We invented a way to purify your heads and tails!

15 July 2021

Willem's Miracle Powder

Making careful cuts for hearts, leaves you with heads and tails losses. Well, here is the good news: as of today they are losses no more! iStill's chemist Willem has tested a powder and designed a purification protocol, that will help you clean up your heads and tails to the extend that they will become your purest vodka or GNS. Want to learn more? Yes, you do, so let's dive in deeper!

The Goal

Heads and tails are full of flavors. Mostly off-flavors, and that's why you cut them out. But a deeper analysis learns us that the vast majority of those heads and tails are actually ... hearts. Good ethanol, contaminated by small fractions of actual lower and higher boiling point alcohols and their associated flavor molecules aka esters.

The goal of Willem's Miracle Powder? To recover this ethanol, but to get rid of the bad alcohols and bad flavors. Now, redistilling heads and tails during a vodka program on the iStill does a great job at getting rid of the bad alcohols. But the compaction of heads and tails, leads to the associated bad flavors to leach into the ethanol recovery.

Again, the goal of Willem's Miracle Powder and this new procedure? To destroy the esters found in your heads and tails factions.

The Thought Process

If you have followed the iStill University, you have learned all about esterification and how flavor molecules are formed. You remember Odin's Esterification Formula? And how a low pH results in more flavor molecules or esters being created?

Guess what, the opposite is true as well! If you make your heads and tails factions very alkaline, instead of acidic, you can destroy the alcohol-carbon bonds that make up the ester molecule. Treating your heads and tails factions and then distilling it in vodka mode, breaks up the esters, recovers the ethanol, and helps you turn what was a loss into the purest vodka or GNS possible.

The Procedure

  1. Add your heads and tails faction to the iStill;
  2. Dilute the heads and tails faction to 30% ABV;
  3. Add sodium hydroxide (0.4 grams per liter of diluted heads and tails faction);
  4. "Sodium hydroxide" as in caustic soda, also used by breweries to clean their stainless steel brewing equipment;
  5. Mix the sodium hydroxide in (be careful, this is not the stuff you want to inhale or get in touch with!);
  6. Start the vodka program;
  7. Choose the heads stabilization program to be at least 60 minutes;
  8. Distill as per usual;
  9. Toss heads and tails, keep hearts - the most neutral and delicious vodka;
  10. Treat the boiler content with citric acid to bring pH back to 7;
  11. Drain your boiler and rinse the system with water.

The Results

The results of the above procedure are amazing. The worst heads and tails turn into a beautiful vodka or GNS. That's not just our opinion, but a scientific fact. Do you want to see some of the proof?

A chromatographic overlay of a 1% ethyl acetate solution (a heads faction) in purple, a 0.1% ethyl acetate solution in yellow, an untreated heads sample in green, and the black line (look careful!), that signifies the heads sample after treatment with Willem's Miracle Powder (aka sodium hydroxide):

The above chromatographic analysis proves that iStill's Heads & Tails Purification Procedure successfully removes the associated headsy esters from a heads (the graph title mistakenly says "hearts") sample.

But that is not all! How does the procedure do against other heads and tails flavors? Well, here is the outcome of further CG analysis. In purple you see the various esters available in an untreated heads and tails sample. The black, line that is significantly lower, represents the ester count after the purification procedure:

But that is not all! This procedure, since you basically use a cleaning agent, also makes your boiler shine as if it were new.

The Conclusion

iStill's Heads & Tails Purification Protocol works a charm. It allows the craft distiller that possesses iStill equipment to process former heads and tails losses and turn them into the purest vodka or (reusable) GNS.


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