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Author: Subject: Diy copper Liebig condenser.
nannah
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[*] posted on 20-9-2014 at 06:54
Diy copper Liebig condenser.


Hi, i recently posted a thread about a moonshine still that was offered to me. That got me thinking about the possibilities to modify it in such way that you can use it for steam distillation of plant parts to make essential oil.

A laboratory distillation apparatus to me has always been made of glass, but ever since i noticed that there are many moonshiners that make their own condensers out of copper tubing, and some other copper parts.
I am posting from my phone so i cant post any pics or even link to a picture, but google "copper liebig" and you'll see.

It would be wonderful if these could substitute glass condensers.

Can these condensers be used in the average chemical reactions, or should they be used strictly just for making moonshine and nothing else?

Anybody know?

Love. /N.

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JefferyH
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[*] posted on 20-9-2014 at 08:25


Laboratory distillation does not have to be done with glassware, but if you are using something that could possibly react, you just need to consider what your reactants are. With many organic reactants you may be able to get away with using copper, just avoid distilling any acids.

With chemistry its not easy to make such broad generalizations such as "Can these condensers be used in the average chemical reactions". What is an "average chemical reaction"? No such thing from my point of view. The great thing about chemistry is that when you understand the components of a reaction, you can use a bit of intuition on what reaction conditions are flexible (such as the vessel being used or the condenser).

What do you plan to be distilling? Knowing that I can give you a right away answer to your question.

By the way I suggest just investing in a cheap glass condenser. You can get them for as cheap as $10 on ebay. Besides all of the condenser "types", I've noticed that there are some that have tapered fittings (24/40 or whatever), and then there are some without any tapered fitting. These ones without tapered fittings can have hosing attached to them with rubber stoppers, so you can use them outside of an entire glassware set, but still have them behave how they are supposed to. Vapors enter in... condense, go out; the difference being that in this set up the vapor/liquid is traveling into the condenser through [thermally resistant] hoses.
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Oxirane
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[*] posted on 20-9-2014 at 09:27


You can make parts yourself as long as you find out they wont react with chemicals. In general almost all solvents, fats, oils and neutral and basic materials are suitable with most common metals excluding aluminum, and acidic and chlorine-containing chemicals do not. I made a large fractionating column out of common steel tube for plastic waste pyrolysis and a smaller one out of high grade 316 stainless for more precise works like making benzene and distilling larger amounts of collected waste solvents(acetone, toluene, etc.). Some acids, like nitric acid in most concentrations, cope well with stainless because they form a very strong oxide layer upon contact and reaction stops, while some, like hydrochloric acid will just eat through it.

Copper is used for alcohol distillation because it is easily soldered with readily available equipment and therefore needs no welding, which can be quite equipment and skill intensive when making water and even pressure tight seams, in general you'll need a TIG welder to do high grade seams. Copper also has a catalytic effect on the sulfuric residues left in the yeast process which neutralizes them and in theory makes the distillate more palatable, although most hobbyists just filter it through a bed of active carbon.

For common hobbyist, glass is the best. It can be bought readily except some suppressive states and countries, and it is suitable with everything except strong alkalis and fluorine compounds even up to it's transition temperature.
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nannah
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[*] posted on 20-9-2014 at 09:50


Yeah, what is a average reaction? :) English is not my native language, so thats why i wrote it like that. :)

I am a chemistry newbie, so the reactions i will perform is simple stuff. Use of acid is pretty common right? So if i would want to, i can go ahead as long as it doesnt come in contact with any acids?

Oxirane: that fractionating column you made out of stainless steel sounds pretty cool. I saw on youtube a guy that made benzene through dry distillation. I think he had something similar diy piece in his apparatus.
Its a seems like a pretty simple reaction between NaOH and Sodium Benzoate thats pretty OTC, right?Maybe i'll try it sometime.

Thanks for taking your time to help me out. I appreciate it. :)
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[*] posted on 20-9-2014 at 10:12


You'll probably also want to avoid using anything moderately oxidizing in it. Otherwise you might end up with CuO contamination in your distillate.
I would also recommend buying a lab glass apparatus. It's worth the investment. From my experiences with trying to make improvised setups, I've found that as satisfying as it is to successfully construct and use them, they will often introduce unexpected contamination and errors that may be difficult to diagnose.




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[*] posted on 20-9-2014 at 12:02


Quote: Originally posted by Oxirane  
I made a large fractionating column out of common steel tube for plastic waste pyrolysis

What did you get from PVC pyrolysis ?

I read that it's mainly Benzene, but not tried it yet.




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Oxirane
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[*] posted on 20-9-2014 at 14:16


I have not performed PVC pyrolysis because of few reasons, it hasn't been around for me in sufficient masses and though I have a picture that Cl2 and HCl are compatible with common steel when dry, I cannot confirm their compatibility. I have pyrolyzed only common plastics(polyethenes) and polystyrene for styrene recovery. PVC contains over 50% of chlorine by mass, and upon pyrolysis, AFAIK it releases HCl, ethylene gas and other petroleum gases and some different lengthed hydrocarbons.

http://www.environmental-expert.com/Files%5C22110%5Carticles...

It surely is worth of testing how much HCl could be recovered by simply leading the pyrolysis gases through a cold water trap. This has been discussed somewhere around here..
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[*] posted on 21-9-2014 at 03:08


Seems that the pyrolysis products of PVC vary wildly with pressure.

Precis:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0141391003...

Paper:
https://web.anl.gov/PCS/.../42_4_LAS%20VEGAS_09-97_1014.pdf




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nannah
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[*] posted on 23-9-2014 at 22:42


If you are going to try making essential oils then using a copper Liebig condenser would be alright, right?

Another thing. Have anyone ever soldered this type of thing and can give me some pointers if i were to try making it?
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[*] posted on 23-9-2014 at 23:19


google "pipe sweating"



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[*] posted on 23-9-2014 at 23:29


Kind of depends on your target botanicals!

http://issf2012.com/handouts/documents/519_001.pdf

Soxhelet extraction may be a better option. Supercritical fluid extraction (liquid CO2) may be more appropriate for essential oils...

Stainless steel is a nice material as far as reactivity and toxicity, but challenging to work with. Copper is easy to work, but a fairly reactive metal- And Lead based solder is not a good thing if you are processing for human contact/consumption. I would suggest Lead free solders (actually white brazes) for Copper lines handling anything people will ingest or contact. Please be aware that soluble Copper compounds are NOT non toxic.

If purchasing a soldering or brazing alloy, follow the manufacturer's recommendation for surface preparation and flux. There ARE alloys DESIGNED to be food safe




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[*] posted on 29-9-2014 at 02:13


Thank you guys for your help. I think i will wait a while, but i am definently going through with it at some time in the future.
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