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Thread: Distilling methods with a 500mL retort?

  1. #21
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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?
    Along with what JDP said about turning down the heat, you can also raise the retort a couple inches above the hot plate to further regulate the temperature (if the hot plate doesn’t have a fine-control knob). This works especially well if you ever distill with candles. The closer to the flame, the more direct heat is put into the glass.
    Art is Nature in the flask; Nature is a vial thing.

  2. #22
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    I tried the advice of boiling it without a pot and just putting it on the hot stove with a metal thing to keep it in place. The water inside is 'boiling' or bubbling and there is steam coming out. Seems the main trouble is getting the water or liquid inside to boil and steam. Howcome with a hot plate the borosilicate alembic needs to be in direct contact for it to boil?

  3. #23
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    As I predicted you now have the problem that the steam won't condense and you are losing all your water to the air.
    You need to cool the snout and or the receiver, to keep at least some more of the water.

    Imo an alembic or retort is not really a suitable tool to quickly distill water without losing a lot of it.

    Even a common active condenser like a) is not enough and here I speak from experience. You at least will need version b) to do this fast and comfortable without losing too much water.



    Edit: Concerning your question: The air is a really bad thermal conductor. Even a small distance between the heating source and your vessel enourmosly decreases the temperature. Most of the energy is "lost" to the air.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florius Frammel View Post
    As I predicted you now have the problem that the steam won't condense and you are losing all your water to the air.
    You need to cool the snout and or the receiver, to keep at least some more of the water.

    Imo an alembic or retort is not really a suitable tool to quickly distill water without losing a lot of it.

    Even a common active condenser like a) is not enough and here I speak from experience. You at least will need version b) to do this fast and comfortable without losing too much water.



    Edit: Concerning your question: The air is a really bad thermal conductor. Even a small distance between the heating source and your vessel enourmosly decreases the temperature. Most of the energy is "lost" to the air.
    What can it be used to distill? As said I do not intend to use it for just distilling water, this is a practice run or test in preparation to use it for other things. Anything to do in dealing with cooling it also?

    These are the two recipes I may use it for as mentioned but there will be others:

    1. "For the Alkahest of Tartar, we begin with crude tartar as it comes from the wine barrel, also called wine stone. Crush the tartar into 1/8 to 1/4 inch granules and place them into a distillation vessel. Begin distillation with a gentle heat at first then gradually increase. First a water, called the Phlegm, will come over to the receiver, then slow or stop altogether. Increase the heat and change to a new receiver with good cooling from an ice bath.

    Soon the entire apparatus will fill with a thick white vapor, and a clear yellowish liquid will begin to form in the receiver, followed by drops of a black foul-smelling oil. The distillate is now gently distilled using a water bath. The Alkahest of Tartar will come over as a clear liquid ready for use. There will also remain a nasty-smelling black oil which is the crude Sulfur of Tartar. This oil is reputed to have beneficial effects on diseases, involving the build-up of obstructing plaques, but it must be refined by distillation before being used."


    2. "Collecting the urine requires some preparation since we will only want to use the finest. A cleansing diet and restricted salt intake is undertaken for several days at least, then only water or wine during the period of collection.

    Close the urine in a glass vessel and let it putrefy for a month or more in a warm place. The odors involved with this process certainly class it as an outdoor activity. Filter the putrefied urine into a distillation train and slowly distil to dryness. Return the distillate to the solids that remain (the caput mortuum) and again digest for a month. Distil and repeat the cohobation of distillate on the solids a third time.

    On the final distillation, collect the clear distillate as the Spirit of Urine or Alkahest of Urine. As this final distillation ends, you can gently increase the heat and you will see a white sublimate form in the upper glass. Collect this sublimate and save it aside for use. It is the Volatile Salt of Urine, also called Van Helmont's Alkahest."

  5. #25
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    The retort will work for that process. I’ve used a 500ml retort with a 1 gallon glass jug as a receiver for dry distillations before. If you put the receiver in an ice bath, it will condense all the steam coming out. For the dry distillation part, the ice bath isn’t needed as long as the receiver isn’t picking up any heat from the burner.

    What I’ve learned about distillation with a retort, is that the receiver plays a big role in the condensation of the substance to be distilled. Unless, that is, you plan on spending a month distilling something drop by drip.

    Another thing which should be considered is how well closed your apparatus is. I keep mine fairly well stoppered during distillations (working mostly with plants), but every five minutes or so during the initial heating of the matter, I need to vent the pressure building up.
    Art is Nature in the flask; Nature is a vial thing.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiorionis View Post
    The retort will work for that process. I’ve used a 500ml retort with a 1 gallon glass jug as a receiver for dry distillations before. If you put the receiver in an ice bath, it will condense all the steam coming out. For the dry distillation part, the ice bath isn’t needed as long as the receiver isn’t picking up any heat from the burner.

    What I’ve learned about distillation with a retort, is that the receiver plays a big role in the condensation of the substance to be distilled. Unless, that is, you plan on spending a month distilling something drop by drip.
    The receiver is also hot, I touched it. How can I put the receiver in an ice bath though btw?

  7. #27
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    A large bowl of ice?
    Art is Nature in the flask; Nature is a vial thing.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiorionis View Post
    A large bowl of ice?
    How though? Would it have to involve putting the ice on a wrap above the bowl maybe?

  9. #29
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    Update: The water was distilled into a bowl but the insides of the glass retort cracked, not fullway though (Maybe or maybe not due to turning off the hotplate a bit late). Might have to get a new one. Was it too close to the surface of the hotplate?

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnowledgeSeeker View Post
    Update: The water was distilled into a bowl but the insides of the glass retort cracked, not fullway though (Maybe or maybe not due to turning off the hotplate a bit late). Might have to get a new one. Was it too close to the surface of the hotplate?
    That should not have happened with a well-made round-bottom borosilicate glass vessel. You can even heat them with the open flame of a gas burner. Of course, you should avoid too drastic thermal shocks, as even the best materials can crack that way. But as long as you heat them gradually, avoiding excessive thermal shocks, borosilicate glass can be made red-hot without cracking. I've heated round-bottom flasks so hot that they even start deforming at the hottest spot where the flame touches the glass. But they did not crack. Like it happened to William R. Newman when he was testing old methods for producing mineral acids:

    http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/newt...nce/mineral.do

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