This blog provides information for educational purposes only. Read our complete summary for more info.
Clean Equipment After Assembly
Before using our brewing and distilling equipment for the first time, it will need to be thoroughly cleaned. 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 of a still, fill the boiler with a gallon of white vinegar, attach the column, and boil for about an hour. After boiling the vinegar for an hour, carefully dump out the the vinegar. It will be HOT- we recommend using heat resistant gloves.
After dumping 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 stills!). Dump the water out and fill the still one more time with clean water. Scrub the still once more with a scrubbing brush and dump the water out one last time. For info on cleaning the outside, read our article on How to Clean a Copper Still.
Clean Equipment After Each Use
Here is the procedure we recommend distillers follow when cleaning a copper still:
First, we recommend wearing a pair of protective gloves as the still will still be hot.
- Remove the seal between the boiler and the column cap skirt.
- 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 gloves again and dump the leftover wash out.
- Fill the still with 1/2 gallon of clean water and scrub the still with a scrubbing brush.
- Dump the water out and then rinse it one more time with clean water.
- Dry thoroughly and store in a cool, dry environment.
How to Store Copper Distilling Equipment
After a still is cleaned it needs to be dried. A still should be dried with clean rags and then tilted upside down to allow any remaining water to drain. After the still is completely dry, store it in a dry safe location. Store the 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 then next use, the still needs to be physically inspected prior to transferring any liquid into the boiler. If any corrosion has occurred or copper salts are built up on the surfaces, still must be cleaned before use. Copper salt can have a blue, teal, purple, very dark brown and even black appearance. Cleaning the still with a light acid should remove these salts and make the copper look like copper again. Food safe chemicals like lemon juice and even vinegar will do the trick. To use vinegar, fill the still with a gallon of white vinegar and heat to a boil. After a boil is reached, use a brush and pipe cleaner to remove all remaining deposits.
Note: if buildup of other organic matter has occurred (such as leftover residue from a mash) Powered Brewers Wash will be needed. 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, we highly recommend this product. We'll also sometimes use PBW if we have not used the still for a while.The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to be used as the basis for any person or entity to make any decision or take any act whatsoever.