Attn Fellow Distillers: Advice Requested

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Thru December 2001: Attn Fellow Distillers: Advice Requested
By Perruche_Verte on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 10:51 pm: Edit

Unless you were running a small commercial distillery in your house, not just making a few liters now and then.

By Perruche_Verte on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 10:42 pm: Edit

Do you suppose the utilities flag what they think are suspicious usage patterns?

Banks do this, to trap money launderers, but somehow I can't imagine the water department or the power company either caring that much, or having the workforce to deal with it.

By Mr_Rabid on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 10:31 pm: Edit

Looking is easy, though.

You can make tags by accessing power/water company records and checking usage reports.

Of course, no one can check usage off of an on site generator.

By Tavarua on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 10:00 am: Edit

Obviously, either of these are only tells if someone is looking, i.e., already tagged.

By Tavarua on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 09:51 am: Edit

"and your electric usage will go up rather than your water usage."

Unfortunately, this is what they look for if you grow your own "herbs". Obviously I am not suggesting that you are such an entrepreneur, but this activity will arouse suspicion. Your damned if you do and damned if you don't

By Don_Walsh on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 07:08 am: Edit

Dr O., there are ways to beat the water usage 'tell', and the solution also solves the problem of nasty deposits in your condensers. Use a recirculating chiller. Load it with distiller water once. Then you use zero city water hence forth, and your cooling water will be just as cold as you need it to be, your condenser will stay nice and clear, and your electric usage will go up rather than your water usage.

You ought to be able to snag a used one on LabX.com for cheap. Cheap of course is relative, but I think it is cheap compared to a visit from BATF. Make sure it has outlets for tubing in/out of a condenser, and is not just a bath. Some of these things are bloody expensive but here I can buy a new one for $1200 capable of chilling several small stills or one medium size. They are working on a double capacity version for 1.5X price for me, that will handle an industrial size device. Forgive me if I am not more specific.

These things will recirculate 10 L water at as low as 5 C. At say 20-30 C they are very very efficient. In a place with warm city water they are a necessity if you distill low boiling solvents or at reduced pressure. Otherwise it's time for dry ice-acetone slurries in Dewasr traps, and unless you like your Slurpies REALLY cold, and toxic, and flammable, these are a pain in the ass.

Not of course that you would so anything illegal. We are merely speculatin' 'bout a hypothesis. As the chief of police said to the protagonist in 'Miller's Crossing'.

By Don_Walsh on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 06:51 am: Edit

I emailed Tony Ackland about this. Mike Nixon tore this design a new asshole, and among other things said that a bubbler (doubler, thumper) doesn't work. Tony says it does, and explains why. I am wondering how old Mike's critique is and what he has learned since he wrote it.

Also he has moved his site off Geocities which has curtailed his bandwidth, and his two direct url's are free of those horribly annoying popup consoles that Geocities uses, I hate them.

(The Geocities site is still there, so you can get the new addresses there. If you are as lazy as I am, the main one is: http://www.homedistiller.org

Enjoy!)

By Luger on Thursday, November 22, 2001 - 02:47 am: Edit

"I'll see how this thing compares in throughput and degree to a same-size (3 x 54 inch) simple packed column at
100% takeoff (no reflux head). "

Remember that I just said it was popular, the only way to know if it is as effective as stated is to try it your proposed way. It would be interesting to know the results.


Luger

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, November 21, 2001 - 09:40 pm: Edit

Aha! That is the sort of intel I needed (that it is is popular in Scandinavia).

Don't make any assumptions about which system will be used to make Jade's alcohol, as this is just one of several stills I am evaluating in parallel and I am continuing to produce alcohol in the meantime by my present method.

The thing about congeners is, if you do the fermentation well, keep bacteria out, control temperature, and select yeast and feedstock right, congeners are minimal in the mash. The Charles 803 was designed as a fuel alcohol still, and was being fed fermented garbage, basically, and so congeners were rampant, but the Ford pickup didn't go blind. If you take my meaning.

So the combination of the good clean wash and the Charles 803 will produce, I suspect, a high throughput of c.80% ethanol in one pass with a congeners level that is amenable (once cut back to 40-50%) to granulated AC fixed bed treatment. I really don't care whether it takes one bed, two beds, or three beds, as these are easy and cheap to set up.

I'll see how this thing compares in throughput and degree to a same-size (3 x 54 inch) simple packed column at 100% takeoff (no reflux head).

By Dr_Ordinaire on Wednesday, November 21, 2001 - 04:15 pm: Edit

"Oh, as an anecdote, a popular way for the cops to find the "city-shiners" is to check the water consumption for apartments."

Well, the Dr. would not condone any illegal activity, but what he uses for his water distilling is a recirculating system. A small pump and 2 frozen pots will be enough for a liter distillation...

By Luger on Wednesday, November 21, 2001 - 03:55 pm: Edit

"So cooling water only flows when the top of the midsection is at
80 C (or higher)."

Oh, as an anecdote, a popular way for the cops to find the "city-shiners" is to check the water consumption for apartments.

Not a problem in the countryside, where the farmers have their own wells :-)
Abandoned houses are not too uncommon either,,

By Luger on Wednesday, November 21, 2001 - 01:02 pm: Edit

"This still intermittently cools the packed section. This is most odd. But, good old Gert Strand says that, while
conventional rule of thumb is that a fractionating column should be 15-20 times diameter, if you cool the solumn"

and

"I am going to try this,"

and

"Advice from Luger et al?"

Yes it is most odd, at least in labs, but *all* moonshine stills I have seen in Sweden use this little item. The moonshiners all swear by this.
Many of them are more concerned with rate of output than high %, but as a starting point for making raw material that can be made into something better,,,,,,

Cheers: Luger

By Chevalier on Wednesday, November 21, 2001 - 12:18 pm: Edit

Hey, anything's ok that helps speed up Jade production -- without sacrificing quality, I mean.(Chevalier cedes the floor to Luger et al.)

By Don_Walsh on Wednesday, November 21, 2001 - 11:15 am: Edit

I am investigating a rather unconventional still design called 'Charles 803' which was touted briefly on the Biofeuls ml on Yahoo, and the Journey to Forever website. This is primarily oriented toward fuel alcohol rather than potable, but, when you really get down and dirty, ALL stills, even those designed for potable liquor, require either multiple distillation, post-treatment (polishing) or more likely both. SO a <$500 design that claims to produce 20 liters an hour of 80% or better degree, from wash/mash, is interesting, and it is made of copper. Hence traditional in sense of the alleged chemical interplay between copper and alcohol/congener vapors.

This is a 3" x 5 ft 4 " column, fed with ethanol/water/congener vapor from a seperate remote boiler. It is in three sections, a familiar doubler/bubbler/keg thumper where the mixed vapors pass through (initially) cold water which enriches the alcohol content at expense of water content (supposedly); a packed midsection with a copper spiral heat exchanger running through it; and a condenser section at top with a 45 degree takeoff. The condenser section is partially thermally isolated from the lowers by a back to back reducer section, the top is closed, but the addition of a pressure relief valve there is a good idea. The two spiral heat exchanger sections are connected such that water enters the top of the condenser spiral, exits its bottom, then enters the top of the spiral in the packed midsection, and finally exits at its bottom.

An automatic bimetal valve is placed at top of the midsection coil and opens when the temperature at that point is at or above the b.p. of ethanol, and is adjustable. So cooling water only flows when the top of the midsection is at 80 C (or higher).

A bimetal thermometer (this is a 1981 design -- nowadays we would use a thermocouple and have digital display sitting on our desktop) is also mounted at same point.

The still was an outcome of a nonprofit educational group in California in the early 80s called CAFPA run by one Robert Warren, and was licensed by BATF, designed by Pete Charles, in 1980 and was 3rd iteration hence 803.

There is some reason to believe that the still design was influenced by a contemporary (1980) still by Tallgrass Research Inst. but there are (contrary to statements on Biofuels ML) very significant differences between these two. The Charles 803 is the moe unconventional of the two and claims better performance.

NOTE that this still was never intended to produce potable liquor, and almost certainly does not. BUT that being said, neither do stills that purport to do so, in that invariable such stills produce liquor that needs to be polished or aged or otherwise post-treated before it is palatable. In my view, a still that quickly strips mash to a high abv degree, is more interesting than a still that utilizes a slow, massively energy intensive process but still need post processing anyway. This applies to neutral spirits making only of course.

This still intermittently cools the packed section. This is most odd. But, good old Gert Strand says that, while conventional rule of thumb is that a fractionating column should be 15-20 times diameter, if you cool the solumn this can be reduced to 12 times. The Charles 803 packed section is 3 x 36 inches, is this an accident? ADMITTEDLY the Charles 803 is not by definition a 'fractionating' still, as it lacks a reflux head for control of reflux ratio. Nevertheless...

I am going to try this, and I am going to use as control a simple packed column of same diameter and same overall length and same packing material, no reflux head, just a Claisen adapter and a thermocouple temp sensor.

Advice from Luger et al?

Mike Nixon crapped on this design but, he also ridiculed the keg thumper/doubler and that is a well known old moonshiner trick. Maybe Mike is too rooted in conventionality?

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