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How to use the carbon filter column

Purifying carbon is used to clean liquids and white alcohol of smell, taste and colour. It is also commonly used to purify water prior to wine making and brewing.

To achieve optimum results the alcohol or water should be allowed to filter slowly through a long column of granular activated carbon. This method enhances the removal of unpleasant alcohol volatiles or impurities. 

Careful preparation of carbon needs to be undertaken so please read our Carbon instructions below before use.  

Tips for filtering success:

1. The filtration must go as slowly as possible without stopping or the effects are reduced.

2. The filtration rate should not rise above approximately 500ml per hour.

3. The flow should take place through a carbon bed that is free of air pockets (this prevents channeling)

4. alcohol should be no higher than 40% to filter. 

To accomplish this proceed as follows:

Stage 1

Put the carbon in a stainless steel saucepan and cover with 2-3 times more hot or boiling water. You will need about 1/3 of the 1kg bag of carbon to fill a 1 metre column. Failure to soak carbon first can lead to a milky deposit. Repeat the washing procedure 4-5 times to wash out soluble material from the carbon until the water is clear.  

Stage 2  

Assemble the filter column  ensuring that all joins are 

very tight. Place a Munktel Filter Paper cut to size (orcrumpled up) in the tube at the base. This will prevent carbon granules blocking the tap. Make sure the base is tightly fitted and pushed on securely. 

Stage 3  

Rest the end of the tube in a bucket. Fill the tube with warm water, then top up with the pre-wetted carbon so it flows into the water.  This prevents air pockets forming..

Fill the column approximately 3/4 full of carbon. Run some water through the carbon letting it flow from the tap at the base into the bucket. When the water stops flowing you are ready to filter the alcohol. 

Important: Whenever you are moving the column hold the base to make sure the bottom doesn’t pop off and allow the carbon to rush out.


Stage 4  

Place the end of the filter column over a glass demijohn or similar glass container. 

  Adjust the tap so the flow rate is slow. Start dripping the alcohol to be filtered directly onto the carbon in the tube through the funnel.  It is not recommended to fill the funnel with alcohol, but rather keep topping up with alcohol so the liquid is only in the tube. This ensures a slower flow rate. Filter all of  the alcohol.

Stage 5 

At completion you can run about 1 litre of water  through to flush out all of the alcohol. Taste the alcohol and stop collecting when you detect water.


Ideally, if  you can arrange a demijohn with tap, or similar container with a tap to sit above the funnel and drip alcohol onto the carbon in the tube you will be able to leave the filtration unattended.