Step 8: Fractionating Column

Picture of Fractionating Column

This is kind of important. There are some nasty chemicals on the surface of the copper after soldering. You probably don't want those in your distillate. Dish detergent and warm water do the trick. A long thin brush helps, the kind they make for test tubes. But whatever works. This is especially important for the tube that will become the fractionating column, since that's supposed to be pure output.

Right now your fractionating column is a lot of column and not a lot of fractionating. You need to pack it. The setup in my lab looked like it was packed with steel wool. I had my doubts about this but I went and got some coarse steel wool and tried it anyway. Don't do it. Bare steel doesn't like heat and organic compounds.

Go to the grocery store. Go down the cleaning supplies aisle. Go to the dish scrubbing section. Look for the old fashioned metal mesh dish scrubbers. There are three kinds: Stainless steel, galvanized steel, and copper. Don't get the galvanized one. Zinc is good for you in small amounts, but I don't know what the solubility of zinc is in an environment like the one you're making. Go for copper. Then you can tell your homeopathic friend that it's all copper and has healing properties and therefore you should drink this.

Remove the wire/staple that holds the scrubber together and unravel it. Kind of like a sock huh? Now get a wire/cord and feed it down your column and tie it to the end of the unraveled scrubber. Pull the scrubber though the column. Use a scissors and a needle nose pliers to trim the scrubber and pull it into position. The scrubber should reach the very bottom of the column, and stop short of the first opening of the Tee. Viola, you have a fractionating column.
skwoorl1 year ago
I like the way this instructable is laid out, very easy to follow. I have heard that crushed glass works great as copper pot scrubbers are somewhat hard to find. If accessible, well sanitized auto glass breaks into nice small pieces, just right for this application.