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Cleaning hoses


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My low wines from distiling on grain usually have a thin, black, oily film that floats on the top, and when I pump it out some often sticks to the bottom of the vessel. It requires some scrubbing to clean, not just a quick rinse or even PBW soak. I'm worried about it coating the insides of my hoses and tainting high wines. I'm thinking of buying new hoses and keeping low wines and final distilate hoses separate. Does anyone else do this, or have any hose deep cleaning advise? Will those sponge balls pump through a small diaphram pump, and do they work well?

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I wrote an article on cleaning hoses that may be of some use, and here's a link that outlines different cleaning formulas and typical max temps/concentrations for different hose liner materials.

Any time you have an oily product and a non-oily product it's best to keep the hoses separate. Clean the hose, scrub it, and keep it in good shape, but the oil will stick and—depending on what type of oil it is—will typically shorten the hose's lifespan. Some fats and oils are quite aggressive on hose elastomers. Folks that work with both oils and spirits—say, a facility that produces both wine and olive oil—know that cleaning something well enough to prevent cross-contamination is a fool's errand, and just keeping the products completely separate will pay for itself quickly in time spent trying to completely remove all traces of oil.

As far as the hose sponges (or "pigs", as some folks call them), they're brilliant. A small air diaphragm pump should push through, though how quickly it will push is a matter of its GPM rating and its max PSI. One customer I spoke with just uses compressed air to push the sponge through a wet hose, so that could work as well. Sponges are best at cleaning stuck-on solids, though I imagine they will have a noticeable effect on oil. Using the sponge after chemical cleaning and just before final rinsing will likely yield best results.

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We normally recommend Butyl or UPE (a.k.a. Distillery Hose) for anything above about 20% alcohol. It's not a hard and fast rule, though. The manufacturer doesn't provide any specific guidance about the alcohol-% cutoff point, but based on ethanol's fair-to-marginal compatibility with PVC, it's a safe number. Still, I completely understand that the price of the Kanaflex/Line hoses is very attractive relative to premium hoses like GlideTech Butyl or Distillery.

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