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Thread: Moonshine anyone?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Townsville, North Queensland
    Posts
    639

    Re: Moonshine anyone?

    Hi the colmn heatup is a bit hard to time. I usually cook up about 25 litres at a time and that usually takes about 45 minutes to get up to the temp were it will start to produce. 2 elements, one 1.800 watts and the other 900 watts. Both on until it's hot then cut back to the 900 watt element only.
    I buy the cheapest sugar I can find at the time. The no-name stuff or if you expect to use a fair bit of it you may find a 20kg bag is cheaper. Also you have to use the correct yeast for this process. All available from your local Home Brew Shop.

    That reminds me it's about time I started another brew off. Getting low in supplies.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Ryde
    Posts
    99

    Re: Moonshine anyone?

    Hi Qwarla!

    45 minutes is quite quick I think! I thought it might have taken longer - say, and hour or two.

    I'll have to scout around to find some cheap, bulk sugar. What would you estimate is the cost to produce a litre of ethanol?

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Townsville, North Queensland
    Posts
    639

    Re: Moonshine anyone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Emporator View Post
    What would you estimate is the cost to produce a litre of ethanol?

    Just off teh top of my head I can't say. But hopefully I'll start a wash fermenting tomorrow , so I will be able to give a better estimate by then. From a normal sugar wash (9kg in 25 litres water) I collect usually just on 5 litres of the good stuff. That is about 94% ethanol. So you have the cost of the sugar and the special yeast/nutrient. If I remember correctly that's about $8.
    For what you want you can distill to a lower purity and probably collect say 10 litres at somewhere around 50%. Thing is the yeald will vary with many factors that can influence fermentation. Temperature being probably the main one. If the wash gets too much over 25oC or 30oC ethanol yeald will start to drop off. I use the Alco-tec 48 TURBO Super Yeast. That can give you up to 20% ethanol in the wash.
    Actuall from there you would not need much distilling to have a usable product for your experiments.

    Rergards,
    Peter.

  4. #14
    David Guest

    Re: Moonshine anyone?

    Peter,
    I'm pretty ignorant on the fermentation process so please excuse this if it is a really dumb question.

    From what I am reading above, am I correct in thinking that it is possible to get a 20% alcohol/water soloution just by mixing up the yeast and sugar you mention and letting them ferment and not having to distill them at all?

    If this is correct, I would take it that all I would have to do to put it in my water injection system would be to filter it?

    Am I also correct in understanding this 20% wash would be the whole ( or near enough) 25L originally made up.

    Once a sugar/ yeast mix is made up, how long and at what temp does it need to be held at to ferment?

    While 20% is a lower than ideal, If I could make a soloution for my injection system for running around on without the need to distill it, it would be something worthwhile.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Townsville, North Queensland
    Posts
    639

    Re: Moonshine anyone?

    Hello David that is correct. Teh yeast I use will produce up to 20% ethanol. Instructions from the pack:-
    25 litres, 14%in 48 hours or 20%in 5 days.
    Pour 21 litres of 40oC water into fermenter. Add 6kg for 14% or 8kg for 20% and mix well. Then add I sachet of yeast and stir for 1 minute. Leave to ferment in 20-32oC.

    So any temp up to the high 20's would be Ok and about 5 days. The only problem I see is if there is unused sugar still in the wash. What happens is the yeast can only tollerate so much ethanol in the wash then it dies. so this can happen before all sugar is consumed. Now if you only added say the 6kg sugar and was happy with 14% ethanol that would be better. I have noticed some washes do have a slight caramel colour to them indicating unused sugar in the wash.
    But i would go into a brew shop and have a talk to them. There are a lot of new yeasts coming out and some are better than others in regards to temperature tollerance and yeild, and the % ethanol they can tollerate.

    Regards,
    Peter.
    Last edited by Qwarla; 3rd February 2007 at 03:38 PM.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Ryde
    Posts
    99

    Re: Moonshine anyone?

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for the information - I've been searching for some good tips on brewing alcohol but haven't had much success. I think I must be looking in the wrong places!

    I had an idea that might be a bit silly, but I'd like to see what you thought of it. I'm guessing that some of the heat in the reflux column would be lost due to copper being a good conductor of heat. Now, is that a good thing, or a bad thing? I was thinking that it might be of benefit if the reflux column were wrapped in something like an exhaust insulating wrap or something similar. I'm thinking that it might retain the heat and allow the column to reach a working temperature quicker. Would this be right, or do you need to lose some of the heat for it to work properly?

  7. #17
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Central Qld
    Posts
    70

    Re: Moonshine anyone?

    Thomas
    It would be of a great benifit to insulate ya coloumn. I sugest trying clark rubber.

    Cheers Fantom

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Townsville, North Queensland
    Posts
    639

    Re: Moonshine anyone?

    You might not be able to tell from the pic I posted earlier but my tower is insulated. That is it is insulated up to the T piece. It is wrapped in a few layers of some oil soak material then got a nice piece of heat shrink over the top of that.
    The way the reflux process works it is better if it does not loose heat. It's also very complicated to try to explain.
    To start off you have a wash of say 20% ethanol. When it boils the vapours will be say 30% ethanol. As the vapours rise up they will condense on the cool packing and warm it. Also as they condense they release latent heat which warms the packing even more. As the packing heats more the now 30% ethanol will boil at a lower temp than in the pot, and will give off vapours that may now be say 45- 50% ethanol. So it rises up higher, and will re condense. Again the process repeats and this time when the say 50% ethanol boils it might give off vapours at 70%. The water part does not boil at the lower temperatures in the tower and slowly finds it's way back to the pot.
    I have a very informative book that explains the process much better than I can. It's called 'The Complete Distiller' by Nixon & mcCaw.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Ryde
    Posts
    99

    Re: Moonshine anyone?

    Hi Peter,

    I think I understand what happens in the process. The vapours do a sort of up-and-down type dance - am I right?

    I'm guessing that this up-and-down action would have to happen several times over in order to get a purer end product?

  10. #20
    David Guest

    Re: Moonshine anyone?

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for the info. I could try a batch of 14% but I would have to see if it were worth while. Definitely couldn't have sugar in the mix.
    I'll do as you suggest and go visit a home brew shop and see what they can tell me.

    I looked at distillation some time ago and was wondering if a relatively low alcohol concerntration at least could be achieved by having a pipe coming from the boiler and going up a way to a heater core from a car that had a fan blowing through to condense the steam.

    If this were feasible, would the temp of the mash itself have to be controlled so the alcohol boiled off but not the water or is the critical temp measured at the top of the collum where the heater core would be?
    Is there any any way of guessing what a basic one pass system like this would achive alcohol percentage wise?

    Tom,

    I could probably get hold of some foam pipe insulation for you from friends. One works in the aircon game and the other one is the warehouse manager for a place that makes the stuff. If your interested, let me know what size pipe you need it to fit round and I'll put my order in for some for you.

    I don't know much about distillation but I do remember a device from school that had a load of coils in it for the water to go through. As I recall the teacher said the output was boiled and recondensed 100 times before it made it to the top of the column and came out as the finished product. As I understand it, the more times the mash "goes up and down" the more pure and water free it is.

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