Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Perforated & bubble cap plated columns

Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby jacobraven » Sun Apr 03, 2016 6:27 pm

Yer that sounds a lot easier for bubble stills
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby robduca » Sun Jun 19, 2016 7:22 pm

When running the bubbler, is anyone using copper mesh in the reducer before the first plate, or the copper plates are enough?
I got a bit of copper mesh with the still when I first got it (Pot still while the rest was ordered) and have used it on every run apart from this one now and I am noticing a different smell from the rum off the still. Wondering if its due to not having the mesh in this time or its different molasses.
I am thinking now that the mesh is only for when it is in pot still and I might have been stripping extra flavour out by having the mesh in as well as 4 plates?
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby scythe » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:52 am

There is enough copper in the plates.
Not sure i heard of any one but you with mesh in their reducer.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby robduca » Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:28 am

Yea. Thought so.
I got the mesh with the 4" pot still and never really thought to take it out until now.
Will run without it from now and might see a difference in flavour. I might have been stripping a bit too much out with it in there. It run around 91-92% with and without the mesh with 4 plates.
Will be interesting to see the difference it makes. Will have to run another Macwhiskey without it to compare
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Cols15 » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:10 pm

I had my first run with a bubbler a couple of days ago.
It was a 20lt BWKO wash and another 20lt of BWKO low wines at 40% in the boiler.

I loaded the plates and had the still in full reflux for about 15mins (i had to use my voltage controller to pull back my 2.4kw element as the still was dripping even with the rc fully open).
I closed the rc untill i got a couple of drips a second and left it like that for around another 15mins, then bumped up the output to 2.4lt per hour.
Product started coming off at 96% and stayed there constantly until the abv droped quickly, the bottom plate fogged up and i smelt/tasted tails.

I checked my 300ml jars today as i wanted to cut it and put my keep on oak, there is a heads smell and slight burn to every jar.
Can you smear a bubbler run? Do i need more time in full reflux or should i pull back the take off speed?
If you fill the boiler with 40lt at 40% does it mean more time in reflux compared to 40lt ar 10%
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby EziTasting » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:21 pm

Speaking for myself, I reflux for a full hour. Some do 30 mins... just try it and see what works for you.

I take the Foreshots really slow, dripping... then, as we get into heads I adjust the output to a toothpick stream... when the ABV drops I usually turn of the heat and get into clean up...

Beauty is, you can re-run it and clean it up some more! Just leave the Foreshots out... :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Cols15 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:21 pm

Thanks for the reply Ezi, I'll up the reflux time to a hour and see what happens.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:53 pm

I've got a shiny new FSD Nuetralizer and this weekend I'll be running my sacrificial wash (75L TPW). This my first bubble plate, my only previous experience is with a inexpensive reflux still many years ago. Long ago enough, that I'm basically starting from scratch!

As I understand the process, I fill up the boiler. Turn on my 2x 2400W heaters. Then turn one off "when it gets to temp". Time for the noobie question: How do I know its at temp? I presume I'm looking for some kind of indication via the sight glasses, but not sure what to expect...

After I turn off the 2nd heater, I adjust the reflux cooling water down till I get a thin stream of product. Anything else I need to do? (Taking into account I'm a complete novice and I might not know very simple procedures.) When I'm done collecting my grog, are there any shut down procedures I should be aware of? I swear I read, somewhere I can't find now, that I need to vent something to prevent explosions or implosions as the still cools down....

And after everything cools down, I presume I give everything a good clean. Presumably the boiler will need a scrub with something like my homebrewing cleaner (PBW) and the flute's bits probably only need a hose out. Or should I clean in some other manner?

Quick safety question: Should I buy a fire extinguisher to have on hand, in case everything goes sh*t shaped? CO2, dry powder, white foam, etc.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby bluc » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:18 pm

Yes def have fire extinguisher within reach same as they use for petroleum fires..
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby TasSpirits » Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:07 pm

Borneogoat wrote:I've got a shiny new FSD Nuetralizer and this weekend I'll be running my sacrificial wash (75L TPW). This my first bubble plate, my only previous experience is with a inexpensive reflux still many years ago. Long ago enough, that I'm basically starting from scratch!

As I understand the process, I fill up the boiler. Turn on my 2x 2400W heaters. Then turn one off "when it gets to temp". Time for the noobie question: How do I know its at temp? I presume I'm looking for some kind of indication via the sight glasses, but not sure what to expect...

After I turn off the 2nd heater, I adjust the reflux cooling water down till I get a thin stream of product. Anything else I need to do? (Taking into account I'm a complete novice and I might not know very simple procedures.) When I'm done collecting my grog, are there any shut down procedures I should be aware of? I swear I read, somewhere I can't find now, that I need to vent something to prevent explosions or implosions as the still cools down....

And after everything cools down, I presume I give everything a good clean. Presumably the boiler will need a scrub with something like my homebrewing cleaner (PBW) and the flute's bits probably only need a hose out. Or should I clean in some other manner?

Quick safety question: Should I buy a fire extinguisher to have on hand, in case everything goes sh*t shaped? CO2, dry powder, white foam, etc.


This is what I do with all new gear. First up do a vinegar/water run, just to make sure its all nice and clean, your sac run wont need to be so big, Id go around 25L.
Power up the still and turn cooling water on, if the 25L covers both elements with at least 4 or 5 of inches to spare use both, plates will start to bubble 1 by 1, I generally turn the second element off when the 4th plate starts to load, with the water temp down there you should be able to hold full reflux easily, I generally hold it for 45-60 mins. Once you are ready to start back off the water to your rc, wait a while before adjusting again, shine a torch into your parrot to see if there is any action. Once the parrot starts to fill you will need to try get it flowing at a couple of drops per second. Run it reasonably slow for the sac run, have a play with your valve to get a feel for the adjustments, shut down once you get a sharp drop in ABV, I run different washes differently. I let mine cool a bit, drain the boiler, rinse it out and generally only clean the column when I change washes, have a puke or been running it a lot, the foreshots and heads do a good job. :text-+1: for a fire extinguisher. Hope this helps, others will do things differently, this has been working for me. :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Nino » Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:36 pm

Dry chemical powder (DCP) extinguisher or Carbon Dioxcide (CO2) extingusher would be best. DCP extinguishers are cheaper to buy but they do make a mess when you fire them off. But please don't buy a 1kg DCP as that will not be big enough, you would need at least a 2.5kg or bigger.
The DCP extinguisher has the most fire stopping power a 2.5kg extinguisher is rated at about 3A:40B:E a 4.5kg DCP extinguisher is rated at about 4A:60B:E or better. The part of the rating we are interested in as distillers is the B part which is the flammables rating.

If you go CO2 get a 5kg which is the biggest and probably the most expensive. CO2 extinguishers have the most fire stopping power at the beginning and weakens towards the end. An added bonus of a CO2 extinguisher is that it cools as it puts the fire out. The rating of a 5kg CO2 extinguisher is 10B:E

I hope this information is useful to you when choosing your fire extinguisher.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:05 pm

Sac run is going right now. The spirit in the SG is yellow, the TPW was pinkish when I added it. Normal?

I shut off the second heater when I noticed the parrot was filling despite the cooling running full blast. Cooling is around 150L and and the exhaust water is cold still. The top 4x SG are bubbling vigorously, but bottom SG has only a few mm of fluid. Seems to take a bit of time to catch up. Top SG has has clear Berocca color fluid, as it progresses down to the bottom SG it gets increasingly milky. All this sound normal?

Brrrr, fudge Tassie weather!
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:24 pm

Second heater off and no more spirit is getting past the RC. Nothing in the parrot after 30mins, so all good there.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby TasSpirits » Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:09 pm

Sounds like your first puke, I it bubbling clear now? next time shut the second element off earlier. Its all part of the fun, learning to drive a new toy :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:26 pm

I was wondering why everyone on the forum was talking about puking! Just assumed you were all drinking way too much tequila :mrgreen:

I'm collecting now. Toothpick size stream and about 3L per hour. Sound right or too fast?
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby TasSpirits » Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:34 pm

Borneogoat wrote:I was wondering why everyone on the forum was talking about puking! Just assumed you were all drinking way too much tequila :mrgreen:

I'm collecting now. Toothpick size stream and about 3L per hour. Sound right or too fast?


OK for a sac run, spirit runs I run at no more than 2.5L hour, have a play with your valves to get a feel for the adjustments. Took me a few runs and different configurations to be confident I was doing the right thing for each spirit I make. Your on the way now :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Sun Jul 23, 2017 5:09 pm

I assume slower runs equal better quality, so I should sort this out. I've got my pump on low and the ball valve on the RC cooling inlet choked as much as possible without closing it. So maybe I should put a valve on the RC inlet hose that intentionally leaks out some pressure.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby TasSpirits » Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:19 pm

Borneogoat wrote:I assume slower runs equal better quality, so I should sort this out. I've got my pump on low and the ball valve on the RC cooling inlet choked as much as possible without closing it. So maybe I should put a valve on the RC inlet hose that intentionally leaks out some pressure.


I have valves on both, before I swapped my cooling water to IBC, I used to restrict the water to the PC in summer to make it easier to hold full reflux. I split the water coming in between the 2 with a 3 way hose fitting, as I close off the RC more water go's to the PC. Slower the better for some spirits :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Dig Brinker » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:36 am

Sac run helps to clean your still, could be the copper oxides being cleaned out. If you're running sight glasses you may see your wash boiling up the column. This is a puke.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:31 am

Dig Brinker wrote:Sac run helps to clean your still, could be the copper oxides being cleaned out. If you're running sight glasses you may see your wash boiling up the column. This is a puke.


I shut down after about 3-4L of clear 90% was produced, it was getting cold & dark. I might be misunderstanding your message Dig Brinker, but are you saying that I shouldn't have fluid boiling in the SG's? Boiling SG = puking? I assumed that puking was only if I had too much power and blasted the fluid past the RC? After I shut down heater #2 and just used 50% power, I still had fluid boiling in all 5 SG's but the RC was able to keep things under control. By control I mean, everything refluxed until I choked down the RC cooling and then eventually product at the parrot.
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