View Full Version : Potash and vodka

01-05-2012, 02:04 PM
I wanted to get a higher proof alcohol from the 151 proof vodka I have so I placed potash into it. It has already separated and I see the water layer on the bottom. Would extracting the lower water level with a dropper be sufficient enough to separate the water from the potash? Also, what would be the ideal ratio of potash to vodka? And is the remaining alcohol rectified enough?

I ask mainly because getting a distillation train is out of my budget for the time being and I don't really have too many resources at hand to make a makeshift one. I've mainly been working with 151 proof for my tinctures because Florida is awesome about not selling anything higher than that.

01-08-2012, 07:17 AM
You have to distill the alcohol after Potassium Carbonate is added. Grape alcohol is always recommended, because the grape is alleged to be a superior plant. The process of Distillatio is part of the process, both internal and external alchemy. Remember, Spagyrics is not chemistry, and the psychic processes are as equally important as the physical. Of course, strictly speaking, Tinctures are not Spagyric products, while Elixirs are. In Spagyrics, one separates Philosophical Sulphur from plants with steam distillation, ferments the plant or adds grape-fermented Philosophical Mercury, Calcines the plant residue, extracts the Philosophical Salt, and then recombines the 3 elements to make an Elixir or a Plant Stone.

Distillation apparatuses can be constructed very inexpensively. (An alcohol hydrometer is also fairly inexpensive). I have failed at producing Spiritus Vitae from grape juice, in 5 gallon lots. I used to do this with Welch's and Fleishmann's yeast, so I don't know why my last two projects failed. I now have 1 gallon of wine waiting for Distillation, but I'd much rather make my own. A plastic carboy simply appeared on my street a while back. I had a stopper, bought an air trap for $1.50, but perhaps, I did not sufficiently clean the equipment. But I digress. A couple of 2-hole rubber stoppers, a length of 1" diameter glass tubing, and some 3-4 mm glass tubing makes an inexpensive Liebig condenser. Another 1" glass tube with a 2-hole rubber stopper at top for a tube and a thermometer, and wrapped around the base with teflon tape to snugly fit into the mouth of a boiling flask, filled with glass beads or even broken glass shards, makes a working fractionating column. I mean, one sacrifices frivolous things for an essential piece of apparatus, that serves in this Art.

I live in Miami, and I've used EverclearŪ for Calcining spent plant residue, but I've distilled wine into Philosophical Mercury for the Elixir. I have not yet distilled 7 times, but I will endeavor to do so in the future. Incidentally, Mark Stavish (unlike Manfred Junius) says that Potassium Carbonate "mineralizes" plant Elixirs. Just saying. I haven't done this yet, but it would be interesting to see if it improves the outcome. I did obtain 162 proof after a couple of distillations, according to the hydrometer.

01-08-2012, 08:29 AM
I have always wondered what "proof" meant. Below is an explanation from Wikipedia

Today, liquor is sold with labels that state its alcohol content as its percentage of alcohol by volume.

However alcohol used to have to be "proved" hence the word "proof".

The term originated in the 18th century, when payments to British sailors included rations of rum. To
ensure that the rum had not been watered down, it was “proved” by dousing gunpowder in it, then tested to
see if the gunpowder would ignite. If it did not, then the rum contained too much water and was considered
to be “under proof”. It was found that gunpowder would not burn in rum that contained less than 57.15% abv.
Therefore, rum that contained this percentage of alcohol was defined to have "100 degrees proof".

Source: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_proof)

Every day's a school day :)

I opened a thread some time ago on SOW HERE (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?1207-Spirit-of-Wine&highlight=spirit+wine)

You can see my cheap set up...bottle with cork and tube in pan of hot oil, tube into jar suspended in cold water.

Look for the links in the text...I made some film about what I did.

MTG you put in your post,"filled with glass beads", does this stop the violent exploding nature of the distilation?

I also opened a thread on making Potash...HERE (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?1205-Making-Potash&highlight=potash)

I made a little video clip of the effect of Potash on alcohol HERE (http://genius.toucansurf.com/SoW and potash.wmv)

Just a beginner so don't take anything said for gospel.


01-08-2012, 12:25 PM
just drop alco on table & zippo it - over 50% will burn

01-08-2012, 03:13 PM
Very interesting. Thank you for the suggestions. I bought a little chinese tea pot to act as a makeshift condenser but couldn't find any tubing to connect to the spout. Also none of my jars fit the opening of the tea pot, which was to be expected. I have thought about using a setup like Ghislain showed but was worried about how the plastic tubing would react to the Spirit. Also, trying to find tubing because my local hardware store guy didn't know what I was talking about.

I remember seeing a diagram about running the tubing through an ice water bath to help in the condensing. Opinions?

solomon levi
01-08-2012, 08:34 PM
I think it depends on what you will use this for.
Just keep adding potash until it doesn't dissolve - then it is saturated.
I've never distilled after, but then I haven't used it for any high alchemy.

01-09-2012, 02:07 AM
The glass beads or shards (Raschig rings, trays) increase the surface area of the fractionating column (Vigreux column). The heavier, non-volatile water will tend to reflux back down into the flask/curcurbit, while the volatile ethanol will go over first. One needs to watch the thermometer because ethanol boils at 78° C. while water boils at 100° C.. Some water always comes over, hence the repetition of the Distillation.