Pot / thumper still solvent purifying

Hey everybody, I bought myself a pot still with thumper and without column. I’m wondering how best to set it up as a solvent still to remove water from my alcohols. I’ve never operated one. Im wondering where to pack copper and how best to bend/shape the tubing, where to place thumper relative to pot and if thumper is necessary. I’d like to get 190 proof from 150-170. Also what liquid to charge thumper pot. Thanks

The best you’re going to get from a thumper is maybe 180 proof if you load the thumper with more 150 proof. A thumper is great for getting a 10% alcohol wash to 160-170 proof on a stripping run, where you’d normally get 130-150 proof. Not so great at getting your alcohol to that magic 190 proof number. For that, you’re going to need either a column or a shit ton of molecular sieves. I recommend the former. I’ll link some threads that might help.


Ah, I thought that may be the case. As the picture shows, this one has somewhat of a column, looks like 3/4 inch diameter copper tube. Could I use a longer tube of same diameter or a second thumper or should I just spend a little more and get a bigger diameter column? How big for a 10 gallon pot running on sink faucet condenser. Another thought is would a little vaccumm make for higher purity?

You can’t really distill to azeotrope (95%) in any efficient manner without a packed column on your still


Yeah, I wish I had thought it through a little more and ordered one with a column instead. Molecular seives are aggrevating if I had to use more than a little and the ones I have seem to really soak up my etoh just as much as h20.

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A proper reflux column is going to necessitate a condenser within the column in order to purify the alcohol to 190 proof. A taller column without a liquid managed, vapor managed, or coolant managed system is going to have negligible effect on purity, even if you pack it. Been there, tried that, failed. A second thumper really wont help much either. The main use for a thumper is to filter out harsh flavoring or add flavoring to a spirit while marginally improving purity. Which isn’t really applicable to our needs. At least I haven’t thought of any uses yet…

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Vacuum will actually decrease the amount of separation of compounds when fractionating. You’re pushing those boiling points closer together by raising them- positive pressure is what you need- a very cold reflux condenser on top of a well packed column that’s being driven by a hot boiler will drive a lot of compression in the system and once equilibrated you should see a nice fast azeotrope coming out the top.


I suggest you return that still if you can and read up on the thread I linked to before ordering another rig. Do some reading in the forum I linked to in the beginning of that thread as well. That’s where I learned everything I needed to know in order to make my own vodka back in college.

Thanks for the advice. I may not understand what a reflux column is exactly. How is condensation regulated inside the column. I was thinking they were essentially tubes with brillo packing. So attaching a large threaded pipe won’t do? Would it need a temp regulated jacket like a spd?

They have a condenser at the top, and then a condenser to condense the ethanol. Ceramic or copper packing allows compounds that may have came up with the ethanol vapors to recondense and fall back into the mixture


So I think I’ll build something like this to go on my 10 gallon pot. Is this what you guys are talking about to get 190 proof? What diameter column would you use? Is the condenser water inlet at the top or bottom on these?

To get any real throughput you need at minimum 4” column. I was able to do a bit over an gal per hour on a 3”


So I’ve tried educating myself a little. I see that these can be just as elaborate and sophisticated as you want, but I only need 190 proof, I’m okay with not being able to separate terpenes. Now my question is what is the effective difference between the column style with the coolant inlet, outlet lines running through the column(like the one in my picture) and the other style I’m seeing with a slightly down sloping condenser not ran through the column?

Also has anyone tried filling a thumper with seives, I wonder if that would be good. I’m guessing I’d need a bigger thumper to get the whole batch that way.

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You can buy one ready to rock for cheaper.
I gotta go to the store tomorrow I will price them but I know they ain’t a lot

I’m looking online today. I’m pretty sure I can get a refund for the pot thumper I got. Tell me if you will please, which of these will make for higher purity. The picture below or the copper one above. It looks like the above would give more reflux / separation having the coolant line hitting the column at bottom and top. Is this effectively a physical plate?

I’m not sure that’s going to be a good option either. If you’re looking for something pre-built, get THIS and hook it up to a keg. The output is only going to be around a gallon an hour, but at least you’ll know it works and it’s relatively cheap. Once you figure out how to use it and you get the principle behind it down, you can build your own for relatively cheap that will give you some decent throughput. I have heard the folks at milehi can help troubleshoot any operating issues for you as well. That will save you a ton of time and headache.

Edit: You’ll want to grab some packing material as well when you place the order.

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Cool, thanks for that link. I feel like I’m getting close to figuring it out now. 1/2 gallon an hour would be fine for a start. We’re really small, only using 20 gallons currently. I was hoping not to spend more than $250. Looks like I’ll have to build one. Looks pretty straightforward, is 5 psi what you use for pressure release valve?

Yea, that should be fine. I’m not sure why a PRV would be necessary given that there shouldn’t be any pressure building in the system, but I guess redundant safety measures couldn’t hurt.

I don’t know what I’m talking about yet, just trying to not to waste money buying stuff that’s inadequate. I read other people using them. In case your coolant tank gets warm I’m guessing, would that build ?pressure

See the small condenser at the top, close holes ? You’ll want a needle valve and thermometer, so u can dial in temps

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