running the distillation at a controlled temperature right where the alcohol is volatile. If you used it for distilling botanicals you would need to confirm the temperature at which your thujone or whatever volatilizes or it might get left behind along with the fusel oils.

#9 thepope

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 10:17 AM

SWIM, you said:
If you used it for distilling botanicals you would need to confirm the temperature at which your thujone or whatever volatilizes or it might get left behind along with the fusel oils

I don't understand what you mean----
The alcohol,water, and herbal ingredients all distill over together as an azeotrope..... At hotter temps, it just boils a little more vigorously, but it seems to produce the same mixture at any temp that is sufficient to cause the alcohol/water to boil
Most of these plant oils and stuff volatolize at a much higher temp than that used to distill absinthe.....
Think about this: Alcohol boils at a lower temp than boiling water...
So if you have 50:50 alcohol/water and you distill it at the lowest temp possible, you will end up with a 50:50 mix in the reciever..... The alcohol cannot be seperated from the water this way, except by careful fractional distillation right?

#10 thepope

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 10:30 AM

Two more things,

Can an immersion heater (this is the hot wire loop kind , right?)
even be used to distill alcohol? Isn't this dangerous?????
Can't you use one of these to get a wood fire started?
I have a little water still that has loops exactly like the immersion heater that I think you are referring to, and you ABSOLUTELY cannot use this with alcohol- It will blow up! or at least catch fire, It has multiple warnings saying this on the body of it
Also
Does anyone know if fractional distillation is REQUIRED over regular distillation for the purpose of distilling mash?
Isn't the bad shine back in the day a result of methanol contaminating the final product due to improper distillation?
Never having interest in moonshine, I wouldn't know

#11 Hippie3

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 11:48 AM

um mods,
I just realized looking at the title of the thread that it has little to do with botanicals

indeed.

#12 Guest_Dipole_*

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 12:18 PM

If the alcohol is from like vodka you can distill it along with the anise, wormwood, an hyssop. If the alcohol is coming from a fresh fermentation, then the distillation must be done with care.

The first quantity of alcohol will distill over at a lower temperature because it contains methyl alcohol. It is very important that this portion be collected separately and sewered, it is poisonous and can cause permanent blindness.

#13 thepope

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 01:38 PM

lol,
hey brother, pour me a shot of that methanol!

MMmmm MMMmmm MMMethanol

#14 Guest_Dipole_*

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 01:43 PM

I think that's what the Norwegian said that I heard about in the news.

#15 beebopboy

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 02:17 PM

I have a suggestion

For the condenser part, instead of the pvc pipe with water running through it
you could just make the copper tubing into a coil running downwards.

You could submerge it in a coffee tin or something and toss in some ice, make a lil place for the end of the tubing to come out and voila.

I think it might work better than the pvc pipe if you get alot of gas flowing. More surface area to cool it.

#16 Guest_Dipole_*

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 04:34 PM

Without a refluxing column, the rate that a distillation can be run is not so fast. I used a pressure cooker for the boiler. The rest was much like the picture. The boiling cannot go very fast without the alcohol percentage getting lower.

I was trying to get a high percentage because I was hoping to use it for mushroom extraction. I put 1.75 liters of vodka in the cooker and collected 750ml in a bottle of 140 proof (70%) stuff. That took close to 2 hours.

Absinthe will go faster though because I assume you want an 80 proof product. But if you run the still too hot the proof will be lower.

What the numbers are, I don't know, I never made liqueur.

#17 thepope

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 04:36 PM

indeed,
the long copper coil you describe was a part of many prohibition-era shine stills,

And for a large pot (more than 3 gallons) a more lengthy condensor would surely be recommended.

But for such a small capacity (3 liters per hour) this short condensor works great,
Its just like a 400mm liebig condensor like found in labs,

#18 beebopboy

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 04:41 PM

But if you run the still too hot the proof will be lower.


Maybe you can attach a thermometer to the top where it makes the 90 degree turn.

Youll be able to adjust the temp better and hopefully get a better product.

#19 thepope

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 04:49 PM

dipole, here's a neat trick to produce some high proof stuff, without distillation:rasta::rasta:
Go to Home Depot and get a bag of QuickLime, it comes in a big 20 LB bag for like $8..... This stuff is for mixing up mortar and plaster , you add water and it turns into slaked lime
Quicklime is CaO, it will absorb water CaO + H2O = Ca(OH)<sub>2 ,
but it won't dissolve in alcohol, so you can filter it out

</sub>CaO binds 45% of it's own weight in water,
so put a bandana into a bowl, add your measured amount of quicklime, then pour the vodka over it, and now lift the CaO out with the bandana... and squeeze, you'll need to filter it again, try pouring it over sand on a coffee filter, as this traps very fine particles and won't clog the filter quickly, like just stacking up multiple filters will
This is 99+% ethanol, higher proof than even everclear!

too bad this won't help purify mash


Beebop, All my foaf does is sit the still in lower than boiling water,
as this produces a pretty high 155 proof absinthe.... He waters it down to 120 proof though, otherwise it's quite rough to drink

#20 Guest_Dipole_*

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 04:53 PM

Thepope, if you are going to put a column on with a thermometer you can take it one step further. Pack the column with those cheap scouring pads made from stainless steel curls. The column should be as long as possible if you want good through put. The curls cause the alcohol to fraction better. The temperature will help you control the proof.

Also you can tell if bad hooch is coming over that needs to be discarded. There is another thread in LifeStyles where the distilling temperatures are given.




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