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Manoau2002

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I have heard that you can distill a wash using a water distiller (ex the type sold still spirits)

I am getting really conflicting information on these across the internet when it comes to heads, hearts, and tails.

Some people say that when you use an air still you don't need to worry about these you just collect the first 700ml and add 300ml water to bring it close to 40% alcohol.

Some people say you don't need to worry about heads, hearts, and tails if you use a specific type of turbo yeast. I believe it's pure turbo from still spirits. But if you use any other type of yeast you do.

Some people say you need to remove the heads no matter what you do - the first 20mls or so. Or it could be toxic kill or blind you.

Others say that you don't need to worry about getting sick but removing the first 20 or so mls creates a better alcohol as it tastes horrible.

Still others say the first few mls is the best and highest quality alcohol.

Could anyone clear this up for me? I am concerned if there truly is a risk of death or blindness.

Thanks.
 

Shine0n

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Don't know if the author is still looking for advice but since I'm here I'll toss a few things about.

Foreshots-supposed methanol are poison in concentrated amounts and are more prominent in fruit washes, then AG mash grain bills, then you have sugar washes which are low (very low) if any deadly amounts of methanol.

I'm not familiar with the still that you have so I couldn't give any advice on that but I'll tell you a little about what I do know.

A column still that uses reflux for purity does concentrate fractions more so than a potstill so it will be more as production starts.
As a rule of thumb I discard a pint which is way more than needed on a 20 gal run. Never too safe imho but it has its purposes, window cleaning, fire starter, gluse/adhesive remover etc. etc.

Heads- the **** that will give you the nasty hangover but not kill you although you may feel like it the next day.
Different styles of spirits will use "Heads" for some complexity in the final cut. Brandies use alot of the heads because that's where fruit flavors and aromatics hide the most.
I use a little in my rums but more hearts and early tails than anything.

Heatrs- the best of the run!? supposedly so!
I find hearts in most of my runs are neutral and lack body, although they have some flavor, they do not imho make the best likker alone.

tails- skunk beer/cardboard and wet dog smell.
in a vodka I'll avoid these to no end.
In a bourbon I'll use small amounts of them when blending.
In a rum I'm barrel aging I'll go deep into them for complexity in long term1 year or longer aging.

One suggestion I'll make is no matter what still you run, make a good decision to cut out Foreshots, be it small or larger amounts just do it!

At home I'll use pint and quart mason jars for my cuts, line them up in order when you take off the still. Cover them with paper towels and let them air for 24-48 hours then go back and start in the middle and start smelling and tasting either twards the beginning or the end and mark what jars smell and taste good. Then start blending from the middle and work your way to what you like.

Shine0n
 

Soulshine2

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I have heard that you can distill a wash using a water distiller (ex the type sold still spirits)

I am getting really conflicting information on these across the internet when it comes to heads, hearts, and tails.

Some people say that when you use an air still you don't need to worry about these you just collect the first 700ml and add 300ml water to bring it close to 40% alcohol.

Some people say you don't need to worry about heads, hearts, and tails if you use a specific type of turbo yeast. I believe it's pure turbo from still spirits. But if you use any other type of yeast you do.

Some people say you need to remove the heads no matter what you do - the first 20mls or so. Or it could be toxic kill or blind you.

Others say that you don't need to worry about getting sick but removing the first 20 or so mls creates a better alcohol as it tastes horrible.

Still others say the first few mls is the best and highest quality alcohol.

Could anyone clear this up for me? I am concerned if there truly is a risk of death or blindness.

Thanks.
I would not intentionally drink one drop of heads. If you think you can drink it and NOT get sick , be my guest.
FWIW, I toss approximately 1oz/gal in heads ...so if Im distilling 5 gallons ,I'll toss the first 5 oz. at the very least...more like the first 8 oz just to be SAFE.
best and highest quality alcohol? maybe, just not the kind you should drink...makes great paint remover or carburetor cleaner, or charcoal starter fluid.
 

Shine0n

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Forshots is what you wouldn't want to drink!
Have you ever had a fruit brandy? it has a ton of heads and fruit is one of those washes that has to be distilled and cuts made that way inorder to capture the base fruit.
If you keep hearts only of a fruit wash you'll not get what you're looking for in the end.

cuts are made by smell, taste and feel, if you think you can do them with a hydrometer or by temp alone you'll be sippin swill for a long time.
 

keiramackenzie

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Ive heard many conflicting advice on whether or not you should collect and discard foreshots and heads in your stripping run, using a water distiller, which I then intend to use an oil distiller to make cuts with in the spirit run..

Some say to discard them in the stripping run, others say not to bother - only start discarding in the spirit run.

What i've always done is discard the first 100mls or so from even each 4L stripping run in my distiller, but now im considering not even doing that until the spirit - d

Do you or anyone else have an opinion on this Shineon ..as you guys clearly know what youre doing, and im guessing it all comes down to what equipment you're using as to what is the optimal method, but specifically with a water distiller, using the Ethanol vapour to liquid potential chart whats better?

Thank you
 

Abhishek Dewan

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I personally don't toss anything from a strip run & I have 3 different types of pot stills. The smallest one is 5L. I make loose cuts with it. Typically, with low wines of 30% ABV, I collect 250 ml as fores, another 250 ml (approx) as heads or when I don't get that nasty bite(y) smell, taste of heads. It's easy to identify, it'll make you ugh. I usually make all grain mashes with one time exception of brandy. Typically, I get a litre and sometimes maybe another half as hearts, proofed down with RO water and rest are tails or when the ABV drops too much (I use hydrometers with temperature conversion). Depends on when I don't like the taste or see the oils. I use 3 or 4 jars to collect. I keep tails as low wines for next batch. I use heads & fores as fire starter or paint thinner etc. I'm still a noob with distilling but I was hooked when I drank 5 glasses of 60 ml (plus a 500ml of homebrewed beer) & woke up next day morning feeling very fresh & with no hangover. Never had a hangover since then. I now think perhaps I'll hardly ever buy whisly from a store or at least buy sparingly.
If you're buying a 4L water distiller, make sure there is no plastic in the vapour path (most of them have it), it should have temperature controller (only alcohol versions have it) & it doesn't have a hole in the vapour tube (inside, near the fan), which is typical for a water distiller, to allow escape of chlorine etc. In case of alcohol distillation, all your good stuff will escape from there. Buy the version manufactured for alcohol.
 

keiramackenzie

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Man after my own heart. I also use Hydrometers etc, but I've started to be able to tell the almost spot on % by the temp it distills at now also.

Thank you for the response. I did make some a few years back with a distiller, and it was successful although I lost some alcohol before I used the Ethanol vapour to liquid chart - still lost some with the analogue machine though as it just doestn regulate temps enough so...

..I am using an analogue water distiller with temp control for the strip runs, and then about to pass that to a custom designed digital oil distiller for herbal extraction which I have used for this purpose but not for distillation yet!

Only ever used the analogue, so it should be very interesting as is very accurate. Both stainless Steel and very high quality - not like some of these ive seen without eveen a temp. gauge!

So nice to hear you dont toss anything though, and nice to know that all my instincts are correct to help refine my process!

Thank you
 

bracconiere

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i'm no pro, but i drank homemade booze for a year when my malt supply got cut off....i didn't even toss the fore-shots...didn't hurt me....(the tails are GROSS though)

i largely just figured if there was enough methanol in the wash, that drinking that would make me go blind too.....and it doesn't.....
 
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