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Looking for tips and opinions on homemade still

Max Action

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I'm thinking about building a 500 gallon still to be used for stripping runs. I'd repurpose a 500 gallon jacketed tank as a pot, and have local fabricators build and attach lyne arm and condenser. Just looking for ballpark suggestions on sizes for various components.

Right now I'm thinking about using a 499K BTU atmospheric boiler (about 80% efficient, so net around 400K) . I can do the calculations on degrees/hour/pounds of water theoretically, but curious about real world expectations and if that's going to be enough energy to strip 500 gallons of 10% wash in a reasonable time.

Also thinking about using 3" stainless tube as lyne arm since it's readily available with easy connectors, but not sure if that's big enough to prevent a bottleneck. Then there are the issues of the type and size of condenser. I would want something to keep up with a stripping run at full blast, but don't have the spare mental energy to figure out how to do those calcs regarding heat exchange material and area. I assume the traditional route is a stainless shell and tube condenser with ??? sqft of tubes. But I'm also considering building a tube-in-tube coiled condenser with copper tubes. My first thought would be towards commonly available 3/4" copper for interior tube and 1" for exterior, but i would need to figure out how many feet I'd need, and whether reducing from my 3" (or whatever) lyne arm to 3/4" tubing would create too much restriction.

One more thing I'm considering is including an empty column on top of the pot for possible upgrade to a spirit still in the future. I'm thinking a 10" stainless pipe about 3 feet tall that I could eventually add a small reflux condensing coil and copper raschig rings (for non-vodka spirits), but I'm no chemical engineer so I would definitely appreciate any feedback on that.


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Maybe that was too many questions for a single post. How about the lyne arm? Any thoughts about the 3" diamater tubing being sufficient?


That is a good size to go with. rethink the copper coil. it will create backpressure and high velocity gasses running which will require a longer coil. I would go with a good sized tube in shell. Not a single tube either, a bundle of tubes in a tube sheet in a shell. call me and I can give you a few minutes and some suggestions on the other questions. 207-416-9353 Also be sure to pressure test the jacket on that tank and check it for any leaks. Might be good to do a dye penetration test too. watch close for stress cracks.

In Great Spirits,


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