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bluestar last won the day on May 24

bluestar had the most liked content!

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About bluestar

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  • Birthday 09/11/1956

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    Chicagoland & Southwest Michigan

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  1. bluestar

    Question on defleg...

    Specifics of the effect of a dephleg depend very much on the geometry and design of the dephleg and how it is operated. So there is no very useful basic answer, other than to say: it will increase reflux at the head of the still or in the vapor path (depending on design), which will tend to increase proof, increase separation, but reduce flow. Other than geometry and design, in operation, you want to control the temperature and flow rate of the coolant in the dephleg to vary the reflux, and you may want that to be fixed or to be varied by some sort of feedback system. Beyond that is beyond the basics, and also will require details of your depheg geometry and design.
  2. bluestar

    New startup question about setting up

    It is not JUST about flash points. As I mentioned, it is not good to run even SS elements in direct contact (because of high local temperatures) with very high proof alcohol. Also, the conventional feedthroughs used for the elements are usually not good for high proof. I won't say you can't run a still generally at higher proof, you must do so for certain spirits, like absinthe, where you often start with 70 proof spirit. But then the still should be configured for that, using indirect or steam heating, and making sure any gasketing and other materials are suitable for exposure to high proof. JMO.
  3. bluestar

    New startup question about setting up

    Come now, that isn't reasonable. You are expected to know how to properly operate, and to know what can be put in such a still. Like NOT mash, that would be stupid, it would burn. And NOT sulfuric acid, or gasoline. But nothing would PREVENT you from doing that, except not being stupid. At least Paul is letting potential customers know what the limitations are. There are still manufacturers that might not!
  4. bluestar

    Wind Hill Distillery, LLC

    Gee, that's straight down US 41 from Chicago, just a couple hours. Might even be able to visit 😉
  5. bluestar

    New startup question about setting up

    I stand by my comment that 6' packed column might not be enough on its own, but in the configuration Paul (Southernhighlander) describes, combined with 6 plates, that should indeed work. We did the same thing for our 8' packed column, adding 4 plates, just got us over 190. But it was not optimal, and a bit harder to keep stabilized. In the end, we switched over to a 17 plate column of smaller diameter, using, by the way, full disclosure, a SS pot we purchased from Paul. Another advantage of plates, if you can observe them while running, is you can see how the column is stabilizing, and if it is being overdriven or underdriven. Also, if the structured packing is not of good design or packing, you can get non-uniform behavior. That said, a good structured-packing-filled column can make great vodka, and is usually far cheaper than the plated column. A rough rule of thumb for packed columns is the height in feet should be roughly 1.5x the diameter in inches. That was our experience, and is similar to that described by Paul for the Vendome still at Rock Town. But the specific height required will be dependent on the kind of packing used. I also agree with Paul that you don't want to be direct heating high-wines. In addition to the safety issues, the high proof alcohol is more corrosive, and will likely cause even stainless elements to quickly erode and potentially fail. Cleaning wasn't hard for us for a packed column, we just back flushed by circulating hot PBW and back rinsed by circulating hot citric acid, and that will clean in place. You can also remove the column, seal an end, and fill for soak cleaning.
  6. bluestar

    New startup question about setting up

    Hence the reason I suggested the 20 plate column. A packed column can work as well, although you might need something taller than 6' at 6" wide, depending on the packing material. We found it tough to get above 190 proof with an 8" x 8' packed column, for instance. And the throughput is generally slower. Beyond safety, another reason you won't want to keep redistilling is that each heat-up and cool-down costs you money in energy. You would likely make back again your investment in a higher-plate-count column with the time and energy saved in a reasonably short time.
  7. bluestar

    New startup question about setting up

    The idea of using the mash tun/stripper for stripping is fine. And if stripped, you can use a direct heat for the final distillation. But if you are going to try to finish the vodka from the stripped low-wines directly, you will need a much higher degree of rectification that you will get with a 6-section still. I would plan on using 20 plates. If you are going to use less than 20 plates, then plan to do a high-wine distillation before the final spirit run.
  8. bluestar

    Rye flakes entering lines when distilling.

    Just keep in mind that rye malt is not rye, for labeling purposes. Fermcap is good for beer fermentation anti-foam, but may not be good enough for distillation. We use Magrabar, which works well for our all malt-rye on-grain distillations.
  9. bluestar

    Hot Dry Weather

    Humidify. In winter, steam humidifiers; in summer, wicking air conditioners. Or, use a misting system similar to what is used in green houses.
  10. bluestar

    Vendome Copper Condensor

    Copper condensers can work fine for certain spirits, but can be poorly suited for others. In particular, anything that produces significant amounts of acetic acid can be a concern (like corn or fruit), since this can attack the copper and form copper acetate, a bluish and bitter salt. That's not a problem on the still side of the lyne arm, since the salt won't carry with the vapor. We knew this, and specified stainless for our Vendome condenser. It was mistakenly manufactured with copper internals, and when bitter, blue contaminant showed up in the distillate from corn beer, examination of the internals revealed it was copper (we had a stainless outer cylinder), which we had remanufactured back to specification, eliminating the problem. Ostensibly, you can get by with a copper condenser, even with these sources, if you keep strip and spirit runs separated from each other (different stills, for example). The idea is that if you take a cut in the strip, to eliminate acetic acid in the low-wines, even if you get some copper acetate in the low wines, they will be left behind in the stillage in the spirit run. Also, if the copper passivates, you will minimize the formation of copper acetate. Also, some source materials produce lower levels of acetic acid, and are less prone to copper acetate formation: barley and cane sugar, for example. Hence, it is sometimes just easier to use stainless. But if you are using well-suited source material and proper methods, copper can function well.
  11. bluestar

    6-Pack Boxes / Partitions

    Can't you use the partitions from the 12-packs in the 6 packs, by cutting them in half? Some labor, but it saves the recycling, and if you are trying to squeeze pennies... Where are you getting the quote from?
  12. bluestar

    Proofing....hydrometer vs Anton Paar

    Ah, how do you get comparable accuracies from analog versus digital readings? Okay, how it works: the assumption is that the digital meter is doing all the correction, interpolation, and averaging FOR you, so that is built into it already. So when you have a 0.01% accurate reading with a 0.01% repeatability, the assumption is that the actual reading could be off by 0.04%. BUT, if you are doing the analog measurement with the IRS hydrometers, they have 0.2 proof (0.1%) divisions. Gee, that is worse, isn't it? Well, the assumption is that you can interpolate more accurately than a division, at least 1/2 of a division, which would be 0.05%, and if you average 3 repeated measurements, you might improve to as much as 0.025%. But then you have to also factor in the accuracy of the analog temperature reading and correction of proof, which might bring you back to about 0.04%. So, that is how a 0.1% division glass hydrometer is considered equivalent to a 0.01% accurate digital meter. At first blush, it doesn't seem possible, but in fact it is, if you are skilled with hydrometers and thermometers (in the way of the old chemists). Admittedly, many of us might not be able to read and correct the analog tools to do any better than a Snap 50!
  13. bluestar

    Prickly ash

    Yes, it was Penn Herb, I have not check to see if they still carry it.
  14. bluestar

    Prickly ash

    You can get prickly ash berries from some of the major botanical providers that serve the herbal remedy market. In particular, I have purchased and used prickly ash in a test gin formulation.
  15. bluestar

    Proofing....hydrometer vs Anton Paar

    Again, so no one is confused, UK and USA rules might be completely different, and we have to use USA in USA. But you can not make any of the cheap density meters meet the requirements by doing more calibration. Calibration corrects systematic errors, it does not improve accuracy. The accuracy is what the manufacturer says it is. The requirement for the TTB is 0.01 % ABV in order to assure the product is in the range of -0.00 and +0.30 of required proof. Sure, you could in principle get by with less accuracy, but the TTB will not consider it an approved method. For sure, if you used a device that has an accuracy of 0.1%, even if you recalibrate it, you will not have the required accuracy for the TTB.