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Stillin' Safety

I would expect this topic to have multiple posts by the same person showing us how to do something. If there are pictures, let pint_o_shine know and he can host them for you.

Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby duds2u » Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:40 am

I recently had an expeience where the discharge line from the condenser on my reflux still blew apart. I had been away from the "Shed" for no more than 2 minutes and when I returned water was pissing everywhere including into the collection jar.

The down side was that the the alcohol I had collected was already diluted.

The upside was that it was the discharge line that had had blown and the still was working as designed and safe. It was due to a kink in the hose further down causing a pressure build up and the heated water from the condenser found a weak spot.

Imagine the possibilities if the input line had blown.

The moral of the story is "Never leave a still running without monitoring". We are playing with some very highly flammable chemicals here folks.

Would you leave heated petrol unattended. Weeell, this is the same situation. High proof alcohol is as flammable as petrol
Less oak longer and age does matter
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Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby minime » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:42 am

I've mentioned this before but here goes again. I never distill without a Co2 monitor operating close by. They are extremely sensitive to alcohol vapor and a very inexpensive safety precaution. Would be especially useful in a basement set up using propane!
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Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby mort4 » Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:32 am

A CO meter (monoxide) also works when distilling indoors with propane.It let's you know if your ventilation is good It's not telling you about vapor leaks though. Probably should have both.
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Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby jake_leg » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:31 am

You can also buy dedicated electronic alcohol sensors but it seems like they are generally designed for intermittent use (breath testing) rather than continuous monitoring.

I got a tip from acetate that you can buy the alcohol sensing semiconductor on its own and when I get mine up and running I'll post a DIY how-to. Any bright ideas for the design are welcome. I am thinking it should have

* loud alarm
* visual display
* ability to cut electricity supply to heating element

No idea how you would calibrate such a thing but the main thing is not that it is 100% accurate but that it should be sensitive in all conditions.
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Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby SuburbanStiller » Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:21 pm

I have a 5 foot vertical pipe coming off the top of my pot and I chain that sucker to the rafters in my stillin shed. I see these guys with a keg and a huge tall pipe stuck on with a tri clover fitting, and all these cooling hoses running all over the place. All of my cooling hoses are suspended above the ground. Would scare me to hell to have them where my big ole stupid feet could get wrapped up in them. I'm clumsy, and I know it. These guys with these big keg pots and tall tubes, all it would take is an excited dog, a cat jumping for a moth, or hell a couple of squirrels fighting over a nut, and you'd have 15 gallons of boiling hot mash sloshing on your shins in an instant. No thanks. You could give any of my hoses a yank for all you're worth and all you'd do is pull them off the liebig, mebbe pull the liebig off the top of my uptube. Wouldn't knock over my workings.

This is just me ramblin. To each his own I guess.
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Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby Harry » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:27 pm

Just reading a book on process problems. A timely reminder on safety considering
I've seen more than a few people posting about not turning on the condenser water,
or having hose blow-off issues.

Who here even considers water flow indicators?
Who here lets condensers vent into a closed area?

Consider the following extract...

A small factory in a residential area in the UK recovered solvent by
distillation. The cooling water supply to the condenser, after giving trou-
ble for several weeks, finally failed, and hot vapors were discharged from
a vent inside a building. They exploded, killing one man, injuring another,
and seriously damaging the factory. Some of the surrounding houses
were slightly damaged, and five drums landed outside the factory, one on
a house.
There were no operating or emergency instructions and no indication
of cooling water flow, and drums were stored too near buildings. But, by
far, the most serious error was allowing the vent pipe to discharge inside
the building. If it had discharged outside, the vapor would have dispersed
harmlessly, or at worst. there would have been a small fire on the end of
the vent pipe. Vent pipes are designed to vent, so this was not an unforeseen
leak. The vent pipe may have been placed indoors to try to minimize
smells that had caused some complaints.

Source:
WHAT WENT WRONG? Case Histories of Process Plant Disasters
FOURTH EDITION by Trevor A. Kletz


I have a simple whistle in my condenser vent. If the thing spews steam (water problem),
the whistle blows LOUD like a kettle...


.


Slainte!
regards Harry
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Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby Al Qaemist » Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:25 am

That's good idea Harry - over the last few months I've swapped out my connections to make yanking a hose off impossible.

Also I run a stainless rig, so the heat doesn't travel far from the vapour - this lets me use thermal sensitive stickers on the condenser and liebeg. I want 2 of them to be "hot" and the one nearest the opening to be unchanged - its only a visual indication but means I can see at a glance that its not getting too close to the atmosphere.

Image

I also return my water so it falls a distance into the tank - if the sound of running water stops I'd notice it.
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Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby rockchucker22 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:02 am

The whistle is pure genius!
dancing on wire both ends are on fire
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Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby Bushman » Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:40 am

rockchucker22 wrote:The whistle is pure genius!

+1 all indicators that help with product production and safety are things we as a group should spend more time considering!
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Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby Harry » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:19 pm

rockchucker22 wrote:The whistle is pure genius!

Bushman wrote:
rockchucker22 wrote:The whistle is pure genius!

+1 all indicators that help with product production and safety are things we as a group should spend more time considering!


Thankk you for that. Just thinking outside the square. I made the whistle in about 1/2 an hour out of a copper tube off-cut. I'll do a write-up "how to" & post it when I get time. Fits right in with the "DIY" flavour of this hobby. :D
.


Slainte!
regards Harry
http://distillers.tastylime.net/

Winning the hearts & minds; one post at a time.
(you will be assimilated. resistance is futile.)
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Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby rockchucker22 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:47 pm

I spent all day trying to fit this into my new still, I have 4 vents so I need 4 whistles! Can not be too safe.
dancing on wire both ends are on fire
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Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby singlewhitemalt » Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:48 pm

I know this is an older thread that hasn't seen any action in a while. But, I just discovered it and felt it needed a bump. I have just finished my last spirit run for a while and am currently making upgrades to equipment, space, methodology, and now first and foremost my safety precautions and fail-safes. My set-up was well thought out but, now I feel that some further precautions are in order. Particularly some sort of alert system concerning my condenser flow, gas sensor and, some increased fume containment/dispersal. After all, one can't be too safe.

@Harry: I love the whistle reminds me of the mill whistle in my home town. I grew up hearing it everyday. Later when I went to work there I found out it was simply an enclosed 4" x 2' piece of pipe with a small hole in either end. Just curious if you ever got around to the DIY tutorial. Thanks in advance.


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Re: Stillin' Safety

Postby vadiia » Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:22 am

reads like an electric heat source is the way to go.
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