Piecing together a small SPD - what do you think?

Hey everyone,

I’m pricing out a small “home size” SPD for experimenting with hemp derived CBD distillation and maybe making some personal hash. I’ve read a ton on here about the topic and wanted to get some feedback on what I am considering.

  1. I am thinking of going with a 2L boiling flask. Is there a downside, besides increased cost, to going with a 5L instead? I have read that people recommend filling half of the BF volume with oil, but is it bad to go lower, i.e. run 1000 mL in a 5L flask?

  2. The next thing I am on the fence about is the glass/mantle/tubing/stands - is there a benefit besides customer support and simplicity to going with a kit from someone like @LabSociety or @goldleaf_scientific? The prices for 2L kits are around $7k, which seems expensive for what is provided. In my work lab (non-cannabis), I buy cheap glass from eBay semi-frequently, but we don’t do anything with high vacuum/pressure so I haven’t had issues with it… from what I’ve read on here, cheap glass seems to be potentially dangerous with SPD. Are those kits a significant improvement over something like this or just piecing together your own glass?

  3. For the vacuum pump, I intend to get something overkill (like a used Edwards E2M28) so that when I scale up to WFE (or similar), my pump will still be useful. Will this be a problem with a small 2L setup? Do I need a roughing pump, or can I successfully use just this pump?

  4. Finally, for what I am trying to do (not huge volumes, home stuff lol), which components in an SPD setup would you go cheap on and what should I look for quality?

I’m just gonna use a sous-vide cooker, 5 gallon bucket, and an aquarium pump for heating the condenser… lab society actually sells that setup (at a pretty hilarious markup) so I am assuming it will work.

Thanks, I look forward to your input!


Funny, I was just looking for info on a setup from USAlabs for the exact same thing. I just can’t justify 7k for a learning rig from LS and after reading this thread from @Killa12345, I’m thinking I could get away with a 2l China glass kit for now and move to something bigger from LS later after I get some experience and more confidence and capital to work with. Also I’m thinking of going with the same model pump he’s using.

From what I’ve read, it’s a waste of time and generally a bad idea to under-load a BF too much. It doesn’t give you an accurate representation of how exactly your rig will run with a full load and just sounds like a pain in the ass all the way around.

Your second question has been hashed over a ton, though I’m not sure I’ve seen any good concrete answers. Some refuse to use Chinese glass and have pretty convincing anectodal reports as to why not, others have fine experience with Chinese glass. I’m obviously torn on the whole argument myself, having no personal experience.

As for the other questions, I’ll be following this thread for answers. They’re good questions I hadn’t even thought of asking.

1 Like

For experimentation perhaps going the other direction in size of glass would be a thing to consider. Running a 500 ml flask or smaller even when your goal is to learn the craft may give you answers to questions you have not even thought ahout yet. Your pump choice is a good one and will scale as you grow. In terms of country of origin I am not certain it matters so long as the place has a good rep. I use Laboy for micro scale stuff. There might be tiny bubbles in the glass and they claim to be hand blown glass which explains it but a tiny bubble has never cracked on me yet with my Edwards 28.

The rigs shown in most kits are shown with a cow receiver. I would suggest ditching that idea as a first piece and instead going to a simple one flask set up for the receiver. There are several reasons I would suggest this as a pilot rig strategy but swapping receivers out is really not a problem and skipping the convenience of a cow receiver has benefits that include less cross contamination, less expense, and a greater ability to pull and maintain a deep vacuum. If you move out of personal use and experimenting it is always easy enough to toss one on later but then you will know how the system behaves without that device.

In terms of how to allocate between expense and quality I suppose my strategy was to DIY to save money but every time I tried to trim a few dollars and go cheap it just did not pay off. I decided to DIY and stay small, both of which allow for higher quality parts. I like inexpensive but I hate cheap. My advise is to get good thick glass. I did get away with a chiller based on a $15 fish tank pump but I only have need of that for experiments that I use my SPD for and I am not sure if I will ever be using the $310 chemglass 14/20 spd head again just because for me the sublimator is superior for my goals. It is a cool tiny little head but I just do not run vertical distillation anymore.

If you buy a kit you pay up front for the tech support and time of the providers service team. This is a fair deal and obviously works for many. However there are benefits as well to putting together your own rig DIY because once you learn a few things you may discover you do not even need a vapor trap for instance and will at least learn what the consequences are of running one. I doubt a sales team would even mention or sometimes know such nuance but my point is that self taught during the pilot phase of a project may reveal this kind of thing to you.

So in answer to your question about which things to go cheap on I suppose my answer would be go cheap on paying up front for tech support which is the DIY method if you are the type that takes up things without too much anxiety. Top grade only stuff on vacuum system components like tubing and lines is pretty important to me too.:nerd_face:


Go expensive on your head. Everthing else not as important


You can piece together a small system for waaay cheaper than biying a kit, and then truly find out if this is something you gonna keep doing or not. And as a first timer when you beeak a piece of glass you dont want it to be a piece thats hard to replace because its so expensive. The edwards will be slightly overkill if usinf gl14 but who cares better to have more than not enough.


Chemglass is a good source for decent priced glassware, Rocco would be, too.

Buy a decent mantle. That’s a big mistake in buying the cheapest. If that mag bar doesn’t spin right, it’ll screw up your whole run. Buy a decent mantle, that’s why LS is so expensive, their mantle setup isn’t cheap. But, you can automat a lot of your run through that software. Neither is xtractordepot, they have a good mantle but it’s expensive.

I say shop around for decent glass and buy parts from different places. You can find a head and mantle for cheap somewhere. And get a single cow and cold trap from someone else that has the fittings you want.

If you are wanting to get a decent pump and use it later down the road, too. But not drop the price for an Edwards. Check out the adixen 2021. Sometimes you can find em for $500~ and they will pull far deep enough for a 2l.

Don’t buy a turnkey kit. If you shop around, you can make your own heater and chillers. An eco 633 pump is a magnetic driven pump. You can get her to pump -50 ethanol easy. Just in case you wanted to get a chiller made. A sois vide with a bucket and pump is easy, obviously. Look into the eco396 for a pump. They are mag driven pumps and can handle any temp range you’re probably going to throw at it.

Summits mantle is just a cheap Chinese mantle.


@coppertop Thanks for the @killa12345 thread, just finished reading through it. Lots of good stuff in there! That post and some others are definitely making the cheaper kits more appealing.

@Beaker I’m definitely the DIY type, so I think I’m going to piece together my own kit or modify a cheap kit. I’ll definitely consider not using the cow - wouldn’t you have to break vacuum mid run to change the receiving flask though? How would that work?

@Dred_pirate Thanks for the info and product recommendations. Is there a budget mantle you would recommend? I am considering using a variac to start instead of a PID.

Let me look really quick, hold on.
Chemglass makes LS equipment. Say, you had to buy a LS head, you can go inexpensive on the rest, as the joints will match.

Same with summit and Rocco. But Rocco you can probably get all of it from him.

And definitely see if you can avoid using gl connections.

I’m modding a 1l for personals to be 24/40 and step up to 29/42 for full bore and run an Alcatel 2021 on it.



I’d buy that. Looks strangely like a summit, huh?


What are “gl” connections and what is “full bore”?

1 Like

Gl are the screw on with the hose connections, usually aren’t as good of a vacuum. Full bore, is the same diameter as the pump opening as much as possible throughout the system. Gl connections create bottlenecks and can slow down the pump along with the system.


Please check us out cacejen vacuum for you pump requirements. Www.cacejen.com


I also like this style of mantles. You can get a heated top and run them from a pid. Set it on a reliable stir plate and you have a really good mantle and stir.

My personal 1l I’m working on is done like this


Ha! That is the summit mantle. Summit says they price match on their website, wonder if they’d come down $340 :rofl: I actually have a stirring hot plate in my lab that stopped heating, I could probably borrow it for the weekend to use with that second mantle type. Are most magnetic stir plates strong enough to stir through the mantle thickness?

Is this the adapter that allows you to use bellows from the pump? Do you know what it is called?

Summit calls it the butt plug. But I can’t remember. If you look at the parts list for that setup, it’ll tell you.

And the stir plate totally should. They are pretty strong magnets

Yes, to change the receiver you will have to break vacuum when changing it. Haste is important as oxidation does occur however a cow really offers very little to this at a small scale in comparison to what it takes away. My point is that storing the terpenes in a receiver on a cow might prevent some oxidation but the fact the volitiles are being stored at all inside the vacuum deteacts from it. Even storage inside a cold finger will degrade vacuum because the stuff is always evaporating even if slowly.

I routinely must break vacuum on my rig. So I take advantage of the situation by allowing the pump to gulp down copious amounts of air while I attend to harvesting the coldfinger that my sublimator uses. Flushing the system with fresh air from having to break vacuum has an offsetting benefit insofar as it can restore vacuum a bit by flushing volatiles out of the oil. Plus doing this on the entire vacuum path rather than an internal gas ballast that most vacuum pumps have helps to move along volatiles that are heading down your vacuum hoses and such. After I started doing this on average 60 seconds or so each time I needed to break vacuum my oil changes to restore vacuum were cut in half. So there are almost always more than one facet to consider when making a chouce like this. I have found the oxidation to be inconsequential but I also waste no time when hot extract is exposed.


I started wirh a 700 kit from china wirb an azzota mantle, served me good . Slowly added nicer pieces and then went on to 5l which alot of rhe glass worked for st the tme til i mobes to 34-45 joints. T it have me a perfect a process beforw soending an real money, i use all rocco glass wirh summit heads. Have never used LS ive had bad experiences rhe rhree times i tried to ger stuff from them. You can fnd glas col mantle on ebay for wa cheaper rhan thwy charge. There kits are crazy expensive)mijt be worrht i have never ised rhere stuff) but all there stuff is made by chemglass and inuse alot if Chinese glass feom ebay dechem s rhe seller i believe. I by cbnese when im teinf somerhing new and dont wanna soend alot to find out it didnt work, my worse experience is koints that dont seal withot alot of grease and tape.

1 Like

Only vacuum weak spot on China gear is the boiling flask often the glass is thin and not deep vacuum proof
Try to get a separate coldtrap with full bore connection

1 Like

As much as i wholeheartedly mean every word in that thread, If i had a chance to do it all over. Id probably would have went all wide bore and eliminated all the GL fittings. The reason i went all cheap glass and just about everything cheap is just to say ive distilled cannabis. The whole set up has went un-used since that day. I did move right after that run and really havent got set up in the new place but when i do. Ill probably never use a lot of that stuff i bought. It was really to see if id like to pursue distilling further. I dont even have the material and im thinking of possibly buying a WFE. While a lot of you all are doing this for monetary compensation…this is a hobby for me. Some people spend money on cars and jewelry. I spend money of concentrates and bikes. And yes im a grown adult with a teenager. LOL There like puzzles for me. I like to reverse engineer the process and look for shortcomings. It gives me a sense of accomplishment solving one of these puzzles. Then i try to teach others how to solve them too.

Im probably gonna be going somewhere along the lines of what @Dred_pirate said. Ill probably be upgrading to a custom 1l full bore system. Ill probably talk to @vacuumdynamics first before shopping around. What i did obviously works; you can distill cannabis with chinese glass. There are a number of threads that prove that point easily. I dont think you find a member say “you cant distill with chinese glass”…You will hear a ton of people say i “prefer” American glass and the #1 reason you will hear is SPEED.

Chinese companies still really havent changed the designs of short path heads. All are really basic. Most Companies like USAlabs, AI, OSS, BVV, Just buy chinese heads which can be found on ebay for all under $150. They are all slow and not really “modified” for cannabis. Now this is kinda where American company are different. While the design and application is the same, American companies have modified the heads for cannabinoild…Different Vigs, different lengths, different sizes, etc. None of it is ground breaking or probably even patent-able but they are modified with the short coming of distilling cannabis in mind. This has all translated to Speed with higher potencies.

As you know how i feel about stoners like me “if there is a work smarter not harder way for some cash; sign me up!”

i think all my glassware was under $350. That includes the cold trap which was $68 shipped, a $80 short path head, and $60 3way cow. Im sure if i posted it all on ebay for 1/2 it would sell in an hour. So i got my use out of it and feel if i sold it for $175 id be still making out. A lot of the equipment i can use on a larger system…My 3 pumps, my chiller, tables, filtering aids and tools. Really my loss is the cheap glasswear and cheap $55 mantle. but really i spend more than that daily on stupid shit. its not really a loss for me. It was a teachable learning experience to see if i wanted to pursue distilling cannabis before going to classes or spending an ungodly amount on higher priced equipment so i can eat a gram of distillate a day.

Here is another reason for the cheap distillation setup…So i told you this all was just so i didnt have to buy $65 grams of distillate from the dispensary. Do you really think i care if i eat 1.2g of 85% distillate vs 1g of 90%+ distillate. I get it from a marketing sales point if i were selling it. But i really dont have to pass it a second time i realized cause im not even smoking it. I just eat it.


That’s a Beaker & Wrench adapter.