Building a Keg Still (Bokakob Design, Reflux Still)

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Em Destaque
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

Passo 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.

Tools
----------

Hack Saw

drill

6mm drill bit

Blow torch

heat mat for soldering copper

a metal file

spanners and grips

Gloves (very important)

hammer

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

Hydrometer

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

water

yeast nutrient

sterilising compound

vinegar

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
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woodduck
woodduck diz: Jun 8, 2014. 10:27 PM

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.

FatalExeption
FatalExeption diz: Fev 6, 2014. 7:06 AM

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

n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Fev 6, 2014. 8:30 AM
the clamp size refers to the size of the pipe not the ferrule
serjinio
serjinio diz: Fev 5, 2014. 10:11 AM

Very good, thank you.

wolfgang64
wolfgang64 diz: Jan 30, 2014. 8:05 PM
Than'ks code3 but I am looking for psi.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Jan 31, 2014. 12:19 AM

Just a thought if you are trying to produce high PSI then i would suggest a gas cylinder of some type, they make stainless steel ones.

BARKing
BARKing diz: Jan 29, 2014. 10:09 PM
I have been testing some turbo yeasts. One is the Extreme20 and the other is supper 6... The first trial was messed up in that the guy running it through the still changed methods between batches but both came out with clean flavour. I started another batch of each on the same day and the extreme 20 was fermenting vigorously with in 12 hours, super 6 took 48 hours. In the first week it was mostly fermented out but I left it for a month and a half checking SG every week.
The extreme 20 started at a SG of 1.120 and finished at 0.980 which makes it about 22% alcohol. The other started a bit lower and has finished at about 18%. When you have to take the time to boil 5 gallons I want max product for my time. If they both produce the same quality product in the end I will be using the extreme 20 in the future. I will continue testing other yeasts as I find them.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Jan 29, 2014. 11:10 PM
I think you will find with a starting sg of 1.120 and an finish of 0.980 thats 18% use the calc on homedistller.org

http://homedistiller.org/calcs/alcohol_content

if you are using a reflux still then i guess you can get away with a turbo yeast as it strips the flavors anyway so you don't have any worry about a yeast flavor.

but if you are using a pot still for flavored spirits I would say don't use turbos as it will effect the flavor.
BARKing
BARKing diz: Jan 29, 2014. 11:39 PM

I thought it is 18% if you stop at 1.000 but it fermented to 0.980 adds another few % going by the hydrometer. I also took the brix with a refractometer and did the calculations with the SG and got 22%. I will have a look at the site thanks.

Depending on the quality of the still setup and skill levels, I have seen a wide variety of results from my customers who use the same yeast. For some it is important to have a clean flavoured yeast, not all turbo yeasts are equal. Some of them were trying to make vodka with a pot still, now they have towers.

n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Jan 30, 2014. 7:05 AM

i actually dont use this still head very often anymore i made a simple pot still head as i'm doing flavoured stuff now.

check out my Jack Daniels instructable i released the other day

gn0stik
gn0stik diz: Jan 29, 2014. 2:52 PM

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
n1cod3mus diz: Jan 29, 2014. 3:11 PM
I would love to know where you get them? I looked around and couldn't find anything other than stainless steel
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Jan 29, 2014. 3:13 PM

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

gn0stik
gn0stik diz: Fev 4, 2014. 8:13 AM
I found some on eBay. I any remember my search term though.
ccosentino
ccosentino diz: Jan 15, 2014. 7:10 AM
Why do you need the condenser after the outlet
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Jan 15, 2014. 8:40 AM
because the main condenser only turns the vapor back to a liquid it's still very hot and to know the proof of what comes out it has to be near enough room temp to use the hydrometer. plus you may want to see what it tastes like during the run on some things. wouldn't want to burn your mouth.
jblondel
jblondel diz: Dez 6, 2013. 10:21 PM
Dear n1cod3mus,
Exceptional work!
I myself am on a project, I originally planned on making an all copper 10 gallon still, but after quoting my price I have decided to go stainless steel. I am new to the distilling world & would like to email you some graphed plans to get your opinion!
If you wouldn't mind, I would really appreciate any advice or thoughts on my project if you would take the time to do so &I provide a email address. Thanks
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Dez 7, 2013. 3:11 AM
thats a bit formal isn't it lol I have been thinking about building a north carolina copper pot still just to have a go at it and it would look awesome to have kicking around.

here's my email if anyone wants to ask me anything off the site chris@chrisfrydesign.com
keithomas
keithomas diz: Out 14, 2013. 3:55 AM
hello mate. what happened to your guides to making rum and gin? i qent to follow the gi. one this weekend and it was gone!
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Out 14, 2013. 7:52 AM
I have no idea, I think they have removed them, I am not happy about that, I also had a different still design that got removed
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Out 14, 2013. 8:13 AM
resstored, for now, i expect they got removed, found them in my drafts
Allandk3
Allandk3 diz: Out 7, 2013. 7:50 AM
Hi, is it the Euro standard or the Din standard keg you bought, and did the tri clamp fit right om it
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Out 7, 2013. 9:37 AM
It was a Euro, but i believe the opening is the same on the DIN.

the Clamp does fit directly on to it, you will have to make a flange on your copper pipe as detailed.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Out 7, 2013. 9:38 AM
also worth noting, if you ask them to they will not include the valve for you, saves you the effort or removing it and they get a spare to use on another keg.

it does come with a little plastic cap on the top, which is helpful to keep dust and stuff out of your keg.
jpruitt5
jpruitt5 diz: Out 1, 2013. 6:48 PM
Excellent.
Conflagration
Conflagration diz: Set 20, 2013. 12:11 PM
How much approximately did this still cost?
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Set 21, 2013. 8:06 AM
I dont know, probably about £150 all in all, I'm actually going to sell my still with both the bokakob and a standard Pot still column as well.
snipe30
snipe30 diz: Jul 8, 2013. 12:33 PM
Hi this looks amazing. do you have thw link for the phase angle controller. I need to get one
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Jul 8, 2013. 2:45 PM
I got it on ebay so the link no longer exists
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Jul 9, 2013. 7:40 PM
I did have a poke around ebay to see if I could find something suitable on there but couldn't find anything.

if your in the UK you could get one from RS components but they are very expensive.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Jul 9, 2013. 7:41 PM
another thought is to try maplin if your in the UK
tricky-1948
tricky-1948 diz: Mai 26, 2013. 7:50 AM
hi many thanks' for the info found the flange but look`s like the thin type I have also been unable to find the phase angle controller with a Triac that you are using can you remember the supplier whom you got yours from.
regards tricky
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Mai 26, 2013. 8:10 AM
I got it on ebay from china
tricky-1948
tricky-1948 diz: Mai 26, 2013. 1:50 AM
great pic`s of keg still, I have been running on gas but would like to try electric, But I can not find the ss flange nut any wear could some one point me in the right direction . regards Tricky-1948
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Mai 26, 2013. 4:07 AM
I found mine on ebay, but as a word of advice get a thick one, the one I had the welder I hired blew holes in it which stopped the element going in all the way.

you can also buy bold on ones but they are a real pain to fit and you have to have cork gaskets to prevent leaking.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Mai 26, 2013. 4:08 AM
*bolt not bold
while
while diz: Abr 25, 2013. 12:56 PM
Great write up.. only one issue you call this a pot still and its a LM/VM reflux still and not a pot still in the least... It can slightly mimic a pot still, no packing, but there will always be some reflux going on with this type of still... but great Job and enjoy.... it was very well done..
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Abr 25, 2013. 6:20 PM
its clearly stated as a reflux still, but it can be run in pot still mode which works best with a detachable head.

you get reflux in a pot still as well.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Mar 28, 2013. 5:53 PM
Someone just inboxed me asking where I got my keg from, I'm in the UK and I got my keg from crusader kegs and casks

http://www.crusaderkegsandcasks.com/
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Mar 21, 2013. 9:22 AM
Ok so I ran this the other week with a Peach Mash and got virtually no flavour, turns out that due to the height of the column the flavour vapours cool too quickly so never make it out. only option would be to make the head of the column detachable so you can attach it directly to the still. Or build a pot still..... think I will make a pot Still, gives me another instructable lol.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Mar 21, 2013. 9:23 AM
this still does produce really good vodka though, so still worth making if all your going to make is vodka.
coffee+steam
coffee+steam diz: Ago 5, 2013. 4:47 PM
Try it with a column about 8 inches high, no packing or coil. I get a good flavour doing that.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Ago 6, 2013. 4:43 AM
you have to have the condenser coil to cool the vapor, I have since rebuilt the column so the head is detachable and could be attached directly to the keg. and it is about 12 inches tall to allow for the 8 inch coil.
gn0stik
gn0stik diz: Jan 29, 2014. 3:05 PM

Might be interesting to make a shorter column, and then make a riser with tri-clamps on both ends, that you can attach to the column when you want to make something a little less flavorful, like vodka, or flavor it yourself with say cinnamon, apples, or oak.

n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Jan 29, 2014. 4:08 PM

I have recently made a new version with a detachable head which can attach directly to the keg

rgarner
rgarner diz: Mar 7, 2013. 9:23 PM
Mate that looks beautiful, I saw similar over on the homedistiller forums, took me longer then I'd like to admit to realise they're the same.

I was thinking about upgrading and building a similar bokka myself, I've got a CM still but it tops out about 80-85%. What sort of purity does this produce?

And where'd you get those scrubbers? All the ones I've seen say they're copper but you put a magnet next to 'em and quickly find out they're not.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Mar 9, 2013. 10:19 AM
the last run with the scrubbers in I got 94% , I got the scrubbers at a pound store, but it turns out dispite checking them with a magnet they still rusted so your best using stainless steel scrubbers
wolfgang64
wolfgang64 diz: Mar 2, 2013. 5:16 PM
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.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Mar 2, 2013. 7:30 PM
mine says 4.14 BAR, you would have to heck with the manufacturer in your area for your keg.
wolfgang64
wolfgang64 diz: Mar 2, 2013. 9:13 PM
Is that barometeric preshure? I don't want to make something I can drink I want to make ethanol that will power a large air cooled engine. ATF (alchol Tobbaco and firearms dousn't have a problem with that.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Mar 2, 2013. 10:03 PM
the process is the same either way, I would assume thats barometeric pressure as I said mine has 4.14 BAR stamped on the side of it.
gn0stik
gn0stik diz: Jan 29, 2014. 3:11 PM

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.

wolfgang64
wolfgang64 diz: Jan 30, 2014. 8:01 PM
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.
gn0stik
gn0stik diz: Fev 4, 2014. 8:10 AM
That would get hot enough, maybe too hot, though. It could ignite the alcohol vapor. Also, it would still take a long time to get going. You over estimate how long it would take to heat that much fluid. And you could only run it during the day. Seriously, look into wood gasification.
Johenix
Johenix diz: Fev 25, 2013. 6:34 PM
The easiest way to cut metal pipe or tubing with an even end is with a wheel type pipe and tube cutter. Clamp it down on the pipe, turn it once around the pipe, tighten the wheel down a bit, turn it another time around the pipe, tighten it down, and repeat until the pipe is cut. It always gives a clean square end.

P.S Liebig was the chemist who invented chemical fertilizers as well as the water cooled distilling condenser that is seen in so many labs.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Fev 25, 2013. 11:46 PM
those wheel cutters are fine if they do them in 2inch size which I Havn't seen here in the UK, also you couldn't cut the 30 degree angle for the plates using this tool, you can only do straight cuts.
Johenix
Johenix diz: Fev 26, 2013. 3:30 PM
A plumbing shop might do it for cheap or free.
spylock
spylock diz: Fev 26, 2013. 6:10 PM
Im A plumber,and they have em over there,the large cutters are used in common plumbing work.You will have to go to a plumbing supply company,and they are not cheap.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Fev 27, 2013. 3:05 AM
and there you go they are over here in the UK but expensive.

the plumbing supply shop I went to used a hacksaw to cut the pipe so they obviously didnt have that size cutter, and that one is the best plumbing supply shop around here.

I guess larger ones or ones that are part of a chain may stock these, not worth it for me I have my mitre saw to cut the ends, Just dont use it on the slots for the plates as shown, it doesnt work so well.
spylock
spylock diz: Fev 27, 2013. 8:43 AM
I have a half a dozen pairs,mostly I use em for galvanized or black iron,sometimes Ill have to install an 80 gal. water heater,and use 1 1/2 copper,but not often.Youre right though if you dont use em at least weekly,its not worth,the cost.When I need to do a straight cut on pipe,and only have my hacksaw,I will put a stainless steal band around the pipe,and follow that,and take it slow.
friger
friger diz: Fev 24, 2013. 2:30 AM
Great Instructable, I particularly like that you don't carry on about legality issues and poising issues, folks can do their own home work on that. I do have one question, what were the copper scrub pads for? Perhaps you already mentioned it but I am a bit dense today.
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Fev 24, 2013. 5:15 AM
actually I think i missed that out, It was very late when I wrote this up.

The scrubs can be put inside the column to aid with reflux and they are known as packing, as the alcohol drips down its gets caught up in the copper pads and the rising vapour picks up more alcohol on the way up, using the scrubbers you can produce up to about 95% ABV alcohol if you have it refluxing right.

I think I will add that paragraph to the instructable.
friger
friger diz: Fev 24, 2013. 5:46 AM
so they go in below or above the outlet/needle valve?
n1cod3mus
n1cod3mus diz: Fev 24, 2013. 6 AM
below the plates, if you have a look at the following diagram shows how its placed.

http://homedistiller.org/image/mini_explained.jpg

without the packing it can still be run, this is known as Pot Still mode and is useful if you want to produce a spirit with flavour such as Rum or Whiskey. with the packing thats in reflux mode and this is for producing a Nuteural spirit e.g. vodka