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  1. #1

    Default Distillation and Oudh

    We know from historical evidences that drinking water has been distilled from sea water since before 200 AD. If you wish you can read further about this in "The Evolution of the Still" by Frank Sherwood Taylor. This simple process of evaporation and condensation of the steam meant that those living by the low lying sea lands where fresh water was difficult to come by or traveling at sea had a simple, yet effective means of removing the unwanted elements from the salty water by this very simple process.

    Fast forward many generations and today many global companies are competing on how to be more efficient in this process of distilling polluted water using distillation techniques. It is big business and if you were to do a patent search on your national patent database you would find many such inventions. However the concept is simple, distillation purifies water, removing all minerals from the water, this results in demineralised water. This type of water has many benefits from laboratory use to your car radiator.

    How does this relate to Oudh distillation?

    Very simple, the heating up of water, be it river water, spring water, mountain water, well water etc, once heated and steam starts rising, the steam will be one without minerals and when condensed will be deminderalised water. Meaning that when the steam makes contact with the oudh in the steam distillation process there isnt going to be any special effect on the final oudh oil regardless of where the water comes from. Unless the water has been tampered with (discussion for another post).
    Now there maybe a time and place for use of these 'special' waters, and that is, in soaking or in hydro distillation where the Oudh bio-matter is boiled in the water. Maybe the mineral contents, different acidity and ion levels of the water can contribute or detract from the Oudh, however much scientific researching, testing, data collection and analysis needs to be conducted to be conclusive.

    Having the bio matter boiling inside the water itself creates other issues, but that will be for another posting on this thread.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    I've wondered about the impact of water given the emphasis of this on a variety of oud vendors' blog / advertising pages. My gut feeling is that changes in water impurities would not have a major impact on the odor of a distillate of a substance with as much pungency as oud. I don't see how it could - this almost seems like a rekindling of pseudo-science and alchemy, which (mysterious and fantastic though it sounds) is demonstrably just fantasy. Still, I trust the expertise of the folks making these great oud oils (their products speak for themselves) so I find myself puzzled. It is hard to know, in the world of oud, what is fact and what is marketing. So much "information" is mainly written with the express purpose of product promotion and differentiation. One would be wise to take such information with a grain of salt I think, but there aren't troves of information out there to form a basis for judgement.

    Soaking is another matter and one I wish I understood better. It seems there is a whole second level of biological odor production during a good long soak (I've smelled something akin to the stank of particularly fermented oud in garbage cans full of yard waste that had too much rain water in them for too long). Maybe some ground water is contaminated with microbes that yield a favorable fermentation (like a good sourdough starter)?
    Last edited by Mr.P; 22nd June 2015 at 03:48 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    *I know its insane! But how about using Evian mineral water is used in distillation of oud oil !! Will that take it to another level? Just a wild thought!

    However, in my best opinion its all about expertise and experience of distillation techniques. I would still go old school Hindi Oud distillation. The direct relativity of great oud oil is quality of dust from finishing oud chips & distillation techniques after soaking in water for right period of days.

  4. #4
    Super Member russian adam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    I did cook Kao Yai incense grade wood in Evian water as well as I cooked the same grade of wood in other type of mineral water.
    The oils that I got at the end were totaly different in it's appearance and scent profile.
    I also know a person who have done side by side experiment cooking same wood in different types of water and he concluded that the type of water used has a great impact on the aroma.
    To me personally it's a must to use only drinkable, pure water that I tested before and liked it's taste and aroma.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    perhaps the hardness or softness differences would affect the oil coming out of the water?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Well, I'm in Vietnam right now, done with all the work I had to do... so I decided to check out Basenotes... to find a subject being discussed here which fascinates me greatly!
    I'd like to share my thoughts on this topic. Please note that what I state is purely based on my experience (although repeatedly tested and proven, within the confines of the parameters I set), so it may or may not always be the case if some parameters are different.

    I've done literally identical distillations side by side, only changing the type of water used and I've seen pretty big differences in the scent profile. One example: grassy and green with pH-7 reverse osmosis water, versus purple and floral with pH-unknown but clean pure rain water. Also done trial runs (and also full scale confirming the same observations) with mineral water, well water, tap water, fresh untreated spring water, and others.. each time with results that confirm previous observations.
    I don't know the science behind it, but it seems that (1) the cleanliness, and (2) the mineral content (which includes hardness/softness) do have a very big impact - at least in my experience. But this is the case with hydro distillation.
    Using the correct water, I find, is a non-crucial but important element of designing a distillation to bring out the salient features of a particular batch of wood. An analogy for folks who know a little bit about oil painting: the type of canvas you use will facilitate or hinder you, depending on what genre you want an artwork to be (2 extremes being Baroque and Impressionism). Sure, you can use the same canvas for both, just like you can sable, boar bristle, or horsetail brushes for either. But these choices will affect the final product.
    Also, the type of water used for soaking has a bigger impact than the type of water used for the actual distillation inside the pot (as per most distillers' practice, its the same water).

    As for steam distillation I have found no difference when switching between different types of water, which confirms what Shareef mentioned - except for one thing: the cleanliness of the water. Virtually ceteris paribus, one batch of oud I smelled from a distiller was absolutely disgusting and the very next batch cooked in purified spring water was one of the most beautiful oils I've smelled from that region.

    Just my 2 sens...

    - - - Updated - - -

    Anyone have distillation experience with colloidal silver water?
    That and zamzam are 2 waters I've often wondered about.
    Last edited by tahasyed; 27th June 2015 at 12:06 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    @Adam,

    Regarding your comment, is the bio-matter sitting inside the water or outside of the water, in other words is it hydro distilled or steam?

    @Taha

    Please don't give people ideas, people are going to make Holy Oudh oil @zamzam. :P

    Regarding the example you gave, do you remember why the distiller's water was impure? and what were the impurities?

    @KyaraZen, what are your findings regarding softness and hardness of the water, where the water makes no contact with the bio-matter. I.e steam distillation? I can understand the possibilities if there is contact, such as soaking or hydro distillation where the bio-matter sits in the water

  8. #8

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Quote Originally Posted by AlshareefOudh View Post
    @Taha

    Please don't give people ideas, people are going to make Holy Oudh oil @zamzam. :P

    Regarding the example you gave, do you remember why the distiller's water was impure? and what were the impurities?
    Ha! Good one. :P

    Regarding cleaning.. well, it was just the usual thing: no proper regular cleaning, which of course is standard practice. So there was mildewy stuff growing at the bottom of the boiler, which is where the water for steam distillation goes.
    I prefer cleaning steel boilers with alkaline and copper ones with acetic acid solutions, every now and then.

  9. #9
    Super Member russian adam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    i only do hydro cooking for now.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    To be fair I don't think I've ever read a blurb claiming that the water source affected a steam distillation.
    If there is such a case perhaps you could point it out?
    The promotional materials I've read regarding the choice of water impacting the distillation, were always related to oud oils that were soaked and/or hydro-distilled.
    I would imagine that the choice of water for a soak (especially a prolonged one) could have a huge effect on the end product,
    whilst the choice of water for the still would have a limited effect.
    Just an educated guess really, but I'd also imagine that it would be hard to actually run scientific trials on the effect different types of water used in the still would have on the end product, for the simple reason that the raw material lacks any uniformity; take a fistful of chips in each hand from the same sack and the aggregate chemical constituents of the chips in each hand would probably differ.

    @AlShareefOudh
    Are all your oils steam distilled?

    @Kyarazen
    Would you estimate that water hardness might affect the end product due to the formation of calcium compounds? Or due to the pH in the still? Or both? Do you think the total effect would extend beyond the minimal?

  11. #11

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Jazak Allah Khair @ Adam, that makes a lot of sense when looking at the photos of your setup.

    @Taha, I was asking more in relation to the impurities you were witnessing in the distillers water, rather than cleaning of the pots.

    @powdernose,

    Our oils that are currently on offer online are steam distilled. We do also use hydro distillation.

    In our distillation with regards to water our focus is more on clean water, rather than 'special' waters. The primary variable that we work on and with is the Oudh not on minerals, compounds and other chemicals in the water. What we have found over the years is when working with a dynamic and changing raw material such as Oudh, it is best to try and keep as many of the controllable variables constant and also limiting the introduction of other irregularities such as water types. Putting the emphasis on the Oudh itself and seeing the different results achievable by tweaking the hardware.

    Once we start altering the oil based on the 'water' type, than where does that slippery slope end considering the different types of modified waters available in the market.
    Last edited by AlshareefOudh; 6th July 2015 at 01:12 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    "it is best to try and keep as many of the controllable variables constant and also limiting the introduction of other irregularities such as water types. "

    Makes sense, thanks.
    I guess academic curiosity though still leaves those niggling questions, of how much of an effect water choice might have, and what kind of effect

  13. #13

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Quote Originally Posted by AlshareefOudh View Post
    @Taha, I was asking more in relation to the impurities you were witnessing in the distillers water, rather than cleaning of the pots.
    With regard to actual 'literal' contaminants, then no, I haven't observed any differences. It is as you mentioned - the evaporating water is pure distilled H2O and hence there is no difference in aroma.
    But the dirtiness of the pot does in fact touch on the same issue, because water boiling in a dirty mildewy pot is essentially 'dirty water'.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Quote Originally Posted by powdernose View Post
    "it is best to try and keep as many of the controllable variables constant and also limiting the introduction of other irregularities such as water types. "

    Makes sense, thanks.
    I guess academic curiosity though still leaves those niggling questions, of how much of an effect water choice might have, and what kind of effect
    Continuing on from where we left this thread...

    Powdernose you raise a very valid point and that is the question of when does water have a real measurable impact on the scent profile, and when is it best to use this.

    Soaking the wood in water has the most direct relationship with the scent profile and this can be explained in a scientific manner. Evidently increasing the water content of wood by soaking wood samples in water lowers the stiffness and strength of the wood. When wood is soaking in water and the water content of the wood is increased upto 200%, the cell walls fill with water. This filling of the cell was causes the cell walls to expand and both a dimensional and structural change takes place. Water’s presence dramatically softens the cell walls. The hydrogen bonds between different polymer chains in the crystalline cellulose microfibers start breaking. Hydrogen bonds form with water instead, as it is a small, polar molecule and so can get in between the polymer chains. Stronger hydrogen bonds are formed between cellulose and water than between cellulose and cellulose, making hydrogen bonding with water more favourable. This softens the cellulose microfibers as they are no longer so strongly bonded to each other, making it easier to untangle and hence stretch the fibers. This leads to a decrease in the cellulose structure of the wood fibers allowing more of the oils trapped in the wood to be extracted in the distillation process. With Oudh the soaking also has a further benefit and that is breaking down the resin that has hardened over time, this further allows for the release of rich oils that would otherwise be trapped in.

    Many new distillers do not understand how to soak correctly to achieve the best results in this regard, so they are against soaking totally. However science and historical experience proves the benefits of soaking in Oudh, the question is more around how to soak, for how long etc and not whether to soak.

    More to come...

  15. #15

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    How about microbial fermentation? This has to contribute to the odor of oud from long soakings...

  16. #16

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.P View Post
    How about microbial fermentation? This has to contribute to the odor of oud from long soakings...
    In fermentation the microbial growth does impact the scent. I do not consider soaking and fermentation as the same, and this is where the distinction has to be made. Fermentation is a deliberate process that some distillers take, distillers who distill for volume and do not distill to create art, will do what they can to hit a new production target.

    I will discuss fermentation later in the thread.

    As for soaking, there is a hygienic, clean and effective process that simply aids in the break down of the wood and resin structure to help release deeper oils that otherwise would not be released. It is in fact hard work to maintain the requirements of acceptable soaking, the temperature has to be monitored, regular inspection of the waters smell, color and taste to ensure that there isn't fermentation taking place.
    Last edited by AlshareefOudh; 29th October 2015 at 02:12 AM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.P View Post
    How about microbial fermentation? This has to contribute to the odor of oud from long soakings...
    Fermentation has become common practice due to the high demand in the middle east market for oudh. Distillers have become so fine tuned with their fermentation methods that they could just about use white oudh wood and give it a fecal 'oudhy' profile. There are two reasons for this; firstly the classic Hindi oudhs, freshly distilled did have a very barnyard scent profile, to some degree the distillers are trying to mimic that profile as the market was used to that. The second reason is, in fermentation the microbial growth does assist the distillers to turn an oil that would smell like vegetable oil to one that smells like oudh, be it very bad. Some even argue that they are copying the fungal production of nature herself. Not to forget all of this adds to the output, the distiller no longer has to be fussy about high grade wood, they just throw what they can get their hands on into the grinder, dump it in microbial saturated tanks that they have been using for months if not years. They start with 3 month fermentation process, 6 months, and even 12 months, I assume depending on how feral the client likes the oudh to smell.

    Whilst this process is not one that artisan's would entertain, these distillers do have a method to their madness. Their distillation setups are unique to their own as is the airing, resting and storage setups. In volume what these guys turn around floors all artisan's put together, so there is clearly a demand for their oils.
    Last edited by AlshareefOudh; 8th December 2015 at 04:30 AM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Thanks for sharing, I've always assumed the reason they may want super strong funky oils is that they can be diluted or mixed with other ingredients and still maintain
    their oudy profile, and you can't do that with highly refined artisan distilled oils as their would not be much scent left.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlshareefOudh View Post
    Fermentation has become common practice due to the high demand in the middle east market for oudh. Distillers have become so fine tuned with their fermentation methods that they could just about use white oudh wood and give it a fecal 'oudhy' profile. There are two reasons for this; firstly the classic Hindi oudhs, freshly distilled did have a very barnyard scent profile, to some degree the distillers are trying to mimic that profile as the market was used to that. The second reason is, in fermentation the microbial growth does assist the distillers to turn an oil that would smell like vegetable oil to one that smells like oudh, be it very bad. Some even argue that they are copying the fungal production of nature herself. Not to forget all of this adds to the output, the distiller no longer has to be fussy about high grade wood, they just throw what they can get their hands on into the grinder, dump it in microbial saturated tanks that they have been using for months if not years. They start with 3 month fermentation process, 6 months, and even 12 months, I assume depending on how feral the client likes the oudh to smell.

    Whilst this process is not one that artisan's would entertain, these distillers do have a method to their madness. Their distillation setups are unique to their own as is the airing, resting and storage setups. In volume what these guys turn around floors all artisan's put together, so there is clearly a demand for their oils.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Brother Alshareef are there trends in the oud world where there are materials other than just water in the soak for example almond powder, rose water e.t.c and would this impact the scent profile dramatically? If this is the case then surley it cant be classed as 100% pure oud oil and is there such a thing as 100% oud oil without even fragments of anything else? May seem like irrelevant questions but i would like some knowledge on this matter please

  20. #20

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    The idea of using co-distillation to improve scent is an interesting one. I agree it would be nice to know what was done exactly!

  21. #21

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    co-distillation or mixing of raw materials in distillation is part of the 'formula' of most non artisan distillers. Commercial distillers mix oudh types, regions and other woods to come up with the final scent profile for their clients. The difference here should be that Artisan distillers are accurate and careful about what goes into the pot and are open about it in their descriptions.

    If we were to strip it down to the basics, co-distillation can be another tool in the perfumer or distillers directory of knowledge. In theory there is nothing wrong in applying co-distillation, or fractional/partial distillation etc methods as long as the distiller is open about it to the consumer.

    To answer your question regarding the impact on the profile, absolutely other woods, waters, hydro-sol being added to the distillation will impact the final profile and it is for this reason that distillers add the foreign items. If they sell the product as pure oudh than that is cheating, if they identify what they have done and way, then the consumer can make an informed decision.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Cooking Pots,

    There is much advertisement about cooking pots, how they are built and what value they add to the final oudh oil. Many different construction methods are used and some even talk about the age and what has been cooked in the pot previously. How does the consumer differentiate between fact and fiction?

    Distillation at its foundation is a scientific process, as such if one pay attention all parameters involved can be explained and rejected scientifically; from the pressures used, the type of material the pot is made from and temperatures applied.

    Let us begin with the material that the pots are made from. Commonly in the Oudh world pots are made from 2 main materials, copper and stainless steel.

    The more traditional pots were copper, and this was the material of choice. It was easy to work with, easily available and it also assisted with the scent profile. That is right, copper rounds the edges and softens/sweetens the oil. The reason for this is; copper has antimicrobial properties. When distillation happens in copper pots the copper will destroy the microbial elements in the process, softening/sweetening the oil. The copper alters the molecules in the microbs, either destroying it directly by contact or de-stablizing the molecules and causing them to break down themselves. This has a negative side effect in production and that is it reduces the out put.

    This is one of the reasons stainless steel was such a hit. Distillers were getting much more oil with the same amount of wood using Stainless Steel as compared to copper. The issue with the stainless steel pot is, it contributes less to the scent profile, and there is always a "stainless steel" scent on the oil when it first collected. There are different methods distillers can use to remove this scent.

    The characteristics and properties of the materials used in a pot also determine the sequence in which a pot should be built, many distillers get this wrong, because they don't realize how the microbial change occurs. More on this later.

    Good distillers will thoroughly wash their pots before every distillation, as such the notion of previous distillations having an impact on the next distillation is like saying "I could taste last weeks stew in the pressure cooker that went through the dish washer". Distillation pots that are made from metals can not be compared to tea pots made from clay, two totally different phenomena, but tea pots are not my expertise KyaraZen is the master in that field

    to be continued...

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    thanks very much

  24. #24

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Many a times distillers will complain about loss in production and this can be related to the method of cooking, but also the equipment used in cooking, condensing and collecting the oil.

    For this and other beneficial reasons such as ease of cleaning, long lasting etc modern distillers switched to stainless steel pots. These pots provide robust ability to churn through higher volumes of biomatter without having sullage build up in the pipping. One of the common challenges with copper is the build up of sullage and residue on the surface that requires rigorous cleaning. The anti microbial property of copper also takes from the final volume of the oil produced. Stainless steel does not have these issue. The down side with stainless steel is the difficulty in handling and the 'pot' smell it leaves in the oil, this can however be aired out without much issue.

    NOTE: This is not aimed at anyone, I am only sharing this for educational purposes.

    The other serious issue that I am seeing with some of the videos coming out is the equipment being used for the purpose condensing the steam into liquid. In the videos you will note that the guys are either using Liebig Condensers or Allihn Condensers, both of these are designed for specific applications and they are not really efficient for oudh distillation.

    Liebig Condenser



    Allihn Condenser


    The issue with these two condensers is that there is a straight column through the center that goes uninterrupted from the top of the condensers from where the steam enters until the end where condensed liquid is suppose to come out. As steam comes through the surface of the bubbles in the Allihn and the tube in the Liebig will condense the steam that contacts the cooled surface into liquid and the rest will flow straight out into the collector and evaporate. This leads to a lot of wastage as the steam that is not condensed is simply escaping making the air smell nice and no oils are being captured. Why this happens? because there is not resistance in the condenser arrangement to force the steam onto the cold surface and steam looks for the easiest way out.

    What some of the guys are doing to work around this, is refluxing, this is a big risk in distilling oudh and sandalwood, because it will force the bonds to break further making the oils very floral and also getting elements out of the wood that have a negative pungent contribution to the scent profile. This is one of the reasons why a lot of floral oils with high top notes are hitting the market from online vendors, Refluxing basically means they are closing out the possibility of the steam leaking from the collector and feeding it back into the pot as condensed liquid which moments before came from the pot in the form of steam. This process is usually used only for distilling stubborn materials, but if an oil is separated easily from the bio matter, then it just breaks it down further causing on desired effects to the aroma.

    A free advice to the distillers who are using these type of condensers, change them. You will increase your output, oil intensity and also cooking time. Hope this helps.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by AlshareefOudh; 26th May 2016 at 04:14 AM.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Allow me to response
    Quote Originally Posted by AlshareefOudh View Post
    Many a times distillers will complain about loss in production and this can be related to the method of cooking, but also the equipment used in cooking, condensing and collecting the oil.

    For this and other beneficial reasons such as ease of cleaning, long lasting etc modern distillers switched to stainless steel pots. These pots provide robust ability to churn through higher volumes of biomatter without having sullage build up in the pipping. One of the common challenges with copper is the build up of sullage and residue on the surface that requires rigorous cleaning. The anti microbial property of copper also takes from the final volume of the oil produced. Stainless steel does not have these issue. The down side with stainless steel is the difficulty in handling and the 'pot' smell it leaves in the oil, this can however be aired out without much issue.

    NOTE: This is not aimed at anyone, I am only sharing this for educational purposes.

    The other serious issue that I am seeing with some of the videos coming out is the equipment being used for the purpose condensing the steam into liquid. In the videos you will note that the guys are either using Liebig Condensers or Allihn Condensers, both of these are designed for specific applications and they are not really efficient for oudh distillation.

    Liebig Condenser



    Allihn Condenser


    The issue with these two condensers is that there is a straight column through the center that goes uninterrupted from the top of the condensers from where the steam enters until the end where condensed liquid is suppose to come out. As steam comes through the surface of the bubbles in the Allihn and the tube in the Liebig will condense the steam that contacts the cooled surface into liquid and the rest will flow straight out into the collector and evaporate. This leads to a lot of wastage as the steam that is not condensed is simply escaping making the air smell nice and no oils are being captured. Why this happens? because there is not resistance in the condenser arrangement to force the steam onto the cold surface and steam looks for the easiest way out.

    What some of the guys are doing to work around this, is refluxing, this is a big risk in distilling oudh and sandalwood, because it will force the bonds to break further making the oils very floral and also getting elements out of the wood that have a negative pungent contribution to the scent profile. This is one of the reasons why a lot of floral oils with high top notes are hitting the market from online vendors, Refluxing basically means they are closing out the possibility of the steam leaking from the collector and feeding it back into the pot as condensed liquid which moments before came from the pot in the form of steam. This process is usually used only for distilling stubborn materials, but if an oil is separated easily from the bio matter, then it just breaks it down further causing on desired effects to the aroma.

    A free advice to the distillers who are using these type of condensers, change them. You will increase your output, oil intensity and also cooking time. Hope this helps.
    The issue of lost of oil is not 100% related to condenser orientation rather goes way back to pre treatment of raw material, since not all raw material can be treated equally. One is ok with soaking, others are not, while others can lasted soaking until it reach "animalic" smell ? The particle sizing is a also key feature to not geting enough oil, also the micro structure of in which related to where it's from. Most Indonesian wood are not ok with soaking, it will end up with "broth" or "cow dung" maybe raw leather with fatty aroma, even when using upward orientation, it will make no difference. Downward orientation will make some oil smell like " bandaid" if the condenser is too cold and the drip rate is high. Why I am saying these? since it is all my 6 years experience in distilling also building a still. With all due respect, oud were like food some prefer meat some prefer vegetables there is no single genre in oud. We are talking about 30 species here and add that to where it come, the micro climate of where the tree grows, nutrient and seasonal stress which inflict the wood. These make the aroma different one to another, finding single aroma consistency would be chalenging yet not impossible.
    Anyway I use this setting you question about? I will say it again no clear relation between yield and type of condenser. I get 0.3 at coil also 0.02% and 0.3% at upward, vice versa. So could you enligth me about this matter ?
    There is no problem in changes of taste in oud,old guys like animalic that is their choice young people like floral oud that is also their choice or both like floral that is their choice. So what all we can do is to follow the stream or create a new stream. Salam dari Indonesia.
    Last edited by agarwoodindonesia; 26th May 2016 at 05:29 AM.
    Knowlegde is power, oud is stinky ? think again...

  26. #26

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Very informative post AlShareef and Agarwoodindonesia. On our trip to Malaysia, Cambodia and Indonesia earlier this month me and Faizal visited 6 different distillers and 5 distilleries what we found out was that each distiller has his own unique way of distilling, where one person was using no soak and other was soaking for over a month and both oils were beautiful in their own way. Same with temprature one said it doesnt matter if the heat is not consistantly the same while the other was all about controlling the temperature. It was very intresting to learn from these guys who all had their own style of distilling. I think distilling oud is all about experimenting and see what works best according to each type of species.

  27. #27

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    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Very interesting topic. I once read about an oudh distiller using Taif rose hydrosol instead of water for distillation - I wonder how that turned out!

    Thanks for the discussion guys.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    Quote Originally Posted by agarwoodindonesia View Post
    Allow me to response

    The issue of lost of oil is not 100% related to condenser orientation rather goes way back to pre treatment of raw material, since not all raw material can be treated equally. One is ok with soaking, others are not, while others can lasted soaking until it reach "animalic" smell ? The particle sizing is a also key feature to not geting enough oil, also the micro structure of in which related to where it's from. Most Indonesian wood are not ok with soaking, it will end up with "broth" or "cow dung" maybe raw leather with fatty aroma, even when using upward orientation, it will make no difference. Downward orientation will make some oil smell like " bandaid" if the condenser is too cold and the drip rate is high. Why I am saying these? since it is all my 6 years experience in distilling also building a still. With all due respect, oud were like food some prefer meat some prefer vegetables there is no single genre in oud. We are talking about 30 species here and add that to where it come, the micro climate of where the tree grows, nutrient and seasonal stress which inflict the wood. These make the aroma different one to another, finding single aroma consistency would be chalenging yet not impossible.
    Anyway I use this setting you question about? I will say it again no clear relation between yield and type of condenser. I get 0.3 at coil also 0.02% and 0.3% at upward, vice versa. So could you enligth me about this matter ?
    There is no problem in changes of taste in oud,old guys like animalic that is their choice young people like floral oud that is also their choice or both like floral that is their choice. So what all we can do is to follow the stream or create a new stream. Salam dari Indonesia.
    Salam Muhammad good to hear from you.

    I have already addressed the points regarding soaking, raw material, pots etc, you can read about those at the beginning of the thread.

    As with regards to peoples preference without a doubt we all like different things. However from a production perspective every distiller would like to get the best out of the raw material, this will save them money and produce good oil for them. These fine tuning are all about bringing out the best from the raw material.

    Whilst every type of oudh will require adjusting the setup, the physics and chemistry foundations must be observed. Having steam going to waste from the condenser can not be excused by type of wood. Yes we may need to vary the particle size, the soaking, the cooling, the pot material etc for specific distillations, but all of those variables have to be within the basic guidelines of physics and chemistry,

    I would be happy to help with your setup, but I have not seen yours and like I said before, my posts are not directed at individuals, so if you want to send me details of your setup I can make suggestions, either in private or on here. But having not seen it is difficult to do so.

    @Faheem, it is important to keep fundamental constants separate from those items that are variables. Otherwise everything because acceptable and everything floats on a big cloud of myth. Those distillers that you have witnessed will have many good practices and also many bad practices. Can you imagine if they eliminate the bad practices how much better the oils would be?

  29. #29
    Super Member russian adam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    great topic,
    we discussed it in the past with Taha,
    me and him had quite different outcomes while using the condensers you referring to…

    AlshareefOudh would be very beneficial if you can share pictures/drawing/videos of the equipment that can increase output, oil intensity and also cooking time...
    Last edited by russian adam; 26th May 2016 at 02:01 PM.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Distillation and Oudh

    just to add my 2p worth.

    During our travels with faheem we saw many setups. vast majority of them are closed systems. There can be no escape of the condensate/ steam, the vapour travels into the Aliihn condenser condensing all the way to the top. The top is then sealed of via a valve and therefore condensate forms and drips down to the bottom and into the main collector. If at this stage the steam/ oil has not dropped out then the pass through the second condenser will collect remainder oil. This is the dean-stark condenser trap method of distillation.

    The only way to produce a condenser which will condense everything out in one pass is using a shell and tube or plate heat exchanger. How good these are for essential oils like oud i wouldnt be able to say. However with my experience in the Oil and Gas industry and having worked for Spirax Sarco a world leader in steam technology i would be inclined to say the setups i saw including Muhammads are quite efficiently designed. Plus what really impressed me was the wealth of knowledge, both the teams in Yogya had chemical engineers, they have written thesis in Agarwood preparation and distillation. We have had very detailed discussions with a bn member oud_distiller who has experimented with different soaking methods and distillation setups. Hopefully we can publish the findings once translated from Bhasa! and GCMS is a very trivial thing for these guys.

    I'm looking at preparing a distillation setup in the UK and trying to mirror something like we designed for Diageo in scotland. Hopefully using a plate heat exchanger sized to the pressure/ temp and estimated flow rate im sure we can perfect condensation of oud oil, especially if glycol can be used as the heat transfer fluid.
    Last edited by Faizal_p; 26th May 2016 at 10:03 PM.




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