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Distillery explosion in Oklahoma - Stay safe folks

edited June 2014 in General

Flash flame engulfs Moore distillery @ NewsOK

Very unfortunate what happened here, wish him the best of luck and a quick recovery.

Stay safe folks, accidents can happen.

For those interested in control systems, design for failure, design for failure, design for failure.



  • I can understand pinching pennies when first starting out but their equipment is a little scary. Using a forklift and pallet to hold up the still and propane tank? Really? :-O

  • Ventilation may have helped? The article says there was alcohol vapor in the room ?

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    The only sillae question is the one you don't ask folks...

  • Umm.... Maybe it is just me, but your still should not be doing this unless you are working on the set of Mythbusters....


    Moore Distillery.jpg
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  • edited June 2014

    What proof do you need to load up a pot still with to get 95% out?

    I reckon you aren't getting 95% out of a pot still loaded with low wines at 40%.

    Something around 92 or 93%, which means the entire contents of the 26 gallon boiler are highly flammable, not just the vapor.

    I don't understand how he could have possibly made 100 12 bottle cases on that equipment, certainly not in 3 days. 100 cases would require nearly 18,000 liters of wash (5,000 gallons). And even worse, would require something like 6, 7, or 8 pot still distillations to reach 190%.

  • He was blending with GNS I bet.... and I also bet they left the still unattended.... I have a big red mushroom E-Stop, I guarantee I can hit it before enough vapor escapes....

  • Yeah but you still dont have a forklift holding up your propane tank on a hand made pot still with 90+% alcohol. Im suprised county let this fly, my county wouldnt let me get away with an open flame heat source. None the less i hope jeff does ok as he was in icu the last i heard. Wishing him a speedy recovery.

  • We're currently in discussions about being required to install our boiler within a blast resistant room, yes, you read that right, not a separate room, not a fire proof room, but a blast resistant room. Now, I don't expect that request to hold much water, but illustrates how high the bar is set out here.

    Open flames? We'd get laughed at.

    And we're replacing most of the lighting fixtures with explosion proof.

    I also believe those small grill propane tanks are illegal for indoor use out here, and may be out there.

  • By the sounds of it (running for 3 days straight) they were under the pump to get product out and were using that shitty set up as in interim step just to get the job done. There is a line at the bottom of the article saying New still not running. No excuse for dangerous practices like they were doing and I would hazard a guess there were no safety measures in place either.

    That said I hope he will be alright with no lasting damage to himself, I would not wish that on anybody.

  • People are injured i don't think it sits well to do all this speculating on what may or may not have happened. Nor on what they may or may not have been doing and especially on who's fault that may be.

    There are people trained and tasked with those type of investigations and paid to draw conclusions.

    I'm not trying to be condescending, i merely think if we don't need to judge then we should leave it those who's job it is.

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  • Its always sad news when something like that happens.
    Best wishes and hoping for a speedy recovery.

  • All I can say is WOW.... This does not shine a good light on our industry. Basic standards of safety must be followed.

  • @punkin I completely agree with you and I was hesitant to say something on adiforums and here. I am disappointed in my lack of class at the moment as me nor anyone else knows exactly what happened. There are implications that would lead anyone to draw conclusions, although his setup could have been just as safe as any. Direct flame charge for stills are very common, and most never have problems. This is a terrible accident that happened and its best that we just wish Jeff the best in recovery so he can get back to making some hooch and living the dream.

  • edited June 2014


    Moore Twister Distillery engulfed in vodka flash fire not allowed to use open flame @ NewsOK

    The vodka distillery where a man was seriously burned last week in an alcohol flash fire had previously been warned by local fire officials not to use an open flame to make the product.

    Twister Distillery in Moore had been distilling its product, called Success Vodka, in a homemade still that was hooked up to an open-flame burner fueled by a propane tank. The still and propane tank were on a wooden pallet atop the tines of a forklift.

    The type of still Twister was using at the time of the fire should not have been in operation, said Moore Fire Marshal Jeff Lindsay.

    “In fact, the business had been advised they could not utilize open flame for a heat source,” Lindsay said.

  • now, while fire officials warn people all the time for things that are legal in the code, and open flame distillation can be perfectly safe, things like a propane tank inside the building, hodge-podge still construction, forklift as a stand, etc, are reasons I think the guy violated way too many rules to get anyone's support or even silence.... my opinion...

  • I hope he is ok. And Recovers.

    Even if he had been doing everything correctly and safely and had some catastrophic failure, news like this shines a light on the risks. Not likely to happen if proper safety measures are in place but stories like this will catch the attention of building owners and local Fire officials and may cause them to push for even more stringent requirement beyond what is necessary. Costing the Start-up Craft Distiller thousands just to comply with these stringent regulations and requirements.

    We each as commercial distillers owe it to other members of the industry to practice safe distilling.

  • edited June 2014

    Might be interesting to spin off a pro thread regarding practical fire safety approaches.

    There are likely dozens of low or moderate cost techniques to improve overall safety, reduce risk. In fact, reading the DISCUS Fire manual like it was a best seller, there are a number of good approaches that are based on nothing but appropriate spacing and distance.

    ADI is nice, but those folks can be snooty, and tend not to share specifics. :))

  • edited June 2014

    @RedDoorDistillery said: Even if he had been doing everything correctly and safely and had some catastrophic failure, news like this shines a light on the risks.

    A few years back there was a similar flash explosion at another distillery when the piping between the dephlegmator and condenser broke/separated, allowing vapor to be released. Tall still, high piping, small leak, how could anyone have realized it? And these were guys who were extremely concerned about safety.

    After that incident they built a heavy block still room separate from all other operations. Explosion proof everything, electric, ventilation, lighting, etc.

    Nobody is immune from Murphy's Law.

  • @grim Very True. Nobody is immune from Murphy's Law. But you can do many things to help reduce the potential for Murphy to come kick you ass...

  • Personally I like to leave a couple easy targets for Murphy to find that way he'll be too preoccupied to mess with the dangerous stuff.

  • ^^^ I had a boss like that once!

  • daddad
    edited June 2014

    I had a minor incident this year...boiler to column gasket was pinched and let liquid seep out to top of boiler.

    I was setting next to it when I heard the thud (sounded like someone hit the boiler with a closed fist)...looked over and didn't see any flame! DUH...ethanol. Stood up and could see the insulation on the top of the boiler turning brown...shut off gas and applied hose from coolant water outflow.

    Two surprising elements...never smelled the vapor and never saw a flame!

    On a permanent setup, I will have some kind of alarm to the top of the boiler! Always know how to kill power asap!

    I would also suggest that white, so you could see it burning. The insulation on the top of my boiler was grey...I'd have seen it quicker if it were white turning/burning brown.

    Maybe one of you sparkies could turn something like this

    MQ-3 Alcohol Gas Sensor for Drinking and Ethanol Vapor Detection


    into a reliable vapor detector. One of these in a small project box and a battery...I'd buy one or ten!

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  • edited June 2014

    @Spazsquatch said:

    Personally I like to leave a couple easy targets for Murphy to find that way he'll be too preoccupied to mess with the dangerous stuff.

    The same here with the fiscal authorities: you let them think they have something on you, by leaving hiding some easter eggs for them: e.g. invoices of private bought toilet paper in the tax declaration. Then they let you pay a bit of fine and dont't bother you no more.

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

  • Nope, just leave a $50 bill where they can find it while you're not looking.
    If it is still there then you have problems, else you are OK.

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