Copper mesh packing inside reflux columns serves a few purposes.
1. It provides a huge surface area for the reflux distillate to condense on
2. It removes sulphides (rotten egg smell) from the vapour through catalytic action
3. It allows turbulence to bring all the vapour in contact with copper
4. In the condenser it allows better heat removal from the vapour to allow efficient condensation
5. Even a very tight rolled copper mesh roll will not restrict the air/vapour flow through the column.
6. The packing is designed not to allow reflux channeling (which is bad) and distributes the reflux evenly throughout the reflux column
How much to use:
500 gram copper mesh tightly fills a 54mm x 500mm reflux column.
For the primary column - use 500g. (1 bag)
For the secondary column - use 1 kg. (2 bags)
Why copper mesh?
Copper mesh packing has proven itself a superior packing material for reflux column still. It's surface area to volume ratio is more than 100 times that of some ceramic rings and as a consequence you need 100 times less volume in your reflux column when using copper mesh than when using ceramic (Raschig) rings.
The catalytic properties of copper further have the advantage above other packing materials that it remove the sulphides from the vapour to eliminate foul smelling sulphides (i.e. hydrogen sulphide).
How to use it:
Once you receive your copper mesh roll in in tight rolls and stuff your packing column with the rolls. The mesh can be easily cut with normal scissors.
After a few distillations you will note that the copper turns black with all the suplhides being deposited on the copper. This DOES NOT render the copper mesh useless. It is only after NO MORE COPPER can be seen that it requires cleaning.
Cleaning and life-span:
The mesh is very easily cleaned. Soak it in a citric acid solution (10g per liter water), wiggle it now and then until it becomes "pink" again.
The copper mesh can be used over and over for many years of distilling. You may expect a life-span of more than 3 years if you distil regularly much longer if you distil only now and then.