Long-Term Cleaning and Maintenance



If you use your still just once or twice a year, it is helpful (but not absolutely necessary) to clean it with a vinegar or rye distillation before putting it away until the next distillation. Cleaning it in this way will get rid of any substances that may accumulate and be deposited on the walls of the still, from the pot to the coil.  The vinegar run consists of filling the still with water to 10% and vinegar to 10% of its capacity, and distilling it. Another option is a rye run, which consists of filling the still with water to 40% and rye flour to 5% of its capacity, and distilling it. Before carrying out any cleaning distillation check that the neck and coil are not blocked. If you use your still fairly frequently, i.e. several times a year, you won’t need to clean it with the vinegar or rye distillation. You can clean it with a water distillation or no distillation at all. Just be sure to wash the still with dish soap and hot water after each distillation.

If you use the still to make essential oils, you must be very careful because these can stick to the walls of the pot and the tubes, and form a dangerous crust. All parts of the still must then be cleaned with warm water to get rid of the grease, especially in the condensation tube; otherwise it will eventually become blocked. Stills used to produce essential oils should never be used to distil alcohol drinks, as the copper will naturally become permeated with the oils and contaminate the drink, rendering it unfit for human consumption. 

Regular use of copper causes it to oxidize which will cause your still to turn a deep red color. You should polish the outside with an appropriate polisher which contains no harmful substances. Wright’s Copper Cream is an excellent polisher. So is Brasso. Do not use abrasive substances. There are traditional methods that you can use to clean the pot, such as: moistening a cloth in a solution of salt and lemon juice and rubbing this over the pot.

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