Breaking in the new distiller

We have been distilling lavender oil with Old Faithful for about 4 years. This 30 gallon copper still was personally made by Colonel Wilson of Copper Mountain Moonshine Stills. It has served us well, once we figured out how to use it properly. That took us a couple of tries because we had saggy pipes, which caused backflow and no oil. We also took awhile to get the condenser going to ensure that the distillate didn’t come into the glass too hot.

copper lavender still we've used for 4 years

copper lavender still we’ve used for 4 years

I recently purchased a beautiful new copper still from Mile High Distilling. I got a smaller 10 gallon size to use inside the house with flowers only lavender oil (perfume quality). It works according to plan. The distilled water and lavender go into the big bellied pot, the lid goes on with a thermometer in it to keep track of the temperature. And, the condenser is supposed to turn the steam to liquid as it runs through the copper coil that is surrounded by coldness.

the thermometer on a good still never goes above boiling -- 100 degrees.

the thermometer on a good still never goes above boiling — 100 degrees.

oil and steam leave the pot and go into the condenser

oil and steam leave the pot and go into the condenser

I thought that the best way to create a cold condenser was to fill the chamber with ice. This could work if there were more liquids touching the coil. However, I filled the condenser with ice, which didn’t create enough cold on the coil. Steam ended up coming out of the condenser, filling the room with the scent of lavender, but not filling my container with the water and oil elixir that we separate into hydrosol and oil.

the condenser is supposed to cool the steam into water

the condenser is supposed to cool the steam into water

So i basically got a little bit of hydrosol and a tiny bit of oil. Next time, I will have water flowing through the condenser just as we do with Old Faithful, and I should expect better luck.

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