Alembic stills: Sealing techniques
Posted by     08/10/2018 14:22:48    0 Comments

Sealing Technique for alembic stills

First the Traditional way:

Hand-made and hammered from sheets of copper to form gentle and gracious curves, there are no two alembic pot stills that are identical in diameter. Each lid is specially made to fit into each pot. Being hand-made there might be some slight slack between the separate pieces.To seal off any eventual vapour leaks a very simple technique may be used - flour and water.
 

Simply mix the flour with some water to make wet soft dough in a small recipient. Then with your fingers simply push and rub this mixture into the joints of all the items.

When assembling your pot still, insert the swan neck into the pot with gentle pressure. Also connect the swan neck to the condenser. When vapours start to rise, should a leak occur simply add some dough to this leaking area.

After years of usage some natural slack may occur between the copper pot and the swan neck lid and should sealed off to prevent the escape of vapours.

To loosen the separate parts of the still for cleaning once distillation is complete, simply give a direct blow with the heel of your palm upwards to the rim of the separate pieces.The dough comes off easily.

To separate the tubes simply pull these apart carefully (where brass connectors are not provided)
Vapours will always search for an easy way out - through the piping - so there is no great need to apply thick quantities of the flour mixture.
 
Vapours will always search for an easy way out - through the piping - so there is no great need to apply thick quantities of the flour mixture.
 
The More modern way:
An alternative method is the use of silicon tape or any other sealing tape that will sustain high temperatures. Take care not to tape the alembic joints excessively as the objective is to seal off escaping vapours and allow the alembic hood to pop off should an obstruction in the piping cause excessive pressure build up.
 
An exellent sealing tape is the "Stretch and Seal" Self fusing silicon recovery tape. It can be used more than once and makes for a vapour proof seal- easily!
 
 
The traditional method also uses flour putty here. However, the alternative use of silicone tape (sold as "Wonder Tape" at Makro's and Builder's Warehouse) is much preferred due to it's elasticity, excellent sealing properties, heat resistance, ease of use and cleanliness.  After distillation, the silicon tape is easy to remove and leaves no sticky residue on the copper.

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