This art is of great importance to a confectioner, as it enables him to make his own oils, waters, and spirits for liqueurs and ratafias, instead of purchasing at a high rate those vile adulterations which are often sold.
The still or apparatus for distilling consists of a cucurbit, which is a copper pot or boiler, and contains the wash, dregs, or infusions to be distilled. A cover, with a large tapering neck or pipe in the cen tre, is fixed on, and a continuation of small pipe, made either of tin or pewter, of several feet in length, is bent into a spiral form, and termed the worm. This is placed in a tub containing water, which is fastened on to the end of the neck. The joints or crevices are luted, to prevent evaporation, with a paste made of linseed meal, or equal portions of slacked lime or whitening, flour and salt, moistened with water, and spread on rags or pieces of bladder, when it is applied to the joints and crevices. The water in the tub where the worm is should be kept quite cold, except in distilling oil of anise-seeds; and for this purpose a tap or cock should be placed about half-way down the tub, that the top of the water may be drawn off when it is warm. Again fill it with cold water, and keep coarse cloths dipped in cold water to put round the alembic or still in case it should boil too fast. It is by these means that the steam or vapour which rises with the heat is condensed, and runs out at the end of the pipe in a small stream. If the operation is well conducted, it should never exceed this. When the phlegm arises, which is a watery insipid liquor, the receiver must be withdrawn, for if a drop of it should run in, it must be cohobated, that is, re-distilled, as it will thicken the spirit and spoil the taste.
The still should not be filled above three parts full, to prevent it rising over the neck, should it happen to boil violently, as in this case it would spoil what is already drawn, which must be re-distilled.