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Filtering help


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I give up trying to figure this out on my own. We make limoncello. It's awesome to drink, a nightmare to make. Unlike other limoncellos we use juice in it. This puts TONS of particulate matter in the spirit. We filter ours to clarity (.5 microns). For our normal small batch we can do that, but it's a pain. We've increased our batch size (10g->40g) and now it's way too hard to deal with. We can filter down to 1 micron without much issue. It's going from 1 to .5 that is causing issues. We're using a 3 plate filter for that. The filters last around 5 gallons before getting clogged. Anyone have a idea how to step up without spending thousands of dollars? We want an interim solution before we invest at that level. If we could filter 40-50 gallons to .5 for less than $500 + filters that would be ideal.

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Is it possible to use some form of a flocculant, to let the partials settle to the bottom, when decant the liquid to above the settlement level, and do your filtration then of the clarified limoncello?  

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Have you tried cooling it? Clearing agents might pull other stuff out, but if you try a batch in a carboy so you can see it and put it in a fridge that might work. When you cool spirits, wine or beer down stuff settles to the bottom. You can also look into a vortex/centrifuge type system. They make them for the food industry so they can handle a lot of volume. These systems will pull any particulate out and then you filter as you're bottling.

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Interesting idea but I don't have the capability of cooling that much. I have put samples in the fridge and it floc'ed/separated much better. For centrifuges I looked into that but all I can find in my price range is aluminum. I don't think that's a good material for acidic spirits. I do think that it would be good for clarifying spirits as there is no filter to throw out.

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What size is your plate/frame?  Full size 40x40, or one of the 1/4 size smaller jobs (20x20)?  Could be simply a matter of having more filter area.  I think that's the reason, because based on what you've said, I'd bet you are blinding with tiny bits of impermeable skin and pump (which if you've ever eaten an orange you'll realize they do a great job of keeping the juice in).

We had similar challenges filtering powdered carbon from white rum.  We just needed to step up to larger media to eliminate the mid-batch filter cleaning.  Going from a 10" Code-7 cartridge to a 30" cartridge did the trick.  Just not enough surface area before we would completely blind the filter.  If we step up even larger, we're going to need to add more filter, no way to get around it.

What you might try is to do some gross filtration using a poly filter bag or EZ-Strainer (25-50 micron, maybe smaller, they are cheap enough to try).  Don't rinse it, see if you can get some of the particulate to stay behind as part of the screener.  Sticky stuff that likes to blind filter media usually likes to stick together as well.  Pour through slow, then, filter in steps.  If you can get it to 1 micron, get it there, then filter again with half micron.  Again, we realized it was far easier to refilter multiple times with progressively smaller cartridges, than go through Big Bang, with all the filter cartridges in series (pressure issue as the first cartridge would blind up, making the rest of them irrelevant).

Which raises another question, are you monitoring pressure on the filter input?  Is your pump putting out sufficient pressure that's closer to the top of the recommended range for your media than the bottom.

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Dealing with similar issues, with an amaro/herbal liqueur.  Doesn't seem like there is a lot of info, out there.  I have tried letting it settle and siphoning off the top 3/4.  that works, but it's obviously very inefficient and time consuming.

Hoping to find some solutions.  And good luck!

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3 plates is not much surface area for solids, so it does stand to reason that it would load up quickly. Depending on the size of the pads, even a 10" pleated P7 cartridge may have more surface area.

We have a few herbal liqueur producers who ended up with our triple column filter housings and say it's been life-changing, as it allows them to run from coarse to fine in a single pass. But they are definitely out of the price range you're looking for.

Generally, we advise people with high-solids products to start with bag, lenticular, or plate & frame filtration. They tend to be the friendliest solutions for high-solids filtration. The cheapest option is going to be around $1400 for the Hobby Plate & Frame Filter, though. That said, I think that unit in particular would work pretty well for you if you used it with a crossover plate so that you can use two different filter coarsenesses in a single pass. I think the advice from @Silk City Distillers is on point as far as cheap solutions go. It will be slow-going, but I think it's ultimately be a question of spending more on a setup that does what you want quickly, but is overkill for your batch size, or spending commensurate to your batch size on a more manual process.

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11 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

What size is your plate/frame?  Full size 40x40, or one of the 1/4 size smaller jobs (20x20)?

Smaller one - 20x20

11 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

 If you can get it to 1 micron, get it there, then filter again with half micron.  

We can get it to 1 micron easily enough. It's going from 1 to .5 that's the issue.

12 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Which raises another question, are you monitoring pressure on the filter input?

We have a gauge on the Input. It hits 30+ PSI (max gauge reading) within a minute.

2 hours ago, MichaelAtTCW said:

The cheapest option is going to be around $1400 for the Hobby Plate & Frame Filter, though

Yeah, I think that's the thing we need but we haven't brought ourselves to getting over the price for the moment. It's for only 1 product right now so it's hard to justify.

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  • 2 weeks later...

To follow up we found these: https://www.dudadiesel.com/filters.php

They're stackable so we got a 5 pack from 200 micron down to 10. Because they are not pressurized it's going to be slow going. Given our minimal needs it should be good for now.

Once we get a little more cash we're going to buy something more substantial.

And thanks to everyone that replied and PM'ed. We appreciate the help.

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