How to run a continuous still
Continuous distillation Stills vs Batch Stills.
Continuous still - how to build.
When distillation is complete, you will need to drain all the smelling stuff, and there are two options.
The first option is to drain all the smelling stuff and get rid of it when it cools down and lose precious hours because it will take a lot of time to cool it down.
The second option is to dispose of it while it is still hot and get a lot of steam and smell, plus it is not safe.
The efficiency of pot still is low, and losses of alcohol during distillation is around 30%. Thus at the beginning of distillation, you will get the peak of spirit content in the distillate, and during distillation, the spirit percentage will drop drastically. It means that one is getting less alcohol and more water, which was involved in the chemical reactions of fermentation and distillation, and carrying all the periodic table with it into the final product. Thus there is yet another option: to stop distillation and lose some alcohol. At a certain point, start to collect the stuff into a separate vessel for further re-distillation. Still, anyway, some spirits will remain in the pot, a lot of precious space is occupying with machinery, and a lot of time just wasted. All mentioned is the reality of the pot distiller.
In comparison with pot stills, continuous stills are more compact and light constructed machines.
Let's say that we have the same situation as we had described above. So your distillery is limited in space. But you have a few one-ton fermentation vessels in a separate room. And to distill one ton of mash with a continuous distiller, you will need a relatively tiny distillation machine that weighs no more than 50kg. The still is under two meters high and occupies around 60cm2 of the floor area, which can be moved to the storage after distillation.
The continuous distiller is connecting to a low-pressure pump that is continually pumping the mash into the distiller. And the only couple of liters of the mash is needed to fill the machine for distillation. It will take only five to ten minutes for the device to give you the first spirit.
The continuous distiller's alcohol production speed will be determined by the column's size and the heating element In the steam generator. Also, a few columns can be arranged into one common frame and work together. The high-speed production machine on the video will process 900L of mash in just 6 hours. Alcohol that is constantly producing never has any contact with heating elements. Plus, instead of boiling for hours in more and more concentrated by-products of distillation, it is separated from the stillage and, in reality, washed continuously with fresh portions of water steam. And as soon as separated from the mash, the alcohol leaving the column and collected into a collection vessel.
When distillation is complete, you do not have to deal with tons of boiling mash. The empty spirit free mash was separated and reduced to drain during distillation, and if you are planning the next load of wash to be distilled - you switch the supply hose to the next vessel and start your distillation in no time.
The efficiency of continuous still (spirit vice) is close to 100%, and in comparison with pot still, you will get more spirit from the same load of the wash. The alcohol percentage will stay the same from the start to the finish of distillation, and because the alcohol in the continuous still is always bounded with fresh water, this means that spirits produced with continuous distiller are almost free of those nasty chemicals that are naturally occurring in a mash during fermentation.
Working with a continuous distiller will let you start or finish your distillation when you need it because to preheat the column and get the first spirits will take only a few minutes. And also, completing the distillation will take a few seconds - switch power off and restart the distillation when you've got time to do so. It is like you get only two hours for distillation, and tomorrow only four, and you distill today and tomorrow to complete your distillation. Your mash stays in the fermenting tank. You have got the arrangement with a few fermenting vessels interconnected via the pipeline. That continually supplies the ferment to the continuous still, and staff is working in three shifts, then the continuous distiller will produce alcohol 24/7. Thus no precious time and spirits are wasted at all, which is very convenient.
Despite of economical crisis some further work has been done and I am happy to admit that our continuous stills are getting a bit smaller, while there was some interest in a big machines that are capable to process enormous amounts of ferment many people were asking about some really small tabletop continuous still that can replace a bulky and heavy pot stills I don't want to repeat all the benefits of the continuous still over the pot still, but one advantage is obvious - size, thus the small continuous still, one meter high and 8kg of weight can replace a 500L (halve a ton) pot still, so for your primary distillation the constant still is the must thing, on the picture you can see our latest creation: "Alex C.D/1.5" (stands for "ALcohol EXtracting Continuous Distiller 1.5kw") with this little beauty combined with Alex 25 or Alex 50 stills you can satisfy enormous thirst of all your friends, or supply your small business with all the products that can be made with distillation equipment.