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Offline MDH  
#1 Posted : Friday, September 28, 2012 3:30:52 PM(UTC)
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I am already an experienced distiller and I'm aware of virtually all the problems that could occur during ferments and distillation. Except this recent one, which I can't pin the source of. It's an extremely elusive problem whatever it is.

I am using an EEPSII. The distillate - of a straight up sugar wash (EC1118 / sugar / nutrients) has an acrid, unpleasant smell that reminds one of plastics like synthetics such as latex or rubber. It isn't so evident in concentrated distillate but when water is added it's there in full force.

I have absolutely zero clue what this could be. It is present through virtually the entire run of ethonal.

I have seen only one other topic with this issue - and the person seemed to pinpoint the cause of their problem - which was the rubber stopper and the rubber seal for the keg not being clean - as well as the entire still not seeming to be clean. I replaced all of the copper mesh and this did not solve the problem. The poster of this other topic did not seem to describe any solution.

Thanks.
Offline heeler  
#2 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 1:48:01 AM(UTC)
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"Ahhhhh a clue.........you said when you added water??? Is it sink water? You may need to buy water if thats the prob - try useing differnet source water in the next run and see what happens.
What is your fermenter made of??? Is it plastic that could leach??

I bet these folks can help you figger it out,"
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#3 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 2:32:34 AM(UTC)
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Great clue. Would nearly bet its a problem with the proofing water. I had a similar smell arise and traced it to some stale distilled water in plastic jugs used for proofing. Whatever the source of the plastic odor in your case believe letting the proofed hooch air out for a week or two..paper towel over the top of the open jars would be the cure. Worked on my batch anyway. Best of fortunes.
Offline admin  
#4 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 3:05:18 AM(UTC)
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Quote:
...letting the proofed hooch air out for a week or two..paper towel over the top of the open jars

This will also see a lot of your alcohol evaporate.
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#5 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 3:25:19 AM(UTC)
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Well ok..somebody who likes strong plastic flavored hooch should not air it out...lol. Or probably best not to introduce the plastic smell to start with. My problems with the issue ended when I quit proofing it with water from the plastic jugs. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure huh?
Offline admin  
#6 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 3:50:38 AM(UTC)
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It is actually more likely that the plastic smells are formed during fermentation. They can be chlorophenols or other byproducts formed during fermentation, which are more noticeable in the diluted product. Chlorinated water can cause chlorophenos (depending on the other ingredients in your wash), and stress on the yeast / yeast selection can result in increased byproduct production. Keep in mind that EC-1118 is a wine yeast, and as such will enhance certain characters. It is one of the more neutral wine yeasts, but is still a wine yeast and not a 'neutral' yeast. It can be as simple as poor or improper nutrition for the yeast, or residual nutrients.

It can also be something picked up during distillation, although I would consider that to be less likely.
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#7 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 4:56:23 AM(UTC)
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Hmmm..thanks for that. Know I hear a bunch of folks bad mouthing EC-1118..not quite as bad as Turbos but close. Now do occasionally find a person who touts its virtues as a hooch making yeast but not often. Never owned any myself so cant testify about it for sure. Will say I have been abusing various ferments and assorted yeast combos since back when the Dead Sea was still only sick..and aint never had none coming out smelling like plastic..even when fermenting in cheap plastic non food grade buckets. I obviously been highly fotunate.
Offline John Barleycorn  
#8 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 5:31:50 AM(UTC)
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"
Originally Posted by: bigwheel Go to Quoted Post
Know I hear a bunch of folks bad mouthing EC-1118..not quite as bad as Turbos but close.
I think that's mostly nonsense from people who never actually used it ... or are applying it incorrectly. I wouldn't pay much attention to the bad mouthing. And some of that bad mouthing comes from those who are fermenting at temps well above 80 F AND with high gravity washes ... which may be fine for fuel ... but not for a good drinking neutral. If you follow the starting directions, keep the temp at 70 F or below, provide adequate nutrition, and don't get greedy with your SG, it's neutral.

--JB"
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#9 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 6:01:23 AM(UTC)
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Hear you on that. Most of the griping I hear about appears to be newbies who seem to be in the majority of them who tries to use the stuff to start with..and therefore most likely not well versed in the subtle nuances of fermentation. Ya know since thinking this deal over...betcha I have used it for making wine. What year did that stuff get itself invented? Thanks.
Offline MDH  
#10 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 7:11:32 AM(UTC)
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"
Originally Posted by: Admin Go to Quoted Post
It is actually more likely that the plastic smells are formed during fermentation. They can be chlorophenols or other byproducts formed during fermentation, which are more noticeable in the diluted product. Chlorinated water can cause chlorophenos (depending on the other ingredients in your wash), and stress on the yeast / yeast selection can result in increased byproduct production. Keep in mind that EC-1118 is a wine yeast, and as such will enhance certain characters. It is one of the more neutral wine yeasts, but is still a wine yeast and not a 'neutral' yeast. It can be as simple as poor or improper nutrition for the yeast, or residual nutrients.

It can also be something picked up during distillation, although I would consider that to be less likely.


This water is indeed ""Tap water"" from the mountains of the pacific Northwest. It's actually considered some of the best water in the world, but they do chlorinate it.

I did consider this option yesterday and boiled some water, which would remove the chlorine. Again, I proofed it, and the rubber latex type smell was still there.

I also considered sulfur compounds, diluted the solution and added small amount of copper sulfate. No cigar...

However, I do have to say that during fermentation, the sugar wash (Not far at all from Wineo's famous recipe) smelled slightly sulfurous, and did again as well once the wash had cleared. When I added a drop of copper sulfate to that the sulfur smell disappeared.

One other note is that the third fraction does not smell as offensive. Even when diluted, it smells floral and sweet, but still somewhat like rubber and latex again.

Keep in mind my cuts were strict - there is no smearing. The heads were compressed well and smell like faux bananas.

I am going to clean my still out and tell you all again if it stays like it is."
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#11 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 8:30:50 AM(UTC)
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Leaving the water exposed to the air with a fish bubbler over night will also get rid of the cholorine if you ever get tired of boiling large amounts of water. I can nearly assure you the water aint it. Some of the nastiest water in the world comes out of my faucet and it aint never made the hooch smell funny. Can only repoat on what I know..or guess at..lol.
Offline MDH  
#12 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 9:25:00 AM(UTC)
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I just pulled my still apart. The copper packing smells like what the distillate does when diluted with water - chemical, acrid, headache inducing. I'm about to run concentrated acetic acid through my still as well as cleaning it out. We'll see what happens.
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#13 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 9:30:00 AM(UTC)
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Ok best of fortunes on clearing up the issues. Kindly keeps us posted as events unfold themselves. Thanks. That do appear to have been a real stinky batch.
Offline MDH  
#14 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 10:36:02 AM(UTC)
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I'm distilling the vinegar now. Something just occured to me. I used new copper packing on the batch that smelled funny. Is it covered with some form of anti-rusting protection? I should have read ahead.
Offline admin  
#15 Posted : Saturday, September 29, 2012 11:12:41 AM(UTC)
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Quote:
... I can nearly assure you the water aint it. Some of the nastiest water in the world comes out of my faucet and it aint never made the hooch smell funny

I can assure you that the water can quite possibly be the culprit. As I stated, chlorine in the water, when certain ingredients (generally organic materials (not as in grocery type organic)) are used, can and will create chlorophenols during fermentation. It is not the water in and of itself, but a combination of factors. Water sans chlorine will not cause this problem. Therefore, the water can indeed be leading to this issue, and it is simple to rule it out by using de-chlorinated water.
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#16 Posted : Sunday, September 30, 2012 1:24:41 AM(UTC)
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Ok could be the water I guess. Regarding the possibility of packing being an issue..never heard of any rust proof coatings on real food grade copper. Know it can tarnish and get a bit stinky but is rust proof to start with as far as I know. In fact just added a couple of new plugs using an unopened bag of the the copper mesh which come with my hooch maker kit and did not give it much prep. Seems to be just fine. Could see some possibilities of trouble with less than 100% copper packing such as pot scrubbers. Have heard quite a few precautionary notes on using those...but then thought it had been previously established the odor began in the fermenter which would seem to rule out the copper as a suspect. This is a puzzler.
Offline MDH  
#17 Posted : Monday, October 01, 2012 6:42:54 AM(UTC)
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"
Originally Posted by: bigwheel Go to Quoted Post
Ok could be the water I guess. Regarding the possibility of packing being an issue..never heard of any rust proof coatings on real food grade copper. Know it can tarnish and get a bit stinky but is rust proof to start with as far as I know. In fact just added a couple of new plugs using an unopened bag of the the copper mesh which come with my hooch maker kit and did not give it much prep. Seems to be just fine. Could see some possibilities of trouble with less than 100% copper packing such as pot scrubbers. Have heard quite a few precautionary notes on using those...but then thought it had been previously established the odor began in the fermenter which would seem to rule out the copper as a suspect. This is a puzzler.



My scrubbers still smell pretty bad, as well as other used copper scrubbers not related to this batch. I have treated them with citric acid solution until they are beautifully shiny. It doesn't matter - just handling them gets a smell on my hands that I can't get off. This is the roll of copper that came with the still, not a third party. I am thinking that perhaps holding the still in reflux for a very long time caused the copper to react and produce some suspicious tastes.

Today, I am going to run neutral Vodka through the still and see it if comes out ""Bad""..."
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#18 Posted : Monday, October 01, 2012 6:58:34 AM(UTC)
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Well best check your hole card here. You sure them scrubbers are 100% copper? If not it could be a causative factor. Some which are labled as copper are actually copper plated base metals. If thats the case there could even be some health issues involved with drinking the distillate. I would start out the curative phase by getting rid of the scrubbers. Think somebody on here had give a brand of some fairly commonly available pure copper scrubbers but now I forget what they said. Seems like maybe the Dutch Boy paint store or something like that. Might run it through the search function to make sure.
Offline MDH  
#19 Posted : Monday, October 01, 2012 8:35:43 AM(UTC)
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"
Originally Posted by: bigwheel Go to Quoted Post
Well best check your hole card here. You sure them scrubbers are 100% copper? If not it could be a causative factor. Some which are labled as copper are actually copper plated base metals. If thats the case there could even be some health issues involved with drinking the distillate. I would start out the curative phase by getting rid of the scrubbers. Think somebody on here had give a brand of some fairly commonly available pure copper scrubbers but now I forget what they said. Seems like maybe the Dutch Boy paint store or something like that. Might run it through the search function to make sure.


Yeah, but they came with the still - this is Brewhaus packing. They're soaking in citric acid again.

One other thing is that I distilled some anise a while ago. It seems the anise got into the rubber gaskets. This could be another factor. My friend detected the anise in the diluted distillate, but also the rubber. Aaah!

The third is that the vinegar run didn't necessarily remove strange smells from the still. I am going to run 200ml of foreshots through the still and hold it in reflux."
Offline stakats82  
#20 Posted : Tuesday, June 26, 2018 8:40:36 AM(UTC)
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Hi,new member here and i'm struggling with the exact same problem.MDH did you find the answer after all?
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