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Mileage on activated carbon?

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Hi folks,

I did search the forums for this, and found quite a bit of conversation about activated carbon, so my apologies if the answer is already in there and I just didn't find it... kindly point me to it.

Otherwise, my question is about what kind of mileage we can expect per any certain volume of activated carbon.  I know the rudimentary science behind activated carbon, and I know there is a tremendous variety of types, and results will vary by the amount of impurities in the spirit going through it... I also understand that its efficacy will decrease over a curve.  But generally speaking, assuming professional quality stripped and fractioned vodka spirit, how many gallons (or liters, or whatever) can one expect to be effectively treated by say a cubic foot or so of granular, stone carbon?  Just as a reference point.  10 gallons?  100 gallons?  I know, there are lots of variables, but as a benchmark... is this number out there somewhere that came from someone's personal experience?  These filters can go from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars... I'd really like to avoid over or under purchasing a system much as possible.


Hammer Spring Distillers

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How clean of a neutral can you make without it?

You will get lots more life running tap water through it than swamp water.  Very neutral and your carbon will last a very long time.  Very bad neutral (it is surprising how many people make bad "neutral") will require very regular changes.

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6 hours ago, Hammer Spring said:

These filters can go from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars... I'd really like to avoid over or under purchasing a system much as possible.

A carbon filtration system is just about the most basic filter style possible.  You can put together your own with a few pieces of pipe.  There is absolutely no magic involved in this process.  Going too big means you can run more volume before changing or regenerating carbon (and slightly more loss).

Have you read the Gert Strand Carbon PDF?  If not, start there.  It's a home distiller book, but it's better than anything else I've seen.



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Hi Silk City,

Like I stated initially I understand the general concept just fine, and after even more research todaycleardot.gif


I discovered that there are integral components that are all variables. This demonstrates the science, but you much choose your own starting point by defining one of the variables... so again, not looking for formulas and science necessarily... just someone who's done it and what type of volume they are getting based on the parameters of their filter and flow rates.
Here's an example of what I'm hoping to find:
"Dear JP, we have 2 cubic feet of granulated stone carbon in a 2' x 10' pipe and we successfully filter 10,000 gallons of spirit over the course of a year before we notice a decrease in quality'
Something like that.
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We use roughly 2 cubic feet of granulated carbon and filter about 10,000 gallons.


But seriously you do see your asking a un answerable question.  What might be filtered enough for you may not be enough for someone else, or vise versa. Your distillate might not be as pure as someone else or more pure.  How do you ferment? fast and hard? Slow with lest off flavors? How many plates are you running? How good are you at running said plates?  Or do you just think your good at running your still? 


Just do what you think works for you and call it good the thing with this business is there are very few hard yes and no answers. 


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If you call up any carbon manufacturer and talk to their techs, they will all tell you that you need to do a pilot column study.  

Here is a really nice overview from Cabot/Norit.  There is a ton of helpful information.  Ironically, you might find that your pilot column is more than capable of handling your production volume (if you build to their recommended spec of 4", 4 columns, 24" bed depth).  Keep in mind, a high quality carbon changed frequently will outperform high-end carbon that you attempt to squeeze to the bitter end.


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