Building a pot still from bits and bobs

Pot still design and discussion

Building a pot still from bits and bobs

Postby Adam G » Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:42 pm

Hey,

So a mate and I have just go into distilling, and after buying a 30L boiler, Copper dome and a tiny condenser... we decided to read a bit on this site. So spewing we bought what we did.

Luckily, my mate is a welder and i work in an in industry where i often come across useful things.

We have stumbled across approx 3m of 4" dia 316 stainless steel pipe. cut in 1m lengths.
I also have been given from my boss, an old 18 gallon keg. Which he used to store wine in. Has a hole in the middle of the keg with a rubber bung, but can easily weld it up.
I have also found 2 condensers we can use, got them both for a carton of beer. They are the shotgun variety, and are 3", but only 200mm long. Would connecting them together work well enough?

Now i know you will all say build a bubbler, and yes that would be great to do, and will be done at some point..... But at this stage i can't throw anymore money at this hobby and keep my nuts. Hence the very cheap build (Cost of a carton of beer so far).

So just wondering, for a pot still setup, would an 18 Gallon keg, with 2 x 2400w elements (do i fit these as low as possible?), with a 1m 4" dia riser, with some copper in the vapor path, then make some angles out of the pipe for a bend, then a reducer to the 2 x 3" condensers.....

Any issues with this?

Any tips? (don't say a bubbler, lol) UNLESSSSSS a bubbler doesn't need those fancy sight glasses?
Adam G
 
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equipment: Copper Alembic Dome for now

Re: Building a pot still from bits and bobs

Postby YarraRanges » Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:50 pm

Sounds like you've done some good research. Well done. Starting off with a pot still is the way to go.
You probably need another 2 condensers for a fast stripping run. My shotgun condenser is 800 mm long.
One proviso, keep the elements about 100 mm from the bottom otherwise you might burn or char any sediment on the bottom. When you do a pot still run you get about one quarter of what's in the still as product, so about 3/4 is left in the still. You won't have the problem of baring the elements and having them burn out.
What is left in the still is called backset. It is usually quite acidic so it is great for washing down the still while its is warm and then rinse with cold water.
If you are doing rum, save the backset, let it cool down and put into a semi open container in a warm area. Wait about a month. Bacteria and fungi get into it and make it great to put into your next rum ferment at 10% of the whole ferment. It is now called dunder. Leave some in your container to reinfect the next lot of rum backset you save as dunder. By doing this your rum will get better and better with each generation. Dunder is the secret to making a great rum.
With the size of your boiler I'd suggest doing 200 to 250 litre ferments. 4 stripping runs gives you enough to do a slow spirit run in your pot still. If you do a second spirit run you'l get a cleaner and smoother product. It all depends on what you want to make and how long you want to age it for.
That should be enough info now. Good luck with your new hobby.
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Re: Building a pot still from bits and bobs

Postby woodduck » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:27 pm

Sounds good to me :handgestures-thumbupleft:

400mm long pc would be ok but not fantastic. I'd try it and see how it goes. You'll need a voltage controller anyway for your spirit runs so if the pc is being overpowered on the strip runs just back one of the elements off a bit :handgestures-thumbupleft:

Good luck
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Re: Building a pot still from bits and bobs

Postby Dig Brinker » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:52 am

400mm of 3” pc should be ok, how many tubes inside and what diameter?
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Re: Building a pot still from bits and bobs

Postby Adam G » Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:05 pm

I don't think we would be running both elements at the same time, just 2 to heat it up quickly. We have a power controller already, as we use it with the little still we have,

I just measured it, and it is 3" in dia, with 9 x 8mm pipes. x 2 obviously.
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Re: Building a pot still from bits and bobs

Postby woodduck » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:01 pm

Don't be scared to throw as much heat as you can for stripping runs as long as your pc can handle it and it's not puking it's ass out. There's only one way to find out what it can handle mate and that's running it :handgestures-thumbupleft:
woodduck
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Posts: 2800
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Location: Good old country SA
equipment: 4 plate 6" copper bubbler, 6 plate 4" glass bubbler with 500mm packed section three way thumper sitting on a 50 ltr keg boiler with 6000watts, 2" pot still and a 2" boka.

Re: Building a pot still from bits and bobs

Postby db1979 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:35 pm

Adam G wrote:I just measured it, and it is 3" in dia, with 9 x 8mm pipes. x 2 obviously.

I reckon that'd be more than enough.
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