Building a Keg based reflux still using the bokakob design, with some modifications courtesy of the distilling community.

Before you start check the laws in your local area, some places you cant even own a still let alone use it to make a drinkable product, check it out first. I know in New Zealand you can make your own booze and in the UK you can have a still that makes up to 5L if you have a permit.

I wanted to have a go at making my own spirits, Rum, spiced rum, vodka, schnapps whatever took my fancy really and to do this I knew I needed a still, now there is very cheap and easy to make stills out there, you can connect a copper coil to a stockpot and put the coil in water and off you go, this is known as a Pot Still, a very crude one but it will work, just not very efficiently.

I wanted to get the best out of my still, plus I like the challenge or building something new and something that looks cool, and it's nice to say "I own a still"

the following instructable comes from weeks of research in to making stills, running them and making actual drink able products.

I have attached an image of the original Bokakob still design, but in summary it's a large copper pipe with 2 plates near the top at a 30 degree angle with a copper condenser coil at the top which water runs through to cool the valorised alcohol which then drips down hits the plates and then it can be collected.

for those that don't know what a reflux still does, basically it allows the alcohol to be re circulated around the column each time it drips back down the center it picks up more alcohol from the vapour which means you get a much purer product that from a pot still. having said that sometimes you need a pot still to keep the flavour of what you produce, the Bokakob design allows you to run it both as a reflux still and a pot still.

during my research I found this animation of the bokakob design working, check it out.


also there is a ton of information out there on this still design, but you have to take it all with a pinch of salt and work out what is good or not.

with this still we should be able to produce around 90% pure alcohol if not more, about 3 litres from a 20L fermented mix, also known as WASH or MASH, the wash should be around 14% alcohol by the time its finished fermenting, more if you use turbo yeast, it really depends on the recipe.

you can get so much information from the home distillers website, they have some great recipes and information on their site and on their forum.


if you need more information on the bokakob still design check this wiki out


Step 1: Tools and Materials

OK so here is your list of materials, I will be following what most of the guys in the distilling community recommend which is a 2 inch column, here in the UK that is 54mm, and its expensive to buy so I didn't want to make too big a column.

you should use as much copper as possible, as the copper removes a lot of the impurity's from the alcohol as its produced.


Hack Saw


6mm drill bit

Blow torch

heat mat for soldering copper

a metal file

spanners and grips

Gloves (very important)


tape measure / ruler

6mm pipe bending spring

15mm copper/steel pipe to wind condenser coil around.

32mm PVC pipe for winding the coil around.

Materials for the still
Lead free Solder

Flux for pipe work

54mm (2 inch) length of copper pipe, I bought might at a small local independent plumbing store, 1 meter long cost me about £24

54mm copper end cap, got at the same place I got the pipe from, cost about £12

6mm copper pipe, 7.5 meters from eBay cost me £18.99, plumbing shops doing tend to stock this, but you might be able to get it from car part suppliers as they use it for brake linings.

6mm needle valve, got this on eBay too for £11.99 which i thought was expensive

a few small pieces of scrap copper pipe to make plates out of

hose tap connector

food thermometer

copper scourers, make sure they are copper and not copper plated otherwise they will rust inside the still, check them with a magnet if you have to. you can use stainless steel scourers in a pinch, but the more copper you use the better. I got mine at a pound store, the local supermarkets didn't stock them and they turned out to be copper coated. so I gave up and used stainless steal I just ran boiling water over them in the sink to get rid of the oils.

a stainless steel keg 50L, you must buy this legally

a 2 inch tri-clamp also known as a tri clover clamp

Equipment For Making the Spirits and Fermenting
Fermentation Vessel, I'm using a 25L tub bought from a local store


Test flask

Alcoholmeter, make sure it's one for sprits

Wine Siphon

18 inch plastic spoon

Airlock valve and rubber bungs

materials for cleaning the still
5kg sugar

Baker's yeast


yeast nutrient

sterilising compound


dish soap


NOTE:  making alcohol is dangerous and can cause serious side effects, you should read up on whats safe and not safe at www.homedistiller.org
<p>Does the curled part of immersion heater element come up or down?</p>
<p>doesn't matter, as long as its not making contact with the side/bottom</p>
Great build good instructions will be using propane burner for heating instead of electric .I will be using it in West Africa runs great got 181 proof out of it with some practice
<p>awesome, you can get really high yields from it if its run correctly, most you will likely be able to get is 96% so around 192 proof</p>
I would like to build something bigger now I have 4 if this model and 4 two inch pot still type a 3or4 in column would be interesting to do
<p>Does the steam escape through the ventilation hole?</p>
no, it condenses before it gets that far as long as the water is running through the coil, its just a precaution to prevent pressure build up<br>
<p>Is that valve actually a needle valve or is it just a bog-standard ball valve / isolation valve?</p><p>Also is it fine to use plated brass at this stage? I'm assuming the answer is yes but best to check. Most resources seem to say only 304 Stainless and copper to come in to contact with the product?</p>
<p>its a needle valve, you have much more control with a needle valve than a ball valve.</p><p>stick to solid brass, brass is ok as long as its lead free brass. i wouldn't use plated brass, you dont know what materials were used in the plating process or the underlying material. use brass or stainless steel, if you can find a needle valve in copper then use that.</p>
<p>I only ask because I cannot find anywhere a needle valve like that. It looks like one of these- which is a readily available ball valve?</p><p><a href="http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/B15-01223-Mini-Ball-Valve-Compression-Ends-6mm-Tube-O-D-Mini-Ball-Valve-Brass-/361219728277?hash=item541a5fa395:g:CTYAAOSwe-FU5Il~" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/B15-01223-Mini-Ball-Valv...</a></p><p>I would expect a needle valve to have a knob as it would be several turns to close? I've never seen a ball valve with a lever like that one.</p><p><a href="http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1-8-1-4-BSP-6-8-10-12mm-I-D-Brass-Plug-Needle-Valve-Multiple-/281900689348?var=&hash=item41a29727c4:m:mXH0WugP82FgSFacZW8Dtsw" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1-8-1-4-BSP-6-8-10-12mm-...</a></p><p>Is the one you're using a 180 degree close or several turns? If it is several turns where did you get it and how much did you pay? The only stainless and un-plated brass ones I can find are quite pricey.</p><p>I mean it doesn't matter I just want to try and replicate what you have as closely as possible as it obviously works and will be easier to troubleshoot if anything goes wrong.</p>
<p>Great. I feel a bit stupid for not thinking of that.</p><p>I managed to get a Bookers card and I've found that seems to be the cheapest place to get molasses.</p><p>7.257kg for &pound;12.75. </p><p>If I were to use half that container and make the extra 400g up with white sugar or cane sugar do you think that would be okay? It would just mean I could get two runs from one carton.</p>
I buy my molasses from ebay i get the gold label one, they use it as horse feed but its just plain molasses with no additives so its fine to use as it will be distilled and not consumed directly.<br><br>http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/MOLASSES-GOLD-LABEL-5LT-Horse-Feed-Supplement-/281629846583<br><br>I normally get about 4 runs out of it. the stuff you are looking at is really really thick stuff and expensive. the Rum flavour comes from the Molasses, the alcohol content comes from the sugar you add and whats in the molasses. you probably could make up the shortfall with sugar not sure how much difference to the flavour that would make though.
<p>Understood. Ordered now.</p><p>I'll let you know how it goes. If it goes well I'll upgrade to reflux column and try vodka.</p>
<p>its cheaper than food grade molasses and its fine for distilling.</p>
you can use other brands but check they are just molasses and they don't have additives in them.
<p>yes that one is just molasses as far as I can tell (see image), but I'll go with the gold label purely because I dont know the mass/l of molasses. If you get around 4 runs from one batch then i guess 5l must be around 16kg and therefore the tate and lyle treacle must be &lt;5l.</p>
<p>Hi</p><p>Firstly- great instructable. There are some excellent solutions to probelms I might not have anticipated.</p><p>Do you have any problem with limescale build up on the heating element?</p>
I've not noticed it before but then I clean my still regularly with vinegar solution so that should take care of that before it forms.<br><br>that being said, the element is in a screw in flange so it could easily be removed and cleaned.
<p>Great Instructable...I have been slowly gathering the parts. I am having trouble getting the SS2.25 flange nut, can anyone give me any pointers?</p><p>thanks</p>
think i got mine on ebay, but thats for a UK heating element, other country's may have a different size
<p>hi.</p><p>Great site by the way. </p><p>I too am in the UK and want to go down the immersion element route. You mention phase angle controller/ voltage regulator with triac. That Chinese one you bought, is the triac built in etc? All I see from the pics is a direct setup, whereas others I've seen full schematic drawings.</p><p>Thanks </p>
yes its all built in
<p>hi.</p><p>Great site by the way. </p><p>I too am in the UK and want to go down the immersion element route. You mention phase angle controller/ voltage regulator with triac. That Chinese one you bought, is the triac built in etc? All I see from the pics is a direct setup, whereas others I've seen full schematic drawings.</p><p>Thanks </p>
<p>Must be nice to be in New Zealand, you Kiwis have it good. In the USA, most of this is a felony (home stills). <br><br>UNLESS you get yourself an ATF License as a liquor manufacturer.</p>
I'm not in New Zealand, I'm in the UK
<p>Well, mate, I couldn't tell by your accent, but you mentioned NZ first, then the UK, so you fooled me...<br><br>&quot;I know in New Zealand you can make your own booze and in the UK you can have a still that makes up to 5L if you have a permit.&quot;:</p>
<p>&quot;in the UK you can have a still that makes up to 5L if you have a permit.&quot;:</p><p>Well that is a way oversimplification. See the second post in this link:-</p><p><a href="http://ww.homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=29369" rel="nofollow">http://ww.homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=...</a></p>
<p>in the UK you have to declare your still to HMRC and you also have to log everything you put in it and everything that comes out of it. and if you want to sell it you have to pay the taxes on it.<br><br>There is a fair number of hoops you have to jump through to be able to distill up to 5L in the UK. </p>
<p>Great Instructable too by the way <a href="https://www.instructables.com/member/n1cod3mus">n1cod3mus </a>, your instructions are quite well done, and I'm sure those that are allowed will enjoy the final product.</p>
<p>Oh yes,&quot;land of the free&quot;', LMAO.</p>
<p>Yeah, we CAN brew beer, make wine, but distillation is a no-no. When I was a kid back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, one summer my Dad had chosen just a little too warm a storage area, and was doing some experiental fermentation technique (in capped bottles) - it was definitely a real error on his part. (This was back when permits were required, and we had one.) They've relaxed on beer &amp; wine a good bit since.)<br><br>The capped bottles started exploding in the hot South Carolina evening, prompting the neighbors to call the County Police about what they thought was gunshots! The police were relieved it was nothing more than a spoiled batch of beer. And a nasty yeasty smelly mess to clean up, glass everywhere, some stuck in the ceiling. Guess who got to clean up after the police left... And I wasn't even old enough to drink the finished product.</p>
<p>I am in New Zealand, and its not nice, its &quot;bloody awsum mate&quot; as we would say. We have many many rules, laws and regulations that permit this and many other things, we are truly for the people by the people, not just words on paper but truly in practice. Police don't carry guns! We can grow our own tobacco too, brew anything we want, but for our own consumption only, and on our own property, and in maximum quantities that no one can consume in a year! One thing we are very proud of too, as a side, is that we have government legislation that makes us totally nuclear free, free of anything nuclear, no power, no bombs, and was the 1st and only country to do so. It is a thorn in USA's side as we will not permit nuke powered vessels into our waters, so no war games with USA... One problem we do have here is getting hold of an old keg, as the are all owned by the brewing companies...</p>
you should be able to buy a new one, here in the UK most kegs are owned by the brewerys but you can buy new ones which is what I have done and you can also buy full ones from the cash and carry, you have to empty them though... shame lol I got a cash and carry one from a local social club who bought one when they ran out of stock but then they were stuck with the empty. gave em &pound;10 for it and cut the top off and its now my mash tun ;-)
Hey man major question, I just finished my condenser. I used 13' of 1/2&quot; tubing. Now after all of that I wanted to text it so I ran some water through it. My water is getting stuck somewhere in it. It's about as even as I can get it and idk if this is a problem. It takes about a half a water bottle before and water will start to come out and to get the rest of it out I have to physically blow through the tubeing. Will this affect my distilling? I'm worried about shine getting stuck in there and making it gurgle.
well you will have pressurised water running through it so I would test it using mains water not a water bottle. you may have a slight kink in your pipe
Also great Instructable man! I can't def see all the time and work you but into to it. I did t just throw a pot sti together ha. Iv takein my time and have put a lot of work Into mine. I'm using a 2gal pot with a hot plate. And def a lager condensed in need. But that can't be detrimental as long as it's working right lol. I chose to go a small pot because I just don't have the momey to spend now on a keg and all that jazz. But I figured I'd get some practice on the basics even though I could of just waited and have no doubt that I coulda made something like this. I'm going to be using a thumper too but that's more for adding flavor than double distilling.
<p>A larger still makes the cuts easier to be honest ;-)</p>
<p>A larger still makes the cuts easier to be honest ;-)</p>
<p>if your condenser is too small it wont condense all the vapour which could lead to a leak of vapour and possibly a still explosion. also you lose valuable alcohol. and if it doesnt leak it will take much longer.</p>
You mentioned vents at the top of the column between the inlet and outlet ports of the coil..Would this also allow room for valuable vapour to escape? Or will the falling liquid not allow vapour to get this high?
<p>The vapour cools way before it gets that high.</p>
I meant definitely a larger condenser that I need haha
How did you manage to &quot;legally&quot; get the keg? I am having trouble getting hold of one. Thanks
<p>try having a look at </p><p><a href="http://siba.co.uk/classifieds/browse-categories/?category_id=5/for-sale/" rel="nofollow">http://siba.co.uk/classifieds/browse-categories/?c...</a></p><p>for a keg all legal 4.5 g to 18g and one of the keg sellers may even be close to you this is where im buying my stainless steel keg for huhumm a smoker to smoke fish .... honest :) some are even as cheap as &pound;25 a keg </p>
<p>try having a look at </p><p><a href="http://siba.co.uk/classifieds/browse-categories/?category_id=5/for-sale/" rel="nofollow">http://siba.co.uk/classifieds/browse-categories/?c...</a></p><p>for a keg all legal 4.5 g to 18g and one of the keg sellers may even be close to you this is where im buying my stainless steel keg for huhumm a smoker to smoke fish .... honest :) some are even as cheap as &pound;25 a keg </p>
I just bought it from a keg supplier, Crusader Casks
<p>Any chance you can post the pictures of the new medication? Hows your booze tastin'?</p>
<p>Hey, I used most of your design and instruction to build a version of this with an offset head. Anyway, I am having trouble understanding how the voltage controller works with my heating element. I see one on amazon that looks like it could be the same as yours: </p><p><strong><a href="http://tinyurl.com/oopep5c" rel="nofollow">http://tinyurl.com/oopep5c</a></strong></p><p><strong>Will that work?</strong><br><br>Question #2: Could it also be possible to use a temperature controller instead? So the temperature controller would turn your element on and off to make sure it stays in that temperature zone needed, example here: </p><p><strong><a href="http://tinyurl.com/ndx9w8c" rel="nofollow">http://tinyurl.com/ndx9w8c</a><br><br>Thanks for all of your help and instructions. I wouldn't have been able to figure out all the connectors and flange sizes on the first try without this instructable!!<br></strong></p><p></p>
<p>ok first question, yes that looks like it would do the trick.</p><p>2nd question, the problem with temperature controllers is they turn off the element until the temp drops below a threshold so you would have irregular flow and find it very hard to control the unit.<br><br>KIS - Keep It Simple ;-)<br><br>You will have to upload some pics of your still</p>

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