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February 26, 2016
Last updated

How to Clean a Copper Proofing Parrot

Chief Operating Officer at Clawhammer

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.

Clean The Proofing Parrot After Each Use

How to clean a proofing parrot
A copper proofing parrot is an extremely helpful tool that can be used when distilling alcohol. A parrot is simply a device that holds a proofing hydrometer, making it very easy to proof the product coming out of the still. If you are not familiar with this tool, check out our article on "How to Proof Alcohol " for a more detailed description.


It is very important to clean and dry all distillation equipment, including the boiler, column, copper packing material, and proofing parrot from time to time. Since the proofing parrot is in direct contact with the distillate from the still, it is very important to clean the parrot at the end of the distilling process. If the copper parrot is not cleaned properly, it can build up copper salts and other undesirables, which can contaminate distillate with potentially hazardous compounds.

How to Easily Clean a Proofing Parrot

  • Fill the parrot with PBW.
  • Leave the parrot to soak for one to twenty-four hours.
  • Scrub the parrot with a bottle and tube brush. Buy a set with a few different size brushes for easy cleaning.
  • Rinse the parrot with clean water.
  • Give the parrot another scrub with a bottle and tube brush. 
  • Rinse the parrot again.
  • Dump the water out of the parrot.
  • Dry off as much of the water as possible with a towel or rag.
  • Leave the parrot to air-dry.
  • Safely store the clean and dry proofing parrot until the next run.

Copper Proofing Parrot Kit

Emmet Leahy is the Chief Operating Officer and lead product developer at Clawhammer Supply, a small scale distillation and brewing equipment company. He loves the process of developing new equipment for making beer at home just as much as he does using it to brew his own beer. He's also passionate about teaching people how to use distillation equipment to produce distilled water, essential oils, and with the proper permits, fuel alcohol and distilled spirits.

  • Hello Fred…Did You figure out what PBW is? If not, go to your local homebrew store or online store and ask for Powdered Brewery Wash. Looks like powdered laundry detergent. Be careful with it, wear good gloves. It is highly caustic and will burn your skin at fairly low concentrations.

    Posted by TJ on November 14, 2021
  • What is ( PBW ) I ask this question because I have a proofing parret and I need to clean it I red in your how to clean a proofing parrot but you did not go into what PBW WAS and where to get it.

    Posted by Fred on November 13, 2021
  • Hello,
    My wife got me the pre built copper parrot as a gift. While I found your post on how to clean it, I was wondering what you recommend for a first time cleaning before the first use.

    Thank you for your time.

    Posted by Darren on February 09, 2021
  • Use rye flour for the paste

    Posted by STephen on February 04, 2020
  • after construction of your copper still, what should be done to remove any flux residue and post solder residue prior to your first run?

    Posted by mike c on February 13, 2019
  • Need some help distilled last year but feel like i am losing to much by the sealing technique of not having the proper mixture of my flour or not applying it properly. starts out good but as pressure increases it starts leaking and blows out any help is appreciated.

    Posted by Ken on March 30, 2018
  • Do you have a still that is completely put togeather

    Posted by Joseph Mcclain on August 04, 2016

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