V. Reflux column

The reflux column is by far the most simple part of the still to build, so lets start there. First, gather/cut the following parts:

  • Qty 2 – 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ x 3/4″ tees
  • 34″ of 1 1/2″ copper pipe
  • Qty 2 – 2 1/4″ lengths of 1 1/2″ copper pipe
  • Qty 1 – 3/4″ x 1/2″ female adapter
  • Qty 1 – 1 1/2″ length of 3/4″ copper pipe
  • 5′ length of 1/4″ soft copper pipe
  • Qty 1 – 1 1/2″ female adapter

Next, lock the 34″ length of 1 1/2″ pipe in your clamp. Polish both ends with steel wool (I will not mention this step in the future to avoid repeating myself, but please be aware that it is required for ALL soldered joints). Clean the inside of both tees and the female adapters. (same with this step)

Moonshine still tip – sanding cloth makes the joint cleaner than steel wool. Do a final polish with sanding cloth to get rid of steel particles.

still building

Apply a reasonable amount of flux to the insides of the fittings and the outside of the pipe. (again, I won’t repeat this in the future)

Slide the 1 1/2″ female adapter onto one end and one of the tees on the other. Then slide one of the 2 1/4″ long 1 1/2″ pieces of pipe in the open end of the tee that you just inserted.

Next, slide the other 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ x 3/4″ tee onto the 2 1/4″ length of 1 1/2″ exposed pipe and slide the other 1 1/2″ pipe into that. Orient the 2 tees such that the top (the top is the side furthest away from the 1 1/2″ female adapter on the other side) is 90 degrees to the left (when looking at it from the top) of the tee below it.

Now, solder all of the connections you just made. This will be your 1st attempt at soldering, so just take your time. Read over the instructions I’ve provided and you’ll do just fine.

After your soldered those joints, take your 1 1/2″ length of 3/4″ pipe and insert in into the lower of the two tees (the one closest to the 1 1/2″ female adapter) and onto that, slip on the 3/4″ female adapter. Solder those two joints and … CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve just completed the reflux column. Hey, this still building stuff is a snap, huh? Here’s what the top of your reflux column should look like:

And the completed reflux column should look like this:

column flux still

This next step will take a steady, patient hand. Please, be patient and don’t rush yourself. You will need the 5 foot length of 1/4. soft copper pipe. In this step, you will be wrapping the 1/4″ copper pipe around the 1 1/2″ copper pipe. The following photo demonstrates how the bent pipe should look after it’s been wrapped around the reflux column. Don’t worry too much about the extra bends in that wrap back around right now. Just be sure to leave yourself enough room to make those bends.

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Note the direction of the wrap and bends in relation to the top and bottom of the reflux column! The TOP (the end with the tees) is to the RIGHT of the picture below.

Moonshine still tip – Moonshine stills designed for flavor have very short reflux columns to improve the quality of complex flavors and smell of whiskyz and bourbonz” Tallest columns are required for quality fuel, clear spiritz, and grain alcyhols.

Alright. Now we’re cooking. Lets move on to the condenser column. >>

*Note: Only operate any still outdoors. Obtain all required building, safety, federal and state permits and licenses before operating your still.