Alcohol Distillation and the Art of Flavor Extraction

Alcohol Distillation and Flavor Extraction

Making homemade natural extracts to add deliciously intense flavors to your favorite recipes has never been simpler or cheaper! Ingredients are mixed in ethanol as a solvent to preserve their flavors without them diminishing with age. Extracts are commonly made using fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices diluted in alcohol as this allows the flavors to remain intact over time. These can be purchased from home brewing stores at reduced rates while their alcohol content also makes them more concentrated and long-lived than store bought versions.

Alcohol distillation involves the separation of ethyl alcohol from water using the process of vaporization and condensation. Fermented liquid is heated to a temperature that first vaporizes alcohol before drawing off a portion through an arm connected to a coil submerged in cool water that condenses its vapor back into liquid state, before being collected, separated, purified according to desired spirit being created and finally collected for final collection and separation into various fractions and purification steps.

Distillation is what separates spirits from beer, wine and other non-distilled alcoholic beverages, such as after work brews. Whisky distillery wash (the fermented liquid made from barley, water and yeast) loaded into its still typically contains around 8 percent alcohol – less than what’s found in an after work beer or drink at work – however by the time it has been turned into Scotch whisky it has undergone multiple distillation steps to reach 75% proof!

The Importance of Water Quality in Distillation

Distillation replicates Mother Nature’s hydrologic cycle and is one of the oldest means for purifying water. Distillation effectively removes inorganic compounds (e.g. lead and nitrate) as well as nuisance particles like iron and hardness from polluted water as well as some bacteria and viruses that might otherwise pollute it.

Household distillation units typically consist of a boiling chamber and condensing coil, from which steam rises through an outlet to be collected into an external container of clean water storage. Boiling kills bacteria, viruses and protozoan cysts before condensate containing pure water cools to become liquid again before flowing off through its outlet spigot as distilled water.

Distillation’s effectiveness at removing organic contaminants depends on their chemical properties. For instance, volatile organic chemicals with boiling points close or lower than that of water can recontaminate distilled water unless another process such as activated carbon filteration (G1489) can be employed prior to condensation. For more information about eliminating VOCs from water sources please see NebGuide Drinking Water Treatment: Activated Carbon Filtration (G1489).

Domestic distillation units should be regularly cleaned to prevent scale accumulation. On continuously running units, this involves inspecting the boiler chamber and heating element every week; for countertop units it should be checked after each distillation cycle. Furthermore, it’s crucial that solids from the boiling chamber be sent directly to waste in order to avoid recontaminating water supplies and decrease BOD rates in wastewater systems.