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Fusel alcohols

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Fusel alcohols

Postby alanmies » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:22 pm

I am a pot distiller and strugling with fusel oils.
Potassium permanganate works well with caustic soda.
But how about this:
http://www.google.com/patents/WO2013010055A1?cl=en
Any experiences?
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:55 pm

I think we need some more background on your problem. It sounds kinda like "What kind of collar does everyone else use to keep their cat from exploding?" The answer (for most of us) is "we don't have that problem, and wouldn't consider that solution."

Are you trying to make absolutely flavorless spirit, but it ends up with flavor? What is your fermentation like (this is a common source of unwanted flavors)? Are you detecting this unpleasantness in heads, tails, or (God forbid) hearts? What kind of still are you running?

Lastly, but often correctly, "are you using a turbo yeast?"
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Alchemist75 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:56 pm

Multi phase separation? I hadn't thought of that though I find a good, slow spirit run with some baking soda makes it easy to get a decent tail head/tail cut. The heart isn't "flavorless" but it is pretty light. Maybe try running slower?
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:37 am

Baking soda can work with a first distillation pass, as long as you don't have enough yeast nutrient to cause the formation of Schweizer's reagent (blue distillate), unless of course you are trying for a flavored spirit like whiskey, rum, or brandy, in which case the esters you need for flavor are driven back to the alcohol/acid side of the equation, giving a loss of flavor.

If it really is fusels (higher alcohols) ester suppression won't help at all; I think most of those alcohols are formed at fermentation time. Can you give us a clue as to why you think the problem is fusels, rather than esters, ketones, aldehydes, or other congeners?

Alchemist75, since you are running glass stills, you'd never see the cupro-ammonium compound Schweizer's reagent, even with elevated pH and lots of ammonium compounds, but it's a problem for people running copper stills..
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Alchemist75 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:10 am

Well I do use copper packing but I'm not sure if that matters or not. It certainly cleans things up. My largest boiler is glass but my spirit always gets copper contact. Does it effect things more than I know?
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:06 am

No. If you've got copper and are not seeing blue distillate, you're doing just fine. I only raise the issue because it used to be a common complaint on some of the distillation forums, usually the result of hyper-nutrition (turbo yeast) and high pH from bicarb or something else.
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Alchemist75 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:21 am

Ah, yeah, I only use bicarbonate or regular salt on a spirit run to fool with the boiling points a bit. I've used sodium carbonate before in an attempt to split esters on the spirit run but that actually made my product taste awful. No blue though at any point. Perhaps it's not the equipment he's using, maybe it's the ferment itself? Not enough info....
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:58 pm

I'm stuck at "not enough info", too.
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Saltbush Bill » Sat Nov 25, 2017 4:04 pm

Zymurgy Bob wrote:I'm stuck at "not enough info", too.

Aint we all, the question as is leaves nothing to work with.
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby pintoshine » Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:47 am

I have found that most who struggle with fusel oils also struggle with fermentation.
Long drawn out fermentations that started at too high gravity and not enough nutrients are usually to blame. White wine fermentation being one of the worst for fusels is a good example.
I struggled with this for many years until I figured out the magic combo of nutrients and gravity.

The other point that causes fusel oil struggle is the fact that most don't understand that fusels come over at a vapor temp of 202F to 203F on a pot still. If you are distilling 9% it starts to boil at 200F. that doesn't leave much room for collecting spirits. Worse is if you are distilling 5%. Then the whole run is tails. If you double distill, collecting several stripping runs and put 35% back in the pot then you start boiling at 185F. now you have some room to collect 150% for a while before you get to 202F. This eliminates two =problems. First the alcohol is high enough proof to do something with and the greed factor is lessened because there is so uch of it that is really good after the heads.

Last point is that alkaline chemicals make fusels worse because of saponification. It is much better to use the acidic action of wash, wort or mash to break down fusels into something that goes out with the spent stillage. Saponification just makes a foaming mess that ake lots of nasty foam. I recycle all my heads and tails back into stripping runs. After about 4 batches the amount of heads and tails remains constant. No more and no less. It increases the amount of good tasty layers of flavor as a bonus and increases my yield about 15 to 30% for the stripping and spirit runs.
Distill safe. Make good cuts. Enjoy yourself. Give as much as you take. Have fun doing this incredibly hard work. Be a good example. It's your hobby.
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Alchemist75 » Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:30 pm

pintoshine wrote:

Last point is that alkaline chemicals make fusels worse because of saponification. It is much better to use the acidic action of wash, wort or mash to break down fusels into something that goes out with the spent stillage. Saponification just makes a foaming mess that ake lots of nasty foam. I recycle all my heads and tails back into stripping runs. After about 4 batches the amount of heads and tails remains constant. No more and no less. It increases the amount of good tasty layers of flavor as a bonus and increases my yield about 15 to 30% for the stripping and spirit runs.


Right here^
You just confirmed my observation when I tried the sodium carbonate experiment. It made my typically decent tasting early tails absolutely awful and left a mess in my boiler. So I'm not alone in seeing this phenomenon after all....
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Kareltje » Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:25 pm

Yes Alchemist75, that crossed my mind too!

I want to run a collection of tails. Should I first use some acid to break down fusels in it?
Another procedure is to mix it with some cream, take off the fatt with fusels and precipitate the protein with lemon juice. Invented by NZChris.

And than Pintoshine: what is your perfect combination of nutrients and gravity?
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Alchemist75 » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:08 pm

Kareltje wrote:Another procedure is to mix it with some cream, take off the fatt with fusels and precipitate the protein with lemon juice. Invented by NZChris.


I might be inclined to add excess salt as an aspect of this process to further encourage fusel uptake into the fat employed......I've yet to attempt this sort of technique to remove fuels.
Seems like I read somewhere that certain breeds of Vodka are diluted back with milk on the second or third run, I wonder if that has a similar effect (?).
I've been running glass stills for over 20 years now and have no shame in saying so.
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Alchemist75 » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:35 pm

Yeah, here it is:
http://www.farmaco.ru/eng/aa2.html
Not clear if this is really effective or not but it looks interesting.
I've been running glass stills for over 20 years now and have no shame in saying so.
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Re: Fusel alcohols

Postby Kareltje » Fri Dec 01, 2017 7:14 pm

In this thread http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... =1&t=68640 I try to discuss the cleaning of wodka with milk. That is about fusels, of course.
The heads are cleaned with baking, washing or caustic soda.

I just started a test with about 1 litre of 40 %ABV tails and about 40 ml of cream. It already separated in different layers. We will see (and smell?) what happens in a few days.
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