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Is Silicone Safe for Distilling?

Views: 1     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-01-20      Origin: Site

As far as distilling goes, the question of whether or not silicone is okay to use in your equipment has been quite controversial and we aren’t quite sure why. Silicone gets a pretty bad rep within the distilling community and many hobbyists will argue that PTFE gaskets are the better option, but are they really?


Silicone Gaskets

Silicone is extremely flexible, heat resistant, and sanitary - all the things that you could possibly want when creating liquid and vapor seals in your system(s). So why is silicone demonized so often? The answer to that question isn’t a simple one because there is just not enough extensive research done on plastic’s effects on alcohol and vice versa, alcohol’s effects on plastic. Now, there are several videos online of people sharing their experiences with silicone for distilling purposes, but the variables within their experiments aren’t complex enough and aren't regulated fairly well. Many factors like heat, humidity, and strong chemicals, all present in distilleries, are not as easily controlled. Because of these common uncertainties, silicone has often been demonized within the community. From what we’ve seen in the field, silicone can handle a lot of wear and tear, though gaskets should often be replaced on your system as a preventative maintenance measure. There definitely isn’t enough long-term experimentation on plastic gaskets, as the craft boom happened less than a decade ago. We recommend that you switch out your gaskets every one to two years, regardless of the material they are made out of. As far as safety goes, we’ve seen that there is almost no foul with silicone gaskets; They are FDA approved, and most third-party safety inspectors never seem to have any issues with them.


Like I mentioned before, silicone is highly flexible which is great for tri-clamp fittings.


If your piping isn’t completely flush, a silicone gasket is super malleable and with the simple tightening of a clamp, you’ll have a wonderfully made seal. They’re super easy to install and remove, making cleaning and maintenance a breeze.

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A perfectly functioning distillation plant


PTFE Gaskets

PTFE (or Teflon Polytetrafluoroethylene) gaskets might give you more problems while trying to configure your still. This material isn’t as flexible as silicone and changes under extreme pressure and heat. Let’s say you’re using PTFE gaskets to put together your still, and you go to start your run. Once the still gets hot and steamy, these gaskets will begin to change texture. You may begin to notice that your tri-clamps aren’t as tight anymore and you don’t have the best seals. Now, this is fine on a little hobby-sized or recipe development still, but if you’ve got a crazy tall vodka column… having to suspend yourself 15-20+ feet up in the air to tighten your clamps is never a fun time. It’s a pain in the derriere if you ask me. However, PTFE is definitely food safe and FDA approved, as long as the fillers, inks, and dyes added to make the gaskets are too. If you don’t mind dealing with the occasional inconveniences of PTFE gaskets, then maybe these gaskets are the right option for you!


EPDM Gaskets

EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is a very versatile material that's weather-resistant, heat resistant, and another option that's FDA approved as food safe. It does have a higher rating than silicone but it can be a little more expensive, depending on the width of your column. Of course, it's not a ridiculous difference but some people do tend to think about that sort of thing when it comes to budgeting. In the long run, you may save yourself some money by going with the silicone, especially if you plan on being more adamant with your preventative preventive maintenance measures and frequently replacing your gaskets.


There seems to be a lot of variances in opinion within the distilling community on which material makes the best seal, so it's really just up to you to decide what you'd like for your system(s). Everyone definitely has their own preferences, and their very own “ride or die” products and materials that they will stick with forever.


If you need any help getting your distilling equipment together just shoot an email to kate@degonget.com and we’ll be happy to help you out! Cheers!




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