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How do still manufacturers place electric elements in the boiler ? Are they inside a tube of some sort filled with a liquid, or are they literally just screwed into the boiler, with the element touching the wash ?


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There are two flavors -- either direct immersion (an impossibility for grain-in distilling) or bain marie. Generally you'll get a 2" triclamp ferrule tigged to either the pot or the jacket and then some flavor of element guard. I dont think you can beat the StillDragon kit:


Nice heavy NPS threaded TC endcap for the element, other endcap with hole for cordgrip and a tiny slot that lets you know if you have any leaks. Only complaint I could come up with is that it's a wee bit bulky. It's what we use for our 30 gallon recipe development bain marie still.

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With regards to oil bath the only downsides I can tell after a couple weeks of production are:

It takes a little bit more finessing than direct electric elements. Our oil gets up over 300 degrees during stripping runs and therefore holds a tremendous amount of heat energy in it--which takes a while to transfer to the wash. One must predict what the still will be doing a few minutes in advance and account for that. For instance: At the beginning of a run the power is on full, but once the head temp starts rising I have to immediately back the power way back otherwise I'll quickly overshoot the stabilization temp.

Agitation is also a must otherwise the liquid near the walls will be much hotter than the bottom and center. Granted, once a rolling boil occurs the heat is very even throughout, but for anything other than stripping runs this does not work as heads/hearts/tails are all smeared.


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Agitation is very important with both steam and oil stills.

With any still there is always a learning curve.

Oil can heat up way hotter than steam (up to 600f, normal 350-500f) or what ever your oil is rated for. There is also a coast period with oil.

Steam is more of an Instant off sorta of.

All are good!

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