How to clean structured copper packing mesh for reflux column stills.
This copper mesh has been specifically designed for use as a structured, catalytic packing medium for use in reflux column stills to remove sulphide containing molecules from alcohol vapours during distilling. Reflux condensation is superior to other packing mediums as it provides a much larger surface area per volume than any other traditional still packing materials such as glass beads or Raschig rings.
To prepare your copper mesh:
During manufacturing, oil is used as lubricant while weaving the mesh. This is undesirable for distilling.
Soak the copper mesh in a strong soapy hot water solution (dishwashing liquid) and let it soak while cooling down for 24 hours. Rinse the copper thoroughly thereafter with clean water to remove all traces of detergent.
Roll the copper mesh in small rolls to fit the diameter of your columns still and cut with ordinary scissors. Stuff the column with these small rolls.
Distill clean water for the first 3 hours of operation to get rid of any off-smells. Your copper mesh is now ready for alcohol distilling.
During distillation, sulphides are deposited as a very thin black layer on the copper parts exposed to distillate vapours. With time, you will notice some copper parts turning black. (most significantly the copper mesh inside reflux columns). Occasional cleaning, once every 200 hours of distillation, or when all the copper mesh are really dark black, is recommended. This cleaning method will allow you many years of good distilling.
Cleaning of mesh: (also used to clean copper utensils that have been badly stained or tarnished)
- Prepare 1 litre of hot (55-70 deg C) water.
- Add 50 gram table salt (non-iodated) to it and;
- 50 gram of citric acid and;
- stir to dissolve.
- Soak the copper parts to be cleaned in the hot solution for about 30 minutes.
- Keep the mixture hot for the duration (Reheat it with your microwave oven when it cools down to quickly).
- After this, rinse the copper parts with clean water and let it soak for about 12 hours in a bucket of (5L) water to which 15ml of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) has been added.
- This will neutralise any citric acid left over.
- Finally rinse again with clean water. Your copper will now be bright and clean as the day you started.