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How To Use Your Still

Cleaning and Maintenance

Before your first distillation take the following steps to thoroughly clean your still.

  1. Using the table below as a guide measure the correct amount of rye flour in the measured volume of water and mix to a slurry (The table is based on filling the pot with 40% water and approx 5% rye flour)
    Still Size         Volume of Water     Rye           
    40 L 16 L 1 kg
    20 L 8 L 500 g
    10 L 4 L 250 g
    5 L 2 L 100 g
    3 L 1.2 L 75 g
  2. Check there is no obstruction in the birds beak and coil
  3. Pour the rye flour and water mixture into the pot of the still
  4. Assemble the still making sure you are able to have cold running water flowing around the condenser throughout the distillation
  5. Place the still on an electric ring or gas element, quickly bring to the boil and let it boil for 5 minutes
  6. The rye/water mix will froth and bubble up. It will pass through all parts of the still and spurt out the distillate outlet on the condenser
  7. Take care as the rye slurry can foam up and spill out the pot/base of the column
  8. Take off the heat, allow to cool and empty. Wash all parts thoroughly with hot soapy water and allow to dry
  9. Some rye may have congealed on the bottom of the pot and must be cleaned off before starting a distillation.
This Cleaning Distillation should also be done if you are changing from distilling essential oils to spirits, or the reverse. Whenever you feel your still is tainted or not clean use this method. 

Cleaning between distillations

To obtain clean distillates of spirits hydrosols and essentail oils its important the still is thoroughly clean without tarnish.

Use 1 cup of citric acid per 10 L bucket of warm water. Dissolve thouroughly. Immerse the parts of the still in the citric acid solution until you see the raw copper starting to appear. This will happen quite quickly but on severely tarnished copper may take some soaking. Using a nylon pot scourer thouroughly clean the inside and outside of the still until all the tarnish is removed. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and dry with a soft cotton cloth.

To Clean the Coil

Block the distillate outlet, pour high proof alcohol (90%) - denatured alcohol or heads collected from previous distillations are suitable. The high alcohol content will dissolve residues that may build up inside the condenser coil. Let it sit for several hours, unblock the distillate outlet and let the alcohol flow out. Thoroughly rinse with hot soapy water and flush with more fresh water. If you do not have alcohol use a strong solution of citric acid dissolved in hot water. Rinse thoroughly.

Before starting a distillation

Assemble the still with hot water in the bowl. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Keep the condenser bucket empty of water. Allow hot steam to move through the entire still until its coming out the distillate outlet. The steam will sterilze the internal parts of your still. Fill the condenser bucket with cold water and distil water until its clear, tasteless and has a neutral pH.

Now you are ready to start your distillation.

After your distillation.

Rinse the still thoroughly with hot soapy water. Make sure there are no obstructions in the pipes. Store in a dry place.

Hydro Distillation       Steam Distillation       Distilling Alcohol

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