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Howdy folks, I’m Jeff from Moonshine Distiller and welcome back to the final episode of our Heads series. In this episode, we’re going to be going over our carbon filter unit. The unit itself is comprised of this hopper style funnel (which actually can be turned over and double as a domed lid for your boiler), the clamp and gasket that hold the funnel to the filter tube, and a 24″ stainless steel filter tube.
So, take your activated carbon. 1.5 pounds, which is the quantity we sell it in, should be just about enough to fill this 24-inch tube. Put it in a bowl or a pot or anything you can mix it in with water. At this point, you’re probably going to want to let it sit overnight. The carbon actually has a little bit of air trapped in it, so a lot of the particle will float to the surface. Letting it sit overnight and settle, will allow this air to escape, and the carbon to become saturated by water. Luckily, to save time, we have one that has already sat overnight.
After it sits overnight, give it a stir and let it settle for an hour or two. Then pour the liquid off the top. You will loose a little bit of carbon that is still floating on the top, but it shouldn’t be a significant amount. Again, you can add more water, stir it again, and let it settle for another hour or two. Generally, I do this 2 or 3 times before adding it to the filter unit.
To assemble the filter unit, I usually use one of our 3-gallon boilers as a collection container, because then from there with the drain valve on the bottom I can dispense it into bottles or mix it with essences or really do whatever I want with it. To use this as a filter unit and base, all you need to do is take a couple coffee filters (I generally use anywhere in the range of 4 to 6), but the slower it drains the better and the more filters the slower it drains. You’re going to clamp the coffee filters between the ferrule on the lid of the boiler and the ferrule on the end of the filter unit.
However, just so you can see the alternate way of doing it, and additionally, so you can see how slow the filtering process actually is, we’re just going to put coffee filters over the end, slide your 2″ hose clamp (available at most local hardware stores) over the top, and screw into place so that it holds the coffee filters in place during the filtration process. Next, you’re going to want to make sure there’s enough water in your carbon so that you can stir it and the carbon will be suspended in the water. Flip the filter unit over and put the end in something that will help contain the water as you pour the carbon into the unit. Again, make sure the carbon is suspended by creating a little bit of a whirlpool action and then dump the carbon into the filter unit. Depending upon how well you did at suspending the carbon, you may need a little more water to get the last of the carbon out into the filter unit.
The water should help the carbon settle into place and keep it void of any air pockets. As you can see, there’s already a little bit of water coming out into the mason jar here. After the water drains out, you can position the unit above your collection vessel (which can be anything), and start adding your spirits.
Generally, when you’re filtering your moonshine, you want it to be about 80 proof or 40% alcohol by volume. As we mentioned earlier, a lot of compounds like the fusel oils are more soluble in alcohol and less soluble once the water percentage increases. So, by watering it down a little bit, the fusel oils are more easily trapped by the carbon.
You can see that we have a slow trickle coming out. This might even be a little bit fast, to be honest. Like I said, we’ve got about 5 filters here in place, and I generally use 6 or more. The more you use, the slower it will filter and the better your product will taste in the end. Additionally, if you don’t feel like standing here and holding it for a couple hours while it filters, you can use these little hooks to hook it onto something to keep it upright.
So, now you can see that the water is almost completely drained, we’re going to take the moonshine from the previous run, and add it to the hopper. The hopper itself holds about a gallon, so you should be able to add 3 (maybe 4) quart jars before it’s full. Now it’s just a waiting game and we’ve got our first batch of moonshine ready to go.
As always, thanks for tuning in, and be sure to keep an eye out for our Hearts series.