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Boka Reflux Still - How To Build - Distillers Wiki
Boka Reflux Still - How To Build
From Distillers Wiki
The Bokakob (Boka or Bok for short) is the common name for a Dual Slant-Plate Single Column In-line Reflux Still designed by Alex Bokakob in 2001. The still was originally designed with a fairly small reflux column to sit atop a stove-top boiler, and has seen significant modifications and improvements over the years. This still is popular with many novices for its simplicity to build and operate, while being able to yield 95% ABV neutral spirits. It can also have its packing material removed and function as an adequate pot still. It is classified as a Liquid Management or LM Column reflux still.
1 History 2 Column and Slanted Plates 3 Condenser 4 Boiler 5 Heat source 6 Column packing 7 Thermometer 8 Output Tube & Needle Valve 9 Safety considerations 10 Cleaning and prep for use 10.1 Post-build cleaning runs 11 Operation instructions 12 Optional extras 12.1 Detachable head 12.2 Reflux centering
The original Boka photo and plan specs
Bokakob created a series of reflux still design drawings that were widely circulated after they were created in 2001. (http://homedistiller.org/photos-alex.htm) This particular still featured a short (2ft/.67m) column made of 1.5" copper pipe attached to a stove-top pot boiler, and only required three joints to be soldered (the upper and lower plate, and take-off tube). Various discussions on Yahoo and HomeDistiller.org resulted in many design variations and improved efficiencies. The still was named after its designer Alex, who had a Yahoo username of Bokakob, but web discussions with poor spelling or simple abbreviation led many to refer to the still as a Bokabob, Boka and Bok.
Column and Slanted Plates
5" (38 mm) column.homedistiller. All other things being equal.  (http://homedistiller. but may make attachments more difficult to fit. and subsequently cheapest and best value. The width of the column directly impacts the speed at which distillate can be collected. the heat put into the still has to be lower to keep the vapor speed in the column at an appropriate speed so the reflux can occur properly. all other things being equal.org/forum/viewtopic.sizes.) The most common and recommended size for simple hobby distillation is a 2" width. meaning that it fits the couplers.5" (38mm).[ (http://homedistiller.  (http://www. it has temperature and pressure ratings and warnings which do not apply to our neutral pressure systems  (http://homedistiller. but the cost of materials increases exponentially and availability diminishes.org/forum/viewtopic.  (http://homedistiller. Also note that stainless steel may require more industrial type of equipment and skill to weld than copper which requires simple soldering.com/materls/pipeCopper. M is the thinnest and is a better value of pipe for our purposes. Also note that well polished copper is very pretty.26. Column Width The original Boka was built with a 1. In actuality. Due to its thin walls.homedistiller.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 2/18 . Synthetic materials other than PTFE are unsuitable. more heat can be applied while maintaining proper vapor speed. choose the copper. Many Boka builders quickly realized that a 2" (50mm) column yielded almost twice the distillate as the 1.htm) K is the thickest but is commonly not found at retail outlets. regardless of the thickness of the pipe. with a narrow column. which is the basis of the reflux design) or be drawn-off for collection. L is the most common and is a standard thickness. so insulation is less critical. Don't forget to look at connectors which can be harder to procure than pipes.php?f=2&t=3662) See rule #8  (http://homedistiller. DWV (which stands for Drain Waste Valve) is the thinnest by far. Stainless does not suffer as greatly from heat loss. With a wider column.org/forum/viewtopic.org/forum/viewtopic. L.php?f=15&t=18093) Your column should ALWAYS be properly vented and no pressure buildup should be possible. 3" copper male and female screw adapters are pretty rare. etc that are sold retail. M and DWV.How To Build .php?f=35&t=5090) Most pipe also comes in varying thicknesses: K.php?f=17&t=18926) ] A 3" (76 mm) column allows for even more speed.2012 Boka Reflux Still . made sure that you check the accompanying fittings before you buy to make sure it will all assemble easily and be solderable. and was still reasonably cost effective. If you are going to use DWV.php?f=2&t=749&start=0) A Great Diagram of a Boka by Samohon Availability and local price will probably be the greatest determiner of which material to use. The first decision you'll make when making a Boka is usually the width of your column. A 2" column will allow wiki. Materials The column of your still should be made from copper or stainless steel. (ie. and the overall yield of properly refluxed distillate will increase. and is usually impacted by costs and local availability. even in full reflux. Stainless is inert.09. If you have pressure buildup in your column it could explode. caps.org/forum/viewtopic. and copper actually assists in creating a clean flavor in the final product by removing sulfides as vapors come in contact with the copper as they travel through the column.php?f=46&t=18123)  (http://www.org/forum/viewtopic. Some of the distillate will fall to the dual slanted plates which can then overflow (allowing the distillate to fall back into the packing.Distillers Wiki General Theory The single in-line reflux column of the Boka is meant to carry vapors from the boiler up through packing material for reflux and up to the condenser. This will impact the condenser and boiler sizes you need.
At the bottom of the "pool" there is a take-off tube which can be opened to collect the distillate. The recommended packed height of a reflux column is 48" to 60" (120cm to 150cm). It is possible to make the column shorter than that.5" to 1" (15-25mm). and reflux would need to be increased to maintain pure output.org/forum/viewtopic.they are independent variables  (http://homedistiller. and spacing The slanted plates (not to be confused with reflux plates or trays such as bubble caps or perforated plates discussed elsewhere) in the Bokakob design are set at an angle below the condenser coil so that the upper plate collects distillate from just over half of the column and directs it onto the other lower plate. the capacity of the column to produce high alcohol distillate is reduced. but they break down quickly when diameter changes to other values. which will slow down operation. The recommended column height to width ratios for a 2" column are between 12:1 to 30:1. but distillate was wiki. and ceiling height also becomes an issue.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 3/18 .org/reflux_calc.2012 Boka Reflux Still .150cm) range. the next step is to figure out how much pipe you'll need. Samohon's Blueprint of the Slanted Plates on a Boka The ideal placement for the plates should be such that the upper plate is just below the condenser. and also varies with different packing materials read more at the reflux still design page on the Homedistiller parent site  (http://homedistiller.homedistiller. Columns with as little packed height as 12" (30cm) can still achieve near azeotrope. the "pool" overflows and a notched recess in the lower plate allows this overflow to fall back into the middle of the packing material of the column below. These are accurate in a 2" column. If the take-off tube is only partially opened or is left closed. In earlier designs the upper plate was connected to the bottom of the condensing coil. until you run into the 50"-60" (125cm. Plate angle. (depending on column height and desired purity) while a 3" column can almost double that.26. The packed height (the amount of column height taken up by packing) of the column directly impacts the purity of the distillate you are able to produce.php?f=17&t=15467&start=60) .09. beyond which there is little benefit building taller. You can build it as short as you like. and if you have the space and money for the materials. All else being equal. Column height One you've figured out which width of pipe you are getting.htm) Most 2" (50mm) columns would have between 36" (90cm) and 50" (125cm) of packed height.php? f=17&t=15467&start=15) For some detailed expaination on the theory behind how packing height and reflux influences column efficiency.  (http://homedistiller.htm) . The interactive design calculators are especially useful for determining how your still will behave and where it's theoretical performance limits lie. tails). Beyond that there is very little benefit in additional packed height.How To Build . which allows more distance for the vapour to travel while mingling with downcoming reflux and form a temperature gradient. A taller column allows for more packing material. and also mislead new distillers into thinking that wider columns require more height . placement. about 0. This allows for further reflux and purification of the distillate. which means higher alcohol content in the distillate and better separation of undesirable fractions (heads.org/refluxdesign. but are very slow to run at those purities.Distillers Wiki for around 1 to 2 quarts or litres output an hour.  (http://homedistiller. plus another 8-10" (20-25cm) for the plates and condenser. Some people like to talk about column height in a ratio with column diameter. however. it is better to have a taller column.org/forum/viewtopic. but as the packed height is reduced. The lower plate is angled towards the wall of the column and collects a "pool" of distillate.
org/forum/download/file.2012 Boka Reflux Still .org/forum/viewtopic.org/forum/viewtopic. You also need to ensure that both plates pass the center of the column. mitres and saw box Cutting the slanted plate grooves in the column can be difficult.26. For a 2" column. If you are using a template or your column has been pre-marked with the desired cut locations.org/forum/viewtopic. This link is to a revised 2010 template  (http://homedistiller.php?f=17&t=17857&start=26)  (http://homedistiller. So. Once to proper shape they can be soldered or brazed into place. Once the column has grooves cut to accommodate the plates.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 4/18 Pikluk's Boka Head . or overlap in a vertical plane.How To Build . The angle is only important to the extent that the take-off tube is submerged in the "pool" of distillate. If you are lucky enough to have a chop saw with a compound mitre box. you may be able to cut the grooves with that.homedistiller. you can use a Dremel or hand-drill with a black Dremel cutting wheel to cut the column grooves.org/forum/download/file.  (http://homedistiller. The spacing of the plates. while you need to wiki.org/forum/viewtopic. you need to know the size of your condenser coil.09. or shrunk down for smaller columns. There is no need to pre-cut the plates into elliptical shape before the grooves have been cut.php? f=2&t=8794) Templates For those who don't want to go through the trouble of measuring and marking their column with the proper placing of the plates. ensure that your printer isn't scaling the image at all. then ground or cut to be smooth. Others have found success using a hacksaw or two hacksaw blades side by side to accommodate the width of the plates.php?f=32&t=15948) There is a nice diagram of the Boka head here. (ie.  (http://homedistiller. several generous souls have created easy to use templates that are pre-marked with the proper plate positions for a 2" column. A standard mitre box will not work since you need the angle to be cut around a different axis than a standard mitre box can provide.  (http://homedistiller. Building your coil and deciding its placement and measuring where it will end in the column need to be completed before deciding on placement of your slanted plates. The original design also required the condenser/plate assembly be perfectly rotated to align with the lower plate or collection would suffer. missing the lower plate and collection "pool". The general consensus is that 0. (A normal one only allows 'yaw'. This approximates the cross-sectional area of the column with the packing material in place. the vertical space that is left between them) needs to be sufficient to not constrict flow of vapor up the column. These can be printed and taped to your column in the proper position and the cuts can be made through the template.php?f=17&t=1757&start=15) More extreme angles (>30Âº) will require more material to construct and will not provide any benefit. They can be scaled up 50% for a 3" column. which is cut along its edge )parallel to direction of the pipe) and beaten flat with a hammer.Distillers Wiki able to drip down the sides of the column and then would not properly mingle with upcoming vapour. The angle of the slanted plates has traditionally been at 30 degrees of angle from horizontal.php?id=2468&mode=view) The plates are typically made from a scrap section of copper pipe.php?id=7005) Cutting. the rectangular plates can be inserted into the grooves and marked with the correct shape. If your plates do not overlap then distillate will fall of the upper plate back into the column.75 to 1" (1725mm) is best in a 2" (50mm) column. Later designs have the upper plate soldered to the column independent of the coil. Too small of a space may increase vapor speed in the column after the constriction and minimize the time the vapor spends condensing at the condenser coils. though those using a compound mitre box may only have a 45Âº slot.  (http://homedistiller. for proper placement of the slanted plates.
Also.homedistiller. or its proper name. which is wound in spiral downwards.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 5/18 .wikipedia.26..datafilehost. Check your soldering to ensure the column has no leaks and the output tube functions properly. Measure and cut the grooves for the slanted plates just below the condenser. Pikluk's un-assembled Boka head Condenser General theory A condenser is a section of coiled tubing (usually copper. but many users have found removing the salt after coiling difficult or impossible without high pressure. To function correctly the condenser must be of such a size or temperature that none of the vapors can exit the column as a vapor.Distillers Wiki adjust the 'roll')  (http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic. There is a great tutorial by Hookline on how to wind this condenser by hand here:  (http://www.org/wiki/Condenser_%28laboratory%29) It is constructed from one continuous piece of copper tubing. then install the plates and solder into place. and then continued into a second larger spiral wound outside the original spiral back upwards. but isn't too difficult with some practice and simple household tools. and only then install the upper plate. This coolant reduces the surface temperature of the coil which is placed inside the top of the column. many spring door stops fit 1/4" tubing and work just as well.e. As the boiler is heated.org/forum/viewtopic.artisan-distiller. vapors begin to rise through the column. (If you are using later plate designs. they condense to a liquid and fall back down the column where they are collected by the slanted plates for takeoff or return to the column. Both the input and output are at the top of the coil.net/phpBB3/viewtopic. It is more difficult to make than a single coil.  (http://homedistiller.html) An alternate method is featured here which uses a jig and more tools:  (http://www. you may need to install the lower plate first. DixieDrifter's example of a common dual-wound condenser coil. When these vapors come in contact with the condenser. wiki.) Drill holes for temperature port and output tube and solder them into place. Measure the height of the condenser installed on the column and mark your column. You probably want to solder each plate and its corresponding tube at the same time so you don't melt nearby solder.php?f=11&t=1689) Keep in mind that filling your coil with salt will greatly minimize the risk of kinking the coil.How To Build .09. then bend down its reflux drip tab.php?f=2&t=5810) It is better described as a single-path double-concentric counter-wind condenser. flammable vapors near a heating source). Check to ensure the slanted plates overlap inside your column. Skip to next section and build a condenser.  (http://en.com/download-44b26f83. It is commonly referred to as a 'double helix' coil. the Dimroth Condenser. though it is not. if you don't want to buy a spring-style coil bender. Concentric dual-coil This is the most popular type of condenser used in a Boka. which would be both wasteful and potentially dangerous (i. but occasionally stainless) which has coolant running through it.2012 Boka Reflux Still .php?f=17&t=5829&start=165) Summary of building process Find a suitable pipe for your column of proper width and length for your needs.
html) Using a cold finger For either of the above designs. or to better distribute the weight of coolant lines coming to the condenser.09.php?t=2535) Sealed/capped The condenser needs to sit inside the top of the column in order to condense the rising vapors into distillate that can be collected.com/download44b26f83. Width/size A 6"(150mm) condenser in a 2"(50mm)column is strong enough to condense all of the water vapor put off at full boil of plain water from 2400 watts of heat. creating a uniform spiral path for upward airflow in-line with the coils of the condenser. a long coil can create substantial back pressure which may inhibit the ability to use coolant circulated by a pump. cutting. This is a Friedrichs condenser  (http://en. and accordingly many disillers leave the still open at the top. especially with columns larger than 2" (50mm) Keep in mind that it may be difficult to fit a cold-finger inside the traditional dual-coil used on a 2" (50mm) column. you should plan on about 8-12 (200-300mm) inches of 1/4" (6. a 6" (150mm) condenser is ample:  (http://homedistiller.homedistiller. there may not be adequate outlet for the pressure inside the column which would eventually lead to catastrophic failure of the column and/or rapid release of vaporized ethanol near a heat source.php?f=15&t=17456&start=0) It requires more tools.  Coil with a cold-finger (http://homedistiller. In addition to reducing back-pressure. If you use a cap it is critical to ensure that it has enough vent holes that so the column cannot build pressure. For most applications. This type of coil can be constructed using the same methods as the dual coil. If the condenser is of adequate size and temperature it will condense all of the vapors and no cap or seal is needed at the top of the column.4mm) copper tubing for every linear inch of wiki. The Boka can run perfectly fine without any cap or lid above a suitable condenser.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 6/18 Nuddy's single-wound condenser coil .  (http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic. The solution is to have a cold-finger run down the center of the coil.How To Build . both of which can cause serious injury or death. which requires more condensing power than ethanol at regular distilling temperatures.datafilehost. For smaller columns a single coil may fit better.org/forum/viewtopic. a double coil may not be able to be wound narrow enough to fit in the column.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=16225&start=0) When calculating the length of tubing needed to create a concentric dual-coil condenser for a standard 2" (50mm) column.org/wiki/Condenser_%28laboratory%29) which is constructed from a single piece of copper tubing which runs straight down to the bottom of the coil with no winds and is then coiled in a spiral around the central tube back upwards. skill and soldering but yields a superior condenser.php?f=17&t=15762&start=6) If you do not vent the top of the column. and is pictured here:  (http://www. the cold finger also Rudi33's Dual-Concentric increases surface area in the coil and increases efficiency. just skipping the first half:  (http://www.org/forum/viewtopic.26. A cold-finger is a larger diameter tube down the center that is soldered to the outer coil or coils so that it also carries the flowing coolant.Distillers Wiki Single coil For columns narrower than 2" (50mm).2012 Boka Reflux Still .wikipedia.homedistiller. Many builders use a cap to hold the condenser perfectly in the center of the column. A true double-helix with a cold finger is among the most efficient condensers.
If your coil is in place and running. If you are using municipal water from a hose. should closest to boiler. This flow is the 'opposite' direction of the vapor flow. cost of water disposal.26. the coldest part of the coolant should enter the top of the coil and exit through the center line or cold finger. Pressure/pump If you are using municipal water for your coolant water supply. plus the input and output tubes. 4. For a single coil or a coil with a cold finger. is the coldest part of the condenser should be furthest away from the boiler.09. then you can install a 'garden hose to 1/4" compression fitting' to the input of the condenser. Be sure you have your condenser water lines hooked up the 'right' way. pool) and pumped through the condenser using a pump.  (http://homedistiller. any type of tubing can be used for the condenser input and output. If you are using a recirculating pump.) A marine bilge pump or sump pump can be purchased at many local hardware stores or marine supply stores. 3. It is easy and cheap to put a pure copper scrubber into the center of the coil where the largest void is which maximizes condenser contact to vapors and minimizes unobstructed airflow through the middle of a condenser with no cold finger. 9 feet (3m) of tubing will yield about 7" (175mm) of dual-coil condenser. as there is significantly lower backpressure. You can also check the temperature of the coolant exiting the condenser to gauge its efficiency. The size of the pump needed largely depends on the type of condenser (back-pressure created by dual-coil condensers without cold-fingers can be double that of single coil or cold-fingered coils.org/forum/viewtopic.4mm)tubing. including various plastics. bathtub. and exit the inner coil. Some forethought might be needed to keep heavier tubing from bending condenser lines that exit the column parallel to the ground. and the warmer part of the condenser. Special care should also be taken to ensure the coolant out line cannot kink and shutoff water flow when it warms up and softens. you can increase the condensation rate in four ways: 1. Connection to water source The connection between your condenser and your water source will depend largely on your water source. In a dual-coil. Simply bending the lines towards the ground after exiting the column should be enough in most applications. bucket. the coldest water should enter into the outside coil.php?f=17&t=6987) Some distillers also opt to route the hot coolant wiki. though the increase in efficiency for a dual-coil is minimal.Distillers Wiki dual-coil condenser desired.)  (http://homedistiller. Wider tubing can however be of benefit to those planning on using a pump to recirculate coolant. Faster flow rates introduce more coolant and minimize coolant temperature increase. or that part which carries out the water. Those users may choose to use a recirculating system in which coolant is stored in a tank (Ie: barrel. Many users find that running water through a condenser for several hours can use more water than desired due to cost of water. Do NOT use a flame to test for full vapor condensation. Add surface area to your condenser. but varies based on the space between the each turn of the coil.How To Build . (Ie. but not so wide that it contacts the walls of the column which could warm it and drop its efficiency.php?f=17&t=12217) The condenser should be wide enough to fill the majority of the column. You can lower the temperature of the water or coolant entering the system. Because the coolant does not come in contact with the distillate. 2. or simply water availability. Wider tubing can be used though it is more difficult to bend and is less efficient at heat transfer than smaller 1/4" (6.homedistiller. For those with re-circulating systems this might mean changing water more often or adding ice to your holding tank.2012 Boka Reflux Still .org/forum/viewtopic. there should be no issues with pressure regardless of your type of condenser. then the pump tubing will have to be adapted to your condenser tubing. Water temperature in the storage tank also impacts the amount of water the pump must recirculate (Ice can be added to a tank to keep water cold as it re-circulates through the system. which keeps the condenser more efficient along its entire length. Coil efficiency You can test your coil is working correctly by holding a glass mirror above the coil during operation and looking for condensation on the mirror.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 7/18 . The right way. You can increase the flow rate of the coolant.
a pot still). It is important not to overpower the column. Column packing General theory Vapors moving from the boiler through the column to the condenser would exit the still in the same composition as they boiled off in the boiler at if the column was completely empty (i.homedistiller. Check the condenser to ensure it has proper flow and isn't kinked closed. so a 3" will need roughly double that. Summary of building process Determine the style of condenser that will fit your column. and reboil. To achieve higher purity ethanol than this initial vapour has. Make sure it is stainless steel (or copper).net/photoalbum/main. parts ability. 2000W is sufficent for 2" (50mm) columns. empty and clean. reflux needs to occur via a repeated condensation and reboiling inside the column. This heat can come from a kitchen stove for a small Boka (however there will be problems with the elements cycling on and off too coarsly). Use the guides above to wind your condenser to the proper shape and size.2012 Boka Reflux Still . and also how we keep taking pure hearts while suppressing tails components like fusel oils. or modify it so it will be easy to perform these tasks. and available tools. with the lower boiling point fractions (like heads components or ethanol) reboiling more readily and rising to the top of the column near the takeoff point. needs and local availability that will be easy for you to fill. Attach any hardware needed to hold the condenser in place on the column and add hardware to connect the condenser to a coolant source and coolant output tube. Soak in dilute vinegar to clean it and make it pretty. and at worst the still could choke and puke. Make any modifications necessary and connect the column. Heat source Main Article: Heat source The entire still operation depends on the contents of the boiler being boiled so that vapors can rise up the column. Packing material is inserted inside the column to provide surface area upon which downcoming cool reflux and upcoming hot vapour can mingle. checking for fit in your column. while a larger Boka is usually heated by a standard propane burner or an electric heater element installed inside the boiler.php?cmd=image&var1=pint_o_shine%2Falcoholvapor.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 8/18 .26.09. This is how we concentrate heads for extraction. This cycle is continued up the column. and the higher boiling point fractions like fusel oils or water end up in the lower part of the column.e.gif&var2=0_0) .How To Build . as at best it will wreck the packing's effectiveness. reducing the need for a large cooling reservoir. condense.artisandistiller. pushing large amounts of hot liquid out the top of the column. acting as a whole series of pot still distillations.you can see the initial vapour composition by drawing a line across the water-ethanol phase diagram (http://www. The heat input required for efficent operation depends on the diameter of the column.Distillers Wiki through a heat exchanger such as an automotive radiator. It is desirable to be able to be control heat somewhat finely. or back in the boiler. Boiler Main Article: Boiler Choose a boiler that meets your budget. but more is needed for larger columns in proportion with the increase in the area of the column. There is good detail on the theory and implications of this on the parent site reflux design section wiki.
In small-scale distillation. as they achieve the best (i.php?f=41&t=1107)  (http://homedistiller.htm) .org/forum/viewtopic. and is more or less a measure of how well your packing is working. There are many discussions linked here on different brands that have proven to be pure:  (http://homedistiller. Materials must also have as large a surface area as possible. dissolve. can be calculated. and at the same time offer as little resistance as possible to the gas and liquid flows inside the column. these stages are separated by actual physical plates or trays. It should be easy to clean. An amazingly detailed discussion of packing materials can be found on the parent site (http://homedistiller.com/Copper-Mesh-P947C94. the greater the surface area of the packed material inside the column. which is usually far more cost effective than having to buy lots of scrubbers.org/forum/viewtopic. Scrubbers or mesh should be copper or stainless steel. Theoretical plates The amount of purity that a column can produce is directly linked to the type of packing used (amongst other factors).org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 9/18 .html) (who also ship worldwide quite cheaply) or Brewhaus (http://www. melt.htm) . lowest) HETP. the more iterations of condensing and reboiling can occur. burn.php?f=17&t=4552)  (http://homedistiller. and without the uncertainty about composition the materials that you have with scrubbers. Is is essential that they be made from either pure stainless steel or pure copper.brewhaus.org/reflux_calc.com/Structured-PureCopper-Mesh-Column-Packing--1-pound_p_6. In simple terms.org/refluxdesign. While the calculations for calculating theoretical plates are complicated (for details. Packing material must be something that wonâ€™t compress too much.php? f=15&t=14990)  (http://homedistiller. but the number of stages of reflux.org/refluxdesign. other materials are more practical.org/equations.org/forum/viewtopic. see the HETPequations (http://homedistiller. wiki. You can find this out for your still design with the parent site's interactive design calculators (http://homedistiller. and therefore how many theoretical plates there are in your still is packing surface area. known as structured copper packing. it should not settle or pack down in the column. but will need cleaning occasionally.htm) on the parent site]. don't use it.How To Build .aspx) also carry copper scrubber-like material.09. while copper has the benefit of aiding the removal of sulfides from the product.homedistiller.2012 Boka Reflux Still . along the reflux calculators that can help you compare packing materials (ie. If a magnet sticks to a scrubber. In many commercial stills.amphora-society. Many scrubbers can be Scrubbers coated with the right material. You can hold a magnet against a scrubber to quickly and easily test if it has steel inside. Scrubbers or mesh are the most desirable commonly used packing material.Distillers Wiki (http://homedistiller. and eventual replacement. Stainless has the advantage of not degrading.org/forum/viewtopic.e. the key factor influencing "height equivilent to theoretical plate".php? f=17&t=13232) Some brewing supply companies like The Amphora Society (http://www. Scrubbers and structured mesh Common household pot-scrubbers are one of the most efficient materials that can be used for packing. The "height equivilant to a theoretical plate" or HETP which you may come across refers to how much column height is needed to make up one theoretical plate. and above all. but have steel inside and will quickly rust or disintegrate upon repeated use. These stages of reflux are referred to as theoretical plates as they occur inside a packed column. or release impurities or undesirable chemicals into the column. calculating your height equivilant to a theoretical plate). and they are easily found at many home retailers.26.htm) . or theoretical number of plates.
however. however.gif&var2=0_0) ). or a detachable head that can be used without the whole column is desirable.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 10/18 . The type of support you will need will vary depending on the type of connection between your boiler and column. The theory was that the temperature should be uniform in the column and temperature changes in the middle of the column could be noticed before the distillate being collected higher up changed. (http://dir. if you are using mesh or scrubbers. Removing packing for pot still mode If there is no packing in the column. the temperature will allow you to know when your still has begun to reflux. While it is often shunned by potstillers. near the middle of the column. there is nearly no surface area in the column upon which vapors can reflux. Later. They are a less effective packing than mesh or scrubbers. and be more expensive.How To Build . They do have the benefit of being more durable and last longer than many of the other materials. the temperature lets you judge the purity of the distillate output without having to measure it with an alcometer. or to assist in adjusting the correct amount of reflux.groups. Containing packing Packing needs to stay in your column while the still is running.homedistiller.yahoo.net/photoalbum/main. This allows a Boka to function as a pot still. Placement The original Boka design called for the thermometer to be placed in the packing. so insulation. Marbles Glass marbles can be used as packing.26.php? cmd=image&var1=pint_o_shine%2Falcoholvapor. this is likely to be unnessesary. Again. If you are using something other than mesh or scrubbers. makes them the least desirable of common packing materials. as it relates directly to the purity of ethanol vapour at that point (see the ethanol / water phase diagram (http://www. and when to cut to tails. At the beginning of the run.com/group/new_distillers/message/16745) Later designs call for the thermometer to be wiki. They are pretty common and are very easy to clean. achieving a lower HETP and also requiring something inside the column to contain them. Their low surface area and need for a container. Some condensation can form on the walls of the column. This is commonly referred to as a de-tuned or un-packed Boka.Distillers Wiki Raschig rings Raschig rings are hollow cylinders made of unglazed ceramic material. thus allowing for better cuts.09. you will probably need to plan on including some type of screen or soldered supports to keep the packing material from falling out of the column and into the boiler. They are made in many sizes but the Â¼" diameter is perfect for this kind of column. in reflux distillation the thermometer becomes a invaluable tool to indicate when to begin collecting the distillate.artisan-distiller. and the type of packing used. They may be more difficult to locate than other packing materials. Raschig rings Thermometer General theory A thermometer allows you to monitor the vapor temperature as you distill. Temperature is the primary feedback in optimizing your distillation.2012 Boka Reflux Still .
A plain hole can be drilled into the side. and then the thermometer can be sealed into this tube using cork. For heavier thermometers. feel that over-dependence on a thermometer can be a crutch that will prevent good cuts.  (http://www.homedistiller.homedistiller. the still has a very small amount of reflux.php?f=2&t=434)  (http://homedistiller. if you are using a digital thermometer with a metal probe.org/forum/viewtopic.php? f=36&t=8804&start=2) Both locations have their merits.  (http://homedistiller. Alternatively. so it can be difficult to use a glass thermometer. are often more sensitive to minor changes in temperature. shielding the thermometer from falling distillate. and by the time you taste them.php? f=1&t=1110) Pikluk's Boka head with thermo probe inserted Output Tube & Needle Valve General theory The lower slanted plate inside the column of the Boka collects distillate that has been condensed. while sometimes inaccurate to several degrees.09. A thermometer isn't 100% necessary to run a reflux still.org/forum/viewtopic.Distillers Wiki placed above the top of the packing.  (http://homedistiller. a short section of 1/4" or 3/8" tube can be soldered into a hole in the column. Distillate that drops down into the packing during the reflux process can have a different temperature than the vapor and make it more difficult to properly identify the minute changes in vapor pressure that denote change in purity or composition of the vapor.How To Build .php?f=17&t=15513) Need The temperature readings only give an idea of when vapor purity or content are changing and some distillers. At the lowest point of this pool. Digital thermometers. you can use a compression fitting to keep the probe in place and seal the column. This distillate forms a pool which will eventually overflow and fall back down into the column as reflux.26. Placements further down the column can provide advance notice of changes occuring before they influence output. just below the upper slanted plate. mainly generated wiki.2012 Boka Reflux Still . which has a hole into which the thermometer is inserted.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 11/18 . flour paste. as undesirable fractions like tails can be very hard to detect using taste and smell at high alcohol levels. and thermometers should be chosen according to these needs. If all of the distillate falls back into the column. If this outlet is opened completely and no pool is able to form or fall back into the column. but the consensus would be that placement above the packing is most useful.org/forum/viewtopic. the still is said to be in '100% reflux' or 'total reflux'.org/forum/viewtopic. especially of pot stils. but thermometers there are best seen as suplementary to the essential top thermometer. but will make it much easier to run in an optimal fashion. or 'equilibriating'.1C change. a small tube serves as an outlet where the distillate can be drawn off. or pure PTFE plumbers/thread tape. and plugged with a cork stopper. Materials Many methods can be used to get a thermometer reading from the column. it's too late! Type Many reflux distillers will change valve settings or cut to tails based on a 0. Sensing fine changes in temperature is much more important than a highly accurate temperature reading.
DIY valve wiki. This seal may be made of plastic.Distillers Wiki by condensation on the underside of the slant plates due to cold reflux falling on them and passive heat loss throughout the column (these two things are what prevent a Boka from being completely the same as a pot still when detuned).php?f=2&t=8717) If you use brass. Many similar valves are less efficient and lack the amount of control needed to properly adjust a column for the best amount of reflux. Try to ensure you get a needle valve with a PTFE seal. It is best to drill and solder this tube after soldering in the plates. This demands a very precise method for controlling the amount of distillate that is removed from the output tube. use a copper outlet tube. and are usually available in either brass or stainless steel.How To Build . A needle valve is the best choice.php? f=33&t=16707) Compression fitting needle valves are very popular.) Stainless steel needle valves tend to be much higher in quality. though you may choose a 3/8" (9mm) output tube. don't forget to pickle it to get rid of any lead that may be in or on it.org/forum/viewtopic. Others feel it is overkill and sticking with 1/4" (6mm) is cheaper and perfectly acceptable  (http://homedistiller. but some brass contains lead.php? f=2&t=13871) . Note that nearly every commercially available needle valve has some sort of seal or seat.2012 Boka Reflux Still . (http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic. Brass valves are far more common locally and much less expensive. If you have a copper column.26. ensuring that it is placed in the lowest possible position above the plate for maximum drainage. as they will not require soldering. Some of the DIY options below are available without any seals and may be a better choice for distillers concerned about synthetics. and thus the reflux ratio. but will be lead-free and highly adjustable and accurate  (http://homedistiller.php?f=17&t=16770&start=0) . The rate of distillate removed from the column directly controls the amount of distillate that can pool and fall back into the column. A true needle valve has a needle inside that seats into a hole such that flow is minimized or stopped. rubber or PTFE (teflon). Materials The output tube should be made of the same material as your column so that it can be soldered or sealed accordingly. as this is a safe material. usually measured in a specific number of drops per minute of drawn-off or collected distillate. A good stainless steel needle valve may cost as much as 10-15 times as much as a brass equivalent and be harder to procure locally. While others find that doing them simultaneously only encourages solder to leak out of the lower plate when the outlet tube is being heated for soldering. and gives the best amount of control.) Needle valves are not available in copper. or if PTFE is unavailable. Read about pickling brass here:  (http://homedistiller. and should be pickled on a regular basis for safety. The larger size isn't necessary for flow. Many of the brass fittings are of sub-standard manufacturing quality.09. and can be one of the most expensive parts of the still.php?f=2&t=8717&start=0) Pipe size The most common size of output tube is 1/4" (6mm). The templates in the 'slanted plate section' show the proper drill location if you can't properly locate it. (Some users find that it may be easier to solder the lower slanted plate and outlet tube at the same time since it requires the area to be heated only once. it may be hard to get exactly 3 drops per second if that were your desired output.org/forum/viewtopic. but the larger needle valve will give you better flow when fully open (for stripping or when using your Boka without reflux as a pot still)  (http://homedistiller.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 12/18 .org/forum/viewtopic.homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic. and may be very inefficient at getting proper control (ie. Take caution if you solder your valve into place not to overheat it which may ruin the seals inside.
This high pressure can cause your still to explode which could kill you. There is absolutely no need to seal the top of the still and doing so can cause incredibly dangerous build-up of pressure.How To Build . but only in the fermentation process).php?f=17&t=18270) is a rough plan for another DIY needle valve that could be 100% copper and pretty cheap to make. but results in drawn-off and collected distillate being very hot when collected.  (http://homedistiller.2012 Boka Reflux Still .homedistiller.) Improper use of a still can result in serious injury or death. or use a cooled parrot (http://homedistiller. a fire extinguisher or ready water supply.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 13/18 .php?f=2&t=8870) is a very cheap and elegant DIY needle valve with no synthetic seals.php?f=17&t=7626) . All stills used to distill spirits by their very nature will contain or be on a heat source. and then the released flammable vapor would ignite and explode and kill you again. Materials safety Most plastics and sythetic materials are inappropriate for use in the distillation process (HDPE containers can be used. This makes for a more efficient reflux.Distillers Wiki This (http://homedistiller. Make sure your Boka is open above the condenser or has a proper pressure release valve that cannot fail. Secondary condenser Because the lower slanted plate which holds the 'pool' of distillate sits directly in the vapor path. the pooled distillate is constantly being heated back up towards vaporization threshold again.org/forum/viewtopic.org/forum/viewtopic. common sense.org/forum/viewtopic. there should not be any vapor leaving the still. so the hydrometer is always visible and measuring. They are typically made of copper. Strong ethanol (especially HOT/BOILING and in vapor).org/forum/viewtopic.org/forum/viewtopic. Check your still for leaks at the beginning and during each run using a mirror or flashlight. Never leave your still unattended and ensure that you have proper fire retardants nearby (ie. is an wiki.) Safety considerations A Boka is a very simple still to use. Some Boka users choose to run a secondary external condenser on their output tube just after the needle valve  (http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=13736) . and when used correctly. Proper precaution.php?f=17&t=16593) . It is a device used to hold distillate and a proof hydrometer which allows distillate to flow out while giving a proof reading.php?f=2&t=15341) (A parrot is not an animal. is very safe. Secondary condensers range from Liebig arms to a graham condenser that runs off the same coolant used for the main condensing coil inside the column  (http://homedistiller. and general disilling safety should be used at all times. Braz's liebig condenser on the output tube This being said. or just use a long output tube that gives the distillate more time to air cool before being collected. This forum thread (http://homedistiller. Vented top If your condenser is working correctly. Here (http://homedistiller. The primary reason for having cool distillate is so that accurate proof/ABV readings can be made as the distillate exits the still.09. many users have no secondary condenser.php?f=2&t=10196) includes some info on adjusting a common brass needle valve to be more finely adjustable.org/forum/viewtopic. and be full of flammable vapors.26. This is typical of real-time measurements such as those provided by a parrot or parrots beak.
An overflowing collection container can be really dangerous. Safety tips (http://homedistiller. as can rags used to clean spills .org/forum/viewtopic. Safety and related issues subforum (http://homedistiller. Solder is cheap. and even a few lower commercial products are stored in plastic. and lead-poisoning is extremely serious. running. The ONLY exception to this rule currently is PFTE/Teflon. Spilled distillate can catch on fire.php?f=33) Cleaning and prep for use wiki. watching. Some mashes produce some serious foaming when boiled and can cause the still to puke. If you aren't sure or if your solder isn't labeled. Some people do this. and the flame can be nearly invisible in normal light or daylight. is using plastic tubing to join the copper tubing.09. You may choose to set your collection container inside a large pan that can collect any overflow in a worst case scenario. Do not overfill your still boiler. clean up the spill immediately and be smart about discarding rags used to clean up spilled distillate. selling or buying the distillate that comes out of your still will likely be even more illegal. However. If you spill.org/forum/viewtopic.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=9480&start=60) No lead solder Lead in solder can and probably will find its way into your still. call your local legislator and get them changed. which is when foam and mash rise up the column and exit the still. using.php?t=5166) ).2012 Boka Reflux Still . Only use solder that is clearly labeled as lead-free solder. by Husker  (http://homedistiller. which has been scientifically tested in a distilling application  (http://homedistiller.Distillers Wiki extremely strong solvent. and there are additional solvents in the heads fractions such as acetone. Most materials are simply not safe to use. or plastic tubing on the â€œtake offâ€ the still (i. and all parts of your still (Borrowed from a FAQ on the main site. This subject seems to always generate lots of heated discussion. possessing.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 14/18 . Also ensure that your collection container is large enough that it can collect any distillate that is collected if you aren't paying attention. or storing a still may be illegal where you live. and cleanup immediately if you do High proof distillate can be very flammable. Proper collection container Ensure that your collection containers are stable and don't tip over into or are near your heat source. But this community is VERY serious about keeping plastics out of the distillation process.How To Build . Also. storage of high proof ethanol in plastic containers is not a good idea either. Don't rely on what you think or have heard about what is legal. This can cause your collection container to overflow. of after the vapor has been condensed). Some places to be cautious (even if your still was commercially manufactured). Don't spill.org/forum/viewforum. selling. owning. don't use it.homedistiller. which could make a mess or start a fire. Storing. this community STRONGLY recommends not using plastics. Check you local and federal (where applicable) laws to ensure you are in compliance.a bucket of water handy to throw them in is a good idea.e. Be aware of your local laws Building.php?f=33&t=4282) . Don't rely on common sense or folk tales about what is allowed. More links to still safety Basic Distilling Safety (http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic. Check your local laws and don't break them. buying.php?f=33&t=11187) .26. If you don't like your laws.
Keep the vinegar solution. After steaming it for 20 minutes or so.homedistiller. pour the vinegar solution into your boiler. Take time to scrub your materials with soap and water after purchasing them but before building to remove anything they came in contact with during shipping and storage. wiki. You can augment it by giving the insides a bit of a scrub as well with a kitchen scourer (don't use your packing for this). This is a really good time to get a (glass!) mirror.26. A reflux condenser may struggle to knock down all this vapour. The mirror will fog up if held up to a leak. Continue to clean each piece off after soldering or assembly. If your column has packing.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 15/18 . effectively giving the condenser an acidic steam . don't worry about that at this stage. Soak it for a good few hours. Doubly so if you are using recycled pipes or fittings. Shut down and dump your vinegar. so many endorse it for peace of mind alone. the still requires cleaning to remove any contaminants that could negatively affect your distillate. Clean while building It is best to progressively clean it during the building process.but there is still vapour being generated. it isn't necessary to have it in at this stage. Give everything a comprehensive rinse out with water. and return your still to normal condensing operation. Check that the condenser(s) are knocking down vapour. and bring it to a boil. If there are visual patches of flux and crap still in there. etc. This is really an optional step.php?f=46&t=15489) Soak and Scrub A really good way to start is to soak any parts small enough in a weak acid solution . but is a nice idea for things like coils. This multi-step process borders on over-kill. Most of your still should be pretty shiny on the inside by now. Run with the condenser(s) on for 20 minutes or so. which you can reuse for the next step. and check for vapour leaks in any seals and solder joins. Post-build cleaning runs This section taken from the Reading Lounge  (http://homedistiller.Distillers Wiki General Theory After building a Boka. Of course. so this is a good time to double check that your still is always open at some point to the atmosphere.use dilute vinegar. normal caution is needed with hot steam. The following process should help prepare your still for proper use.the problem if you don't run steam through it is that some areas (like the top of a liebig condenser or coil) may be untouched in normal. The inside of pipes can be cleaned with a soapy scrubber pushed through the pipe with a broom repeatedly. or overnight. It is beneficial to run without cooling for a period. Many also choose to polish their materials before building which is far easier than trying to accommodate bits of soldered on metal that make later polishing harder. but only takes a little bit of extra time to ensure your still is perfectly clean. brazing.How To Build .09. condenser-on operation. Vinegar Cleaning Run Next. There is no fire danger . taking extra caution to remove any excess flux.2012 Boka Reflux Still . don't scald yourself. attach the still head. and it won't be very pleasant to breathe. go back and do some more soaking and scrubbing before you continue.org/forum/viewtopic. it's a lot easier to condense ethanol / water mix. turn on the condenser(s).
Some users go to the extra length of running the still with boiling water every so often to really clean things out. See how the ABV changes.php? f=46&t=15489#p6848914) Regular cleaning It is a good idea to clean your still after each use. Alternatively. you might need to do more scrubbing with water.2012 Boka Reflux Still .php?f=46&t=13265) wiki. pretty much whatever you can make the cheapest and easiest.Distillers Wiki Ethanol Cleaning Run To be completely thorough. Polishing Some distillers prefer a used. and have a play around with heat / cooling / takeoff rate to get the hang of it. The solution has become contaminated and the part should be re-cleaned in a fresh solution. pretty much any source of ethanol you like. Do not be alarmed at the patina that develops inside a copper column. Don't treat this as drinkable. patina coated copper still. Play around with the reflux management. This second cleaning run can double as a practice of still operation. Operation instructions Running your Boka as a reflux still: Husker's LM instructions (http://homedistiller. as the ethanol vapour is of course flammable. but others like them bright and shiny. or take out your packing and clean out any particulates caught there. clearly labeled as cleaning run alcohol . and also heavy it sinks.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 16/18 . The brass will turn a buttery yellow color as it is cleaned.homedistiller. You can put the packing in for this.it's hard to get the hop oils out afterwards). this is normal.How To Build . Olddog has provided a good walkthrough to polishing a still. Use any old wash. If your still pukes (Mash boils over and rises up into the column). you should do an alcohol cleaning run as well. Copper packing will benefit from weak acidic cleaning on a reasonably regular basis (twice a year-ish)to remove built up sulfides and oxidation.  (http://homedistiller. If the solution starts to turn green and the brass darkens.26. DO NOT use denatured alcohol for this (never put that through your still). see how temperature and output respond to your actions. Just run the wash in the normal fashion. but part of your cleaning should be a regular pickling of any lead-containing brass parts that you have. A solution of two parts white vinegar to one part hydrogen peroxide (common 3% solution) will remove tarnish and surface lead from brass parts when they are soaked for 5-10 minutes at room temperature. exposing more lead. Do not repeat the steaming step we did with the vinegar run.you can use this for future builds. but do keep it. Usually this is just some joints and probably your take-off valve.09.org/forum/viewtopic.org/forum/viewtopic. Simply rinse the still with water thoroughly just after using to keep things clean and fresh. you can use cheap box wine or something (avoid beer . Pickling brass It has been mentioned elsewhere. The pickling process will prevent any lead that may be in the brass from contaminating the distilling process. then the parts have been soaking too long and the copper in the brass is beginning to dissolve. and some users also run a vinegar and water solution or a citric acid solution every 5-20 runs to keep things as clean as possible.
These could be spaced in the packing. This allows the head to be quickly removed for cleaning.09. but generally.  (http://homedistiller. triclamp flanges and clamps with a PTFE gasket can be used.php?f=27&t=13752)  (http://homedistiller. Too much packing will purify the distillate too much. but should not be allowed to have the packing fill the aperture as it could cause the still to choke. defeating the purpose of a pot still. slower is better) There will be only a small amount of reflux like this. With low reflux. 0-5C) there will be a significant amount of reflux. Then you open your output valve completely and adjust the temperature on your boiler to give the proper output. and remove too much of the flavor. 30-40F. Based on your mash ABV.org/forum/viewtopic. If you are not in a controlled environment (ie.org/forum/viewtopic. Making this union out of threaded copper adapters can be extremely cost prohibitive. This is because as purity drops towards the bottom of the column. (The proper output is usually determined by your recipe.php? f=46&t=15489#p6848914) . or to remove the packed section of the column and attach the head to the boiler for a stripping run or to use the still as a pot still for flavored spirits.homedistiller. it is desirable to center the returning reflux halfway or two thirds of the way down the column. Some users choose to leave a small amount of packing in the column so they can run a wash in a single run.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 17/18 .26.How To Build . A triclamp / easy flange connection here in combination with a beer keg boiler allows for very easy detune into a pseudo-pot still.php?f=2&t=9300) .org/forum/viewtopic. Optional extras Detachable head Some builders choose to add a threaded connection to the column just below the slanted plates. as triclamps and easy flanges are compatable with the flange on a uncut beer keg. A centering ring helps break up those streams and prevent reflux 'channels' from running down the column walls. the slower the output and the more distinct the cuts will be. as can triclamps in conjunction with an easy flange (http://homedistiller. Reflux centering In taller columns (especially wide and tall columns). but may contain lead and need proper pickling as regular maintenance. indoors) you may have to adjust the minimal packing in your Boka during the year to maintain consistency as outdoor temperatures fluctuate.org/forum/viewtopic.php? f=36&t=8261&start=15) Alternatively. yielding low wines. to better access and remove the packing. Brass couplers are more affordable. the lower the heat. remove the packed column part of your still and run the still with the head attached directly to the boiler. you can use a common non-soldered slip-joint.Distillers Wiki Running your Boka as a pot still: If you have built your Boka with a detachable head. Finally. which are later run a second time at a lower temperature to give final output in a spirit run. the reflux tends to clump and stream together instead of spreading efficently throughout the packing. Conversely. and seal the seams on the outside of the column using flour-paste upon assembly and before distillation. If it is really cold outside the still (ie. The wiki. If you don't have a detachable head. a pot still can be run hard and fast. Husker's instructions for running a detuned LM are here (http://homedistiller.2012 Boka Reflux Still . Or. you'll need to de-tune (remove the packing from) the column. just the right amount of packing and a slow boil and low careful output can yield a final product on the first run. (Note: air temperature outside the still can have a significant impact on the amount of reflux. hot outside temperatures will drastically reduce the amount of reflux on the walls the Boka column.
wiki.php? f=15&t=17849) . and use the joint to place the collar inside the column  (http://homedistiller.How To Build .09. and less physically able distillers may find it easier to assemble the still in small parts.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build" Category: Equipment This page was last modified on 27 February 2011.2012 Boka Reflux Still . at 21:10. Retrieved from "http://wiki.homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.Distillers Wiki easiest option is to have a joint (such as a triclamp union or a slip joint) in the column at the halfway point or 2/3rd down.26. This also means that the still column can be broken down into smaller parts for storage.homedistiller.org/Boka_Reflux_Still_-_How_To_Build 18/18 .
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