Just another noob question

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Just another noob question

Postby pancakes » Tuesday Jan 26, 2016 10:36 am

Hi all.

I have been lurking for a week or so in preparation for my first destill with the t500 and have learnt a heap from these forums. Just a couple of quick questions if thats ok. 1 - When the pot was heating, the temp got to about 82 before I realized and turned on the water. I had about 100 mls come out which I expelled. Any issues with this i.e. the pot getting so hot?I am paranoid about the whole poisoning thing so want t make sure there is nothing i missed. 2 -How long after adding the essences should I leave it before drinking? With beer i used to leave it for 2-3 months. Any similar waiting time with spirits to improve the quality of the product?

Thanks all.
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Re: Just another noob question

Postby Guru » Saturday Jan 30, 2016 6:10 pm

I have no idea as I don't make any spirits. It is a bit quiet on here at the moment so hopefully someone can supply an answer.
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Re: Just another noob question

Postby Tipsy » Monday Feb 01, 2016 11:21 am

Hi Pancakes, I've got into the habit of turning the cooling water on as I've turned the power on.
Are you practising cuts? If so you will only be drinking the heart cut and you should be making a spirit that is headache free.
a guide to cuts

Seeing you are really only making "flavoured vodka" it will be ok to drink straight away.
When you get away from the essences ageing is very important.
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Re: Just another noob question

Postby Al de Hyde » Tuesday Feb 02, 2016 10:03 am

82C at the top of a pot-still neck is about right, and it quickly rises to 92c during operation.

The reason why the gas temp is so far above the ethanol BP (78.4C) is the latent heat of water condensation. As ethanol and water rise as a vapour, a large part of the water condenses and falls back into the wash. The latent heat of the phase change is left behind in the vapour, easily increasing the temp by 15C. The temp large rise stops any more water from condensing. Thus the purity is about 65% at the start of operation of a straight uncooled pot-still.

A reflux column cools the vapour and forces most of the water vapour to condense. The draw back of a reflux still is than the cooling water needs to be constantly jockied to keep the top-of-column gas temp at 79-80C. The T500 tap-water regulator is really useless. Better to use a gravity feed header tank, and adjust the flow by altering the height.

Commercial distilleries often use Coffey, or ganged pot stills. These will also produce ethanol at azeotrope purity, but dont require constant adjustment. The head temp of the first pot is typically 97C. The last pot stays at 79C.
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Re: Just another noob question

Postby Al de Hyde » Tuesday Feb 02, 2016 1:40 pm

>>paranoid about the whole poisoning thing
Most people are excessively concerned. Methanol poisoning events, such as happened in Toowoomba, are usually caused by idiots adding industrial meths to their hooch. (There was a 200L drum of meth in the shed with their grappa still.)

The amount of methanol made is very dependant on the type of wash. Using grain or grapes makes the largest amount, because of the amount of non-fermentable material, particularly pectin. Up to a max of 0.2% of total alcohol. Keep in mind methanol is much less toxic when it is mixed with larger amounts of ethanol. Meth is very toxic by itself.

Usage of pure sugars makes for 10x less methanol. You must add some nutrients though. Molasses is an excellent nutrient, 20% of total sugar works well. Molasses does tend make some off flavours unless the distillate purity is well above 80%. (Gosh! how do they really make rum!!!) I use 80% sugar, 10% molasses and 10% crushed grapes when I do a wash ... once every blue moon.

Molasses will make a lot of acetates, often confused as acetone. Acetates come off at 40-60c and have a very sweet solventy smell. Not as toxic as acetone. Acetone has high toxicity when *breathed*, but much less so when ingested.
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