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The first alchemy experiment went poorly. Although its good to fail and I have no problems admitting my highschool practical chemistry is sorely lacking 20 years later in trying to set this stuff up. What I do know about distilling is wholly for booze, and I was told that since we’re not working with booze, its probably between to not worry about things like “what reacts with copper” and stick to stuff we know. The other problem was calcination – I was using a blowtorch on bricks and the plant matter is super, super fluffy when it hits “white ash” and it blew out into the woods and god knows where. I tossed the entire experiment out and never got around to reducing the “tea”.

The other big problem is trying to keep the glass condenser filled with water. I’ve found that by restricting the flow on the outlet side with a simple kink and a chip clip I can get more water in the top. It does like to air bubble though which will kill the flow. Fortunately we’re making plant elixers here and not alcohol so the glass doesn’t get enough time to heat up by itself and reduce the condensers efficiency unacceptably.

WIZARD TIP – submerge the condenser in water and get the air out first. I’m probably going to end up buying a hot plate.

WIZARD TIP – wet rubber on your lab tower won’t hold your condenser. I broke the tip off mine doing this stuff because I turned on the water, it slipped down off the lamp I had repurposed for this, and hit the glass beaker. It’s nothing I can’t epoxy, but it’s still a real pain.

WIZARD TIP – the condenser can outrun the double-boiler and since the apparatus is glass-on-glass, there is significant thermal transfer.

And that last Wizard Tip is what killed the experiment. I started running water in my double-boiler setup immediately and set the flow rate to really low. The result was that unlike last time where I had a very low propane flame cooking the material, this made more of a tea. The stuff last time was brown, wilted, and such and didn’t get much out of the condenser, and this time the stuff is still wonderfully green in the liquid. I think the “tea” is a good step and I did it improperly last time. Even though I didn’t get any flow through my (now broken) condenser, I think I’ll add this as a “first step” to the list before going all out over the propane.

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