IN THIS BEGINNER’S Update for Home Distillers, we discuss a little more about cooling and issues relating to alcohol yield in your still’s output.
Our previous Beginners’ Gems posts containing helpful hints, tips and techniques for home distillers, include the following:
- BEGINNERS’ UPDATES #1: Basic Knowledge to Help Home Distiller Beginners
- BEGINNERS’ UPDATES #2: More Basics to Help Home Distiller Newbies
- BEGINNERS’ UPDATES #3: The Finer Points of Fermentation Temperature
- BEGINNERS’ UPDATES #4: Solving Problems With Fermentation
- BEGINNERS’ UPDATES #5: Solving Even More Fermentation Problems
- BEGINNERS’ UPDATES #6: Taming the Distillers Yeast Beast – Finally!
- BEGINNERS’ UPDATES #7: Keeping Your Still Clean
- BEGINNERS’ UPDATES #8: Cooling Your Still’s Output
For the Best Alcohol Yield, How do I know how much water flow the condenser needs?
Water flow is extremely important for the correct operation of any condenser, especially bearing alcohol yield in mind.
For example if you have a Still Spirits Super reflux Condenser or any similar reflux still, first the water runs through the main condenser, then into the reflux condenser.
The water warms up in the main condenser as it removes heat from the condensing spirit.
This hot water is then fed into the reflux condenser. If the flow of water is too high then the reflux condenser becomes too efficient which reduces the flow of steam into the main condenser.
The reduced flow will also result in a higher alcohol content as more of the heavier molecules like water are returned to the still and what does get past the reflux condenser is the lighter molecules or the alcohol.
When a condenser is running properly the top two bands of the main condenser should be very hot.
The bottom band of the spiral should be cool and the one above it should be hot but not too hot to touch.
What should I do as the temperature rises on the still condenser thermometer?
The thermometer temperature will rise as the alcohol is boiled off. Water boils at 100°C so as the alcohol content is reduced temperature naturally increases.
Increase the flow of water through the condenser to hold the temperature. This will vary between stills so refer to your instructions.
If you are using a super reflux condenser keep the temperature under 92°C (197°F). The flow of alcohol yield from your still will slow toward the end of the distillation.
I did not get as much alcohol yield as the instructions said I would?
Check that you have used the right quantity and type of sugar. Check there are no steam leaks from your still.
Another cause could be that your wash has not fermented out completely.
Also, make sure you do not exceed the maximum temperature allowed at the top of the condenser for the type of still you have.
A reflux still is a type of still that is commonly used to produce high-quality alcohol.
The best alcohol yield from a reflux still can be helped by following the answers to the questions above.
If you have any questions we didn’t answer, don’t be afraid to give John a call/voicemail on 0414 955 743!
Until next time… Happy Distilling!