This blog provides information for educational purposes only. Read our complete summary for more info.
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, but sometimes also in between batches of the same product. Why? Because fresh copper reduces sulfides in the distillate. Essential oils producers are familiar with the importance of this as well.
Before we get started, a reminder: Distilling alcohol is illegal without a federal fuel alcohol or distilled spirit plant permit as well as relevant state permits. Our distillation equipment is designed for legal uses only and the information in this article is for educational purposes only. Please read our complete legal summary for more information on the legalities of distillation.
Cleaning Brewing and Distillation Equipment
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, 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 Fermentation Equipment
Keep fermenters clean as well. 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. First rinse the fermenter. Next, fill with warm water and PBW. Remove any thing that does not dissolve using a soft carboy brush. Next rinse thoroughly with warm water then santitize with Star San before it is used again to ferment again.
Remember, home brewing is legal in almost every US state. However, it is illegal to distill alcohol without the proper permits. Do not distill alcohol at home for consumption.