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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Finishing Filtration - How do you do it

So right off the bat, I'm talking vodka. When I make vodka, I filter it with intent of making it more neutral coming out than it was going in, with the explicit goal of making it as neutral as possible. I use a bed of activated charcoal in a fiberglass housing. Using a pneumatic pump, I push chilled vodka through the charcoal bottom-up, then collect it, and repeat until I'm happy with the outcome. The system is self designed using a mix of parts from our local water care provider and McMaster-Carr. This system works well enough to produce vodka that's won us some awards, but we're facing a couple issues that I'm tired of dealing with. Specifically, the volume this system can filter is limited, and the variability in time it takes to filter different batches to a point of neutrality we are happy with has become annoying. So I'm looking for options or alternatives to our current setup, and was curious to what others have implemented and found successful. Anyone have filter manufacturers, suppliers, or setup tricks that they'd like to share? Anyone using a plate filter imbedded with carbon that they are happy with? Anyone aware of any suppliers that will allow you to test the system before paying for it (like a test drive)? I'm pretty sure everyone deals with filtration in one form or the other, I'm eager to know what the field has to input.

Thanks in advance for sharing you experience.

-Scott


Reply:

Scott, what's the volume of charcoal (in cubic feet) that your filter holds? How much spirit do you try to filter through it at a time; and how much do you want to be able to filter?


Reply:

Scott,

We've been using powdered carbon since we opened up and recently switched. We now use carbon filter pads in a 20 x 20 plate and frame.

When using the powdered carbon, we'd dump the carbon directly into the vodka and then filter it out after it had some contact time. With the new setup, we don't get as much contact time, even when we run it slowly, so we have to make multiple filtrations. It's a bit more time consuming, but it's much easier clean up and we think it makes the product a bit better. The new pads aren't as cheap as powdered carbon, but it sure is a lot easier. And, relative to other costs, the difference isn't that much for us.


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As long as your pressure drop is not too large, why don't you just add another tank in the line? Have go from bottom to top again. This would be a great deal less labor intensive and is a simple way to automate what you are doing. If you find you usually go through filtration n number of times, just add n columns. Seems simple enough and probably the most cost effective over the long run (though probably not in the short of course).


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Has anyone tried using the activate carbon fiber (not granules) filter cartridges? Seems that in a 30cm single or triple it should be easier to use than a 20cm x 20cm plate and frame system. Also looks cheaper to start up?


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I thought I would ping this question again, but broaden it: any comments on the efficacy, convenience, and cost of using cartridge versus plate and frame filtration systems, whether for particulate or carbon filtration?


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Why not keep your current system but double or triple it, divide up your batch, and run simultaneously?


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Why not keep your current system but double or triple it, divide up your batch, and run simultaneously?


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What about vaccum filtration? There are several large scale vaccum filtration devices that fulfill a varitey of indrustral uses.

Also, I don't know if it would help but besides Carbon you could try a molecular sieve. I counldn't tell you if they are more efficeint in terms of cost and time but they can seperate ethanol & water from azmotropic concentrations, so in theory you would only ever need one pass with them.

GM


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What size of a batch are you looking to filter? 10, 50, 100, 200 gallons?


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JohninWV,

New to this forum, but none the less hoping you could give me a little insight. I saw that a little while ago you posted you use a 20x20 plate and frame filter with carbon pads. I am considering pulling the trigger on this exact set up.

I was thinking a 40 plate set up and I`m doing about 20 gallons vodka base at 50% per day.

My only concern with the system is the fact that much less volume of carbon is used, than compared to a column. I am afraid I will be forced to clean the pads multiple times per day.

I understand that I will probably have to re-filter multiple times and that is not a problem.

If you could give me a feel for how long these Carbon Pads last between cleaning it would be much appreciated!

Cheers,

Casey


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Let me add this is for taste correction only.


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We used to do a single pass with powdered carbon. Now we do multiple passes with carbon pads. I have a calculation somewhere when I made the change, but can't find it right now. Anyway, each person has their own preference on how much to leave in or remove, so I'm not sure it's meaningful anyway.

I think 20 gallons of 50% abv stuff will be super easy with carbac pads. You will need to do a final filter after the carbon to remove any dust from the carbon pads. A little carbon comes over in the filtering process.

With all of that said, we don't sell much vodka. Maybe mine isn't very good.


Reply:

Thanks John,

I planned on using a bag trap filter to catch any dust. I should get my equipment in the next few weeks. I`ll let you know how it works!


Reply:

Scott, I feel your pain! From the responses it would seem that all available solutions have some trade-off - cost vs. time vs convenience. I don't have the answer, but I'll tell you what I do: I know roughly how much contact time I need per gallon. I have 5 gallon pressure tanks filled with carbon. If I have a small amount to filter, I pass it through one cannister. If I have a medium batch I'll attach another cannister. Big batches will get the third cannister. Any bigger and they go through two cannisters twice and so on. I push it through slowly with CO2.


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Hi all,

I am pretty new to this forum but I have a question for Mr. Seveth son: You mentioned 5 gallon pressure tanks filled with carbon. I'm assuming you're using GAC.

Please correct me if I'm wrong. More specifically, I am interested in how I can get the 5 gallon pressure tanks you are speaking about? I am also doing small

batches of vodka made with GNS. Currently, we are using Powder activated carbon put directly in to interact with the vodka but we would like to start experimenting

with using a filtration system. The 5 gallon tank sounds like something we would be interested in trying out. Any info on how we can learn more about this system,

the fittings and hoses and / or pictures would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. - Neil


Reply:

I have seen someone use a 5-gal cornelius keg full of carbon, plumb it to sprinkle over the top and draw from the dip tube... that could be the 5-gal pressure tank... I have also seen someone use a 3" tri-clover spool 24" long with mesh gaskets at each end and just recirculate the several hundred gallons through it continuously for x number of hours... then finish with a .45 or .22 micron filter to polish...