Operating instructions and information on pot stills:
Before you use your still for the first time, independent of its model or size, we recommend that you process a distillation of water to clean away any impurities that have been left behind from the manufacturing process.
Afterwards, just like with any other piece of machinery or hardware, it is essential that you maintain your still in a clean condition to last for years.
If you bought a riveted pot (not soldered on the joins between the bottom and the sides of the pot) you will notice a layer of "yellow/greenish paste" on the inside of the pot. This layer is a traditional way of sealing riveted joins and should NOT BE REMOVED. It is completely inert and will not affect your distillation whatsoever.
If, for whatever reason it is leaking (very rarely) along the rivited joins, you may try the following: Fill your still with clean water to about 50mm above the riveted join. Then add about 40g rye flour per liter water in the pot (available from health shops) and bring it to boil while stirring. The Rye flour will seal even the smallest leak. After this "sealing boil", do another one or two pure water distillations to get rid of the "rye" taste and thereafter us it as normal. You may also try the seam sealing recipe to produce watertight joins between riveted joins.
Before storing your still, make sure that it is thoroughly clean and dry.
The cleaning process will eliminate sulphuric acids and other harmful substances that have collected and deposited on the walls of your still, from the pot to the coil.
You can carry out a cleaning distillation with a mixture of flour and water. It is quite simple. Fill 40% of your pot"s capacity with water and 5% with flour.
Prior to commencing a cleaning distillation you should verify that there is no obstruction in the swan's neck pipe and serpentine coil. The joints of the alembic should be sealed once you have placed the hood on the alembic pot.
If however, you use your still quite frequently, say every other month, you do not have to clean it out with flour and water.A single distillation using only water will be sufficient.
With regular use and in time, copper oxidizes and will gradually take on an overall dark red colour. Should you wish to polish the exterior we suggest you use an appropriate non-toxic polish.
It is important not to use abrasive cleaners. You may also clean your pot with one of two traditional methods: rub with a cloth dampened in a salt and lemon solution; or use the ashes from the wood fire (if you used this as your heating source) on a damp cloth. This last method can be used for both the interior and exterior of the still.
If you are using your still to make essential oils - be aware that the oils will stick to the walls of the pot and copper coil and will start to form a sticky crust. You should always clean all the parts of your still with warm to hot water to eliminate the grease, especially in the condensing coil or it may clog with time.
Please note that alembics used to produce essential oils should not be used to make alcoholic spirits as oils will naturally become impregnated into the copper with time and my influence the spirits which may become improper for human consumption.