Building Your Own Still
If you have been looking for a true reflux still, this is it! Reflux refers to the up and down action inside the still where the alcohol and water vapors are condensing and re-boiling, as it this process that successfully separates out the pure alcohol from the water. There are many still makers out there who say they have a reflux column type still, and they do not even know the meaning of the word! 
Most of them make the biggest mistake made by many generations of still makers: they have the reflux column and condenser permanently attached (and therefore thermally coupled) to the boiler. This means that the only way to control the temperature (which is what controls how high the proof is) is by means of raising or lowering the temperature of the boiler. Perhaps in a laboratory or in your own kitchen, burning propane or natural gas (and thus, burning fuel to make fuel), this can be somewhat controlled. This works OK for making small amounts of drinking alcohol, but if it is fuel your are after, you want to burn scrap wood, or anything you can get cheap or free as a fuel source, because you have to minimize your costs and also be adaptable. 

Controlling a boiler pot is a huge bother, and nearly impossible. This is why my still has the distillation column as a separate and easily controlled discreet component. 

With a pot still, on the other hand, once the beer solution gets hot enough to boil, it starts to boil fast. At this point, a mere 5 degree (F) change in the temperature of the vapors will result in the final product being only 100 to 120 proof instead of 160 to 180 proof. To get high proof ethanol, you have to be able to control the temperature accurately and quickly within a very narrow 1 degree Fahrenheit range. This is only possible if you physically separate the reflux column from the boiler. Secondly, you have to include an automated control method, such as the automated temperature control valve pictured on my still (located just above where my friend has his hand resting on the left side of the still). 

Most home-made stills you will find on the internet are not true reflux still as there is rarely enough internal surface area or thermal mass to stabilize the alcohol vapors to create the turbulent up and down effect of condensing ethanol dropping down and being reheated by upward vapors and a the same time cooling and stripping the ethanol out of the upward-moving vapors. A reflux column needs to be internally packed with a thermally stable packing material. The large reflux columns in a commercial still use ceramic marbles or rashig rings typically. 

Principles of Operation

The top section is the condenser section.

Robert Warren has built over 140 of these stills, and this design has evolved over many years with quite a few highly skilled engineers assisting in the process. 

To order the still plans, from anywhere in the world, click here. 

Principles of Operation

Robert Warren's Still
Backyard ethanol 
You can make fuel alcohol in your backyard, and many people are doing just that, and running their vehicles on clean-burning alcohol instead of gasoline. 

You'll need a still, and you will need to ferment beer, or wine, from corn, barley, kitchen scraps, or even molasses. You can build your own still. We have excellent information available to help you learn what you need to know.
Building your own still
Principles of operation
History of the Charles 803 still
Floyd Butterfield’s still
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