Since ethanol boils at a much lower temperature than water, simple distillation can separate ethanol from water by applying heat to the mixture. Historically, a copper vessel was used for this purpose, since copper removes undesirable sulfur-based compounds from the alcohol. However, many modern stills are made of stainless steel pipes with copper linings to prevent erosion of the entire vessel and lower copper levels in the waste product (which in large distilleries is processed to become animal feed) . Copper is the preferred material for stills because it yields an overall better tasting spirit. The taste is improved by the chemical reaction between the copper in the still and the sulfur compounds created by the yeast during fermentation. These unwanted and flavor changing sulfur compounds are chemically removed from the final product resulting in a smoother, better tasting drink. All copper stills will require repairs about every eight years due to the precipitation of copper-sulfur compounds. The beverage industry was the first to implement a modern distillation apparatus and led the way in developing equipment standards which are now widely accepted in the chemical industry.
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