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One beer
Post  Post subject: Removing alcohol from drinks  |  Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 6:18 pm
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I can't remember if asked this on the other site or what the reply was:

Is it possible to remove alcohol from a drink by a process similar to distillation?

i.e instead of boiling water off is it possible to boil alcohol off, and if so, at what temperature?

The reason I ask is that low or no alcohol beers are a bit grim, and I wonder if one could remove alcohol from actual beer or wine?

OB


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PhDemon
Post  Post subject: Re: Removing alcohol from drinks  |  Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 7:32 pm

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Ethanol boils at 78 C if I recall correctly so it is possible to distill off the alcohol. It should work fine for spirits and wines that have a high (more than 10%) alcohol content but it would not be so good for beers as you will reach a limit at around 4% alcohol when distillation will no longer work. This is because the alcohol/water mixture is an azeotrope (a constant boiling mixture) at around that level so you have to add other components if you want to distill further. Also as well as removing the alcohol you will probably boil off (or thermally decompose) some of the compounds that make the drinks tasty... Your resulting beverage will, in technical terms, be bloody horrible ;)

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Removing alcohol from drinks  |  Posted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:29 pm
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If you do try it, remember to use anti-bumping granules :(

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PhDemon
Post  Post subject: Re: Removing alcohol from drinks  |  Posted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 11:28 am

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I also wouldn't use a naked flame as the heat source for distillation... Ethanol has quite a low flash point. In the lab I use a heating mantle, at home you could use a pan of hot water.

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One beer
Post  Post subject: Re: Removing alcohol from drinks  |  Posted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:31 am
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Thank you for the comprehensive replies and warnings, Demon and Rory.

My job means I have to be careful about what I drink the day/night before I work, but I have yet to find a truly tasty low alcohol drink (that is not full of sugar).

What are anti bumping granules and what is their function?

Is there a way in which a chemistry amateur such as myself can measure the alcohol content of drinks. If so, how can it be done?

Thanks.

OB


Last edited by One beer on Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.


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PhDemon
Post  Post subject: Re: Removing alcohol from drinks  |  Posted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:37 am

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They are small, irregular chips of porcelain or ceramic that acts as nucleation sites for bubble formation. They are used so the vapours produced are in lots of small bubbles rather than a small number of big ones. If large bubbles are produced the reaction mixture can "bump" or jump about propelling liquid rather than vapour into your condenser (in extreme cases it can also break the glassware). You can think of it as the difference between a gentle simmering pan of boiling water (with anti-bumping granules) or the water inside your kettle boiling it's arse off (without them) ;)

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PhDemon
Post  Post subject: Re: Removing alcohol from drinks  |  Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:32 pm

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The best way to measure alcohol content would be GC/MS but I'm guessing you don't have one of those in your kitchen ;) A simpler way is to calculate it from measurements of the specific gravity and refractive index of the beer. These guys sell kits for use in home-brewing:

http://www.bellinghamandstanley.com/ltd/abv_kit.html

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