Step 3: Distillation

Picture of Distillation
fraction still.gif
What is Distillation?
Distillation in science describes a process in which the boiling points of substances in a solution are utilized to separate the compounds.

How does this apply to our mash?
Well, to make it a higher percent alcohol, you need to separate it from the water and other by products of fermentation.

How do you do that?
Well, you need a distillation apparatus of course.

How do I make one?
Depends what type do you want to make?

What types are there?
Well, there are three types

Pot still
Fractionating Still
Compound Still

With that in mind, you may ask "which is the easiest to make" and the answer would be the pot still. However, the pot still is not very efficient and you would have to distill over and over again to reach a purity of 90%. On the other hand, if you were to use a fractionating still, you would have to only distill 2 or 3 times to reach such a purity. Finally, if you were to use a compound still, you would only have to distill once to obtain the same purity,
I will not really go over how to make any of these stills step by step but by explaining the process, you should be able to make your own.

Pot Still.
A pot still is a vessel that holds the mash and once it boils, collects the vapor and re-condenses it to a liquid form.

Fractionating Still
This still is much like a pot still; however, this still has material on the top that makes the vapor condense and fall back into the pot. Some of it however collects on the condensers and eventually will be able to reach the top of the column and be collected as it hits a condenser.

Compound Still
Much like a fractionating still but runs the vapor in a closed loop. After an equilibrium is achieved, you can slowly extract the alcohol that has reached the top.

Still Basics
if you are making a condenser, use copper it has very little heat resistance.
Also, use copper for apparently it makes it taste better.
For fractionating and compound stills, more surface area the better. Pot scrubbers are commonly used.
Never use an open flame, for alcohol vapors are explosive.
There is alot of math involved in creating the right size etc. with the fractionating and compound still.
To reduce the amount you need to distill as well as to increase the amount of alcohol present, use a pot still to do a strip run. A strip run is when you use a pot still to reduce the amount of water by collecting 100% of the vapors until 100 degrees C.
Patience is the key, and greed will get you an inferior product.
At 1 ATM or 760 mmHg, the max percent obtainable from distillation is 96% without a chemical to break the attraction between water and alcohol. Most chemicals that do that, are poisonous such as benzene .