Hey everyone, I was wondering, is anyone here that distills alcohol? My father use to have a DIY Still with a copper pot. I was wondering, if anyone is more experienced in it, must it be made out of copper or are other materials just as good, like stainless steel or other metals. Thanks in advance, keep safe!
I have done it several times with a small glass still sold as laboratory equipment. There are several websites out there giving detailed instructions on distillation...the ones I like are out of New Zealand where it is legal. I think that glass, copper, or stainless can work...but not iron or aluminum. One advantage of glass is that you can see and supervise what's happening in there. The biggest issues, in my understanding, are making sure to throw out the first bit that comes off, this is high in methanol and poisonous....having an accurate thermometer helps decide the cutoff point for this, and the other danger is the extreme flammability of the distilled alcohol....it creates a vapor above it like gasoline. Since you're using a flame or heat source to run the still, it's vital to direct this well off to the side, preferably behind some kind of barrier from the flame or heat. With this in mind, I've done it on a propane camp stove many times. It is a good way to convert "bad" wine or other homebrew, and a basic wash to make it can be made out of anything sweet. I have thrown yeast onto dissolved candy, bananas, dried fruit, or whatever....and by the time it comes out of the still and sits on charcoal for a while it all tastes like tequila no matter the source!
Thanks a lot, but glass is out of question its glass, I cant be that careful I am thinking about stainless steel, I must see the price of copper and stainless steel pot, I think that will be the main determinator
You could make stainless steel work. Wouldn't use aluminum, as the oxide layer is soluble in ethanol.
Copper is nice because it binds to sulfur compounds that can make an off taste, and transfers a LOT more heat than stainless, but it's not strictly necessary. Would make the condenser out of copper at least, it'll be a lot easier to work with...
I haven't distilled alcohol, but I have distilled water before. I used a cheap pressure cooker and a length of silicone tubing. The tubing was exactly the right size to fit on the spout of the pressure cooker. The tube was 10 feet long, so by the time the vapor got to the end it had cooled already. The hardest part was trying to keep the tube arranged so the water in it could flow smoothly. Eventually I gave up and just left it in a pile. There were spots where water pooled, but as long as there was more steam going in one end, water would keep coming out the other.
I like how the silicone tubing was simple, cheap, durable, and easily to coil up for storage. In fact, you can store the coiled tubing inside the pressure cooker and have your water distillation equipment in one place. Scrubbing the inside was an interesting challenge, but I figured out that a long string with a weight on one end and a piece of sponge on the other works for that. Use the weight to thread it through the tubing, then pull to draw the sponge through.
I have no idea if this would work for alcohol. Probably? Worth a try?
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit