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Pot Temperature Recommendations Requested for Newbe


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I am fairly new to the distilling industry although I have been well versed in the consumption end for many years. I have been distilling for about a year and a half and one thing I have not seen much information on is pot temperature. I would like to get some views on how quickly you bring your wash up to temperature, what temperature, and what you hold it at or let it slowly increase as product plays out. I know the still has a lot to do with this and whether you are using a jacketed pot with steam or oil v/s electric or gas heat. I thought a thread on this would be useful to explore what people are doing. Thanks in advance for your insights.

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The reason you haven't seen much is because it is irrelevant to the process, you don't control it, it controls you... The boiling point of the wash is a function of the alcohol content. To simplify, your boiling point will range from 78c to 100c as you go from 100% to 0% ethanol.

If you were going to try to control it, you'd find yourself having to raise the wash temperature through the run in order to keep the still running, otherwise, if you set a midrange set point, once that set point was reached and the ABV of the wash fell, you'd cease to generate sufficient vapor.

In terms of how quickly you can heat your pot, that's going to depend on how much money you have … no, really.

You will get to a point at which you need to employ alternative (read: more expensive) techniques to get your pot up to temp faster. A full jacket would be able to heat faster than a 1/2 jacket without scorching. A full high pressure jacket will be able to heat faster than a low pressure jacket. Agitated boilers will heat faster than non-agitated boilers (these are all gross oversimplifications by the way).

Easier to think of the process in terms of the amount of energy you need to add to get the volume of vapor you require. You want to run faster, you need more energy, run slower, less energy. All the techniques you list above are just mechanisms to transfer energy, some have benefits, some have constraints.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the explanation James. Sorry for the delay. I didn't get an e-mail as I expected indicating that I got a reply to this post.

This makes a lot of sense and is consistent with the process I have been running on my 6 plate column still. I start getting product as the pot gets to the 160 degree fahrenheight range and can adjust the flow I am getting out the parrot by varying the wattage on my electric element on thru 212 degrees pot temp. There is a direct relationship between cutting the wattage and the flow of product out the parrot. You might say 'duh' but please remember, I am still learning to control this process. Varying coolant to my dephleg unit also has an impact on flow.

I am of the opinion at this point that I should heat the pot to the initial product flow temp and reflux for a short period with high coolant flow on the dephleg. I should then cut the dephleg coolant flow but leave the wattage to the wash alone and allow it to slowly climb as product runs down. Control the flow with the wattage to the wash, not the dephleg. This is how I was taught but wanted to get some more feedback on setting and controlling was pot temperature.

Thanks again and anything you guys can add would be appreciated.

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