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September 28, 2015

Stainless Steel Distillation Equipment

Stainless steel distiller

All stills are not created equally. There is a big difference between copper and stainless steel stills. There can also be a significant difference between different stainless steel stills.

If you're looking to buy a stainless steel still there are a few things you'll want to consider. Below is a guide to stainless steel distillation equipment. We're going to shamelessly focus on Clawhammer Supply's 8 gallon stainless steel still for a reference point. Hope you don't mind. 

Read on for some pros and cons of the material itself as well as a list of features that one should expect to find in a high quality stainless steel unit.

We'll start with some of the pros and cons of the material itself.

Stainless Steel Drawbacks

  • The material itself isn't that great of a conductor. As such, heating with propane or over a fire can take longer and be somewhat wasteful. 
  • Stainless is significantly more difficult to work with than copper because the material is not as malleable and it requires higher heat for brazing.
  • Stainless doesn't remove sulfides from alcohol during spirit production runs.

Stainless Steel Benefits

  • Stainless is very durable
  • Stainless is very easy to clean
  • Stainless is less expensive than copper
  • Stainless stills often seal better than copper stills, depending on construction, which makes them more appropriate for producing ultra high proof alcohol for fuel, vodka, etc.

What Can Stainless Stills Produce

Stainless steel stills can be used to produce the same products that are produced by copper stills. However, stainless stills are a bit better for producing ultra high proof alcohol, such as fuel alcohol, and high proof spirits for vodka, rum, etc.

The reason stainless stills are better suited for producing ultra high proof spirits is their construction. They're built to contain at least a slight amount of pressure, which is created when bubble reflux plates. These plates increase proof at a much faster rate than simple copper scrubber packing does.

Here's a list of some the items that can be made with stainless steel stills, but it by no means includes everything:

  • Distilled Water
  • Fuel Alcohol
  • Essential Oils
  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Rum
  • Whiskey
  • Bourbon
  • Moonshine

Clawhammer's 8 Gallon Stainless Steel Still

Clawhammer's brand new 8 gallon still includes many of the same features found on other commercially available stainless units. We're also very familiar the the design of the still (because we created it). So we're going to describe these features and we're going to explain why they're useful. We hope this will teach you, the reader, a bit about stainless steel still construction and use.

Essentially, if you're going to purchase a stainless steel still, you want to make sure it includes, at a bare minimum, the following features.

  • 100% food grad 304 stainless construction.
  • An electric heating element port in the boiler.
  • A thermometer port in the boiler.
  • A pressure relief safety valve.
  • A port for a pressure gauge.
  • A port for a column thermometer.
  • A reliable condenser with 5/8" ports.
  • Features for easy transport and storage.
  • A sturdy, heat resistant discharge hose.

As a visual reference, here's a picture of Clawhammer's new 8 gallon stainless unit, which includes all of the features listed above:

 Stainless Steel Distillation Equipment Features

  • is there extra parts that make the still work for extracting essential oils?

    Posted by John BrOtzman on July 08, 2016
  • Bruce—- how much?

    Posted by pat russell on December 01, 2015
  • I recently purchased a 10 Gal cu still I do love it and enjoyed building it. I have to say though seeing the SS I would have purchased it.
    If you no any one who wants a 10 gal but does not want to build I would love to sell them mine so I can purchase the Stainless.
    I use my still in my sugar shack and I’m very familiar with SS since my evaporator is all stainless, I do love the ease of cleaning the SS and the size of the port. I’m trying to make a old family reciep for schnapps and the port would be ideal for the different fruits I’m trying. if you have any thoughts i would love to hear them. Thanks so much

    Posted by Bruce Harrington on October 06, 2015

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