How to build a still

The condenser

A mixture of water, alcohol and other stuff reaches it's boiling point in the boiler of the still, evaporates and enters the column. In this column, the vapor will partially condense and will return to the boiler in liquid form.

The remaining condense continues through the column and enters the condenser. In the condenser, the temperature of the vapor will be reduced and the vapor will change into to a liquid form. In order to be able to change into a liquid format, the temperature of the vapor will have to be extracted. Most commonly, this is done by water.

The cooling water absorbs the temperature of the vapor and leave the condenser as waste water. The alcohol vapour has condensed and leaves the condensor as a liquid.

There are two main designs of condensers/coolers which have been developed over the years.

The main designs are:-
  • Water cooled (copper) coils
  • Counter flow condenser
  • Shotgun cooler (enhanced counterflow condensor)
Copper coil

The water cooled copper coils are the traditional set up of a condenser. The counter flow condenser is of a more recent date.

Water Cooled (copper) coils

The basic concept of a cooler in the old days was to lead the vapor through a barrel, filled with "cold" water. In order to have an efficient condensation, the pipe had to pass through as much as water as possible. For this reason the pipe had a coil shape. The major disadvantage of this method was that one needed to replace the water many times during the distillation process. The temperature of the cooling water would increase very rapidly and therefore loose it's cooling capacity.

I have made my initial still using this method, but I was convinced that this was not the best method as it requires constant attention as the water around the coil looses it's cooling capacity and needs to be partially replaced.

The construction of a counter flow condenser for my pot still started already after two distillation runs.....

The old Moonshine set up

Some examples

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