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BUILDING A HOME DISTILATION APPARATUS

Note, you may be looking for a .pdf file, which claims to have design plans for some `world class' still. Well, this still is ANYTHING other than world class. It is old, and a poor design. Please look to other places for PROPER running stills. Here are some places to look: http://www.homedistiller.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=16 (pot still design `forum') http://www.homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=19711 (designs thread) http://www.homedistiller.org/equip/designs (Still design's, many of them). http://wiki.homedistiller.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build and the discussion thread: http://www.homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20250 NOTE, all information on www.homedistiller.org or the www.homedistiller.org/forum forum's is free, and there are wonderful still plans there. They are MUCH better than the plans in this highly outdated document you were looking for.

B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S A St ep b y Step Guid e Building a Hom e Distillation App ar atus i B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S For eword The pages that follow contain a step- by-step gui de to buildi ng a rel ati vel y s ophistic ated distillati on appar atus from c ommonl y available materi als, using simpl e tools , and at a cos t of under $100 USD . The infor mation c ontained on this site is direc ted at anyone who may want to know mor e about the s ubj ect: s tudents, hobbyists , ti nkers, pure water enthusiasts, s urvi vors, the curi ous , and perhaps even amateur wine and beer makers. Designing and buildi ng this appar atus is the onl y s ubjec t of this manual. You will find that i t c onfines itself sol el y to thos e areas. It does not enter i nto the domains of fer mentati on, recipes for making mas h, beer, wi ne or any other spirits . T hes e areas ar e c overed in det ail in other readil y avail abl e books and numerous web sites. The site c ontai ns two separate design plans for the stills. And while both c an be us ed for a number of dis tillati on tas ks, it s houl d be rec ogniz ed that their designs have been opti miz ed for the tas k of separating ethyl alcohol fr om a water- bas ed mi xture. Having s ai d that, r emember that the real pur pos e of this site is to educ ate and i nform thos e of you who are i nteres ted i n this s ubjec t. It is not to be c onstr ued i n any fas hion as an enc our agement to break the law. If you believe the l aw is i nc orrect, pleas e take the ti me to c ontact your representati ves i n gover nment, cast your vote at th e polls , write newsl etters to the media, and in gener al, tr y to make the changes i n a leg al and democr atic manner. As a fi nal wor d, if you decide to build a still li ke this, you will be on your own. It is di stributed WITHOUT AN Y WARRANT Y; without even the implied warranty of MERCH ANT ABILITY or F ITNESS FOR A PART ICULAR PURPOSE. . 2 B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S T able of Content s FOREW ORD.................................................................................................................................2 TABL E OF CONTENT S........................................ .......................................................................3 INTRODUCTION.........................................................................................................................7 GOVERNM ENT R EGU LAT ION S........................ .................................................................................7 W HERE TO ST ART?....................................................................................................................9 INFORMATION SOURCES..................................................................................................................9 W HAT KIND OF STILL?..........................................................................................................12 POT STILLS................... ...............................................................................................................12 REFLUX ST ILLS.........................................................................................................................14 OVERVIEW............................................................................................................................. ......14 Adam's Still...............................................................................................................................15 Corty's Still...............................................................................................................................15 Cellier-Blumenthal Still.............................................................................................................16 BATCH DISTILLATION...................................................................................................................17 DISTILL ATION PUR ITY CON SID ER ATIONS................................. ..................................18 FICTION AND FACT ........................................................................................................................18 MOONSHINE AND DISTILLATE PUR ITY .........................................................................................19 DRUGST ORE MOON SHIN E.............................................................................................................19 WHAT'S IN A PUR E SPIR IT....................................................... ......................................................20 BOILER SEL ECTION ................................................................................................................21 SELECT ION CON SID ERAT ION S.......................................................................................................21 STAINLESS STEEL..........................................................................................................................22 STAINLESS STEEL MILK CAN S......................................................................................................22 STAINLESS STEEL BEER KEGS......................................................................................................23 THE T OP END................................. ............................................................................................24 OVERVIEW............................................................................................................................. ......24 WHY T WO DESIGN S?....................................................................................................................25 Versitality.................................................................................................................................25 Simplicity..................................................................................................................................25 Eas e of Constr ucti on.................................................................................................................25 Perfor manc e..............................................................................................................................25 3B U I L D I N G AH O M E D I S T I L L AT I O N AP P AR A T U S Cost...........................................................................................................................................25 MAKIN G TH E CH OIC E........................................................................................................ ............26 Internal R efl ux Still....................................................................................................................26 Val ved Reflux Still................................................................................ ......................................27 TOOL S AND T ECHNIQUES....................................................................................................29 TOOL LIST....................................................................................................................................29 CONSTRUCT ION OVER VIEW..........................................................................................................30 SOLDER ING T HE F ITTIN GS................................................ .............................................................30 SILVER SOLDER ING......................................................................................................................31 INTERN AL R EFLU X C ONDEN SER ......................................................................................33 CONDEN SER CON STRUCTION........................................................................................................33 JACKET ED COND EN SER.................................................................................................................34 CONDEN SER COOLING F LOW........................................................................................................35 CONDEN SER JAC KET OVER VIEW.............................. ....................................................................36 CONDEN SER JAC KET.....................................................................................................................38 INTERN AL R EFLU X T OP END..............................................................................................39 COLUMN C ON STRUCTION.............................................................................................................39 THE COLUMN H EAD......................................................................................................................39 THE COLUMN BOD Y......................................................................................................................40 FINAL T OP END ASSEMBLY..........................................................................................................40 VALVED R EFLUX ST ILL H EAD...........................................................................................42 VALVED R EF LUX OVER VIEW........................................................................................................42 STILL HEAD C ONDEN SER ...............................................................................................................42 CONDEN SER COIL.............. ............................................................................................................43 INST ALLIN G TH E COIL...................................................................................................................43 NEED LE VALVES..........................................................................................................................44 VALVED R EFLUX COLUMN ..................................................................................................45 COLUMN OVER VIEW.....................................................................................................................45 THE COLUMN H EAD......................................................................................................................45 COLUMN AND H EAD ASSEM BLY...................................................................................................46 COOLING SU PPLY.........................................................................................................................46 FINAL COLUMN ASSEMBLY..........................................................................................................47 ATT ACH ING TH E C OLUMN T O TH E B OIL ER................................................................48 STAINLESS STEEL MILK CAN S......................................................................................................48 FLAN GE AD APT ER........................................................................................................................49 ADAPTIN G A ST AIN LESS KEG.......................................................................................................49 Cutti ng the Keg ..........................................................................................................................50 Anc horing the Cover..................................................................................................................51 Buil ding the C olumn Adapter...................................................................................................51 4B U I L D I N G AH O M E D I S T I L L AT I O N AP P AR A T U S Fitting T he Adapter and C over.................................................................................................52 Coveri ng the Col umn End.........................................................................................................52 Making the gas kets....................................................................................................................53 Finishi ng the Keg Cover...........................................................................................................53 COLUMN PAC KING ..................................................................................................................54 PAC KIN G MAT ERIALS....................................................................................................................54 HEATIN G THE BOILER ......................................................................................... ..................57 ELECTRIC HEATIN G.......................................................................................................................57 HEAT ING WITH GAS............................................................................... .......................................58 COOLIN G TH E STILL ..............................................................................................................59 OVERVIEW.......................................................................... .........................................................59 INTERN AL REF LUX ST ILL..............................................................................................................59 Cooli ng Recirc ulation...............................................................................................................59 Recircul ati on Tanks...................................................................................................................60 Submersi ble Pumps......................... ..........................................................................................60 VALVED R EF LUX STILL................................................................................................................61 STILL OPER AT ION...................................................................................................................62 SAF ETY ........................................................................................................................................62 INITIAL CHEC KOUT .......................................................................................................................62 THE INT ERN AL REF LUX ST ILL......................................................................................................62 Shutdown............................................................................................................................. .....64 VALVED R EF LUX STILL................................................................................................................65 Initi al Startup............................................................................................................................6 5 Shutdown Procedur es................................................................................................................66 OPTIM IZIN G STILL OPER ATIONS .....................................................................................67 TEMPERATUR E C ONSIDER ATIONS ............................................................ .....................................67 PURIT Y RE- VISIT ED......................................................................................................................70 FUSEL OILS AND C ONGEN ERS.......................................................................................................71 HEAD S AND T AILS.........................................................................................................................71 REFLU X C ONTROL........................................................................................................................72 THE INT ERN AL REF LUX ST ILL......................................................................................................72 THE VALVED R EFLUX STILL.........................................................................................................73 THE L AST W ORDS....................................................................................................................74 APPENDIX I ­ COST SUMMAR Y...........................................................................................75 MATERIALS AND C OST..................................................................................................................75 VALVED R EF LUX STILL T OP END SUMMAR Y..............................................................................75 INTERN AL REF LUX ST ILL T OP END SUMM ARY ............................................................................76 5B U I L D I N G AH O M E D I S T I L L AT I O N AP P A R A T U S APPENDIX II - R ESOURCES...................................................................................................78 EXH AUST FLANGES, TU BIN G BEND ERS, GASKET PUNCHES, THREAD-SERT KIT S.....................78 TOOLS, GAS BURN ER S, R EGU LATOR S, PUMPS............................................................................78 STAINLESS STEEL MILKC ANS .......................................................................................................78 6B U I L D I N G AH O M E D I S T I L L AT I O N AP P AR A T U S 7 C hapter 1 Introduction Govern ment R egu lation s S o you'r e inter ested in buildi ng a still. In the US ( and many other countries) I guess you know that doing that is j ust not the politic ally c orrect thi ng to do. Even i f you ar e just a c urious person and simpl y want to know what's invol ved, you pr obabl y feel s ome reluctanc e about disc ussi ng the subj ect outsi de of your own tr usted circles . Ever yone should foll ow his or her own consci ence in thes e matters. Personall y, I believe that s ome of thes e l aws are s o poorl y thought out and i mplemented that they border on being ridic ul ous . A c ase in point. In the U S, the government allows an indi vi dual to produce wine or beer for pers onal c onsumpti on by using a f er mentati on pr oc ess to pr oduc e an alc oholic bever age. It is als o perfectl y legal in the U .S. for that s ame indi vidual to buil d or buy and use a distill ation apparatus for ei ther pers onal or c ommerci al use. Never theles s, the gover nment makes i t illegal for the i ndi vidual to refi ne the leg ally pr oduc ed beer or wine with that apparatus and, i n the proc ess, pr oduc e another perfectl y legal beverage. Without muc h r eflection, it is eas y to s ee that such laws ar e fl awed. Fortunatel y, it is not illegal to expr ess thes e opi nions. T hat fr eedom als o extends to writi ng about such thi ngs as alc ohol distillati on (legal or not), and the us e and manufac tur e of equi pment to accomplish this i n the home. B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S So, as long as your consci ence allows, at least i n the U S, you are not doing anythi ng wrong by reading this i nfor mation and there is al so nothing illeg al about buil ding a s till. And while i t is hoped that the still will be used for l egitimate pur poses , al ways keep i n mind that if you deci de to buil d and us e the still to produc e ethyl alc ohol then, i n the U.S. and many other ar eas of the world, you will most likel y be breaking the l aw. 8B U I L D I N G AH O M E D I S T I L L AT I O N AP P AR A T U S 9 C hapter 2 W here To Start? Inform ation Sour ces I t doesn' t take long after making the decisi on to buil d a s till to rec ogniz e that there ar e a lot of thi ngs to be c onsi der ed. A visit to the libr ar y, and some r eading about the distillation proc ess is a good pl ac e to start. However, many people find it easi er to l ear n by direct invol vement rather than r eading, and many others have little acc ess to larg e libr aries. Hopefully, this g uide will be of s ome us e to both these groups . Some might c onsi der starting with the Inter net. Initi al s earc hes will turn up thousands of hits on the s ubj ects of moons hini ng, distillation, s tills, s pirits, whis key, reflux r ati o, unit operations etc . Unfortunatel y, there isn't a whole lot of reall y g ood i nformati on about buildi ng a first clas s per s onal s till out there. Sur e, there ar e lots of commercial distill ers, beer and wi ne eq uipment s uppliers , disc ussion groups , moons hini ng stories , book s ellers , discussion groups, a nd lots of c hemistr y i nformati on on the web, but onl y a couple of quality publications on amateur di stillati on and still constr ucti on. T her e are some good ones though. B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S One of the bes t, r eferences to s tart with is fr om Gert Strand's company in Sweden. His web si te offers the "Home Distillation H andbook". The book has been translated from Swedish to English and written under the ps eudonym of Ol a N orrman. It is availabl e on li ne for s mall fee i n PDF for mat. The web URL is: http://www.par tyman.s a./ The Partyman websit e is a first cl ass sourc e of liquor essenc es, fermentation, and fi ne German i nstrumentation equi pment us eful i n alcoholic beverage meas urements. Ola N orrman's book takes you step by step through ever y proc edure invol ved in the proces s of producing a variety of s pirit drinks , including gui danc e i n the c onstruc tion of an appropriate still. Another good source can be found i n Dr. John Stone's book " M aking Gin and Vodka". It c an be ordered at http://www.gin- vodka.c om. Dr . Stone c oncentr ates on pr oduci ng pure alc ohol s pirits ( Vodka and Gin), but the book disc uss es i n detail the constr ucti on of a mul ti-stag e distillati on appar atus, muc h li ke a sc aled down commercial facility might use. It is ver y c omplete i n describing ever y phas e of produci ng and r efini ng alc ohol , and provi des many first ha nd insights i nto this proc ess . For the mor e tec hnic all y i nclined, the web sur fer s houl d r ead M.T . T ham's Introduction to Distillati on tutorial at: http://lori en.ncl .ac .uk/ming/distil/distil0.htm F or those of you who si mpl y want a still, and not all the wor k of doing it yours elf, you will enj oy the Still Life at http://stillife.c om, and Ray Toms Mo onshi ne Suppli es at http://moons hi ne.co.nz /. The Uni versity at Akr on offers an excell ent slide presentati on of dis tillati on theor y at: http://ull.c hemistr y.uakr on.edu/c hemsep/distill ation/ For the engineeri ng students among us, you might fi nd Andrew Slol eys' distillation and petrol eum refi ning homepag e a good start. You will fi nd i t at: http://asl oley.home.minds pring.c om Pur due U ni versi ty also has an exc ellent paper on distill ation at: http://www.agcom.purdue.edu/AgCom/Pubs/AE/AE-117.html 10 B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S And fi nall y, for the bes t about the art, scienc e, and fol kl ore about di stilling c hec kout Tony Ac kl and's "H ome Distillation of Alc ohol" at: http://www.geociti es.com/ki wi_distiller These sites and books will give you a good starting bac kground for thos e things you are about to undertake. Cer tai nl y there are many others that may be even more appr opri ate. But for the most part, these pr ovide an exc ellent foundation for constr ucti ng a high quality apparatus that will deli ver q uality s pirits in a safe manner. And s o, ar med with this infor mati on, and a bit of common sens e, we can beg i n the tas k by addr essi ng the mos t i mportant questi on. 11 B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S 12 C hapter 3 W hat Kind of Still? Pot Stills P ot s tills wer e the earlies t ki nd of stills . T hey si mpl y had a pot to boil the fer mented mash in, and an output tube that pass ed through something cooler ( air or water etc .) whic h c ondensed the vapors coming fr om the pot. The copper pot stills li ke the ones s hown on the left are reputed to have been in us e for over 500 years to make s ome of the fines t Iris h Whis key in the world. Whil e the pot still is enormousl y i nefficient, it is uniquel y si mpl e and easil y adapted for home dis tillati on of ever ythi ng from ess enc es to whis key and moons hi ne. Littl e has reall y c hanged i n the design of the pot stills over the las t 2000 years . You won' t fi nd muc h differ enc e between the moons hine s till shown bel ow and the alembic pots us ed years i n Egypti an ti mes to m ake perfumes. B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S T he problem wi th pot stills is that they don' t do a g ood j ob at s epar ating out exactl y what you want to distill as output. T hey are us uall y us ed to s epar ate c ompounds whose boiling poi nts differ by about 100º C. When beer is dis tilled, l ots of things c ome out, s o me good, s ome bad. And becaus e there are no fine c ontrols on this kind of still, the output contains a lot of i mpuriti es. Never theles s, after each dis tillati on, you al ways g et a better output from that whic h you started with. So eac h ti me you re- distill t he output i n a pot still, it will c ome out a bit purer. But you l os e a littl e eac h time you re- distill. T o make it r eall y pure, you have to distill it so many ti mes that you'll end up with al mos t nothi ng left. Bec ause eac h r e-distillation r equires a completel y new setup, i t takes a l ot l ong er to produc e a r easonabl y pure finis hed product usi ng pot stills. I' m told the fines t Iris h distilleries still us e pot stills to make their whis key. T hey take great pride in the fact that they tripl e distill the whis key. T he demand for this product was so great, that they built huge pot s tills, s ome holdi ng over 30,000 i mperial gallons of beer. In more moder n ti mes though, thes e hug e pot stills could not pr ovide nearl y enough distilling capacity to keep up wi th the de mand. And for that reas on mos t of the distilled s pirits today are produced wi th reflux stills that oper ate on a conti nuous basis. So, whil e it is tempting to take the eas y way out and build a simpl e pot still, i t reall y woul dn't meet our g oal of pr oduci ng the ver y pures t s pirits, i n the most efficient manner. T o r each that goal you'll have to think about a reflux still. 13 B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S 14 Chapter 4 Reflux Stills th As bad as this may s eem, the legiti mate commercial mar ket had its s hare of bad news in this department too. Drugstor e Moon shin e In another epi demic , during this same era, it was es timated between 35,000 and 50,000 peopl e were afflicted by a "Jake Leg" mal ady that c aused par al ysis of the victi m's l egs and feet. The c ause was trac ed to a chemic al c alled tri orthocreysl phos phate. This chemic al was an ingredient of a popul ar dr ugstore over the c ounter tonic . In r eality the tonic was a ti ncture of J amaic a Ginger. The " Jake" was about 90% alcohol. Wood alc ohol ( methanol) was als o added to it to mas k the strong ginger taste. The effect was pr edic table, but it was l egal, and ther e were high pr ofits to be made. Some thi ngs never c hange, and that's wh y we are so conc erned with the purity of the spirits that are produced by the stills in this manual. 19 B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S What's i n a Pur e Spirit Distillate purity is al ways dir ectl y r elated to the c ontents of the mas h. A c hemical anal ysis of the typic al distillate ( excl udi ng water and ethyl alc ohol) produc ed when a batc h of molas ses bas ed beer br eaks down as foll ows:

Organic acid s

Est ers

The pot still was the onl y dis tillati on method known for almos t 2000 years. However, that all c hanged wi th the i ntr oducti on of the reflux c olumn during the l ate 19 centur y. That invention r evol uti oniz ed the produc tion of many valuable petr oleum and c hemical products that we c ommonl y us e tod ay. Overview The refl ux still di ffers from a pot still in that it employs a c olumn fitted with i nternal tr ays or pac king to pr ovide a l arg e s urface ar ea insi de. T his allows the distill ate vapors fr om a boil er to rise up the c ol umn to the top wher e the vapors are condens ed. T he c ondens ed liquid is then allowed to r un bac k down through the risi ng vapors. As the c ondensed liqui d c asc ades bac k down through the trays or pac king, it bec omes enric hed by the risi ng vapors in the col umn. As the descending liqui d p ass es down the c olumn toward the boil er, a poi nt is reac hed where the temper atures bec ome hot enough that the liquid boils agai n and the vapors ag ain ris e up the col umn. T his proc ess is c alled a reflux c ycl e. As this c ycle conti nues , the mi xture i nsi de the tower is effecti vel y re- distilled many ti mes. The refl ux still is not a si ngle inventi on that just happened after al most 2000 years of pot s till us e. It happened by a rapi d s eries of developments all wi thi n about a100 year span of histor y. It all started wi th Edwar d Adam. B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S Ad am' s St ill Edward Adam intr oduc ed an i ndus trial sc al e still i n 1801 that featured two i ntermediate tanks between the boiler and the final c ondens er. The still also pr ovided c ontrols that all owed por tions of the distillate from both tanks to be r e-circul ated bac k i nto the boil er for re- distillation. T hat is a fundamental pr oc ess i nvol ved i n all moder n r eflux distillati on operations. Ther e were some problems with this s till though, mai nl y bec aus e of the diffic ulty i n c ontrolli ng the temperature of the doubli ng vessels . Also the bubbling of vapors through the liquor cr eated too high a press ure in the tanks . N ever theles s, the Adam s till was quite s ucc ess ful, and provi de d great pr ofit to the i nventor for many years. Naturall y, this made it wi del y i mitated, and many improvements were inc orporated i nto the basic design ver y quic kl y. Per haps the most well known of these designs was C orty's Patent Si mplifi ed Distilling Apparatus whic h is s hown below. Cort y's Still Corty's apparatus i nc orporated the external doubl er vess els of the Adams still into a col umn str ucture l oc ated on the s till h ead. The doubler tanks now took the for m of thr ee water-c ool ed plates built i nto the c olumn. 15 B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S T hes e plates are not unli ke thos e found i n modern refl ux distillation c olumns, and s er ved as i nternal c ondensing s urfaces. T his allowed the distill ate to c asc ade down insi de the still and mi x with the rising vapors from the boil er. With this arrangement, the pur est dis tillate for med on the top pl ate be for e bei ng dr awn off for coll ection. Another feature of this s till was that it clai med to c ons er ve fuel bec ause it operated under a parti al vacuum cr eated by the distill ate fl ow through the final c ondenser whic h was s ealed fr om the air. Perhaps this might have been the firs t pr actic al us e of a par tial vac uum dis tillati on. These two earl y i ndustri al er a s tills wer e i mportant s teps i n the advanc ement of dis tillati on technolog y primaril y bec aus e they incor por ated the conc ept of having part of the distillate r eturned to the heati ng sourc e for r e-dis tillati on, and they also pr ovided a means to allow the boiler vapors to perc olate through the parti all y c ondensed alc ohol as it was returni ng to the boil er. That fl ow is call ed refl ux. It is the hall mar k of the still and it pr oduc es a muc h pur er pr oduc t with a si ngle distillation r un than the pot still. T he next most i mportant development came with the C ellierBlumenthal still. Cellier-B lum enthal Still This s till inc orporated almos t all of the gener al pri ncipl es of the stills c urrentl y i n us e today. Its most i mpor tant feature is that it was designed to oper ate c ontinuousl y. T hat is to say that onc e i n operation, the materi al to be dis tilled is enter ed c onti nuousl y at one part of the appar atus, and an appr opriate amount of distillate i s rec overed c ontinuousl y as output. The conti nuous operation c oncept pr ovided an enor mous i mprovement in both time and energ y c os ts over pr evious still designs . The still also inc orporated an over head c ondens er with a r eflux hol ding tank. This devic e allowed the distill ate to be c ollected there and then s plit i nto a reflux stream g oing bac k to the c olumn or another stream goi ng to the coll ecti on of the output. Per haps more importantl y, the desig n all owed more rigorous sci entific examinati on with the pri ncipl es of Ther modynamics devel oped during that era. 16 B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S B atch D istillation While c ontinuous dis tillati on methods provi de the vol ume output demanded by industr y, the pr actic e is not well s uited to our i nteres ts. We j ust want to s eparate on occ asion, a single compound fr om a liquid mi xture wi th a s mall s cal e s till. That's c alled batch distill ation. Batch dis tillati on stills operate in a completel y differ ent way than do the c ontinuous operati on stills, and much of the data derived fr om the theoretical models used to opti mize a still running under equilibrium ar e not directl y applic able to the design of a batc h still. Fortunatel y, the r eflux c olumn c an be us ed with either batc h or conti nuous distillation operations, and it can be sc aled up or down to meet ei ther industrial or home distill ation needs. 17 B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S 18 Chapter 5 Distillation Purit y Con sid er ation s Fiction and Fact Befor e we get into the details of what makes a dis tillate pur e, it's i mportant to address s ome myths and tall tal es about peopl e bei ng pois oned or g oing blind as a r esul t of drinki ng improperl y distilled alcohol. Always remember that distillation is simpl y a separ ati on and purific ation proces s. N eith er th e ferm entatio n of sugars co ntain ed in th e m ash nor the distillation of the alcoho l r esulting from th at process can prod uce an y toxic amounts of poison s. T hat includes th e oft en-cit ed meth anol, and it d oesn't m atter ho w well the still is built, or ho w poorly th e distillation it self is condu cted. Most i nstances of methanol pois oni ng attributed to i mproper distillation r esul ted fr om people drinki ng denatur ed alc ohol . Denatured alc ohol arises as an attempt on the government's par t, to preser ve tax revenues applied to alc oholic bever ages . T o insur e this, laws wer e pas sed i n the U.S. mandati ng that all ethyl alc ohol not produc ed for bever ages be deli ber atel y pois oned to r ender it unfit for drinki ng. T he pr oc ess is call ed denaturing. A common d enaturi ng pr actic e is to add methyl alc ohol, a pois on, or other noxi ous ingredi ents to the alc ohol and r ender it undrinkable. The government does not tax the pr oducti on of denatured ethyl alcohol , but closel y contr ols how it is done. Unfortunatel y, that onl y makes denatur ed alc ohol cheap. It does not prevent s ome fr om dri nking it, or u sing it to fortify other beverag es, or worse, tr yi ng to purify it by distillation. B U I L D I N G A H O M E D I S T I L L A T I O N A P P A R A T U S T hat is not to say the government is r uthless and insensiti ve to the tragedy that res ults from the deliberate mis us e of thes e reg ulati ons. The illeg al moonshi ne operations have a terrible histor y i n this r egard. Moonshin e and D istillate Pur it y To cite an example, duri ng the American prohibiti on period, huge q uantiti es of beverage alc ohol were pr oduc ed on a dail y basis by hundr eds of thous ands of s mall ( many i ndi vi dual) distilleri es, usi ng equipment that was unbelievabl y cr ude, and which was operated under filthy c onditi ons of s anitation. In the interest of high pr oducti on, many of these s mall moonshi ne operati ons woul d add all s orts of noxi ous c hemic als to impr ove the taste, appear ance and pr oof of the s pirit and thereby compens ate for the hasty methods us ed i n produc tion. C ommon l ye, a c orrosi ve al kali, was often us ed to disguis e the proof of the spirits, an ften pr es ent. Someti mes fertiliz er and manure wer e added to the mas h to speed fermentation.

Ald eh yd es

Furfurol

Higher Alcohols

Nitrogenou s Sub stan ces

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