Modern distillation equipment has come a long way since this process was first developed. Today you can pick and choose from quite a few different types of distilling kettles. These devices come in a variety of brands, sizes, and material types.
These kettles have one main function in common; heated fluid needs to pass through the distillation column before it is cooled down through condensation. This distillation column can, however, be filled or packed with a variety of different material types.
What is packing in a distillation column?
In distillation kettles, the heated fluid needs to pass through the distillation column before it is cooled by a cooling liquid. Distillation columns can be packed with different mesh varieties. There are two main varieties; structured and dump packed columns.
Many distillers prefer to use structured mesh columns above dump packed columns because you need to insert screens in your column when using dumped packed columns to keep the product from falling out. The structured mesh can be rolled and inserted into the column without the risk of falling out.
In structured column packing, the column is packed with premade materials such as metal, plastic or ceramic. In these types of packaging, the size and surface area of the voids need to be uniform and regular. The mesh is rolled into a cylinder and inserted into the distillation column.
Many moonshine experts prefer to use Structured Pure Copper Mesh Column Packing for distilling because it is highly efficient and easy to use.
What is the purpose of copper mesh in fractional distillation?
In reflux distilling, copper mesh reacts with sulfur compounds formed during the fermentation process. The copper eliminates sulfur compounds in your distillate which is important if you want to create a legal moonshine still.
It is important to note that copper mesh doesn’t have a shelf life. You have to use what you buy continuously. It is also important to take note that copper mesh needs to be properly cleaned after every run. Failing to clean your copper mesh could result in a foul-tasting moonshine still.
The purpose of copper mesh is to allow vapor to pass through to clean the distillate and to eliminate sulfur in your still. The copper mesh shouldn’t be packaged too tightly because vapors will still need ample voids to rise into. The entire column needs to be filled with the copper mesh.
What is a reflux column still?
Reflux stills are a different stilling method to pot stilling. These stilling devices create a still with a higher proof and very little or no flavor. This is achieved by the fractioning column that helps the reflux or liquid to condensate. The method increases the purity of the product and, due to condensation, the flavor of the product is also reduced.
Things to consider when buying structured copper mesh
There are quite a few different types of copper meshes available on the market. If you want to be sure that you get the right product then keep these things in mind when you shop;
The standard-sized column is 2” in diameter. For these columns, you will need about 1 – 1 ½ bags or 30ft of copper mesh. In high-capacity columns, the column has a 3” diameter and you will thus need around 3-4 bags of copper mesh.
Copper mesh cannot be kept on the shelf. The oxygen in the air will eventually react with copper. You can keep the mesh inside the pot and re-use it quite a few times. It is, however, important to clean your copper mesh regularly.
Not all copper mesh is created alike
Online stores sell all types of copper meshes. Some of these meshes are designed for pest control purposes and others for distilling. In distillers mesh, the mesh is woven finer and the product is made of food-grade materials that won’t contaminate your product.
The best structured pure copper mesh for column packaging
It is always best to focus on a copper mesh that is specially designed for distilling. These products are made of pure copper and have the right density for distilling. Here is a quick look at the best copper mesh fillings to consider for your distiller;
Anzydeal Copper Mesh
This copper mesh by Anzydeal is ideal for your distilling ventures. The mesh is made of high-quality materials, it is nice and wide for easy column filling and the mesh has a good density to purify your still. Here is a quick look at the main specifications of this product.
Materials – pure copper
Width – 10cm
Wire diameter – 0.16mm
Length – 2m
Weight – 1lbs
It is a high-quality copper mesh
Nice and wide product for easy column filling
The long length of 2m but can be cut to any size
It is easy to add to your column
No filters required to keep the product from falling out. If rolled properly, it will stay in place
Can be washed and reused several times
Songlin Copper Mesh for Distillation
This distillation mesh is a superb alternative. The mesh might be shorter but has a thicker wire than the Anzydeal mesh. It is a great quality product that is made of pure copper. It can give you superb liquid-vapor exchange efficiency without much resistance to vapor flow.
Materials – pure copper
Width – 10cm
Length – 1m
The mesh is nice and thick with a tight weave for quality distillation
The roll is nice and wide
The roll is shorter but still available at a fair price
The mesh can easily be rolled for insert in your column
You don’t have to compress it and it will still offer a tight fit
These are both superb picks for your distillation process. If you take good care of these meshes and clean them regularly, they will serve you for a long time to come. These meshes are ideal for making high-grade stills with low quantities of sulfur and very little alcohol flavor.