Step by Step Guide to Cleaning and Sanitising

Step by Step Guide to Cleaning and Sanitising


6 minute read

If you want to make great spirits, it’s an absolute must to have a great cleaning and sanitising routine! This will help prevent unwanted flavours in your final product and will keep your distilling equipment running well. With this in mind, we’ve put together some handy information to guide you through cleaning everything from your fermenter to your condenser.

Fermentation Equipment

Any equipment that comes into contact with your wash during the fermentation process needs to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised to ensure you don’t end up with a contamination, thus ruining all your hard work. This includes your entire fermenter (lid, tap, sediment reducer etc.), airlock, mixing spoon/paddle, hydrometer and anything else you may be using. You’re putting in precious time to craft your spirit, so it’s important to give your wash the best chance possible.

No matter which cleaning and sanitising products you’re using, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for dosage and process to ensure you are giving the chemicals enough time to do what they need to – and be sure to choose one that is designed for use with distilling or brewing equipment as well as the material your equipment is made from.

To clean our fermentation equipment, we use Mangrove Jack’s Cold Water Cleaner to give everything a good scrub - making sure we run some through the fermenter tap - then we follow that with a thorough rinse of clean water, again running the clean water through the tap. Once we’ve cleaned everything, we sanitise. We use Mangrove Jack’s No Rinse Sanitiser for the job, making sure the solution comes into contact with all surfaces, and then leave the fermenter to drip dry. We always turn the fermenter lid so that the side facing inside of the fermenter is face-up, then we use this to rest our mixing spoon on, keeping everything nice and clean.

Once fermentation is complete and you’ve transferred your wash into your boiler, give the fermenter a scrub with a cleaning detergent (we use the Mangrove Jack’s Cold Water Cleaner for this too), let it dry and pop it away until your next use.

 

Distilling Equipment

Air Still

Before the first use:
Rinse the boiler with clean water and run some water through the vapour outlet hole on the underside of the lid.

Before each distillation:
Clean your boiler by rinsing it with water. If the lid is dusty, run some water through the vapour outlet hole on the underside of the lid.

After each distillation:
Clean the boiler by using a stainless steel safe detergent to scrub away any build up on the element and rinse it with water. To clean the head of the Air Still, you can run some water through the vapour hole on the underside of the lid.

Every 5-10 distillations:
Clean the head of the Air Still thoroughly by running a water distillation.

To do this:

  • Fill the boiler with 4 L (1.1 US Gal) of clean water.
  • Fit the lid onto the boiler and plug the fan lead into the socket on the boiler body.
  • Clip the nozzle to the still head.
  • Place a 4 L (1.1 US Gal) collection jug under the outlet nozzle.
  •  Press the reset button on the base of the still.
  • Connect the main power cord between the still and the mains power socket and turn on the power at the mains. You should hear the fan start up.
  • It’ll take approximately 10 hours to distil the 4 L (1.1 US Gal) of water.

Turbo 500

Before the first use:
Rinse the unit with water. You don't have to remove the saddles but ensure that water is flushed through the unit i.e. from the bottom of the column through to the alcohol out point.

Before each distillation:
Clean your boiler by rinsing it with water.

After each use:
Clean the boiler by using a stainless steel safe detergent to scrub away any build up on the element and rinse it with water.

Every 5-10 distillations:
Wash the saddles every 5-10 distillations by rinsing the condenser column with water.

Every 20 distillations:
For a thorough clean, rinse the column with a citric acid mix (2 Tbsp citric acid to 4 L (1.1 US Gal) of water) then flush with water 2 or 3 times to get rid of the acid. You can also unpack your column and soak your saddles in a citric acid mix before rinsing them and placing them back into the column again.

If you remove the saddles, remember to add the copper saddles first followed by the ceramic or stainless steel saddles (depending on what you have).

The Column may leak during cleaning - This may happen during cleaning as there is no seal at the top of the tower between the top cap and the condenser.  This does not have any effect on the operation of the still as the vapour pressure produced from distilling using the T500 isn't enough to breach the seal between the top cap and the column. This is a safety feature in case of pressure build-up.

 

Alembic Dome & Condenser

Before the first use:
Rinse the boiler with clean water and clean the dome and condenser thoroughly using hot soapy water - rinse and let dry.

Before each distillation:
Clean your boiler by rinsing it with water.

In between distillations:
Using hot soapy water or Grainfather High Performance Cleaner*, clean all parts thoroughly, rinse and let dry. If there is any discolouration, then proceed to the next steps.

  • Create a diluted vinegar solution - equal parts vinegar and water. Scrub all components thoroughly and rinse well. 
  • For internal surfaces that are hard to scrub, distil a half vinegar half water solution. Once the distillate starts coming out, turn off the unit and let it cool. Thoroughly wash all components afterwards.
  • If there are any especially tough stains, dilute 2 Tbsp of citric acid in 4 L (1.1 US Gal) of water and leave to soak for a few minutes. Wash thoroughly and dry.

 *Note, high-performance cleaner will not shine or passivate the copper

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