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Cleaning And Maintaining Distillation Equipment
Making quality distilled products (whether that be water, fuel alcohol, etc.) requires equipment that is clean, safe, and in good working order. A 100% copper still is a purchase that can last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. 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 And Maintaining 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.