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Thread: Distilling methods with a 500mL retort?

  1. #1
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    Question Distilling methods with a 500mL retort?

    What are some distilling methods you can use with a 500mL glass retort? If you don’t have those big metal stands say or a ‘bunsen burner’. The traditional manner of distilling they used before those things could also help in knowing.

    This is the one I will be using once it arrives, for detail and analysis purposes: https://laboratory.livingstone.com.a...-STOPPER-500ML

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnowledgeSeeker View Post
    What are some distilling methods you can use with a 500mL glass retort? If you don’t have those big metal stands say or a ‘bunsen burner’. The traditional manner of distilling they used before those things could also help in knowing.

    This is the one I will be using once it arrives, for detail and analysis purposes: https://laboratory.livingstone.com.a...-STOPPER-500ML
    You can heat it with an electric plate, but you will be limited to lower temperatures. You can also use a portable gas stove, like the ones used for camping. Example:



    That will give you higher temperatures than electric plates, but still lower than a good Bunsen or Meker–Fisher burner.

    The alchemists and chymists used wood and charcoal furnaces to heat their glass vessels. They did not have borosilicate glass, so they had to avoid giving their glassware too sudden a thermal shock or they would crack, so what they would do is heat glass vessels inside "baths": water baths for lower temperatures and sand baths for higher temperatures. For subjecting glass vessels to even higher temperatures what they did was to coat them with refractory "lutes" (usually mixtures of clays and sand) and allowing them to dry into a "shell" that surrounded the glass vessel. That would allow them to expose the glass to higher heats that would normally not be possible due to the glass softening and deforming (the refractory "shell" would also protect the glass from direct exposure to increasing heat, thus lowering the thermal shock.)
    Last edited by JDP; 6 Days Ago at 04:23 PM.

  3. #3
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    If you want to distill something with a boiling point below 130°C you will get problems with the cooling as the surrounding air alone won't be sufficient unless you do it very very slow and rather ineffictive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    You can heat it with an electric plate, but you will be limited to lower temperatures. You can also use a portable gas stove, like the ones used for camping. Example:



    That will give you higher temperatures than electric plates, but still lower than a good Bunsen or Meker–Fisher burner.

    The alchemists and chymists used wood and charcoal furnaces to heat their glass vessels. They did not have borosilicate glass, so they had to avoid giving their glassware too sudden a thermal shock or they would crack, so what they would do is heat glass vessels inside "baths": water baths for lower temperatures and sand baths for higher temperatures. For subjecting glass vessels to even higher temperatures what they did was to coat them with refractory "lutes" (usually mixtures of clays and sand) and allowing them to dry into a "shell" that surrounded the glass vessel. That would allow them to expose the glass to higher heats that would normally not be possible due to the glass softening and deforming (the refractory "shell" would also protect the glass from direct exposure to increasing heat, thus lowering the thermal shock.)
    I have a portable gas stove and that was what I actually used to 'calcine' dried herbs leftover several times. So if that would help.

  5. #5
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    Watch out if you want to distill flamable substances (alcohol) with a gas burner. That can be very dangerous. For beginners I would therefore recommend electrical heat sources.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    Watch out if you want to distill flamable substances (alcohol) with a gas burner. That can be very dangerous. For beginners I would therefore recommend electrical heat sources.
    Mainly plan on using it for essential oil or non-herb spagyrics. I will avoid using it for anything that contains alcoholic substance then if using a gas stove.

    Thanks for the heads up though. Did you mean a Bunsen burner be safe for those (Like distilling to make a herbal spagyric tincture if it does contain any alcohol), or you referred to something like a hot plate (How do you use those)?


    Btw I saw a thing where somebody put it in a pot with boiling water at the base of the retort, what do you think of that one?

    Depending on if they used a gas stove or ordinary stove: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6i2NMBEw9c

  7. #7
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    You probably won't have any luck getting significant amounts of essential oils out of this setup. It is too small. The resulting water can be very flavoured though.

    I can not recommend using bunsen or any other burner with a flame. Better use a hot plate.

    What you described with the pot of water is also called "Balneum Mariae" by a lot of old sources. The advantage here is you can comfortably and relatively safely distill all matters with a boiling point below 100°C as the water won't get hotter. You can further improve that setup when wrapping tin foil around the top of the pot AND the balloon of your retort. Spare out the snout, otherwise it won't be cool enough. You can try to put some cold wet cloth on the top of the retort and around the snout for improved cooling too. But it won't work well if the stuff you want to distill has a boiling point below 130°C.

    If you need higher temperatures you need to replace the water with sand. Here you have to be more careful of course but just tinker around and you'll get a feeling soon.
    Last edited by Florius Frammel; 6 Days Ago at 02:30 PM.

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