Jump to content

What's up with the bentonite?


daveflintstone

Recommended Posts

If you are distilling, why would you want to add bentonite? That degree of clarification generally isn't necessary pre-distillation.

Well that's my question. Is it helpful to add finings to assist in settling the solids, particularly in molasses washes? Hobby distillers are all about settling their washes before distilling. A small craft distiller is just a big hobby distiller with a license, and in a lot of cases, like mine, the hobbyists have many many more years of experience. If clarification is not necessary pre-distillation, why are the hobbyists clarifying?

Do any craft distillers clear their wash before distilling; why/why not?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well that's my question. Is it helpful to add finings to assist in settling the solids, particularly in molasses washes? Hobby distillers are all about settling their washes before distilling. A small craft distiller is just a big hobby distiller with a license, and in a lot of cases, like mine, the hobbyists have many many more years of experience. If clarification is not necessary pre-distillation, why are the hobbyists clarifying?

Do any craft distillers clear their wash before distilling; why/why not?

Hobbyists do all sorts of things that have no basis is commercial production, which is our reality. For example, making wine with lots of added water. Bentonite would help settle solids but are the solids hurting anything? Does one want to wait for bentonite to do its job considering the time involved and the increased spoilage possibilities? In winemaking (a well preserved environment), we typically wait one to two weeks to allow sufficient settling. Even then, bentonite does not always settle well. You could try it on a small batch and see. My prediction is that it will be detrimental or have no effect on the final flavor of a molasses based rum. Thus a waste of time and materials. Also, note that you will loose up to 10% to lees when you rack off the clarified wash.

Cheers,

Keith

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As it has been said. What hobby distillers do doesn't really pertain to commercial distilling. Not only that, but at least 50% of the info tossed around by home distillers is not only untrue, it is actually detrimental. If you are going to run a artisanal distillery you need to develop a completely different mindset about what you are doing. I know I had to. The more I learned about REAL distilling, as opposed to hobby distilling, the more I had to throw away a lot of useless information.

In commercial distilling, as in your case rum, the fast fermentation actually seems to lead to more yeast and solids being thrown off and settling naturally. Then you just put the wash into the still without fining, just keep most of the solids behind. There are even commercial styles of spirits made with the lees. Very different from small home stills where the lees would give off tastes or burn. Commercial stills have agitators or circulation pumps so that you can distill with solids or particulates in the wash/mash. I learned the hard way when I tried experimenting with a home style still and had burn-on of particulates. I then had to build a stripping still that circulated the wash and had no problems.

If you feel you still need to settle out the yeast the best way is with a double wall tank where you can run cold water through the wall to chill out the wash and it will clarify naturally and rapidly itself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think with a small hobby still the likelihood of a boil-over through the spirit tube is much higher than on a larger commercial still. This may be the reason for finding ways to get sediment to settle. It's not much of an issue with a larger still as long as you are patient and attentive to the warming process. Some mashes are much more prone to foaming.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Basically get a boiler circulation pump. weld a pipe fitting to the bottom of the kettle to take out wash for circulation, weld a concentrator onto the side of the kettle near the bottom (concentrator is basically taking 1.5" pipe down to 3/4" to increase pressure) and pointing alongside the tank to redirect the wash inside to form a whirlpool.

What kind of suggestions do you have for an alembic or pot still for circulation?

0182-1000.jpg

As you see in the photo there is a 150 gallon kettle on its side. The 1.5" pipe on the right is the take out going to the boiler recirculation pump. The pipe on the left is the return. Starts as 1.5" and and restricts down to 3/4". It causes a very nice, strong whirlpool inside the tank. 150 gallons got up to nice speed with a small pump within seconds. I am going to put in a larger pump if needed.

Video

I just put a small video on one of my blogs of the inside of the tank circulating water, try clicking here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jonathan-

I assume the purpose of the circulation is to prevent solids in the beer or wine from burning on the bottom. How did you identify the problem of solids burning (see it, taste it, smell it?)? From time to time I get a bitter taste in my distillate, and it seems to happen if I am distilling wine that has just completed fermentation (and not completely settled or clarified). You have me wondering if it could be from dead yeast cells burning on the bottom.

Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I did a test of the alcohol level of the wine, which is actually more of a slurry, in the lab still and saw minor burning. I then did a test run in a 7 gl prototype still and had to stop after a short while because you could smell the solids burning. Haven't tried it in the stripper because we are having to rebuild the steam boiler piping to install a condensate sump and pump to relieve excess back pressure.

Jonathan-

I assume the purpose of the circulation is to prevent solids in the beer or wine from burning on the bottom. How did you identify the problem of solids burning (see it, taste it, smell it?)? From time to time I get a bitter taste in my distillate, and it seems to happen if I am distilling wine that has just completed fermentation (and not completely settled or clarified). You have me wondering if it could be from dead yeast cells burning on the bottom.

Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...