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Thread: Distilling methods with a 500mL retort?

  1. #11
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    First of all I'd buy a tripod whereon you attach the retort.
    EM is right, reduce the volume of the water. The more is inside, the longer it takes to heat up.

    To be more efficient, wrap alumen (tin) foil around the top of the pot and your retort. Spare out the snout. This way you save and use energy more sensible.

    You will see that most of your water will be lost, as it will be to hot and therefore gaseous when it comes out of the opening.

    Don't close it while heating!

    I haven't watched the video but propane has a much lower boiling point than water. Actually it is already gaseous under standard conditions. The same stuff is in a lighter. It's only liquid there because of the high pressure inside.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    First of all I'd buy a tripod whereon you attach the retort.
    EM is right, reduce the volume of the water. The more is inside, the longer it takes to heat up.

    To be more efficient, wrap alumen (tin) foil around the top of the pot and your retort. Spare out the snout. This way you save and use energy more sensible.

    You will see that most of your water will be lost, as it will be to hot and therefore gaseous when it comes out of the opening.

    Don't close it while heating!

    I haven't watched the video but propane has a much lower boiling point than water. Actually it is already gaseous under standard conditions. The same stuff is in a lighter. It's only liquid there because of the high pressure inside.
    Do you mean to wrap it over the retort at the top somehow so that the water which tries to evaporate won't escape? Well then btw I think there's one other problem, that if it gets caught on the snout it might go down into the container its in? Just making sure, as for the last sentence I had the impression it was due to them using a propane gas burner but not sure. You have a point though.

  3. #13
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    I meant that you should wrap the tinfoil around the retort in a way that the water of your water bath can't escape too easy. Build a steam bath surrounding for the bowl of the retort, but spare out the snout, which needs to be cooled. In the video the person does this with a wet piece of cloth.

    If the water boils inside your retort as well it will be faster, but you'll lose more. If you keep it below the boiling point you can "sweat it over" without losing too much, but it takes much longer. Just tinker a bit.


    In that video they are distilling propane-2-ol, which boils at 82°C (water at 100°C) and has more vapor pressure. Therefore it evaporates faster. I can't recommend doing this with a gas torch like that person, as this substance is very flammable. You can get seriously injured.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnowledgeSeeker View Post

    How does this guy distill so fast in the video below I mean?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6i2NMBEw9c
    Well, for one thing, he’s distilling propanol by water bath, and if I read correctly, you’re distilling water by water bath as a test? I’ve always thought the water bath was used for substances with a lower boiling point than water. That might be why it’s going slowly.
    Art is Nature in the flask; Nature is a vial thing.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiorionis View Post
    Well, for one thing, he’s distilling propanol by water bath, and if I read correctly, you’re distilling water by water bath as a test? I’ve always thought the water bath was used for substances with a lower boiling point than water. That might be why it’s going slowly.
    Not "might", it is in fact what is going on here. Water-baths are great for distilling liquids that are more volatile than water. For distilling water you simply use sand-baths or direct heating with an electric plate.

    Also, as some have already commented, the distillation vessel should not be filled so much. You don't want boiling to possibly "splash" some of the liquid into the condensing part of the apparatus. The idea is to vaporize the liquid and then condense it, not to make it "physically" pass through by "splashing" or "boiling over" in its liquid form.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiorionis View Post
    Well, for one thing, he’s distilling propanol by water bath, and if I read correctly, you’re distilling water by water bath as a test? I’ve always thought the water bath was used for substances with a lower boiling point than water. That might be why it’s going slowly.
    Oh that makes sense, the premise of why I used water was because I wanted to test how the retort would work for liquids including others in general overall. What about if I used Tartar or Niter/Urine and wanted to make any other recipes like say rose water, angel water and any other things in the instructions that involve distilling?

    When I used it the water inside the retort became really hot but did not boil in the sense of bubbling and only several small amounts emerged. Also the water inside the water bath evaporated often in which I had to re-add more water boiled from a kettle when it did.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnowledgeSeeker View Post
    Oh that makes sense, the premise of why I used water was because I wanted to test how the retort would work for liquids including others in general overall. What about if I used Tartar or Niter/Urine and wanted to make any other recipes like say rose water, angel water and any other things in the instructions that involve distilling?

    When I used it the water inside the retort became really hot but did not boil in the sense of bubbling and only several small amounts emerged. Also the water inside the water bath evaporated often in which I had to re-add more water boiled from a kettle when it did.
    You are trying to distill water with boiling water. Since heat transfer is never perfect, the water inside the retort simply isn't getting hot enough to distill at any decent rate. In order to accelerate the distillation, you need to heat the retort with a stronger heat than a water-bath can give. Use a sand-bath, or you can even heat the retort directly with the electric plate, just make sure that you do not overheat it too much or the water inside it will boil too violently.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    You are trying to distill water with boiling water. Since heat transfer is never perfect, the water inside the retort simply isn't getting hot enough to distill at any decent rate. In order to accelerate the distillation, you need to heat the retort with a stronger heat than a water-bath can give. Use a sand-bath, or you can even heat the retort directly with the electric plate, just make sure that you do not overheat it too much or the water inside it will boil too violently.
    Ok thanks, and btw if heating directly with an electric plate in what ways can I make sure it does not overheat too much?

    And so far as goes for liquids how do I know if something requires direct heating, a sandbath vs a waterbath to properly distill? I mean eventually I'm going to try and do it with tartar or niter in the future I think so it would be helpful.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnowledgeSeeker View Post
    Ok thanks, and btw if heating directly with an electric plate in what ways can I make sure it does not overheat too much?

    And so far as goes for liquids how do I know if something requires direct heating, a sandbath vs a waterbath to properly distill? I mean eventually I'm going to try and do it with tartar or niter in the future I think so it would be helpful.
    "Overheat" is relative, so in order to overheat something there has to be a limit in which the thing overheats.
    For example, overheating a piece of cannabis might be around 400°, whereas overheating a hunk of heroin might be around 700°.

    The way you can test the precision of your heating device is to monitor your hotplate for a period of time and record how many degrees it fluctuates between the minimum temperature and maximum temperature at a certain setting while powered on. Note that the level of variance will differ according to temperature set. It might only vary ±5° at 120°, but it could vary ±10° at 420°. Room temperature will affect the level of fluctuation as well. Some brands of hotplates perform much better than others.

    As far as "knowing whether something requires direct heat, water bath, or a sandbath", this is up to you once you determine your desired goal.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnowledgeSeeker View Post
    Ok thanks, and btw if heating directly with an electric plate in what ways can I make sure it does not overheat too much?
    Keep an eye on the contents of the distilling vessel. If you see that it's boiling too violently, that means that you are applying excessive heat. Reduce the temperature setting a bit until you get a more controlled boiling.

    And so far as goes for liquids how do I know if something requires direct heating, a sandbath vs a waterbath to properly distill?
    Look at its volatility. If it's a liquid more volatile than water (ex: alcohol), you can use a sand-bath or a water-bath. For less volatile liquids you need to use stronger heats. Also, if the liquid happens to be flammable (ex: again, alcohol), you should NOT heat it directly with an open flame, or something that causes sparks. Should your distilling vessel fail for any reason and the liquid seeps or splatters out of it, it will get ignited and you will have a fire accident to deal with.

    I mean eventually I'm going to try and do it with tartar or niter in the future I think so it would be helpful.
    These are not liquids but solids. You will need higher temperatures to decompose them. Plus things like niter do not easily decompose by heat alone without addition of other substances.

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