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Cleaning a boiler in a firebox


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It depends upon how you design it, and where it is located and the local fire laws. Tell us about the still and what your constraints are. Have you built the firebox yet?

(If it's with one of the Colonels stills then you should have the valve moved to the edge of the bottom. His side placement is poor design.)

How do you clean a boiler in a permenant firebox?
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We have not yet designed or built a firebox or still that would go with it, but I am trying to imagine the basic mechanical structure of the pot or boiler set in a firebox. The pot or boiler would have to be cleaned and while I can imagine how to access the top of the pot, I have not figured out you would flush out the inside with a hole in the bottom that was also inside the firebox.

My wife and I are in the early stages of establishing a distillery here in Alaska. While the state license requires that a plan of the building be submitted to the fire marshall, building codes and regulations are pretty uneven up here...my mortgage company has more to say about the way my house is built than either state or local government does. I will find out shortly what the fire mashall has to say. We have not decided if we will buy a still or have one made up here. But I think we will construct a safe, efficient natural gas driven firebox built around a copper pot with a packed column on top of it.

Robert

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I assume that with a packed column you are going to make vodka. Not the easiest way, but it will work.

You don't have to have flame under the whole still so having a valve for releasing waste and water on the bottom isn't an issue. You just need to get at it easily. It can all be hard piped in place. With a slope at kettle bottom towards valve. You can also set up CIP spray balls inside the still.

You don't need copper for the kettle. It can be stainless and a used dairy tank can work well. If you are going to use a packed column the column can be stainless as well. You just need copper in the vapor path to remove sulphur, and to increase reflux as well.

I am making a stripping still from an old stainless brewing kettle. I had a 6" wide stainless pipe section welded on top with a 90 degree section. Then a 3" tri-clamp ferrule, and then the still is 3" pipe with tri-clamp from there on into the condensor. I can add or remove sections of 3" pipe to have copper packing if I want, or to go to a doubler before the condenser. I can run it simple hot and fast for stripping. or parked and doubler for one run through for spirits of any type. I am setting it up to run on our breweries steam boiler by winding 100 ft of 1" copper tubing around the base of the still and using thermo-conductive paste to ensure a good bond. the thermo paste dries to rock hard in 24 hours and has the same heat conductivity as steel. So now a direct flame kettle will be steam powered.

My other still, a handmade copper still is currently going to be direct propane flame, but if the stripping still works well I may wrap tubing around it and make it steam powered.

We have not yet designed or built a firebox or still that would go with it, but I am trying to imagine the basic mechanical structure of the pot or boiler set in a firebox. The pot or boiler would have to be cleaned and while I can imagine how to access the top of the pot, I have not figured out you would flush out the inside with a hole in the bottom that was also inside the firebox.

My wife and I are in the early stages of establishing a distillery here in Alaska. While the state license requires that a plan of the building be submitted to the fire marshall, building codes and regulations are pretty uneven up here...my mortgage company has more to say about the way my house is built than either state or local government does. I will find out shortly what the fire mashall has to say. We have not decided if we will buy a still or have one made up here. But I think we will construct a safe, efficient natural gas driven firebox built around a copper pot with a packed column on top of it.

Robert

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My other still, a handmade copper still is currently going to be direct propane flame, but if the stripping still works well I may wrap tubing around it and make it steam powered.

Jonathan- I have also been thinking about converting a direct-fired still to a steam-heated still using copper tubing and have a couple questions that you probably researched and can answer for me:

1. why not put the coils inside the still (in direct contact with the beer/wine)? This would seem particularly important if the still is stainless due to the reduced conductivity of stainless.

2. What type of copper (soft 3/4"?)

3. did you find any specs on the pressure that your selected copper can handle to match that limit with your boiler?

Thanks for sharing on this topic. It has been on my mind. Tom

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Max pressure from a boiler is low. 1 atmosphere, 15lbs, so copper tubing isn't a problem.

I am using 1" soft copper, may have wished I used 3/4" instead, but too late now. Spent the last two days seeing if it works wrapping it around. Difficult but not impossible. Rubber mallet, come-along, and sheer stubborness at work.

I also have a five gallon tub of heat conductive putty to smear between the coils and the still. It has the same heat conductivity as steel. I plan to do that in the next day or so.

I expect that I will have more heat transfer going on than I need. Our brewery steam boiler can get 400 gallons of wort in a stainless kettle to a boil pretty fast. My stripping still will be 150 gallon capacity.

Easier to clean with coils outside and I will be using thick mash puree with a pumped whirlpool to keep from burning/sticking to kettle wall.

Ask me again in a week and i will know how well it works.

Jonathan- I have also been thinking about converting a direct-fired still to a steam-heated still using copper tubing and have a couple questions that you probably researched and can answer for me:

1. why not put the coils inside the still (in direct contact with the beer/wine)? This would seem particularly important if the still is stainless due to the reduced conductivity of stainless.

2. What type of copper (soft 3/4"?)

3. did you find any specs on the pressure that your selected copper can handle to match that limit with your boiler?

Thanks for sharing on this topic. It has been on my mind. Tom

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