Copper mesh is used to reduce or eliminate sulfur compounds during beverage-grade distilling. It requires modest, yet regular cleaning to ensure its effectiveness and maintain the integrity of your still’s operation.
Make sure to use pure copper, quality matters. Don’t sacrifice with copper-coated material just to save a couple pennies. And, refrain from using any mesh that’s discolored or showing signs of blue-colored corrosion.
Pure copper will not rust, contaminate, or scratch surfaces, but it does have a lifespan in mesh form. You can prolong its value, and help prevent off-flavors in your product, by cleaning it after every run. And, as soon as it doesn’t look clean—regardless how strict your sanitation protocols are—discard and replace it as necessary.
STEP 1: PREP
Remove all copper mesh from its column, and allow it to dry. If you suspect that there might be excessive debris or that it might need to be replaced, unroll it to inspect it and then leave it unrolled to expedite drying. Note: You will be rolling it back up so that it can fit in a container to soak (see Step 2).
Dually, it’ll be a near-impossible task to thoroughly clean your column with its packing material still present.
STEP 2: CLEAN
Fill a container approximately twice the size of the rolled-up mesh with your choice of cleaning solution. Popular opinions vary, and include straight citric acid, straight vinegar, a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water, or an environmentally-friendly alkaline cleaner like PBW.
Submerge your copper mesh for a minimum of one hour, up to 24.
STEP 3: RINSE AND STORE
Once removed from your cleaning solution, rinse it thoroughly with clean water. Unroll it, (hang it if possible,) and allow it to air-dry completely. Store it dry, in a clean and covered container until your next run.
Rinse and repeat Steps 1-3 until it shows any visible signs of deterioration, including off-coloring.
Similar to Googling almost any food recipe or “How to” resource that allows for some leniency per personal preference, you may also find users suggesting alternative cleaning methods for their copper mesh.
Regardless of the cleaning agent you use, always defer to manufacturer instructions, follow all safety protocols, and proceed at your own discretion and risk.