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The biggest question I have about our new still is how to clean the condenser and lyne arms between the pot and columns. It is a 1000L vodka still with 20 plates. The plates and the pot are all on the CIP system. However, the condenser and spirit path between the pot and columns are not. We were told by the manufacturer to clean it by running tails through it. This seems like the wrong answer to me, considering the oils from the tails are mostly what we are trying to clean in the first place. I have a plan to rig up a line from the CIP pump right into the point where spirit leaves the condenser, but wasn't sure if I am missing something, or am mistaken about the cleaning powers of a tails run. As always, thanks for the help!

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I know this is a less than riveting topic, but I could really use some insight here. Tails run to clean your condenser? Sounds like the wrong answer to me. Thanks!

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I'm sure that you misunderstood the manufacturer's recommendations.   I've never heard of a cleaning run using tails.  We recommend that our customers use heads or vinegar for the cleaning run.  Of course the cleaning run is done one time to remove welding chemicals etc.

 Regular cleaning is not done during a run.  It is done after the run is complete.  

For cleaning the line arm and condenser, you simply flood the column with the CIP, which floods the line arm and final condenser and comes out the parrot.  It's that simple.  If someone does not have CIP, they can flood from the parrot connection, flooding the condenser then line arm and then the column then draining into the pot.

 

 

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On 7/26/2019 at 10:11 AM, Southernhighlander said:

I'm sure that you misunderstood the manufacturer's recommendations.   I've never heard of a cleaning run using tails We recommend that our customers use heads or vinegar for the cleaning run.  Of course the cleaning run is done one time to remove welding chemicals etc.

 Regular cleaning is not done during a run.  It is done after the run is complete.  

For cleaning the line arm and condenser, you simply flood the column with the CIP, which floods the line arm and final condenser and comes out the parrot.  It's that simple.  If someone does not have CIP, they can flood from the parrot connection, flooding the condenser then line arm and then the column then draining into the pot.

 

 

They suggested distilling collected tails through the system (after multiple spirits runs) as the solution, which sounds very odd. Attached is a screen grab of the suggestion. We've received some questionable advice from them that has left me scratching my head. My alternate plan was to flood the condenser and spirit path through the parrot with our cleaning solution. It just also seems odd that the manufacturer wouldn't think to include the condenser on the otherwise very thorough and effective CIP system, I am Jerry-rigging something up to do so. 

Sometimes it's reassuring to hear it from someone else, thanks for the input @Southernhighlander

Screenshot_20190727-152340_Gmail.jpg

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On 7/27/2019 at 2:31 PM, kleclerc77 said:

They suggested distilling collected tails through the system (after multiple spirits runs) as the solution, which sounds very odd.

Sometimes it's reassuring to hear it from someone else, thanks for the input @Southernhighlander

That is odd.  I can see using tails for the initial cleaning run, however most would not use tails for that because you can retrieve the alcohol from the tails.  You cannot retrieve good alcohol from heads, so some will use heads for the first run cleaning.    I have never heard of anyone using tails to do regular cleaning.

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5 hours ago, Southernhighlander said:

 cannot retrieve good alcohol from heads

Are you sure about that? I take an initial "foreshot" cut, then add the rest of my heads to the the next run along with my tails. I'm pretty sure it improves my yield, and my heads cut quantity stays consistent instead of increasing.

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Not something I would do.  I was taught never to redistill heads or forshots or you get something we called Splo.  It means you are more apt to get a headache the next day from residual lower boiling point volatiles such as acetone and methanol etc.    At the same time, it would depend on how broad your foreshots cut is.  If you are not concentrating lower boiling point nasties, it's not a problem.

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My foreshot cut is is about 15-20% of my total heads cut. Also, everything I do goes though at least a couple of plates on the spirit run, so the lighter stuff gets compressed better. I think you're talking more about recycling pot still runs. At the very least Id throw those heads in with a vodka run. I'm sure there's a lot of good ethanol, especially in those late heads. If I'm wrong and I'm wasting my time re-running the same heads over, and over though, someone please correct me. Sorry to get so off topic of the OP.

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We do the same: chuck foreshots, recycle heads.

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We find that from a flavor perspective, batch to batch consistency is improved by recycling heads and early tails.  Single pass whiskey on plates.

We don’t commingle distillate from numerous batch runs before barreling, but lay down barrels on a run-by-run basis.  We did a number of barrels without prior run feints, and they tend to have a wider flavor variance and are generally less complex than the barrels that immediately follow, which do have feints.  We are incredibly obsessive about following process, so there is typically very little other variation introduced.

For a stretch, we did not recycle, the flavor profile of that finished product is significantly less complex. It’s good, makes a wonderful barrel strength, but proofed down, it’s pretty “basic”.

But, Devil in the details, and there are lots of details for those devils to hide in.

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5 hours ago, adamOVD said:

My foreshot cut is is about 15-20% of my total heads cut. Also, everything I do goes though at least a couple of plates on the spirit run, so the lighter stuff gets compressed better. I think you're talking more about recycling pot still runs. At the very least Id throw those heads in with a vodka run. I'm sure there's a lot of good ethanol, especially in those late heads. If I'm wrong and I'm wasting my time re-running the same heads over, and over though, someone please correct me. Sorry to get so off topic of the OP.

Please excuse me.  I learned on a pot still doing white dog, rum and brandies from my father and grandfather.  Neither of them ever ran a plated column as far as I know.  My Granddad did long distillations to get good definition between the cuts. 

Of course I understand how bubble plate columns work because I design them.  However, other than running prototypes to test for functionality and efficensy I haven't distilled in many years.  Also my permits do not allow me to consume the spirits that we distill. Of course we get great feedback from our customers and our stills have produced lots of award winning spirits. 

For the last few years I had employees work in the equipment development and testing lab and I just receive the data and make changes to the systems to try and improve things or come up with new ideas. I've developed some vacuum stripping still designs that are incredibly fast and can be fired by 180 F hot water.  The run times for redistilling GNS on these things is crazy fast at up to 1000 gallons per hour and you can run the smaller ones off commercial hot water heaters which cost a huge amount less than a steam boiler.  We have been selling the 8 to 500 gallon vacuum reclamation stills  like hot cakes to CBD producers.  Extract with ethanol, distill off the ethanol under vacuum and concentrate the oil and you make 15 times per day more than making whiskey (at least for now).   

 Adam what you say makes sense concerning your methods and the proof is in what you produce.  If you produce good spirits that way and they sell well, then keep doing what you are doing.

Thanks to all of you guys for the education on this. I have committed it to memory.  I apologize for my error.  

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No problem Paul. Wasn't trying to bust your balls, just double checking that I understand things correctly.

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@kleclerc77 to clean my condensors ( that do not have a cip port) I like to back flush the condenser with heads. then follow that will a hot water flush. Back flushing insures that all surfaces come into contact to be cleaned. 

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Back to the original question here.  As Paul says, its an easy backflush.  Water rinse, caustic, water rinse, acid, water rinse (or leave it without rinsing in accordance with your passivation schedule). You can pipe from the cip manifold to where you attach the parrot with a transfer hose too.  It'll clean the hose in the process too.  

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