Still

Discussion in 'Chemistry' started by Beer w/Straw, Feb 5, 2021.

  1. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    5,863
    If I were to create a still (temperature control was my first concern but technology has progressed since Al Capon and prohibition and I live on the Moon where laws are different) if I where aiming for 95% alcohol I can also get methanol not just ethanol and I hear that would make you go blind.

    I feel I've been shunned from brewing forums for posting about genetically modified yeast to make THC so you can have a drink and get stoned. Maybe they had a purest attitude and I was too fringe.

    But now I could be entering danger levels.

    Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water and I could set the temperature, say 80, 85, 90, 95C, no explosions or fire happen.

    But, if I did this, are there poison hazards?

    I don't know how many names alcohol has.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2021
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  3. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    7,424
    seems likely to be a fun adventure
    what are you planning to distill?

    good luck
    let us know how it comes out
    from what little i know
    the first to come out of the still is the stuff that you should not drink
    (and, i do not know why)
     
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Alcohol is a general term for any molecule that has one or more hydroxyl groups bound to a carbon. Methanol and ethanol are two common alcohols; ethanol is the alcohol that makes people drunk (and what most people mean when they say "alcohol.")

    Since different types of alcohols boil at different temperatures, a common trick is to throw away the first X ml of distillate, since methanol boils at a lower temperature than ethanol. To be more scientific about it, raise the temperature of the boil to about 160F. This will boil off methanol but not ethanol. Collect all you can and throw it away (or use it to heat the rest of the mash.) Then raise it to 190F or so once you are getting no more methanol. This will boil the ethanol but not the water and it can then be collected.
     
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  7. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    I was going to use cornmeal for 95%.

    And, I was planing a tasty happy happy ginger ale at 17%. That would be ginger.
     
  8. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    If you want to be really safe you could use a fractionating column. That will pass the most volatile component first in fairly pure form, followed by the next. You can use the temperature measured by the thermometer at the top of the column to tell you when it stops passing methanol and ethanol starts to come over, because the temperature will go up until the BP of ethanol is reached and then it will stabilise at that value. Once that has happened you can be sure it is passing 100% ethanol.

    But the trouble with it is that since the fractionating column is such as efficient separator, you will get 100% ethanol with no flavour, because all the components that provide flavour will be left behind. So on reflection maybe not such a great idea.....
     
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    How safe is this? If it's not done right, one could end up drinking some toxic compounds, even leading to blindness, yes?
     
  10. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    5,863
    I'm not going to say it's safe, but I gather it's all about temperature control.

    If methanol has a lower boiling point than ethanol, just wait a day or two to siphon it all out, then increase the temp.
     
  11. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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  12. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    I didn't even talk about creating dynamite!

    And still you judge me !?
     
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  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Well a couple of things.

    1) It's not a day or two, more like half an hour (probably less.) Just wait until you're not getting any more. Or just wait until you get enough; there are tables on how much you should throw out based on mash size/composition.
    2) It's not a siphon; it's a condenser.

    What is your underlying plan here? There are much easier ways to get whiskey. If you really want to make something, beer and wine are a lot easier.
     
  14. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    7,424
    What size still were you planning on buying or building?

    and
    It seems that brewing the mash would be the most time consuming
    and
    you could add the ginger after distilling the spirits(I consume a lot of ginger root but have failed to grow it---so far)
     
  15. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    I'm going to post a youtube video, which will make me appear dumb, but would give an idea of stuff I'm thinking about.

     
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    95% cornmeal is too much. The remaining barley won't have enough diastatic power to convert the starches. You'll end up with very little alcohol. I wouldn't go "bigger" than 70% cornmeal.
     
  17. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    I meant cornmeal as more of a base. There would still be lots of sugar in the mix.
     
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    If you want to make whiskey with corn, you have to convert the corn starches to sugars. Otherwise the corn doesn't really do anything for the whiskey. Which means you need at least 30% malted barley (which contains the enzymes to convert the starches.)

    If you just want to flavor the whiskey with corn, do it after distillation. It works a lot better that way.
     

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