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August 28, 2014

How To Maintain Distillation Equipment

Making quality distilled products (whether that be water, fuel alcohol, etc.) requires equipment that is clean, safe, and in good working order. Commercial distilleries clean their equipment regularly. Not only when switching from one sprit type to another (from say, a Bourbon to a white whiskey "moonshine.") But also in between batches of the same product. Why? Because fresh copper reduces sulfides in the distillate.

Our 100% copper stills can last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. They're made from 100% food grade c110 copper. We also use durable 16oz. material stock. As long as they're kept clean and dry, our stills will last for generations to come.

It does not take much time or effort to properly care for a copper still and mash equipment. Examine the copper still before using it. Make sure there is no physical damage or copper salt on the inside of the still. If there is copper salt on the copper still, clean the still. To clean the still, use a vinegar solution or a slightly diluted PBW (powdered brewery wash) solution. If cleaning with a vinegar solution, use a 1:1 water-to-vinegar ratio. Add a few gallons to the still and let it boil for one hour. Rinse the still thoroughly with clean water and scrub with a non-abrasive brush. If cleaning with PBW, follow the directions on the label, slightly diluting the PBW if cleaning copper.

Stainless steel distillation equipment is extremely easy to care for. Simply rinse the boiler, column, and condenser after each run and then clean each part with a full dose of PBW. PBW is a great product to use on stainless and we recommend using it to clean the still after each run. Cleaning with PBW will keep the still clean as well as remove all odors.

Stainless steel mash equipment is best because it will last a lifetime, but aluminum works fine as well. Always clean and sanitize the brew pot/mash tun before the beginning of a brew day. First clean it with PBW and then follow it up with Star San. At the the end of a brew day, rinse out the kettle/mash tun and thoroughly dry it out. 

Cleaning Distillation Fermentation Equipment

Keep your fermenters clean. Always clean and sanitize fermentation equipment. Cleaning removes soil from the surface, while sanitizing reduces the number of microorganisms on a clean surface to safe levels. It is a two-step process. Once a mash is done fermenting and it has been transferred into the still, there will be a lot of trub/lees left behind in the fermenter. To clean a glass or plastic carboy, use a carboy brush and some patience, as kroesen tends to stick to the glass. Fill the carboy with clean water and let it soak for about 10 minutes, then use a carboy brush and work it around the carboy until nothing is stuck to the glass, then dump the carboy and rinse. Tip the carboy upside down and let it air dry. Buckets and large-mouth fermenters are quicker and easier to clean. Dump the trub, then rinse the bucket out and wipe down with a rag or scrub brush. Rinse the bucket and dry out with a towel, then store in a dry place. Clean with PBW and sanitize with Star San before you use it again to ferment a mash.

  • How do I find responses to the questions posted on this site?

    Posted by Sam Allen on May 22, 2017
  • i would like to purchase one of these stills just weighing my options/ One thing I noticed is the article on cleaning the mesh in the column and didn’t see one for cleaning the still itself. Either way though the still is soldered solid as a unit how do you get into it to scrub when there’s no way in Seems like you would have to somehow be able to get inside to scrub which once built you can’t?

    Posted by Larry on February 23, 2017
  • Why can I not see the answers to the comments on your site? Do you have a forum where people share info that can be seen?

    Posted by TErry on October 10, 2016
  • Hi i have a orange substance on the inside of the boiler on my still. I used ketchup to clean it out last time. I cant seem to get it out. I rinsed it out and even tried scrubbing it with copper mesh. What is it? And is it harmful?

    Posted by Ryan on February 27, 2016

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