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Contaminating Condensing Column

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We are in the process of installing a gin basket for steeping before the condensing column. Has anyone ran into any issues with the Juniper flavors or any other flavors carrying over into other products after distilling? One of the main reasons we went with an external basket was the fear of embedding that flavor into the copper still.

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We make gin through direct maceration on a hybrid dual tower kothe that we also use for everything else we make.

When I go back and forth from making gin to whiskey, and back etc... I'll do a steam run prior, and periodically I'll run heads + water to solvent clean it. This is in addition to the normal CIP that I run after every use of the still.

When you do a lot of different products through the same copper I think your still gets 'seasoned' but if you follow some basic cleaning procedures it's not a problem (at least to me).

I get more worried about buildup of waxes during stripping in the unfortunate situation where your mash pukes into your lyne arm a little bit. That's where the heads run comes in handy.

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Thanks for the reply MC, if I do ever run into anything carrying over I will have to try the heads run.

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Hey RB,

I asked about this a month or two ago, and talked to two distilleries that both use a vapor basket right before the condensing column about this. They said similar things about a heads run cleaning out the gin flavors for the most part. I would recommend calling them at Left Turn Distillery and Great Northern Distillery. They were incredibly helpful and took the time to talk me through the benefits of their process.

I am interested to hear about the wax buildup, I had not heard that before. I would imagine the heads run would clear that up nicely, but you can cut down on waxes by using higher quality and un-waxed cucumbers.

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we recommend back flushing the product condenser and vapor tubes on our systems as part of the clean up after running gin.

a good long cycle with hot PBW, water then acid will get rid of the worst of your botanicals stink. at least enough that it wont contaminate your whiskey.

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Buy two stills.

I have seen quite a few distillerys that have a small still just for gin. That way they never have to worry.

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Or do something like a StillDragon column that can be knocked down and tossed in the dishwasher.

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I like that idea Dehner, money would be the issue there. If I were to do anything like that, I would buy a bigger still for other production and keep this still just for gin. However, the company that is making our flavor basket is throwing in a separate condensing column, post basket, just for gin.

Depending on which process we just to go about, that problem could be solved.

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Other than using a heads/water cleaning or PBW do you guys do anything else for a post distillation clean up? I've experimented with Citric Acid for organic compounds and Sodium Hydroxide for inorganic when cleaning out any of my tanks. I'd rather find a one stop shop for both a post distillation CIP run and a more thorough cleaning when switching between spirit categories (Gin/Whiskey...etc). 

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5 hours ago, david@nederlandergroup.com said:

Other than using a heads/water cleaning or PBW do you guys do anything else for a post distillation clean up? I've experimented with Citric Acid for organic compounds and Sodium Hydroxide for inorganic when cleaning out any of my tanks. I'd rather find a one stop shop for both a post distillation CIP run and a more thorough cleaning when switching between spirit categories (Gin/Whiskey...etc). 

Sort of backwards, I think. The base is used for cleaning organic, in fact the PBW acts as both detergent and base for organic clean up. You don't want to use NaOH at any high unbuffered strength, it will damage all metals. The citric acid after PBW is used to both neutralize any residual base and to etch/pacify/reduce the metal surfaces and remove acid-soluble inorganics. We switch between many spirits including gin and whiskey in the same still, using a pumped and heated backwash of PBW followed by citric acid, and it works well. However, if you have organic solids accumulated inside, you will want to powerwash these before the PBW backwash.

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I'm fairly new to using a Kothe 4000l hybrid column still, and trying to get a handle for cleaning it.  With my old alembic Hoga I would periodically PBW and then citric with my CIP spray balls.  The Kothe has a CIP system in place, but it seems like its just for spraying the hot water from the condenser after runs.  

The previous program was to flush the still with hot water from the CIP system after each batch, and then after a gin botanical run do a citric acid distillation.  When I arrived I have found that its pretty necessary to get in the still and scrub and use a caustic (we're using Brewr-ease), but I can't get to the head or the column with this method.  

Is anyone using the Kothe CIP system and adding cleaning chemicals somehow?  I can't see a good way to add them to the condenser hot liquor tank, but there is a small inline port befor the CIP pump...

I like the idea of just backlashing the column, but that won't get the head clean.   I think the copper needs a good refreshing.

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The way it was explained to me:

There is a DIN port near the still dump valve, designed to connect via hose to the inline port on the CIP pump. So you could mix your chemicals in the still body and recirc out the bottom DIN port using the CIP pump. I would be wary of doing it that way as it seems like a good way to clog up the spray balls in the column with solids, and those spray balls are solid and not attached with a cotter pin so it seems like a nightmare to clean them if they get clogged. 

You can also screw off the sightglass on the condenser water collection tank and add your chemicals there. 

  

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We have a 1000 L Kothe Pot Collumn Hybrid still and run our caustic and citric solution through the pot hooked up to the CIP recirc pump. We use a 1% caustic solution and a 2.5% citric solution and haven't had any problems with clogging in the spray balls. It works great to remove any organic matter and the citric does a pretty good job to remove any DMTS/DMS on the copper. We use a gin basket after the column and we do an extra 20 minutes on all of the plates below the condensate return (bottom 3 plates on ours) to remove any excess oils that have come through the u-bend.

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