Distillation is an effective method for recycling IPA (isopropyl alcohol) saturated with resin, but there are safety concerns that should be addressed.
Distilling solvents like IPA should be performed outside away from flammable materials, fire extinguishers should be on hand, and the distiller should not be left unattended.
The result of distillation is crystal clear IPA that is ready to be used again in your cleaning process.
Which Distiller to Get?
No frills water distillers, like in the video, has an automatic shutoff at 115°C (239°F), slightly above the boiling point of water. IPA can be distilled at this temperature but separated resin can begin to solidify, burn, and become a death pancake.
It is recommended to pick up a distiller with a temperature controller in order to operate the unit just above the boiling point of IPA, which is 82.6°C (180.7°F).
More expensive distillers may replace the plastic housing with mostly metal, which can minimize the size of a fire, but there is a greater potential for pressure buildups.
What is the Distillation Process like?
- Cure the resin inside the IPA then filter it through a coffee filter.
- Place the distiller outdoors away from flammable materials - have fire extinguishers nearby.
- Pour the filtered IPA into the distiller and set the temperature above 83°C.
- Babysit the distiller the entire time it is operational.
- Remove the solidified resin after each session.
How Efficient is the Distillation?
In the video, a test using a basic distiller achieves a 75% recovery efficiency once the overheating safety turns on. There is still some IPA left in the tank so if turned on again, the distiller will heat for a short period of time before shutting off again. This second cycle results in an efficiency of 85%.
This means that with minimal effort, distillation can result in a very efficient reclamation of the IPA that is saturated with resin.
How Much Money Does Distillation Save?
The distiller uses little energy to recover a single liter of IPA. An estimate of 15 minutes to distill one liter at 750 watts costs only 3 cents given an energy rate of 15 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The primary monetary loss in distillation will be due to the inefficiency, which in the video can be estimated at 15%. At a per liter cost of $4.20, the loss is approximately 63 cents. This value certainly does not represent every scenario, and a higher efficiency is achievable.
The distillation does save at least $3.5 per liter, which means that the investment cost is recuperated easily, especially if you are an avid resin printer user.
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