There could be several reasons why the temperature keeps rising when you’re running your reflux moonshine still. The simplest reason could be that you’ve already collected all the alcohol that you can get out of that run. However, that’s not always the case. Let’s look at a few reasons why this could be happening and what you can do about it.
You’ve already collected all the alcohol from the still.
This sounds obvious, but that’s not always the case. It’s not always so cut-and-dry to determine when to stop collecting when you’re running your moonshine still in reflux mode. Sometimes, the speed at which your product comes out of the condenser will start running much slower, so that combined with the higher temperature is a good indication of when to call it quits. But this also can depend on your mash itself, and although the distillate’s flow speed may not have changed much, what you are collecting could actually contain very little alcohol at this point. This is where a distiller’s parrot comes in handy, so you can take in-line alcoholmeter readings. If you have in fact collected all the alcohol you’re going to get, all you need to do is stop collecting and shut down your moonshine still.
Your heat source is too powerful.
You can actually use too much heat when distilling. This is most commonly seen with distillers who use gas heating elements, but you can also go overkill on the electric heating elements as well. You can reduce the heat input and then try again. Some distillers use two electric heating elements to bring their mash to a boil quickly, but then cut it back down to one when it’s time to start the distillation process. If you’re using multiple electric heating elements, try turning one of them off or use some kind of heater controller to reduce the heat.
Your cooling lines aren’t doing their job properly.
Cooling lines are essential in reflux distillation, so if they are not working properly, that will certainly affect the temperature at the top of your moonshine still column. People often ask us what temperature their cooling water should be, and we just say “as cold as you can get it!” If you’re using a submersible pump to recirculate your water, make sure that you keep adding ice to your water source to keep the temperature cold as well as consistent. Many distillers run into an issue when they don’t check their cooling water throughout the process. Once the ice has melted, your cooling water can quickly go from 35 °– 40° up to 70° – 80°, so check on it frequently to keep refilling with ice as needed. You also might need to increase the flow of your cooling water through the lines, which is easy to do with a water control system.
I hope this has answered some of your questions as to why you’re seeing the temperature continue to rise at the top of your moonshine still column. If you have any additional questions, you can always contact us online or through Facebook.