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Tips and Practical Information About Stills

Do you have questions about maintaining copper stills? What should you consider before distilling?

In this section, you will find all kinds of practical information about caring for a still. Whether you use it for the production of essential oils or if your goal is to distill beer, we have answered frequently asked questions from our customers.

How to clean a still properly, what alcoholic distillation entails, what safety measures you should take before distilling at home... Can't find what you're looking for? Don't worry. Write to us at tienda@maritastills.es, and we will assist you.

It is a transition metal with a reddish color and metallic luster. Along with silver and gold, it forms part of the so-called copper family and is known for being one of the best conductors of electricity (the second best after silver).


Copper stills and cooking utensils distribute heat evenly, allowing for precise cooking at exact temperature levels.

Distilling, roasting, and sautéing dishes require minimal effort because they heat up quickly, retain heat, save energy, and reduce costs.

Cooking utensils made of copper are highly appreciated by professional chefs. Copper, besides being an excellent heat conductor, ensures even distribution of heat, preventing hotspots and resulting in more uniform cooking of food or liquids.

The bactericidal properties of copper contribute to preparing food with greater sanitary guarantees.

Another interesting advantage is that it helps vegetables retain their green color and prevents them from turning black when cooked.

The simplest way to clean copper is to use the juice of a lemon, a splash of hot vinegar, and a tablespoon of salt.

We rub this mixture with a cloth or a small brush.

Rinse it thoroughly with plenty of water and dry it immediately.

It becomes shiny, sparkling, and, above all, free from that thin bluish-green layer again.

There are also affordable metal cleaners that we can purchase.

Copper is a timeless material and will last longer than almost any other kitchen utensil.

With proper care, it could last a lifetime or more.

Before your first distillation, you should follow the following steps to thoroughly clean your still.

Using the table below as a guide, measure the correct amount of rye flour per volume of water and mix until you get the right mixture (The table is based on filling the boiler with 40% water and approximately 5% rye flour).

Still Size

Water Amount

Rye Flour

40 L

16 L

1 kg

Pour the rye flour and water mixture into the still's pot.

Run water through the condenser.

Apply heat with an electric stove, gas, or natural fire.

The mixture of water and rye evaporates, passes through all the still's conduits, and exits through the condenser.

Remove from heat, let it cool, and empty it. Wash all parts with hot water and soap and let them dry.

Some rye grains may have remained at the bottom of the boiler, and they should be cleaned before starting a distillation.

This cleaning should also be done if you are switching from essential oil distillation to alcoholic distillation, or vice versa.

When starting a new distillation, it is necessary to perform a small distillation with clean water until the distillate is completely transparent.

Distillation is a process that involves heating a liquid until its more volatile components turn into vapor, and then cooling the vapor to recover these components in liquid form through condensation.

The main objective of distillation is to separate a mixture of various components by exploiting their different volatilities or to separate volatile materials from non-volatile ones.

The principle of distillation is based on the differences between the boiling points of water (100°C) and alcohol (78.3°C).

Distilling is not a game; distillation is a science, and it can even become dangerous if proper precautions are not taken.

Before commencing the distillation process, please read the following precautions and ensure that you understand them:

Verify that you have the necessary and suitable space for distillation.

The area should be well-lit, clean, and adequately ventilated to prevent the accumulation of alcoholic vapors.

Handling flammable liquids, such as ethanol, requires taking the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of fire.

Before proceeding to distillation, confirm that the pipes are not obstructed; otherwise, excessive and undesirable pressure may build up in the still.

Perform a cleaning distillation before the actual distillation.

Do not overfill the still, and control the temperature of the heat source feeding the distillation unit. Otherwise, the liquid volume in the still may increase or overflow, blocking the pipes. Ensure that the organic matter used has the necessary liquid consistency.

Constantly monitor the temperature and do not allow the contents of the still to boil continuously. The heat source should be at maximum at the beginning of distillation but reduced as it approaches the boiling point. After that, maintain a low flame.

Monitor the water in the condenser to prevent vapor leakage and calculate the required amount to avoid damaging your still.

Do not consume alcohol during the distillation process. For your safety, adopt responsible behavior.

Depending on what you are distilling, you will obtain a mixture of different chemical substances through the distillation process.

If your intention is to obtain alcohol for human consumption, regardless of what you are distilling, what you are looking for is ethanol.

The different chemical substances found in organic materials or the liquids being distilled begin to evaporate (boiling point) when they reach certain temperatures.

Acetone 56.5°C (134°F)
Methanol (wood alcohol) 64°C (147°F)
Ethyl acid 77.1°C (171°F)
Ethanol 78°C (172°F)
Propanol (ethyl alcohol) 82°C (180°F)
Propanol 97°C (207°F)
Water 100°C (212°F)
Butanol 116°C (241°F)
Amyl alcohol 137.8°C (280°F)
Furfural 161°C (322°F)

Each of these substances will predominate at its boiling point. The temperature reading during distillation is taken at the top of the still, where vapors accumulate before proceeding to the condenser.

By measuring the temperature of the vapor, you will know when ethanol is being produced and the purity of the substance being produced.

To obtain ethanol, the temperature should reach from 78°C to 82°C; usually, the thermometer has a deviation of approximately ±5°C, so the optimal distillation temperature is around 90°C.

If you cannot achieve the desired temperature, increase or decrease the heat supplied to the still, depending on the desired effect.

Distilled beverages are generally described as spirits and liqueurs; however, distillation encompasses most alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content exceeding 20%.

Among them are beverages of various characteristics, ranging from different types of brandy and liqueurs to whiskey, anise, tequila, rum, vodka, cachaça, and gin, among others.

The secret of distilled alcoholic beverages, especially for producers, is to give the drink a high alcohol content while ensuring that the final product is pleasant to the palate.

Generally, the materials used in the production of distilled beverages include naturally sweet foods such as sugar cane, honey, milk, ripe fruits, etc., and those that can be converted into molasses and sugars.

The result of any distillation is divided into three phases: heads, hearts, and tails.

The best and most desirable part of distillation comes from the hearts.

The art of distillation lies in knowing how to separate the phases, experienced distillers use their senses to determine the cutting points, checking the taste and smell of the heads, which typically have a sharp taste and an unpleasant odor.

The hearts should be completely transparent and odorless. The Tails contain many fractions with high boiling points, as well as various alcohols and furfurals; this mixture can spoil the taste of the hearts.

The phases of distillation are identified by taste, smell, and the white color of the distillate. We recommend using an alcoholometer to separate the phases of distillation.

Essential oil is a mixture of various chemical substances derived from plants that give the characteristic aroma to some flowers, trees, fruits, herbs, spices, and seeds.

They are present in different parts of the plant:

Essential oils are very unstable: volatile, fragile, and light-sensitive. To obtain them from their natural source, two main methods are used:

Steam Distillation by steam distillation with a distiller or alembic is the most commonly used and cost-effective method.

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Extraction, which can be by cold pressing (squeezing without heating), yields highly concentrated oils, so only small amounts are needed to achieve the desired effect (usually in milligrams).

Result of cold oil extraction

Essential oils should always be protected from light and stored in tightly sealed glass bottles, preferably amber-colored bottles.

It's important to note that most essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin in their pure state, as they are highly concentrated and can burn the skin. Before applying them, it's necessary to dilute them in carrier oils, known as neutral oils, such as almond oil or hazelnut oil (in proportions of 5 drops of essential oil per 20 ml of neutral oil).

Preferably, essential oils should not be ingested and should not come into contact with the eyes.

They should be used in moderation by pregnant women and children.

Collect the plants or flowers you want to distill in the morning, before the sun rises, as the oil heats up and evaporates.

Most essential oils should not be ingested, especially if not diluted, and many of them should be diluted even when applied topically.

Ensure that the plants or flowers are not treated with pesticides as they can contaminate the essential oil.

Try to locate a local producer who can inform you about how the plant has been cultivated.

When drying the plants, be careful not to allow the material to become contaminated with dirt, dust, or other pollutants.

Contamination will reduce the quality of your oil and may spoil it.

Do not distill a batch for too long, as this may produce some additional oil, but it may also potentially contaminate the batch with unwanted chemical components.

For the distillation of most flowers, you can skip the drying process and distill as soon as you harvest.

15-20 drops of essential oil in 60ml (12 tablespoons) of carrier oil.
7-10 drops of essential oil in 30ml (6 tablespoons) of carrier oil.
3-5 drops of essential oil in 15ml (3 tablespoons) of carrier oil.

8-10 drops of essential oils (maximum), previously diluted in milk, in any bath.

5-8 drops of essential oil (previously diluted) in a vaporizer or 3-5 drops in a container with hot water.

3-5 drops of essential oil (previously diluted) in a container with hot or cold water, depending on the treatment being performed, where you will soak the compresses.

Foot bath:
3-5 drops of essential oil (previously diluted) in a container, where you will place your feet until the water cools down.

Result of image for essential oil dilution

Dilution with Carrier Oils:

Essential oils are highly concentrated, so they cannot be applied directly to the skin in their pure form. It is necessary to dilute them before application.

Considering that essential oils do not dissolve in water, their dilution should be done using so-called carrier oils, neutral vegetable oils that can be mixed with essential oils without them losing their properties.

Most carrier oils are used solely for diluting essential oils, but some have their own therapeutic properties. The most commonly used and suitable ones for this purpose are vegetable oils extracted from the fruits and seeds of plants (such as hazelnut, almond, corn, avocado, wheat, sesame, etc.).

Result of image of carrier oils