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Building a Keg Still (Bokakob Design, Reflux Still)

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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.

http://www.screencast.com/t/ODMxYThm

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.

http://homedistiller.org

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

http://wiki.homedistiller.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build
 
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scubaryan9 days ago

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:

http://tinyurl.com/oopep5c

Will that work?

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:

http://tinyurl.com/ndx9w8c

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!!

n1cod3mus (author)  scubaryan9 days ago

ok first question, yes that looks like it would do the trick.

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.

KIS - Keep It Simple ;-)

You will have to upload some pics of your still

Hey man major question, I just finished my condenser. I used 13' of 1/2" 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.
n1cod3mus (author)  Katosilvertrip1 month ago
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.
n1cod3mus (author)  Katosilvertrip1 month ago

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.

Than**
I meant definitely a larger condenser that I need haha
garyh852 months ago
Awesome instructable, I've just built my 1st keg still with the aid of this, only question I have is how did you wire the voltage controller, I have the same one as you have in the picture but no instructions to wire it up
n1cod3mus (author)  garyh852 months ago
I asked the seller how to wire it and they said you wire it with the natural, you only have 2 points ;-)
garyh85 n1cod3mus2 months ago
I have already manage to blow one up... Electrics are not my strongest skills ? can you give me a bit more detail of the complete wiring please
n1cod3mus (author)  garyh852 months ago

ok, with the heat sink at the back, the furthest connector connect the neutral from the cable with the plug on the end. the closest connector connect the natural to the element. simple. the live from the cable with the plug goes straight to the element.

garyh85 n1cod3mus2 months ago
Thank you, hopefully this one won't go bang
n1cod3mus (author)  garyh852 months ago

there is photos ;-) blue is nutral

MarianoD12 months ago

I was following your instructable, but I have some trouble welding the plate inside of the tube. I'm using a silver based bar (strong welding), but I cant reach the correct temperature with the torch I have, and because of that the welding isn't good. What kind of soldering bar are you using? In the picture appear to be a tin (Sn) based with out lead, but if this is the case, is the Sn safe to use in this equipment?.

Thanks, and sorry for my bad english

n1cod3mus (author)  MarianoD12 months ago
I'm using lead free plumbing solder, common stuff from most hardware stores.
MarianoD13 months ago

Hello, I have some doubts about the size of the pipe, you said 2" or (54mm), but 2" are not the same of 54mm. 54mm should by 2 1/8" . So, what size of pipe whould I buy?

n1cod3mus (author)  MarianoD13 months ago
they are the same, 2" is the inner diameter and 54mm is the outer diameter, it just depends on how your plumbing shop refers to them.

Oh I see, thanks for your reply. I will buy 2" then.

piotrp27 months ago

hello!I have question .how you fit the thermometer ? the is no any leakage?

ant the pressure hole on top ,no leakage ,no vapur?

n1cod3mus (author)  piotrp27 months ago
thermometer, slides in to the hole under the plates and you seal it with a few wraps of PTFE tape.

no vapour does not come out the top, if your coil is run correctly then the vapour will be cooled and turned back to liquid before it gets there.
zamo279 months ago
One more question
Where do the neddle valves go and what's the purpose of these? Are they left slightly open at any given stage during distillation? Can you explain pleAse
n1cod3mus (author)  zamo279 months ago
you put one on the output, you need to control the flow out so that it refluxes, you should be aiming for about 2 drips a second
zamo279 months ago
Do you think I could combine the two designs, pot still and reflux in one
I'm thinking about using the same column and invent some sort of attachment for the condenser in pot still mode?
n1cod3mus (author)  zamo279 months ago
yes i have described a detachable head where the condenser is, if you make this column really short then make an extension column with an easy flange at each end, and use a tri clamp to connect the 2 that would work, thats what my column now looks like.
jqdesigner10 months ago

Could this type of still be used to make gin?

n1cod3mus (author)  jqdesigner10 months ago
it could if you run it in pot still mode, with the valve fully open so it doesn't reflux. put the botanicals in a basket inside the column
adamant62811 months ago

This is a great instructable. Do you have an update for your update?

I was also wondering if you have an easy way to remove all of the packing from the column for cleaning? Maybe a copper wire with a hook at one end?

n1cod3mus (author)  adamant62811 months ago

I havnt done much on the new column so no update, other than the scrubbers get really dirty very fast. to get them out I have a grabber tool used for picking up screw, but you could use a stick with a barbed prong on the end.

woodduck1 year ago

great instructable love it easy to follow. I only thing I did different was the conection to the keg. I used a 4inch milk fitting on the keg so I could easily clean the boiler then made a cone to a 2 inch fitting and it works well. thanks for your instructable keep up the good work.

temp_-1362329181.jpg

Has anyone had issues with a 2" clamp? looks like it should be 2.5" or so.

n1cod3mus (author)  FatalExeption1 year ago
the clamp size refers to the size of the pipe not the ferrule
serjinio1 year ago

Very good, thank you.

gn0stik1 year ago

For those who don't want to make their own flange. They actually manufacture copper triclover fittings that you can solder directly onto your pipe. They are a tad expensive, but you know it'll work, and you won't destroy a column trying to figure out how to flange properly.

n1cod3mus (author)  gn0stik1 year ago
I would love to know where you get them? I looked around and couldn't find anything other than stainless steel
I found some on eBay. I any remember my search term though.
n1cod3mus (author)  n1cod3mus1 year ago

and after saying that I did a search on ebay and found one listed, DOH! but it was £17 plus postage from the US

wolfgang642 years ago
This a is very intertesing project. Unfortunatly a home still in the states is very illegal but I have another use for this. Can you tell me what the psi or kgpsi is for of these stainless steel kegs is? The idea is to build a dune buggy and use the ambient engine heat to aide in making woody alcohol to fuel it. I know it would take about three kegs for the different stages but what can these vessels take in terms of pressure? Thank you Karl.

This won't work, It takes too long to heat the mash to get the reaction going. You just don't have enough heat from an engine to make it work well. You'd burn 100 times the fuel heating the engine, than you would make.. You'd be better off with a wood gasifier.

What if you use a fresnel lens or a series of large maginifiying lensis and paint the target flat black? set a compass in it and plot ideal sun latitude? This all a theoretical but please let me know your thoughts. Thank's K.
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