Specialist Questions - Spirits, Essential Oils, Vinegar

Would you like to ask us about spirits, essential oils and vinegar? Please observe our forum rules (see Helpful tips for use).

June 2018:

It has now been an unbelievable 16 years (!) since the last major change to the website and forums. When you think that two to three years are an eternity for the Internet sector, that is really something. In any case, there has been so much going on in terms of technology that it has become urgently necessary to completely redesign not only the forums, but also the entire website, from scratch and bring the programming up to date. Naturally, along with this we also introduced various new features; for example it was high time we allowed pictures to be uploaded with a forum post too or enabled users to subscribe to the forums via RSS feeds. And of course we have subsequently included pictures that are saved on external websites and were then integrated here using an img tag, so that no valuable information is lost. In any case, we hope you continue to have fun swapping experiences and trying things out.

Juni 2002:

At this point, we would first like to extend a big thank-you to all the users of our specialist questions for their lively involvement. Without you, we could never have developed such an informative and high-quality reference guide in such a short time (the first post dates from April 8, 1999). The large number of posts and high numbers of visitors made it necessary for us to develop the specialist questions ourselves using PHP and MySQL (at last no more annoying advertising banners!). During the course of this, we have hopefully introduced several improvements.


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Helpful tips on use:

Below are a few rules so we can maintain the high quality in the future as well.
  • This is a moderated forum. This means that anyone can write whatever they want, and the post will also be saved, but the content will only be published once it has been reviewed by our editorial staff, or deleted if necessary. Therefore, there is no point in posting the same contribution multiple times simply because it doesn’t appear immediately.
  • If you would like to see the most recent posts (irrespective of the topic), click Show the latest posts.
  • The forum is very comprehensive, and many topics have already been dealt with extensively. Therefore we recommend using the search function or alternatively the advanced search function before you add a new post in order to avoid having posts with the same content.
  • After you add or answer a post, you then have a chance to change the text you have written. So read through your text again carefully after saving it and click on “Change post” if necessary.
  • If you ask a question, then also expect an answer. Think about this as well when you are wording your question. Hardly anyone will answer vague questions such as “How do I distil schnapps?”, “No oil comes out; what am I doing wrong?” or “The vinegar isn’t fermenting, why?”.
  • The three topic areas, i.e. distilling spirits, distilling essential oils/hydrosols and making vinegar, are divided into three different websites. Each website contains the two forums “Recipes” for all the topics concerning fruit and recipes, and “Discussion” for all the other topics related to distilling spirits, essential oils/hydrosols or making vinegar. If we find posts that are unintentionally in the wrong forum, we will move them to the right forum. These posts have not been deleted, just moved.
  • ANY TYPE OF ADVERTISING WILL BE DELETED WITHOUT EXCEPTION! This also means seemingly “innocent” posts such as “I have a question about...” or alternatively “Does anyone have experience with...” followed by links or pictures to any external shops.
  • The same applies to bizarre posts which most likely come from drunks or don’t have the remotest thing to do with the topic area, e.g. football or “Where can you burn CDs here?” They will be deleted without exception.
  • All forums are STRICTLY ANONYMOUS; so never give any real names or addresses.
  • Any attempt to make personal contact will be deleted immediately.  There are now numerous social networks for this purpose.
  • The authors’ IP addresses are NOT saved!
  • E-mail addresses are not passed on to third parties or used by us in any other way.  You enter your email completely voluntarily and it functions more or less as your ID. In contrast to most other forums, we don’t require any registration or any type of login to be able to participate. Therefore it might happen that a pseudonym is unintentionally used by two people, so there has not been a mix-up in the entries.
So, that’s it. We hope you have a lot of fun swapping experiences, reading, posting and naturally also trying things out afterwards. Dr Malle & Dr Schmickl Dr. Malle & Dr. Schmickl
  • Question 15

    Ben | VAE, 10.02.2021 10:07:49

    We are interested in your products, especially the CLASSIC Still essential oil destillator , but it would also be important if the equipment could also distill water. Is that also possible with this equipment? 

    Yes, of course it's possible to distill water with the LEONARDO® CLASSIC. After all, intentionally it's purpose is to bring water to a boil and thereafter condensate the formed steam. This is in fact the principle of a steam distillation if you fill the steam space with plant material.

  • Question 7

    Huda | Saudi Arabia , 18.01.2021 10:29:10

    Thanks for giving a chance to question

    Is cutting apples in small pieces and submerging them in water, stirring every day, to prevent mold?

    Is the stirring limited to the alcoholic fermentation period, approximately two weeks, only?

    How much sugar should I add? And how much the appropriate BRICS scale


    ad 1) no, this is to guarantee that the yeast also decomposes the solid parts which are floating on the top of the mash.
    ad 2) yes, stir only while it's fermenting. The alcoholic fermentation time depends on the available amount of sugar. Yes, if you don't add sugar, the fermentation will be finished after a few weeks, depending on the ambient temperature. On the other hand, if preparing a high-grade mash (thus, using the proper yeast and adding sugar), alcoholic fermentation takes about 8 weeks.

    ad 3) The maximal amount of sugar you can add depends on the type of yeast, or rather the alcohol tolerance of the yeast you have added. The supplier of your yeast should know this value. This topic is explained thoroughly in our books "The Artisanal Vinegar Marker’s Handbook" or "The Artisan’s Guide to Crafting Distilled Spirits".

  • Question 14

    Emerita | Venezuela, 12.12.2020 01:16:07

    Hello how are you, a question: geranium was distilled and the color of the essential oil was green and it remained that color for several days, then the bottle was opened and it turned red. Why did this color change occur? Maintains

    the properties of essential oil? It can be used? Thank you very much in advance for the responses and your time. Saludos cordiales


    Of course, oxidation due to air contact could be a reason. Although, neither I've ever recognized an effect like this, nor I did find a description in literature or the like. We received green geranium oil already, but it didn't turn pink after a while. Having said that, there are so many different varieties of scent geranium out there, that I do not wonder if the oils differ not only in smell, but also in color.

    Just to be sure: it could not be the case that the content formed foam while cooking and the color is in fact an impurity caused by this foam?

  • Question 15

    Glen | New Zealand, 16.11.2020 01:08:31


    What can I use the top of the distillation (higher alcohol ) for after taking it off..Im using the middle for a smoother finish..can the top still be drunk ?




    Since the heads (I suppose you mention this fraction) contain poisonous components, you can't drink it. Even don't use it in the course of your next distillation. This fraction can only used externally, to clean windows or the like.

  • Question 13

    Emerita | Venezuela, 13.09.2020 15:28:40
    Hello, how are you, could you clarify the following doubts:
    1) Once the hydrolate has been packaged for later use: is it kept refrigerated or is it kept at room temperature?
    2) Chlorine in drinking or tap water: does it affect the quality of the hydrolate?
    3) The distillation of a non-aromatic plant (without essential oil) is also called a hydrolate?
    4) Could you tell me the percentage of essential oil that you recommend for soaps and shampoo?

    Beforehand thank you very much.

    Saludos cordiales


    ad 1) At room temperature if there was an oil layer on the top. In this case the hydrosol is durable, even if the oil layer has been removed.
    ad 2) Yes, since this is distillable, you can smell it in the distillate. Thus, take chlorine free tab water or groundwater instead. Note: all dissolved minerals, salts, and lime do not evaporate, thus you will end up with purified distilled water, even if the water was not drinkable before distillation. Any microorganisms are no problem for the same reason.
    ad 3) Yes, if you use water. In case of alcohol it's an alcoholic spirit.

    ad 4) These values you can find in our book "The Essential Oil Maker’s Handbook"

  • Question 12

    Emerita | Venezuela, 18.08.2020 07:13:59

    Hello, to store hydrolats, can you use transparent plastic containers?

    I also want to clarify that in question 11, I wanted to say that by reading the part of the forum, especially specialized questions, knowledge is acquired about the essential oil distillation process. Thank you.


    No, since essential oils are able to dissolve certain types of plastic. Hydrosols still contain a certain concentration of essential oils.

    knowledge is acquired about the essential oil distillation process

    Yes, you're absolutely right!

  • Question 14

    Jos | Brasil, 14.08.2020 13:51:22

    How can i bring the distil to 96% instead of 92%?

    since 96 %vol is the azeotrope of ethanol and water, it’s very difficult, not to say impossible, to reach 96 %vol with the gear of home distillers. If you distill under vacuum conditions, it’s even worse.
  • Question 13

    Leon | United States, 13.08.2020 05:40:30

    I need 150 proof grain alcohol to wash my vape coils. How much 190 proof alcohol do I need to mix with 1 litre of 80 proof to come as close as possible to the desired 150 proof required?

    First convert the unit US proof into %vol (ABV, alcohol by volume):
    190 US proof = 95 %vol (ABV)
    150 US proof = 75 %vol (ABV)
    80 US proof = 40 %vol (ABV)

    Now use our calculator "Mixing", I have done this for you, the link with your values is:

    1.00 liters with 40.00 %vol
    mixed with
    1.75 liters with 95.00 %vol
    2.75 liters with 75.00 %vol

  • Question 6

    Sen | India, 07.08.2020 08:36:25

    For starting culture, apple mesh should be with 15 brix ? yeast to be added or not.


    Yes, 15 Brix is a good value. Add yeast to this mash. Wait until the alcoholic fermentation is finished. Add the starting culture with vinegar bacteria only to a finished fermented alcoholic mash. If you have apple juice (not a mash with solid parts), it’s easier to produce vinegar. In this case you don’t have to add water, just add the yeast. If you have a mash with solid parts, filter first before adding the starter culture for vinegar fermentation.

  • Question 11

    Emerita | Venezuela, 31.07.2020 10:56:23

    Hello, first I want to congratulate you for your website, it is very educational, I have learned a lot about plant distillation, especially in the discussion part with the questions and answers. My question is as follows: 1) to distill geranium should I use it fresh or dry? 2) should I cut it finely? In my country there are some plants that do not flower, for example mint and rosemary (this last plant I only found a wild rosemary, which they commonly call criollo, which if it flourishes) 3) these plants, even if they are have not flowers, can obtain a high yield of essential oil?

    Thank you in advance, regards, Emerita

    Thank you, we appreciate your comment about our homepage!
    ad 1) both is possible, although you should dry it first, at least a bit, otherwise you might face the issue having a kind of pulp in the kettle instead of tiny pieces.
    ad 2) yes, in general you should cut the plant material finely, beware of exceptions, like the one mentioned in ad 1).

    ad 3) yes, also these plants can also be used without flowering.

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