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Thread: Metal Retort

  1. #1
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    Metal Retort

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon's Tail View Post
    I was thinking about using a metal retort for some initial experiments, as I can set it up over a crude fire without worry of it melting or shattering.
    Good luck finding one! Even the glass ones are not as common as they used to be, so let alone the ceramic/clay or metal ones. The only metal ones that are still in use are those employed by gold miners/prospectors for distilling mercury amalgams. They would not be suitable for the type of experiments you have in mind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    Good luck finding one! Even the glass ones are not as common as they used to be, so let alone the ceramic/clay or metal ones. The only metal ones that are still in use are those employed by gold miners/prospectors for distilling mercury amalgams. They would not be suitable for the type of experiments you have in mind.
    Thanks, I was thinking of making rather than "finding." Steel pot with lid, maybe sized a bit on the small side to handle higher pressures. I suspect fumes from dry distillation can be caught rather easily even without a convenient shape. I suppose that I'll prove myself wrong, but it shouldn't be a very expensive attempt. From what I've seen, commercial dry distillation is done in a steel drum. A long copper pipe will probably be my condenser, and an ice bath for a glass receiver, just so I can take note of what is happening.

    I'm probably asking for trouble by swapping receivers after the first water comes over. Since I won't be able to see the fumes it might be hard to tell when to switch it, which is why I'll let it go after the first swap and try to catch the milk, blood, and sublimate all in the same flask and separate by decanting (while holding my breath, hehe).

  3. #3
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    Cast Iron is preferable to steel as steel rusts at a much accelerated rate hence why garden furniture is sometimes made of cast Iron but never steel. Cast Iron stew pot would also be very easy to obtain or you can buy a cast iron cauldron very easily.

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    I was thinking pressure cooker, but with a little bit of milling, cast iron could work. Would probably be stronger as well. I have a Dutch oven that might work well for the first rotation, combining the elements and fermenting them. The weight of the lid alone with a bit of luting might be enough to seal it for that part of the work.

  5. #5
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    I don't know how big you want this thing but if its relatively small you could use Iron pipe fittings, two end caps and a section of threaded pipe...dangerous though!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luxus View Post
    I don't know how big you want this thing but if its relatively small you could use Iron pipe fittings, two end caps and a section of threaded pipe...dangerous though!
    That would probably be plenty strong if rated for high pressure. I think those fittings start at about 1000psi, I'm not thinking about anything that crazy. From what I see with people using glassware, like Z's videos, and what I understand from discussions on the matter, as long as the cold receiving end is sufficiently larger than the cooking pot, I shouldn't have too many problems. Was actually looking at one of my big pickle jars. If that one pops, at least I haven't wasted any good glassware, and if it holds, that will be a suitable test of the system. Also I plan on having the Materia fill the hot side about halfway, so cutting down on the air available.

    I may also intentionally sabotage the luting to one degree or another so that if the pressure gets too high, it can escape a little bit, but not enough to really allow outside air in (as little oxygen in the system as possible).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon's Tail View Post
    That would probably be plenty strong if rated for high pressure. I think those fittings start at about 1000psi, I'm not thinking about anything that crazy. From what I see with people using glassware, like Z's videos, and what I understand from discussions on the matter, as long as the cold receiving end is sufficiently larger than the cooking pot, I shouldn't have too many problems. Was actually looking at one of my big pickle jars. If that one pops, at least I haven't wasted any good glassware, and if it holds, that will be a suitable test of the system. Also I plan on having the Materia fill the hot side about halfway, so cutting down on the air available.

    I may also intentionally sabotage the luting to one degree or another so that if the pressure gets too high, it can escape a little bit, but not enough to really allow outside air in (as little oxygen in the system as possible).
    Stainless steel retorts work great for the dry distillation. I make my own and it is fairly cheap to make. Get a Bain Marie pot and lid from a restaurant supply house. Mine is 3.5 quarts volume. Drill a 1 inch diameter hole about halfway up the BM. Thread in a 1 inch diameter stainless steel pipe as the retort barrel. Then seal the thread union to the BM with high temp furnace cement. You can load the whole thing to the top as long as you put a stainless steel wool pad over the barrel entrance to the BM to keep the matter from plugging the pipe.

    Put more furnace cement around the lid to seal it to the BM retort body. Then use small steel clamps to secure the lid to the BM retort. This size unit works great in my kiln. I have fired one dozens of times so they hold up well to temps I use: 1400F being max.

    On the other hand if you are going to use a gas burner for the fire outdoors you might want go bigger like this:
    Pyrohouse Gas Reactor
    Last edited by z0 K; 03-30-2018 at 06:50 PM. Reason: repeated word

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by z0 K View Post
    Stainless steel retorts work great for the dry distillation. I make my own and it is fairly cheap to make. Get a Bain Marie pot and lid from a restaurant supply house. Mine is 3.5 quarts volume. Drill a 1 inch diameter hole about halfway up the BM. Thread in a 1 inch diameter stainless steel pipe as the retort barrel. Then seal the thread union to the BM with high temp furnace cement. You can load the whole thing to the top as long as you put a stainless steel wool pad over the barrel entrance to the BM to keep the matter from plugging the pipe.

    Put more furnace cement around the lid to seal it to the BM retort body. Then use small steel clamps to secure the lid to the BM retort. This size unit works great in my kiln. I have fired one dozens of times so they hold up well to temps I use: 1400F being max.

    On the other hand if you are going to use a gas burner for the fire outdoors you might want go bigger like this:
    Pyrohouse Gas Reactor
    thanks Z. this is something like what I had in mind. I think I've seen this video before, but thanks for sharing again. I like the egg in the video, but maybe a bit complex until I get my luting skills down.

    Furnace cement, you say? Is that bond breakable, as in a luting mixture, or is it more like a bond just for permanent parts? Whatever I end up with, I play on reusing it.

    What kind of mass fraction of liquids do you tend to get out vs the starting matter. Obviously, when I char anything, a LOT of it's mass is lost, even making charcoal from well seasoned wood. Light, dry wood of course is a revelation in itself, as most biomass seems to have nearly all it's weight in water, even stuff like fresh wood that "seems" quite dense, till it dries in the sun for a couple of years.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon's Tail View Post
    thanks Z. this is something like what I had in mind. I think I've seen this video before, but thanks for sharing again. I like the egg in the video, but maybe a bit complex until I get my luting skills down.

    Furnace cement, you say? Is that bond breakable, as in a luting mixture, or is it more like a bond just for permanent parts? Whatever I end up with, I play on reusing it.

    What kind of mass fraction of liquids do you tend to get out vs the starting matter. Obviously, when I char anything, a LOT of it's mass is lost, even making charcoal from well seasoned wood. Light, dry wood of course is a revelation in itself, as most biomass seems to have nearly all it's weight in water, even stuff like fresh wood that "seems" quite dense, till it dries in the sun for a couple of years.
    The furnace cement bond will break and crack over a few firings where it is applied thickly around the barrel joint and will have to be reapplied every few firings. The cement applied to the lid is thinner and is easy to pry open with a screw driver. Its purpose is to keep the vapors from exiting the retort and into the air. Once in the air they will produce foul smoke.

    One firing of 3.5 quarts volume done properly will take about three days to get all the Elements out of the biomass. The gas fired unit runs faster taking about 18 hours constant management to reduce 3000gms. of the matter in the egg into an artificial antimonial compound similar to what Ripley discussed. The high temp of that unit was 750F. From there our antimony compound is a greatly reduce volume from the original and can be taken to the kiln to extract more Mercury, Sulfur and Sal Volatile usually up to 1000F then no more is produced.

    It is best to burn wood in low oxygen through a long stack that cools the distillates so they condense on the inside of the pipe. The consistency of the soot changes as it drops out of the particle stream onto the pipe. the material closer to the bottom of the stack is much denser and more shiny and scaly looking. The material closer to the top is fluffy and flaky. It takes a lot of wood to get a little soot. The soot contains high concentrations of our Sulfur and Mercury and Sal Armoniac obtained from the wood.

    Wood is not the best subject for direct dry distillation on small scale. For that use a strong herb. Hollandus recommends Celandine which works well to give good amounts of the three principles to experiment with. Mint is another good choice.

    You do get mostly water in the dry distillation, but the water is "blessed" Mercury a complex mix of the three principles. You will get less Sulfur which is a complex of the three principles. From about 9 pounds of dry herb starting you will end up with about 10gms of Vegetable Stones varying in size coagulated out of the vegetable menstrum.

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