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How do I get my neglected copper clean


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That's right. I've been too lazy with my cleaning regime and the inside of the my pot still is way dirty. My usual PBW rinsing followed by citric acid water won't bring back the shine. Even with elbow grease and a scrubby sponge. Suggestions?

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  • 2 weeks later...

What do you usually run through there? 


What temps are your washing fluids? Hot pbw is a lot better cleaner than room temp PBW. Citric works better hot too.


If you're not getting rid of soil with the PBW then the citric can't do its job.


What concentration citric solution are you using? Are you using RO/DI water to make your citric solution? If not have you adjusted your mixture for ionized water?


Do you have copper sulfate issues? Which part of the still needs to be cleaned? If you're kettle is dirty you probably have a Lyne arm and condenser that need restoration as well.


End of the day, hot sodium hydroxide will clean any soil, but you need to be uber careful with caustic and copper, very very very careful. Most people choose not to do it at all.

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I run everything through my pot still - Molasses based rum wash, strip wheat wash for vodka, ciders and wines for brandy, grain wash for whiskies.

I usually (though not often enough) do a water rinse followed by a hot PBW re-circulation for 20 minutes (pumping backward through condenser and then back out of pot). This is followed by a water rinse and then followed by the same procedure with a citric acid rinse but with cold water and citric acid. 

Not sure on the acid concentration - I usually just shoot for "sour" tasting. Less than lemon juice sour (probably PH of 3.5ish).  What P.H. should I shoot for?

Pot is stainless and is pretty clean but Pot dome, cap, and lyne arm up and over to condenser (condenser is stainless) is copper.  

My water is just normal water (not RO).

I'm thinking, from reading your response (thank you by the way) that I need to do a really good HOT (140-150 degrees F.) PBW rinse and then HOT citric acid rinse (I have always done cold citric). I don't feel like there is any 'soil' per say, but I suppose there may be a layer of organic material creating dirty copper. 

Not sure if I have copper sulfate issues..what do you mean by this?


Thanks again!

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If you're running that much different stuff through there you gotta really mind your ps and qs with your still that coppers seeing a ton of organic matter and likely sulfurous compounds. Do you have CIP spray balls in place and the set up to allow it/them to function adequately? And how big is this thing even?

First off, if you're in shut down for a while I would run water runs to keep it from getting too nasty in there- you'll know if you wind up with copper sulfate you'll get blues and greens out in your spirit.

Make sure you rinse after the citric too I do a hot rinse then a cold rinse after

We go off of concentration of solution then conductivity of solution for rejuvenation, for you Id recommend a 1-3% citric solution unless you're really fucked you can do the 5% and peroxide hail mary.


Not using RO water will affect performance of your acid but its almost negligible depending on size of cleaning job if you do concentration on higher end


A layer of organic matter is soil my friend : ) but hot PBW and hot citric may do the trick for you


Read through this thread it will help 


Good luck bro

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