Despite the widest assortment of strong alcoholic drinks on the windows of our stores, a lot of alcohol lovers prefer alcohol of their own making. And it's not just about saving money. The quality of modern vodka is very often in doubt, and the number of poisonings with purchased “fake” products is growing from year to year. So they make "moonshines" in their kitchens moonshine stills. And each of them wants to get the most pure product of the highest strength. For this, the scheme of a classic moonshine still is often supplemented by various treatment plants. The device of one of them we will describe in this article.
Moonshine still , as a rule, consists of a distillation cube and a refrigerator, interconnected. As the first very often use aluminum milk cans. They are very convenient for this role, as they are hermetically sealed, and to turn such a container into a distillation cube, you just need to drill a hole in the lid. Other containers made of weakly oxidizing metals (stainless steel, copper, galvanized steel) can also be used.
The refrigerator can be made of a copper tube with a diameter of 0.5-0.8 mm, twisted in a spiral. This design has air or water cooling. In the first case, the spiral is cooled by outside air, which is not very effective. With water cooling, the refrigerator is located in a vessel with stagnant water, which changes as it warms up.
More advanced moonshines are cooled by running water. The spiral itself is welded into a large hermetic container with taps for the entry and exit of water. The continuous water flow cools the spiral perfectly, as a result of which the alcohol vapor condenses very quickly and turns into a liquid.
What is moonshine driven from?
Home-made moonshine is made from mash. It is obtained by fermentation of products containing sugar. The simplest recipe for mash is to mix in a certain proportion of water, sugar and brewer's or baker's yeast. After about a week, a translucent bitter intoxicating must is obtained, ready for distillation.
Moonshine can also be driven from any fermented juice, including wine. This is how calvados is obtained from apple wort, and chacha from wine.
What is a steamer and why is it needed
The classic design of the moonshine still does not provide any additional devices. However, the content in the Brag fusel oils and other harmful impurities, which also have a rather unpleasant odor, makes alcohol toxic and unpleasant in taste.
To reduce the concentration of such substances in moonshine, folk craftsmen invented a reflux condenser (sucker). A moonshine made by oneself is simply required to have a similar cleaning system. Otherwise, it will be unpleasant to drink yourself, and ashamed to treat friends.
The main purpose of the steamer is to get rid of unnecessary moisture and impurities contained in alcohol vapor at the initial stage. It is impossible to buy such a device in the store today. Therefore, moonshiners make a steam tank with their own hands. Its design is quite simple and does not require any special knowledge in the field of chemistry, nor the purchase of expensive materials.
The principle of operation of the steamer
The principle of operation of the sucker is quite simple. It is based on the process of gas purification by liquid (bubbling). Heated vapors of alcohol are fed into a container, where they are cooled, settling on its walls, or dissolved in the liquid in it.
The high temperature inside the reflux condenser stimulates the separation of lighter fractions, which, rising up, are pushed into the outlet by high pressure. In a similar way tobacco smoke in a hookah is cleared and cooled.
Putting a do-it-yourself coupler yourself
Alcohol vapors at the exit of the steamer contain one third less various harmful impurities. In addition, the water content in them is also significantly reduced, which increases the strength of the output fluid by several degrees.
If it is really possible to achieve such indicators of purification of the future drink at the initial stage, then why not make a steam tank with your own hands? No drawings are needed here. Everything is done by eye from improvised materials. So, we need:
- 3-liter glass jar with screw cap;
- 2 copper (brass) gas fittings with screwed nuts and rubber washers;
- a piece of copper or aluminum tube, the diameter of which is suitable for the fitting nut;
- car sealant (red);
- drill with a drill;
- round file.
If you have at hand the listed materials and tools, it will take no more than 40 minutes to make a do-it-yourself steam tank at home. Connecting it to the main structure will take about half an hour.
Do it yourself do-it-yourself jar from a can
Having prepared the necessary materials, you need to make sure that the lid tightly closes the jar. If the tightness of the container is broken, steam under pressure will leave it, thereby leading to the loss of a valuable potion and filling the room with an unpleasant odor. If everything is normal with the connection density, then you can start assembling a dry steam tank with your own hands from a can. Photos of its main elements during assembly are presented below.
Unscrew the lid and use the drill to make two holes in it. We expand them with a round file to such a size that the lower parts of the gas fittings can enter them. The edges of the holes made from the bottom of the lid are covered with a layer of automotive sealant and seated rubber washers on it. From above we insert the fittings with the thread down and grab them with nuts. As a result, we should get a lid with two tightly screwed outlets. But that is not all.
We have assembled the simplest steamer with our own hands from a can. In principle, everything can be left and so it will work. However, in order for the cleaning process to be more thorough, it is necessary that the steam from the inlet nozzle enters the liquid. To do this, in any convenient way you need to attach a pre-prepared tube (copper, aluminum, metal-plastic) to its lower part. Its length should be such that from the bottom of the can to its lower end was approximately 8-10 mm. Now it’s all.
As you can see, making a dry steam tank with your own hands is absolutely not expensive and not so complicated. But now the drinks you make will have a more noble taste and smell.
How to connect a steamer to a distillation cube
If the question of how to make a dry steam dome with your own hands can be considered closed, then the question of its connection to the main structure remains relevant. After all, besides the fact that you need to think over and make a reliable steam line, you need to take care of its tightness.
Typically, copper tubes are used for these purposes. They are sold in automotive markets and in stores selling parts for ventilation systems. The tube section must be selected based on the thickness of the fittings we used. It is desirable that the internal diameter of our pipeline be several millimeters larger than the fitting itself. This will allow you to connect them without unnecessary problems, without using additional tools.
So, the length of the tube is calculated based on the distance at which the distillation cube and the steamer will be from each other. Its edges are usually bent at an angle of 90 about . Fortunately, the copper tube bends perfectly, and if necessary, it can easily be straightened and bent in a new way. One end of the pipeline should go into the hole of the cube, usually located in its cover, and the other is put on the inlet fitting.
The second tube is needed in order to connect the reflux condenser and the refrigerator. Here, in case of incompatibility of the cross-sections of the pipeline and the cooling coil, a piece of silicone hose and small clamps can be used.
The issue of sealing joints
Naturally, any pipe connection that does not have a thread and a seal cannot be considered airtight. A tube inserted into the cap of a distillation cube or put on a fitting will let steam through, especially if it is supplied under pressure. It is inappropriate to use a sealant here, since the structure is collapsible, and we do not need excess chemistry.
Moonshiners found a simple way out here too. To seal the joints, you can successfully use the dough or crumb of bread. Due to the desired consistency, they can easily cover up any unnecessary space between the connecting elements. When heated, both the dough and the bread harden, which makes the connection not only airtight, but also to some extent motionless.
In such a simple way, we collected and connected a dry steam dome to the device with our own hands. A photo of the finished design is given below. Of course, your device may look different, but it does not change the essence.
Testing a steamer
And now, when we have figured out how to make a dry steam dome with our own hands and connect it to the main structure, it's time to start testing it. If you do not have a home-brewing experience, it is better to use plain water for the first time instead of mash. So you look at the example of the principle of operation of the moonshine still, and the reflux condenser in particular.
We collect water into the distillation cube and heat it. Water, as, in principle, and mash, if its amount is 30-40 liters, will be heated for about 1.5-2.5 hours until the process of boiling and evaporation begins. During this time, it is quite possible to connect all the other structural elements.
When the boiling process begins, the walls of the steamer will be covered with steam, which, when cooled, will begin to drain to the bottom of the can. When the collected liquid covers the edge of the tube of the inlet fitting, a bubbling process will begin, during which the steam will pass through the water accumulated on the bottom. Under the influence of high temperature, already purified steam will be supplied to the outlet and then to the refrigerator.
What you need to know about the distillation process
If the tests were successful, you can begin to practice. We change water for mash, we warm it, we collect system. When the temperature in the distillation cube reaches 78 ° C, the alcohol vapor will begin to evaporate.
Now the main thing is not to rush and observe a constant temperature regime. Intensive boiling of the mash will lead to the formation of foam and its ingress into the pipeline. This is an extremely undesirable phenomenon. Slow boiling will also negatively affect the quality of the drink. In this case, alcohol fumes will contain an increased amount of fusel oils.
After some time, a light brown liquid will begin to collect in the sucker. This is the very phlegm (moisture) for which the sucker is intended. It does not contain alcohol, but it has a sharp unpleasant odor. Without the use of a steamer, all this liquid would invariably end up in moonshine. With the volume of mash 30-40 liters by the end of the process, its amount will be 1-2 liters.
Little tricks when using a steamer
But to assemble a sucker with your own hands is only half the battle. It is also important to use it with maximum benefit. For a more thorough cleaning of the future drink, the reflux condenser can be partially filled with clean cold water. To give moonshine a certain aroma, zest of lemon, orange, as well as dried fruits or medicinal herbs and spices are thrown into the steamer. Hot alcohol vapor will dissolve the essential oils contained in them and fill the drink with their aroma.