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May 13, 2014

How to Clean Brewing and Distilling Equipment

Clean Your Equipment After Assembly

So, you've finished building some copper brewing and distilling equipment using Clawhammer parts. You think you are ready to run that first batch of mash? Think again! Before you run that first batch of water, fuel alcohol, etc, you'll need to clean your still. After assembly the equipment is going to have a lot of flux and bits of solder that need to be removed. 

To clean the inside, fill the boiler with a gallon of white vinegar, attach the column, and boil for about an hour. After you boil the vinegar for an hour, carefully dump out the the vinegar. It will be HOT- we recommend using Ove Gloves. Also, it will kill your grass - so dump it in your neighbors yard.

After you dump the vinegar fill the still with PBW, let is soak, then scrub the copper still with a toilet cleaning brush (one that is new and only for your stils!). Dump the water out and fill the still one more time with clean water. Scrub the still once more with your new still scrubbing brush and dump the water out one last time. For info on cleaning the outside, read this article:

Clean Your Equipment After Each Run

After a long day of distilling the last thing you might want to do is clean your still... However, if you want to own a safe, clean, still that produces excellent product then you MUST clean your still after EACH run. Put the mason jar down, pickup your hose and still scrubbing brush, and get to work. Trust us, spending 10 minutes at the end of a run cleaning your still is well worth the effort.
First, we recommend wearing a pair of oven gloves as the still will still be hot. Loosen the flour paste seal on the column by gently rocking it back and forth. Once the seal is broken and the column is lose - completely remove the column from the still. Rinse the column with clean water, and scrub the inside of the column with a carboy cleaning brush (these are the perfect size and work really, really well). Once the column has been cleaned, dry it off and place it in safe dry spot for storage.
Put on your Ove Gloves and dump your the leftover wash onto an area of your yard you don't care too much about. Fill the still with 1/2 gallon of clean water and scrub the still with your still toilet scrubbing brush. Dump the water out and then rinse it one more time with clean water. Dry it really well, and store.

How to Store Copper Brewing and Distilling Equipment

After you clean your still- you need to dry it. Dry your still with clean rags and tilt the still upside down so any water left in the still can drain. After the still is completely dry store the clawhammer copper still in a dry safe location. Store you still in a location where it won't be dropped or otherwise damaged. we always hate it when we get an email from a customer who had a still damaged while it was in storage because it fell off of an 8' shelf (it has happened).

Examine the Copper Before Use

Before you transfer any liquid into copper equipment- physically inspect it. If you notice any copper salts building up, you must clean the surfaces before use. You can usually get away with a light white vinegar cleaning. Dump a bit of white vinegar into the pot and scrub it down really well with your still toilet scrubbing brush, then rinse it really well with clean water. If you don't have luck with this method you can do another boil session with white vinegar or use a brewing product called PBW. PBW is a commercially available cleaner designed to clean brewing equipment. We contacted 5 star chemicals about using their product to clean copper stills. 5 Star Chemical said that PBW is safe on copper-  however they recommend a lighter dose and also they said to make sure the powder is completely dissolved. We have had great luck with PBW and will do a cleaning session with PBW at the end of each distilling season. We'll also sometimes use PBW if we have not used the still for a while. 



  • made a cooling coil to cool my wert. what should i use to make sure there is no copper sulphate

    Posted by Bill on March 02, 2017
  • Do you need help with a message board that works? I’d love to help out and get something effective. I can’t find any answers.
    THanks for your support!

    Posted by Heidi on February 07, 2017
  • i have a pre-made still. the condenser tube has an internal copper coil. The still overheated and when i took it apart for inspection and cleaning i noticed a heavy scale build-up on the copper. i believe that it is sulphur based. the wash that i processed at that time cake out clear (as usual) at 95% alc vol (also normal). it only has a mild smell (good). the initial taste is good but the after-taste in the back of the throat is a little rough. i think it’s the sulphur build-up. as i can’t take the condenser tube apart i need to chemically treat it. have tried white vinegar and citric acid. very poor result. i have access to hyrodchloric acid and sulphuric acid. i intend to use a diluted mixture of one of these to strip the sulphates. if anyone has done this before i would like to know the result they achieved.

    Posted by Mike on June 24, 2016
  • What’s the best way to clean the worm

    Posted by mike on March 07, 2016
  • Hi I am making a 5 gal copper still,is there a better way to have a bigger opening,to clean the tankThank you very much

    Posted by Reg Lauzon on March 02, 2016
  • I thinking about getting one of these stills, but got one question how do you clean the condenser 1/2 tubing, do you run water and vinegar through your still, like your running a batch of wash. and if you do how much, Thank You

    Posted by Ray on January 31, 2016
  • How do I clean the worm

    Posted by Matt on October 29, 2015
  • where do i fine answers to post?


    Posted by Andy on July 02, 2015
  • Where do I find the answers to the posts on your site? some of the questions are the same ones i’m thinking of.

    Posted by Layle Willis on April 20, 2015
  • Hi Kyle,
    Well I’m a real dummy got my one gallon still put together ( pretty sure gonna need to up grade to a 10) and I don’t know which end is up. I have no idea what to hook up to what or what it should look like do you have a video on that ? I’m getting ready to start my mad hand clean my still then just need to know what all the tube openings are for where to put then thermometer does it have to be in the body of the still? Or can it attach to the top? And do you use the top or bottom opening for the condensed vapor to pass through

    Posted by Ruthann on January 26, 2015
  • Put your first run in the still when you are about to run it. If you put it in the mash you run the risk of killing the yeast.

    Posted by Aaron on January 24, 2015
  • How do you clean the worm?

    Posted by Frank Porter on July 23, 2014
  • thay say your first run put it back in the next you put it into the mash to???

    Posted by buba on July 20, 2014

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