Distillation is the process by which alcohol is separated from the mash and water. It exploits the difference in boiling points of alcohol and water. In a fractionating column, a condensor unit packed with insulating material and strips the water from the vapor. As the water falls, the alcohol vapor continues up the column. When new, hot vapor is introduced from the boiler it is cooled by the falling water. At the same time it revaporizes any of the alcohol that may have condensed in the column. At the top of the column there is another collection unit. This unit is free of insulating material and is kept at 173F. Vacuum distillation also exploits this difference in phase change by lowering the pressure of the entire vessel. As the vessels pressure is lowered, ethanol begins to vaporize at a lower temperature.
Using a Fractionating Column
To distill, heat the boiler and pipe the exhaust into the inlet of the fractionating column. Once the mash has begun to boil, ethanol should come from the fuel outlet attached to the reflux column.