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Weird Deep Tails

edited February 2019 in General

So I ran my tails really deep and when I checked my jars today I saw this... Was clear when it came out...


600 x 800 - 49K


  • Do you think it cooled between you taking it and now?

    The only time I saw anything like that was on a maiden/sacrificial run. The colour came from the residual oils etc from the manufacture of the stainless and the copper.

    Pretty sure the colour came out with the heads rather than the trails but that was 10 years ago now and my memory is not what it used to be.

  • its been hot so probably not. its a new still but have done two cleaning runs. one with white vinegar another with vinegar and some old heads and tails. this was a product run with it, nothing in main collection jars. ran it down to less than 10% (just wanting to see how far I could run it) and this was the result... but as i said it looked clean when it came out.._

  • Based on personal experience, I would say that came from the product condenser, either residual, or an internal leak.. can you post a pic of your setup?

  • edited February 2019

    It was making a weird noise from the PC @CothermanDistilling .... Almost like a boiling sound I thought it might have been a airlock in one of the tubes. But I have a video of something else really weird it was doing that I'll try and post. Every now and then the product would just pour out almost like the flow of a hose, so much it would come out of the vents on the parrot


    600 x 800 - 112K
  • edited February 2019

    So this is what it was doing occasionally towards the end of the run.
    This was filmed right at the very end (almost distilling water) as I was trying to catch it happening

  • edited February 2019

    @punkin any ideas?

  • Your still was puking. It wasn’t originally clear, you just noticed when looking at a larger volume.

  • It's not color from wash as wash was already stripped..

  • edited February 2019

    I'm thinking it's rust (iron) ... So it's only appeared in jars with high water content, colour has developed over time.. We had work done to our boiler so I'm wondering if welder has used something he shouldn't have or if our stainless scrubbers are cheap stainless that has started rusting...

    Spent liquid that was left in boiler for a few days (was a stripped batch of product) didn't have any discolouration (pic attached)


    600 x 800 - 76K
  • Looks like puking to me too.

  • Too much heat for the amount of cooling at your RC. Your getting liquid pile up in your RC. Pressure created by heat input is forcing liquid to pile up in your RC tubes. As such pressure builds enough to force out all of the lquid. That is the surge you see. Back off on heat or coolant flow.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • I am going to go with rust.. especially if you had your boiler worked on... even more so if you welded your condenser. If you have something stainless in your distillery ground or welded, it needs to be passivated. If you do not get rid of the exposed iron atoms left by welding or grinding, rust will form on the stainless.

    Using acid you can passivate metal by conversion/ionizing these bare iron atoms. Breweries commonly run a 'passivation cycle', but that is more of a maintenance thing, and often does not work well enough on welds enough to keep them from rusting. Direct passivation using electric current and an electrolyte is what is used in production.

    A hand-held unit is, bar none, the best way to do it at the job site.

    SURFOX MINI™ @ Walter Surface Technologies

    There are videos at the link, I got one used from a professional welder friend, and it works like magic, he stated that a welder is not allowed into any large brewery like A-B without one. Here is the one I have, a bit older than that one above, and no 'fume dispersion'


    There are folks out there that will show you how to use an old power supply(or battery), the acid cleaner used to clean ice machines, and the carbon-fiber bristles from LP Record cleaners to get the homegrown version... to check it out, go to Ferromit see picture below for what it looks like..:


    280 x 139 - 6K
    800 x 600 - 95K
  • @cleadus1 said: It's not color from wash as wash was already stripped..

    I’m sticking with puking ;-)

    Look how much liquid is coming through your condenser. It’s actually pouring out of the surge breaker. You definitely have liquid from the column coming over through the condenser. I suspect the column is not perfectly clean (possibly rust), so the liquid that’s coming through is picking up the color from the column. Even low wines would do this.

  • Seeing as i was asked i have seen that surging before when part of the system is overwhelmed with the volume of liquid. So i believe there are two issues.
    One is the colour and the other is the flooding.

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

  • I think it is puking too, what is that, 200L/hour for a few seconds there?

    What is in that column holding up the scrubbies, if it is a SD Filter disk, and not a empty bubble plate, or other very open support, that is the cause of the surging and puking...

  • We tend to call foaming from the boiler puking and liquid build up in the column for other reasons flooding. I think it separates the two issues and the terms are easier to distinguish.

    @CothermanDistilling is correct about the filter discs. They are good in some situations but can cause problems in others.

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

  • Thanks for the comments. So yea two different problems..

    Flooding (I got confused when people said puking as that for me would mean coming up from boiler, which it wasn't doing)

    And the colour

    This is the first time iv run a plated column like this (done a fair bit of distilling with other setups though) so just trying to learn.

    So for the flooding, I am using a filter disk under the scrubbers so that could be a issue and probably was running too hard.

    Now the rust/coloured distillate, our boiler (nothing done to standard sd column) was worked on by a boiler maker and he said he had passivated the welds.. But maybe not. I am going to check with him and ask again.

    We ran some water through it last night and it was not great, it came out with a horrible smell.

    So im going to run the colum on a standard keg with clean water in it and use a gas burner to distill some water and if that doesn't taint it then it's definitely the boiler

  • edited February 2019

    I can't see how it could get there from the boiler. I'd suggest pulling the whole column down and inspecting closely.
    I would expect it's on the downstream side, otherwise it wouldn't carry over (except while flooding and then still not from below the filter disc). I reckon your scrubbers could be the issue.

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

  • Try (gently) warming it up again. If it disappears it could be a colloidal suspension that precipitates as it cools - kinda like chill haze in a beer.

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • I was thinking that as well @punkin the scrubbers are at the top of my list..

  • edited February 2019

    @Kapea has a point too. That looks different to how i've seen it before but it could be.

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

  • I always run water from a garden from top to bottom through both sections (600mm ea) of packed column (ss scrubbers) after a reflux run. The water comes out the bottom with a bit of a yellowish tint for a bit. I test if I’ve run enough water through by tasting it. You should always wash through a packed column after a run.

    Your filter plate was restricting the return of the condensate to the boiler possibly compounded by how much vapour was being condensed at the time. By the end of the run the packing was drenched in oliy tails. The surging you saw was most likely gouts of condensate being blown over by the vapour.

  • I have seen that exact color after letting the condenser sit wet, it was almost certainly iron oxide... should be easy to test for...

  • For the colour ..... A possibility of a leaking condensor where higher pressure dirty water is leaking into the condensor ???

  • edited February 2019

    So for the colour I think it might have washed out of the scrubbers when it flooded, they are stainless scrubbers from bunnings. We done a water run and had a weird chemical smell coming from still, so we attached the 500mm section alone but filled with the scrubbers, the steam coming out smelled very odd..

    Any one had a issue with cheap stainless scrubbers?

    I'm thinking of getting some other type of media, maybe ceramic. Anyone tried the ceramic media they use for fish tank filters?

    Fish Tank Filter Media -Ceramic Noodles Glass Ring @ Trade Me NZ

  • Check those scrubbies with a magnet to see if they're really solid copper, or just copper-plated steel.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • Well my stainless steel scrubbers seem to be magnetic... That's where the colour came from..

  • edited February 2019

    That new magnetic stainless they have invented in China...


    600 x 800 - 72K
  • The fact that it is magnetic or has amounts of, does not mean that that is where the presumption of rust is coming from. The grade of SS will determine amounts of chromium, nickel etc. Even SS304 dependant where its sourced from sad to say, sometimes has amounts of magnetic properties.

  • My Wüsthof rostfrei kitchen knives stick nicely to my magnetic knife bar. 30+ years of service without the first hint of rust.

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

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