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Dangerous amounts of pressure building up in my pot still

edited December 2018 in General

I have a 50l boiler and a simple pot still setup, it has a SD 3" 500mm spool with filter disk at each side acting as a vapour basket.

toward the end of a run the pressure build up is so great that steam is coming out of the cap and seals that have been sealed just fine for the whole run... even after I cut power 5 minutes later it is still boiling!

I am worried about my setup - please could I get some advice.


389 x 800 - 77K


  • I wonder if when I switch off the botanicals in the SS section are forming a seal allowing pressure to build up.. also when it cools is it going to implode. Guess I'll find out.

  • edited December 2018

    Why the heck do you have a valve on the vapor output of a pot still? Sorry, I mean, why do you have a valve on the vapor output of that bomb?

    Even full open, if that's a globe or gate valve, the valve body may have enough restrictions that should if any botanical matter gets pulled along into the vapor path, it can potentially occlude the valve.

  • I know I know... but the valve is wide open, it's because I used to use it as a reflux still. I know it's not ideal and I can and will take it out of the equation but I'm not sure that the problem here.

  • Maybe it's because my liebig is 12mm and the rest of the tube is 76mm?

  • And what's the mesh size of filter disks you are using? It's possible that they are too small, and the wet botanical matter is causing blockage.

  • They are the SD filter disks, the holes are very small. That's my theory also..

  • edited December 2018

    3" Filter Disk @ StillDragon Europe

    Filter disk made of stainless steel in 3 inch according BS 4825, which is compatible with all of our products with 3 inch tri-clamp flange connection.

    Usual applications of such a filter disk are building filter segments or simple aroma baskets by adding these at the ends respectively connections of one or more 3 inch tri-clamp pipes.

    For installation of a filter disk our appropriate special gasket is needed.

  • I just saw your edit... I have a filter disk at both ends of the SS section to stop any matter.blocking the valve.

  • I'd promptly remove discs. The open area on the disc is too fine and your botanicals are likely obstructing the open area like a wet peice of paper over a drain.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited December 2018

    If you want my advice just by a StillDragon gin basket. Fantastic piece of gear and if you want more production get a 300mm extension with a 2" ferrule on it for which will get you another gin basket in there.

  • I agree with everyone. I think they need to stop selling them before someone dies.

  • edited December 2018

    @needmorstuff . I think you might need more stuff to do what you are hoping to do.

  • Yes I certainly do ;-) a will look at a gin basket - iirc its quiet expensive but certainly not worth skimping on for what is a dangerous substitute.

  • edited December 2018

    You can hang yourself with a rope, and nobody is going to be blaming the rope company for your hanging.

    You have a valve that appears to let you dead head a vapor line.

    You have no pressure relief valve on the still, let alone a still with a gin basket - which is worse since you have material in the vapor path that can form a blockage.

    Sorry, but you seem to be pretty reckless/careless in your distilling approach.

  • I agree with everything you say but the disc shouldn't be marketed as a makeshift gin basket

  • @needmorstuff said: I agree with everything you say but the disc shouldn't be marketed as a makeshift gin basket

    Answered by email. These filter disks are not explicitly marketed as makeshift gin basket, but they are suitable to build an inline aroma basket if used with ingredients for vapor infusion that are large enough to not cause a blockage, like citrus or orange peel. Anyway, the problem here were not the filter disks but the absence of a pressure relief valve, which should be considered mandatory for any kind of non-standard application, like with packed sections, inline baskets or especially when having a valve in the vapor path for some reason (which of course is not recommended at all!).

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • again I agree and I have learnt my lesson but i still think the filter shouldnt be described as any kind of use for a gin basket.

  • I dont work for Stilldragon but the Gin basket is a great peice of gear. It will be a good match for your 50 boiler. The only thing that I have done with mine is I got a 4" 300mm extension with a 2" ferrule on it so I can fit two baskets on top of each other. That would max out the capacity of your 50l boiler as the volume of botanicals would be higher than the amount of alcohol you can put in your 50l boiler. But read the big Gin thread on that issue.

  • I put the juniper and corriander in the boiler, so a single bascket would work for me I think.

  • thread joiner purchased to remove valve..

  • Good to hear. Now, placing your "botanical basket" "inline" like that has the potential to foul or block completely and result in an over-pressure event. There are safer designs shown on this site you may wish to look up.

  • I am going to run it with rest of botanicals in a hop bag suspended in the boiler... trouble is my months of recipe development have been done with the botanicals (not juniper or corriander) in the vapour path. It is just now that the volume of botanicals increased that the blockage has occurred. Are all gin baskets dangerous/not recommended then?

    I have also inquired about a pressure relief valve that I will install.

  • edited December 2018

    Juniper and coriander in the basket, uncrushed, provide vapor paths through the basket.

    Imagine filling a bucket with sand vs ping pong balls for example.

    Always the way I looked at it.

    Fill it with tiny botanicals and by the time it gets wet, it’s going to be a solid block.

    A couple grams of florals going into the basket first, coating the bottom, recipe for disaster.

  • edited December 2018

    I will proceed with a run with everything in the boiler (small stuff in a hop bag) and see what difference it makes to my gin. The other botanicals are indeed tiny, grains of paradise, angelica, crushed almonds, orange peel.. when it had dried a little it was almost a solid plug!

  • edited December 2018

    how about on my boiler, I replace the 4" triclamp end cap on my boiler with a 4" to 1.5" reducer and use one of these? or is that overkill..

    1.5" Tri Clamp Breaker Vacuum Pressure Relief Safety Valve Sanitary SUS304 @ eBay

    I don't see a single mention of pressure relief valves in the SD shop.. maybe my search kungfu is broken.

  • I use a GB4 and fill it almost to the top. I think the juniper / other stuff combination stays nice and open and does not clog up due the the juniper in the basket keeping the mixture free. If you used all fines in the basket it might be a different story.

    When I empty the basket it is all loose. You are going to get a totally different result using the hop bag and mascerating the juniper - not bad just different.

    In fact I am going to put a little juniper in the boiler next time for an experiment but most in the GB4

  • I was thinking in the top bag in the air good of the boiler above the liquid level would give me the same result... provided it's not in the boiling liquid it should be near enough

  • edited December 2018

    Moving the juniper down to the kettle (masceration) will free up quite a bit of space. Coriander should still act to keep vapor channels open.

    You could probably do 40-50 bottles on 1 GB fill this way.

  • I have juniper and coriander in the boiler always.. Just wanted others in vapour path and not boiled as that's what my recipe formulation and trials are based on. I will just use a hop bag suspended in the boiler.but not in the fluid.

  • You are handy enough to build that still, surely you are handy enough to drill some holes in the filter disc to make it more suitable to your purpose?

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

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