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How to clean and maintain distillation equipment?

Views: 4     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-03-25      Origin: Site

The very first cleaning

  • Soak the still including the column, condenser, parrot, and other parts in a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar for a few hours.

  • Scrub the inside of the still gently with a long brush, rinse it off with warm water, and allow it to dry.

  • Fill your boiler with white vinegar solution making sure the heating element is completely submerged. The vinegar run helps to remove impurities from your still.

  • Turn on the heat and bring the vinegar in your boiler to boil. Keep it boiling for 30 minutes to one hour so that the steam produced in the process cleans up and sanitizes your still. As you bring the vinegar to the boil, do not turn on your condenser to allow the steam building up to circulate amply within both the still and the condenser.

  • After 30 minutes, turn on the condenser and run it as in a normal distillation process. Because it is liquid passing through the condenser, you should be able to pick up leaks from joints or seals easily. In case you do, ensure that the leaking joints are soldered well before you can use your still as they can be very dangerous.

  • Also, ensure that you are doing this in an open place with enough ventilation.

  • Finally, if all is well, turn off your still, empty the boiler. Scrub and rinse your boiler, column, and condenser with warm water.

Polishing your copper still

Polishing your copper still on the outside gives it a bright and shiny appearance. While at it, it is advisable to go for non-toxic polish and avoid abrasive cleaners at all costs. Here are some solutions you can use to polish your copper still.

  • Vinegar + salt + flour solution. Mix one tablespoon of salt in a cupful of vinegar and then stir in flour until it forms a paste. Apply the paste on your still and let it stay for around 30 minutes and then rinse it off.

  • Ketchup + lemon juice. While not as effective as the vinegar+salt+flour solution, this one is also a good way of spot-cleaning patches of tarnish on your copper still. Rub the mixture on your pot and let it stay for around 15 minutes. Use a dry cloth to rub it out.

  • Industrial tarnish remover. Commercial tarnish remover or copper cleaning products are the easiest to use. Because they are strong, take precautions, and use some protection for your hands, eyes, nose, and mouth so that you don’t touch or inhale them. Secondly, they are strictly for use on the external part of your copper still and not on the inside. It is advisable to use them out in the open or in properly ventilated areas.

Whichever cleaner you decide to use to give your still a shine, be sure to rinse well and dry it after to prevent your still from being discolored by the very cleaners that should remove tarnish from them.


DEGONG copper distillation equipment

Storing your distillation equipment

Before storing your equipment, ensure that they are thoroughly dry.

  • Take a piece of soft dry cloth and dry the equipment.

  • Position the still facing down to allow it to drain water and leave it to dry in this position.

  • After drying, store your still in a safe place. As you choose your storage position, keep in mind the following:

          They should not be kept in a place where they will easily drop to the ground and get dented or damaged.

          Your storage location should be cool and dry not damp.

Important maintenance tips

  • Before your first spirit run, it is important to do an ethanol run. This does not only clean your still, but it also enhances the flavor of your first distillate by removing trace elements from the construction process that would interfere with the flavor of your spirits. The distillate from this ethanol run should be discarded.

  • As you do, check your still for leaks in joints and other places and fix them before you start using your still. Leaks are dangerous and can cause a fire.

  • Before every run, examine your still for physical damage that could have occurred from the previous washing, handling, or storage and fix it before the run.

  • If your still is used for producing essential oils, ensure that you use warm or hot water to clean your still as oil residue can stick on the walls of your pot or column, form a sticky layer that is hard to clean and eventually clog your outlets particularly in the condenser if not taken care of.


Well cleaned stills produce high-quality products and great-flavor spirits. Copper stills particularly will be more effective in eliminating sulfur compounds from your resulting in great-tasting moonshine. You would want to be careful to clean your still, depending on its type and function, the right way. Also, it is recommended to use warm or hot water during cleaning as this will remove not only dirt and oil residues but also unseen microorganisms. Ultimately, regular cleaning and maintenance will keep your distillation longer in a tip-top working condition.

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