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aluminum still

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aluminum still

Postby msh » Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:50 pm

I have a friend who wants to make a pot still using an aluminum stock pot. What is the best way to attach the column to it? He's intending use 3/4 or 1 inch copper in a yet to be determined length.
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Re: aluminum still

Postby Azframer » Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:45 pm

My understanding is the mash will eat up the aluminum and will come out in your distilled likker.
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Re: aluminum still

Postby Tracker » Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:53 am

Aluminium apparantly has been used by some but it does not usually last very well, evidenced by the pitting that you find in sauce pans after some use and the heated wash will attack it quicker.
If you plan on using a pot you already posess, yes it will work for a limited time.
If you need to buy a pot, there are better alternatives on the market for a similar cost.
As to fittings,l it will deepend on where you live as to what is available at a reasonable cost but I would imagine a hole in the lid, a threaded nipple with washers & lock nuts and a appropriate size threaded nut soldered to the column should do the trick.

You just have to realize that after you get hooked on distilling you will not be able to resist going bigger and better.


Cheers.
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Re: aluminum still

Postby msh » Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:55 am

I was skeptical when he said he had already bought an aluminum pot because I was unsure how it would react to acid in the mash. I've read various opinions about dangers of aluminum being leached into the distillate. One pursuasive argument I saw regarding it being safe was the use of aluminum cookware, which is commonly used at higher temperatures than that seen in distilling. Aluminum still sounds too unconventional for my taste. During our discussion, I got the impression he was viewing it as an inexpensive way to explore distilling.

What kind of material would be suitable for a gasket sealing the nipple?
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Re: aluminum still

Postby Azframer » Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:37 am

PTFE for you gasket.
Edit= This link is one Myles put up: http://www.directplasticsonline.co.uk/#
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Re: aluminum still

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:16 pm

For more than 40 years, I've made a series of potstills from aluminum canning pressure cookers (3-5 gallons), for me and for friends. I have never worn one out, although I lost one :roflmao: . I've even had one that had spent wash left in it for over a year, with no serious pitting. I did have to rubber-mallet the lid off, though (it was one of the gasketless taper-fit jobs). I still have one for smaller still runs, and I can swap still heads easily between that and my newer 62-liter stainless still.

Although it might not work with the flimsy metal of a stockpot, I get a small plate of thicker aluminum (1/4" works fine) welded to the lid. I then drill it and tap it to accept NPT fittings. The last few times I standardized on 2" NPT, because I now have that tap.

I've told a lot of people that stainless is the best still material, right up until you try to machine it or pay someone to weld or machine it. I still recommend the large aluminum pressure cookers, often available for a song at rural garage sales, for a first real still.

That's my story and I'm stickin' with it. (Of course, I've never tried to use a stock pot, which is a whole 'nother thing)
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and you can eat chicken noodle soup with a crescent wrench. But...
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Re: aluminum still

Postby msh » Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:00 pm

Thanks for the replies. The welded and tapped plate sounds like a good idea. I told my friend about the idea of using a nipple and he seemed to think it was the way to go. I'll let you know how it goes as he works through it.
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Re: aluminum still

Postby Tracker » Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:07 pm

ZB, thumbs up on your canning pot lasting.
I feel though that the stockpots available today may not be quite so substantial.


Cheers.
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Re: aluminum still

Postby Hutch » Sat Dec 04, 2010 4:11 pm

There was a thread on the other forum 3 years ago the had some meaningful info -> http://www.homedistiller.org/forum/view ... t=aluminum (see defcon4's posts). I can't speak to longevity, but it satisfied my concerns regarding the use of aluminum as a boiler. In the end defcon4 was shouted down.

I apologize if it's poor form linking to the other forum.
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Re: aluminum still

Postby minime » Sat Dec 04, 2010 4:25 pm

my first pot was aluminum and it worked alright. Tried with one of the cheaper turkey fryer pots for the second still. That one popped a hole first run. There's cheap and then there's CHEAP............
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Re: aluminum still

Postby msh » Sat Dec 04, 2010 4:54 pm

Thanks for the link. My friend plans to use aluminum until he can get a copper still built. So I don't think it will be a problem anyhow. I don't find it poor form to link to HD. I understand others have had difficulties there, but I've had no experience with them. I appreciate help from any place.
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Re: aluminum still

Postby Mud » Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:34 pm

Hutch wrote:I apologize if it's poor form linking to the other forum


It's no problem to link to the other forum.
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Re: aluminum still

Postby myles » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:45 am

I don't use aluminium in contact with wash, although I have no problem in using it for the outer pot of a double boiler.

I just wish to point out though that I have seen some commercial aluminium pots that seem to be virtually indestructible. I don't know if some are annodised or if it just oxidisation of the surface, or even different composition alloys, but some of them are very hard. Still just as difficult to solder as stainless, and not as convenient to build with as copper.

Are there different types of aluminium pots in the same way as there are different grades of stainless steel pots?
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Re: aluminum still

Postby Tracker » Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:20 am

Myles, I believe you are correct in that some may be aluminium alloy combinations as some are very soft and easily dented whilst others are quite hard.
Hence the difference in opinion as to whether they would make good boilers or not.
Different countries, different terminology, different opinion.


Cheers.
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Re: aluminum still

Postby ScottishBoy » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:00 pm

Dont have a lot to go on this one as it seems that it can and has been done. The only thing I have to add is that Aluminum (for any mammal) is a very dangerous metal as it can take the place of the Potassium Ions inside of brain and nerve cells, rendering them usless. Studies have shown (yes, I know there is a good deal of controversy) that there is a seemingly causal relationship between aluminum cookware, cans and other aluminum exposure and alzheimer's disease as evidenced by post mortem dissection and the presence of nuerofibrillary tangles inside the nerve tissue cells.

Its not that I dont think it cant be used for this application, but I like to give aluminum a wide berth.

I do like sucking on arsnic dipped pens though...;)
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