Gert Strand’s free ebook about activated carbon is full of useful tips on both purification and distillation in general. But sometimes you just don’t have enough time to read through 30 pages to find an answer to your question. Because we get a lot of questions about how to clean/prepare activated carbon before use, we’re going to explain it here using some info from Gert’s book. You can read the entire ebook on our website here (for free) if you want to learn more about activated carbon. Note that all figures and diagrams I included in this blog were created by Gert Strand and can be found on pages 22-24 of the ebook.
- 1 DOUBLE the Effectiveness of Your Activated Carbon For Purification
- 2 How to activate charcoal to clean moonshine. Cleaning moonshine with charcoal for barbecue (brazier) from smell and fusel oils at home
- 3 What should be the water for moonshine. Self-production of a charcoal filter for moonshine What water is taken for moonshine
- 4 What kind of coal is needed to clean moonshine. How to clean moonshine with activated charcoal and coconut charcoal
- 5 The simplest home-made coal column for cleaning moonshine
- 6 Hand-made production of a coal column for a moonshine still. Do-it-yourself carbon filter for cleaning moonshine. Homemade coal column from improvised materials for cleaning moonshine Do-it-yourself device for cleaning moonshine with charcoal
DOUBLE the Effectiveness of Your Activated Carbon For Purification
That’s right, you can actually increase the purification effect of your activated carbon by 100%. The secret is to both heat and soak the carbon, and then to ensure that all air is expelled from the tube in your filter system.
This way, the alcohol will flow through the carbon smoothly—instead of bypassing the carbon by flowing through the channels that form when using dry carbon.
Plus, this method even enables you to filter twice the volume at a much faster rate.
Step 1: Saturate Activated Carbon with Hot Water
Pour the activated carbon into an empty, stainless steel pot (a). Then add hot or boiling water; be sure to add at least twice as much water as there is activated carbon (b). Use a large spoon to stir the water and then let the carbon to sink to the bottom (c). Pour out the extra water (d). Repeat steps (a) through (d) 4 or 5 times in order to ensure that the carbon is completely saturated with water.
Step 2: Filter the Activated Carbon through the Filter System
Assemble your filter unit (either plastic or stainless steel), ensuring that 2-3 filter papers are affixed to the bottom of the unit (a). Completely fill the tube of the unit with warm water; then pour the activated carbon into the warm water, ensuring that all air is expelled by tapping the tube to help settle and pack the carbon (b). Finally, pour 2-5 liters of water through the unit in order to flush out any remaining soluble substances (c).
Step 3: Filter your Alcohol
As the last drops of water pass through the funnel at the top of the filter, pour in your alcohol (Step 3). Taste the filtered water/alcohol so you know when only the straight alcohol starts to pass through and let it run into a collection container. To prevent the alcohol from vaporizing, you can cover the funnel with a lid.
Step 4: Flush the Filter System with Water
As the last drops of alcohol pass through the funnel at the top of the filter, pour in about a liter of water to flush it out and ensure that you’ve filtered all of the alcohol through (Step 4). You’ll want to taste the filtered water/alcohol again so you know when only the water is passing through and discard the water. It's important to ensure that the water has pushed out the alcohol so the alcohol doesn't remain in your carbon!
If you use hot water when you flush your filter system (in Steps 2 and 4), you can feel that heat from the water through the tube of the filter system, so you'll know where the water is as it makes its way down.
How to activate charcoal to clean moonshine. Cleaning moonshine with charcoal for barbecue (brazier) from smell and fusel oils at home
Properly done coal filtration (cleaning) of moonshine not only partially removes harmful impurities, but also forms a characteristic vodka flavor in grain and sugar distillates. Due to availability, more and more experienced distillers use activated coconut charcoal (KAU-A brand), which has several advantages over similar birch charcoal.
Theory. Activated coconut charcoal is a natural, environmentally friendly absorbent made from coconut shells by heating to a high temperature without air access. The essence of activation is to open the maximum possible number of pores on the carbon-containing material (in our case, the shell) to obtain a high degree of absorption.
In addition to the total number, the size of micropores is also important, on which the ability of coal to absorb certain molecules of harmful substances depends – small molecules easily pass through large pores. In this indicator, coconut charcoal is superior to birch charcoal, and even more so pharmacy charcoal.
Attention! Use only KAU-A activated coconut charcoal, as similar for hookahs and other filter systems may contain impurities and additives that will get into the alcohol.
The advantages of coconut charcoal for cleaning moonshine over birch and pharmacy charcoal:
- has more micropores of a smaller size, which increases the filtration efficiency, absorbs up to 80% of essential oils and up to 90% of esters;
- savings – for 1 liter of distillate with a strength of 40 degrees, you need 10 grams of coconut charcoal, which is 5 times less than birch charcoal;
- slightly dusty, which contributes to easy cleaning of the drink from the coal itself.
Not always the use of activated carbon is designed to purify the drink from harmful impurities. For example, even with the same strength, vodka is more pleasant than alcohol diluted with water – it does not “burn” the oral cavity so much and is softer in taste. At the same time, after rectification, there are no impurities left in alcohol that coal can remove.
Another effect is triggered – the partial oxidation of the aldehydes contained in alcohol to acids under the influence of air remaining in the pores of the coal. As a result, esters are formed, which soften the taste. It is difficult to achieve a slight oxidation of aldehydes by other methods, which is why in distilleries sorting (a mixture of water and alcohol) is passed through coal.
Technology for cleaning moonshine with coconut charcoal
Purify only sugar and grain distillates, because in addition to harmful substances, molecules remain in the pores that are responsible for the aroma and taste of fruit moonshine. As a result, the smell of apples, cherries, other fruits and fruits disappears.
- Dilute moonshine with water. If there is a second distillation – up to 18-20%. If re-distillation is not planned – up to 40-50%. The lower the strength, the higher the degree of purification, since the molecular bond is weaker.
- Grind the coal into pieces 1-4 cm in size (if the manufacturer did not do this). Weed out the dust.
- Pour the sifted coal into a glass container, it is most convenient – in a jar. Proportions – 10 grams of KAU-A activated coconut charcoal (about 2 tablespoons) per 1 liter of moonshine in terms of a fortress of 40 degrees. Excess will not harm, but will not improve the quality of the filtration.
- Mix, seal tightly. Leave for 3-4 days in a dark place at room temperature. Shake the container every 8-12 hours (preferably).
- Strain the purified moonshine through gauze or a strainer, then filter from the remnants of coal through cotton wool or a coffee filter.
- The finished distillate must be absolutely transparent. Do a fractional distillation (recommended) or just bottle for storage.
An alternative cleaning method is to pass moonshine 2-3 times through a column (you can make it yourself), but the effect is somewhat worse than when insisting
Birch charcoal for cleaning moonshine is often used by distillers, since the raw materials are cheap and the technique works efficiently.
The method allows you to get rid of most of the harmful components that remained in the distillate after the primary distillation. You can use the technique after the second distillation, but this method is not suitable for mash.
Purification of distillate with birch charcoal is not difficult and does not take much time.
It is birch coals that are the easiest to get. They are neutral in smell, will not give the drink an unnecessary aftertaste and have good adsorbing properties. Embers can be bought at the store or made from birch with your own hands. It also won't take long.
How to clean moonshine and cook coal with your own hands?
To prepare activated charcoal, you will need birch logs that need to be burned in an oven or on a fire. As soon as combustion is completed, red-hot coals remain from the logs, which must be collected and poured into a clay pot. If there is no pot, then you can use an iron container.
The main thing is that air does not get into the container, then the coals will go out after a certain time.
As soon as the fire goes out and the coals do not smolder, the container is opened, the coals are crushed, but not to the state of a fine powder, then they are washed with water and dried.
With the help of coals, there are several. They also depend on the type of coal and its origin. If birch charcoal is used, then the technique is as follows:
- Coal is added to the distillate in a proportion of 50 grams per liter of drink. In this form, moonshine is left for 2-3 weeks. This term applies only to wood coals. If other types are used, then the period should be reduced to 2 hours, since coal provokes the appearance of aldehydes in the composition. In order to better adsorb impurities, the container with coal and moonshine must be shaken every day. At the end of the term, sediment will collect at the bottom of the container, where fusel oils will fall out.
- To get rid of fine coal in moonshine, you need a filter. A household model designed for water is suitable. Gauze is not suitable for this process, because it will not be able to catch all the small particles. The filter can be prepared manually. To do this, the bottom of the plastic bottle is cut off and cotton wool is placed in a thick layer closer to the neck. Powder is poured on top of the cotton wool with a layer of 10-15 centimeters, and the filter is used with the neck down.
- It is possible that after the filtration process, the moonshine still remains cloudy from small particles of coal. Therefore, to get rid of the unwanted effect, it is enough to pass the drink through clean cotton wool again. The filtration itself can be started after diluting the alcohol strength to 45–50 degrees.
In general, the action of activated carbon lies in the method of adsorption. Small particles of a substance are porous, so they attract harmful components to their surface and settle to the bottom. Not only coal, but also walnut shells, for example, have the same property. After the chemical reaction has occurred, it will not be possible to use coal a second time.
Buying coal will not cause much trouble. This product is sold in supermarkets in the kebab and barbecue section. Filters can also be purchased from the store.
The cost of these products is inexpensive, but it is important to keep the filter clean so that the quality of the cleaning processes does not fall.
The filter cartridges can also be loaded with charcoal or coal, which makes cleaning thorough.
It is better not to use other types of coal. If coking coal is still acceptable in the absence of wood and birch coals, then the tableted version from the pharmacy is not suitable for moonshine.
The fact is that coal from a pharmacy is made from animal bones, the pores in it are too large, so the absorption of harmful substances will be less. Also, these tablets contain starch.
It contributes to the acquisition of a drink of bitterness, which is difficult to get rid of.
The charcoal itself, which has a cleansing ability, is used for water, aquariums, air system cleaning and other areas, so there is no interruption in this substance. As a high efficiency option, a 3:1 mixture of charcoal and coke can be used.
There are some tips for those who are going to use this method:
- The time of purification, that is, infusion on coal, should be limited. If moonshine is overexposed, then there is a possibility of charcoal returning harmful components to the drink.
- It is important to monitor not only the cleanliness of the filter, but also the composition of the cartridges. There may be impurities and chemicals other than coal. They will not greatly affect the taste of the distillate, but experienced distillers try not to use anything other than natural coal.
- Waste material is not reused due to inefficiency, purification of moonshine with coal is not possible.
- It is better to put a lot of coal than not to report it to the container. It is impossible to go overboard with this indicator.
- If, after filtering through coal, there is a smell or taste of rotten, burnt wood, then you can get rid of the sensations only by distilling the moonshine again.
What should be the water for moonshine. Self-production of a charcoal filter for moonshine What water is taken for moonshine
To make moonshine (mash), it is best to use bottled water (or filtered through a household filter). For diluting alcohol – distilled, since it does not contain impurities and will not change the taste of the finished drink in any way. For mash, it is not suitable – in absolutely pure water there are no microelements necessary for yeast.
Why was not spring water considered the best in the 19th century, but river water?
The flowing river water contained more oxygen and less salts and minerals than the spring water. The turbidity was removed by filters of that time.
The filter is a rectangular box made of wood 90 cm high. The bottom is perforated: holes of 1.3 cm were drilled in 5 cm steps. Pebbles were laid at the bottom, then birch charcoal, then coarse sand. The last is fine sand. The thickness of each layer is 15 cm.
A few more filter designs
The water requirements were as follows:
- must be clean, colorless, odorless, tasteless;
- contain a lot of air.
Purity for impurities (minerals, salts) was determined as follows: when boiling, it should not cloudy, foam well with soap. Oxygen saturation: when pouring water from a glass into another, bubbles appeared. The methods are old-fashioned, but fair to this day.
With this calculator, you can easily calculate how much water you need to add to moonshine to get the result you want. Many people who are engaged in home brewing are interested in the question of how to dilute moonshine.
Undiluted drink can burn the mucous membrane, which in turn makes breathing difficult. It is customary to drink alcoholic drink with water or dilute. The strength of diluted moonshine immediately decreases.
In order to calculate the correct ratio of the proportions of water and alcohol, there is a special calculator.
In order not to spoil the drink and reduce the degree of alcohol concentration, there are several methods for diluting it with water.
Fertman's table is the easiest way to calculate the required proportions. She clearly demonstrates how to reduce the strength of the drink to 15% vol. This option is suitable if you do not have a calculator at hand.
|Strength of the diluted mixture (1000 ml),%
|The required degree of moonshine after breeding,%
Before diluting moonshine, you should measure the real content of ethyl alcohol. To do this, you can use a household alcohol meter. The resulting indicator must be found in the first horizontal column.
How it works in practice
Presumably, the person wants to dilute the drink with a strength of 60% vol.
- At the exit, he is going to get moonshine, the strength of which will be 40% vol.
- In order to understand how much water is required for this procedure, it is necessary to find the intersection cell of the required row and column.
- In this case, the following results are obtained: 1 liter of a sixty-degree drink should be diluted with 514 ml of water in order to get a forty-degree moonshine.
- The result can also be checked with a home alcohol meter.
A drink with an original strength, for example, 80% vol. to obtain a thirty-degree moonshine, according to the table, it is necessary to dilute 1709 ml of water.
Thus, a person engaged in home brewing will be able to get the perfect mixture for his needs.
Special formula for brewing moonshine
Sometimes the table may not contain the required indicators. In this case, other methods of calculating proportions come to the rescue, for example, a special calculator or a formula.
Today, there are various resources that offer, using a specific calculator, to calculate the required volume of water to dilute moonshine.
It is very convenient and simple to use such resources: in the corresponding field you need to enter the volume of the initial alcohol, the strength of the drink before dilution and the desired degree of strength.
Then the user clicks on the “Calculate” button and an automatic calculation takes place.
What kind of coal is needed to clean moonshine. How to clean moonshine with activated charcoal and coconut charcoal
Filtration through various types of coal is one of the most effective ways of purifying moonshine from fusel oils. Due to the high ability of the carbon filter to absorb harmful substances, this method of alcohol purification allows you to most completely eliminate various impurities from the moonshine.
We will try to give the whole truth about cleaning moonshine with activated carbon at home below.
What charcoal is suitable for cleaning moonshine
Different types of charcoal can be used for the filter used to trap contaminants.
This list includes the following types:
- activated charcoal from a pharmacy in tablets;
- coal from a gas mask;
- various types of charcoal;
- coal from water filters;
- coconut charcoal;
- special coal for winemakers.
Purification of moonshine with activated carbon
There are not so few questions in this seemingly simple matter, we will try to consider all aspects in detail.
Which activated carbon is best for cleaning moonshine
It is worth noting that the properties of activated carbon in the purification of moonshine are in the absorption of various harmful substances by means of pores in its structure. In order to be able to capture various impurities, the pore size in this form of coal must exceed the diameter of the molecules of such a substance.
Since medical activated carbon is made from various types of raw materials (charcoal, specialized types of coal such as BAU-A, coking coal, and so on), the pore size in such a substance is small. For this reason, the purification of moonshine with pharmacy activated carbon is ineffective.
Activated carbon from gas filters is also poorly suited for this purpose. Additional substances used to deactivate the inhaled air can react with ethanol, resulting in a deterioration in the taste of the product.
The best results in the selection of harmful impurities are obtained by using activated carbon made from wood. In particular, purification of moonshine with birch activated carbon is quite effective.
How to make activated charcoal to clean moonshine
It is quite difficult to make high-quality activated carbon with your own hands for cleaning moonshine. The technology of how to activate charcoal to purify moonshine uses the effect of pyrolysis – wood burning in conditions of oxygen deficiency.
For self-production of activated charcoal, you must perform the following steps:
- take birch firewood and let it burn completely in an open fire;
- when only embers remain, place them in a container with a tight-fitting lid;
- after the coals have gone out and cooled down, the filter medium is ready.
If you follow these steps correctly, the resulting coal will actually not be inferior in quality to that offered in the store.
How much activated carbon is needed to clean moonshine
The amount of activated carbon used depends on the method of application of the agent. A number of sources recommend purifying moonshine by filtering it through such a substance. Some people advise simply adding crushed activated carbon to the resulting distillate.
For example, regarding how much activated carbon to put in the product itself or in a filter to eliminate impurities, there are tips to take one part of coal for 20 parts of alcohol (approximately 50 g of coal per liter of product). The indicated proportions can be slightly changed in the direction of increasing the amount of coal used, since a larger amount of the adsorbing agent will not bring harm.
It is worth noting that when using a significantly larger amount of adsorbent, the benefits and harms for cleaning the product will not change significantly. The effectiveness of coal on moonshine is finite. Each type of coal can only retain a certain size of impurity molecules. An increase in the amount of adsorbent will not increase the cleaning efficiency.
The consumption of the filter medium will also depend on a number of factors. For example, for the primary purification of the resulting distillate, the filter element will need to be replaced after each purification of the available volume of alcohol.
The time for cleaning moonshine with activated carbon should ensure the maximum absorption of impurities contained in the drink, and at the same time exclude the risk of returning harmful substances back to the product to be cleaned. It is worth noting that in different sources, the recommendations regarding the duration of the infusion of the drink differ significantly.
Focusing on the technological standards for the purification of alcohol, it is advisable to insist the moonshine on crushed coal for a period of up to five to seven days.
It's important to know
The simplest home-made coal column for cleaning moonshine
Novice moonshiners filter their product by adding some charcoal to the jar with moonshine (infusion method). Their more advanced counterparts know that flow cleaning works better, but requires a special tool – a coal column.
The cost of factory devices is high, but you can do something similar at home from available tools: a plastic bottle, coal, glass jar and cotton wool.
The proposed technology combines two filtration methods – flow and infusion, which guarantees a high degree of purification.
1. Coal preparation
To clean the moonshine, you need birch or coconut charcoal without impurities. The brands BAU-A and BAU-LV are ideal – activated birch charcoal, developed specifically for the alcoholic beverage industry. These brands are sold over the Internet, so it’s not a problem to buy them.
Charcoal for barbecues, from aquarium and household filters for water purification, charcoal activated carbon from a pharmacy is also suitable. Pharmacy charcoal is the worst option, since it almost always contains third-party substances – talc and starch.
Activated carbon should not contain any other impurities, otherwise filtration will negatively affect the quality of the moonshine!
Coal is often sold in chunks, which is not very good for cleaning moonshine. The larger the contact area, the better the filtration. First, grind the coal with a hammer, after putting the pieces in a bag, for example, from under sugar. The grind should be as fine as possible. Grinding is best done outdoors so that the resulting coal dust does not pollute the room.
After crushing, the coal is sieved through a colander or a coarse sieve. You will get three fractions: powder, small and large pieces not broken to the end, which are returned back to the bag. Only small pieces and powder are used for filtration.
2. Manufacturing of a coal column
The most affordable vessel of the required length and diameter is a plastic bottle.
The bottom of a two or three liter bottle is cut off, then 5-6 holes are drilled (burned) in it at an equal distance from each other.
The bottom is needed to press the coal to the bottom, otherwise it will float all over the bottle. One hole of large diameter is drilled in the lid, through which the filtered moonshine will flow.
With prolonged contact with alcohol, plastic releases harmful substances, therefore, instead of a bottle, it is better to use another container – a glass jar or a metal cylinder, the design principle does not change. Filtration does not last long and therefore is safe, but under no circumstances store vodka (alcohol, moonshine) in a plastic container.
3. Assembly of the structure
At the bottom there is a two or three liter glass jar, into which the purified moonshine flows down. The lid is twisted on the neck of the bottle, the bottle itself is lowered into the jar with the neck down.
Pieces of coal are poured into the top of the bottle – a little more than a third of a two-liter bottle in height, and covered with a bottom. If you pour little coal, the filtration efficiency will drop, more – the coal will absorb some of the alcohol, the product will be of high quality, but the strength will drop by a couple of degrees.
The entire remaining volume of the bottle is poured with moonshine to create sufficient pressure. The moonshine goes through the coal column and into the jar. At the exit, it is black due to particles of coal dust, this is normal, the color is removed at the next stage.
Gradually, the hole in the lid is clogged with coal dust, which reduces the flow. If the hole is completely clogged, the bottle is shaken and squeezed lightly a couple of times. As a last resort, unscrew the lid and clean it by pinching the neck opening with your finger.
Moonshine is run through this homemade charcoal filter 2-3 times. Then coal powder is poured into it at the rate of 30-50 grams per liter, mixed, sealed and left for 1-2 days. The coal that has absorbed the maximum possible amount of harmful impurities settles to the bottom of the can. This is a sign of readiness for cleaning.
Hand-made production of a coal column for a moonshine still. Do-it-yourself carbon filter for cleaning moonshine. Homemade coal column from improvised materials for cleaning moonshine Do-it-yourself device for cleaning moonshine with charcoal
If conditions allow, coal for moonshine can be made with your own hands .
It is enough to cook fruit or birch firewood, build a fire, let it burn well.
When the firewood turns into pieces of red heat, they are closed in a metal container with a lid and left to cool completely.
After that, the ash is removed, and the remaining pieces of coal are ground to a fraction of 4-6 mm, sifted, and placed in a filter housing or a self-made coal column.
You can buy beverage cleaning material online. Ideally this is:
- Birch activated carbon brand BAU-A;
- Coconut activated carbon BAU-LV.
The latter is used and specially designed for the industrial purification of alcohol.
The history of cleaning moonshine
At all times in our country, moonshine has been a popular drink. And even now, well and lovingly expelled, purified, infused with herbs, coffee beans, red pepper, the drink will give odds to factory products.
Even during the time of King Peas, people were looking for ways to improve the quality and taste of moonshine. For this we used:
- Cow's milk (1 cup per 3 liters of product);
- Potassium permanganate, which precipitates harmful oils.
They knew then about the ability of charcoal to ennoble the drink. And at the end of the VIII century, the Russian scientist-chemist T.E. Lovits, the successor of M.V. Lomonosov, made an important discovery for science – the adsorption of dissolved substances by charcoal.
Thus, cleaning moonshine with charcoal has a scientific basis, and the effectiveness of the method has been tested by time.
Strong drink cleaner
Some “experienced” distillers are aware of the properties of coal, but purify the product by pouring a certain amount of adsorbent into the container and shaking it. The effect is negligible, and it also takes time for subsequent filtration.
To clean moonshine well from harmful substances, it must be driven through a thick layer of adsorbent. The coal column works according to this principle.
Equipment for cleaning the product is sold in stores, but their cost is high. In our country, where every second man is Kulibin or left-handed, you can make a reliable filter from improvised means. To do this, you will need a plastic bottle, a cotton pad (tampon) or coffee filters, a 3-5 liter glass jar.
If you are seriously engaged in the manufacture of moonshine, it is better to buy, find, get a piece of stainless steel pipe for the column body. Weld legs to it, the inner filling is similar to the option with a plastic bottle.
A do-it-yourself coal column is made for cleaning moonshine as follows: the bottom part 2-3 centimeters high is cut off from plastic 2 or 3 liter dishes. Several holes are drilled in the screw cap.
A cotton pad is inserted into the neck and the lid is twisted. The bottle is turned over and inserted into a three-liter jar and 1/3 filled with charcoal. The coal column is filled with moonshine, almost to the very top.