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How I distill my used IPA

Some of you asked how I distilled my used IPA to save seeing the price is so high these days.
Attached is a PDF tutorial on how I do this.

I do not accept any liability on your attempting to do your own distilling of IPA. You must used safe methods which are your own responsibility. All I’m saying is how I do it and have for four years.

Good luck and I’ll try to answer questions as I have time.

Distilling IPA.pdf (996.7 KB)


Wow. Thanks for the time you took to do this.
But why is it exactly that you do this? Is a distilled IPA again at full dissolving power?

It should be pretty close to pure IPA, after proper distillation. So yes to your last question.

Looks like it requires a significant investment in equipment. I should do a computation to see how this compares to my current rate of loss of IPA.

“a small still generally used for making beer or wine at home”
I would like to know more about the american way of making beer and wine at home that involves a still.

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Mainly wine but some beer does use such a still. Do a search on the internet on it and see what you come up with.

1… To save money. Much cheaper than buying it see what the prices are today.
2. Disposal of the used IPA is hard. One you can’t just pour it down the drain, Second, nor can you pour it out on the ground as it will pollute the ground and good chance also the ground water. That’s a illegal thing to do and can bring charges.
3. I use a lot of IPA as I mainly manufacture quite a bit running both machines sometimes 8 or more hours a day doing multiple prints. I generally have around 10 gallons of good and used IPA on hand.

Thanks for the answers. It’s good to put things in context!

About how much does all the hardware cost?

Best is to go on eBay and see what current prices are. Total you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $250 depending on just what you buy. I have the roll-around cart so it’s easy to store then pull out to use. Much easier than to have to haul it all out each time.

I imagine you’ve compared the quality of recycled IPA done through a 190-micron filter vs. distillation.

From your document it looks like you let the bigger resin particles sediment-out rather than filter.

Is filtering pretty much the same as letting it sediment-out? If you haven’t done those tests, I’ll give it a shot soon.

What I do works for me. I’m not trying to turn it into a science lab. Don’t have time for that. It cleans my parts and that’s what I’m after.

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The cleaning action of the IPA comes from the uncured resin disolving in the IPA. That happens until the concentration of the resin reaches about 10-12 %. After that the resin starts to precipitate from the solution.
But you can only filter cured resin particles from the IPA. You can cure the resin in your IPA/resin mixture by exposing it to UV radiation, i. e. put your container with dirty IPA in sunlight. But that only works for low concentrations of dissolved resin. I created a solid gel block once by exposing my resin saturated IPA container to sunlight.
So, distillation is the best way to recycle your used IPA.

I have filtered IPA used to clean DENTAL MODEL resin starting at 10 to 20 micron filter paper then 11 micron then 7 micron then 2.5 micron. It failed. The filler from the resin even got through 2.5 micron filter.

I knew it would not get rid of the resin.

Experimented 3 times. Conclusion it doesn’t work

So distilling is the only way

A solid get block! Yikes. Okay, I might try learning how to distill.

So many gadgets to buy!

I tried Fuel Filters used for Diesel Oil and it didn’t work. That’s why I gave up on filters. Not worth the effort.

The real big issue for me and the reason I started distilling the used IPA is there was no way to get rid of the used dirty IPA with out paying more than what the fresh stuff cost. I had two 5 gallon carboys full of dirty resin plus about5 one gallon bottles and felt I better figure out something or get out of the resin 3D printer business.

So, not bad for a 78 year old fart to do all this, HUH? :grinning::rofl:


I’m with you on that one ol rusty stumps. With safe controlled disposal of IPA waste costing a fortune,

I also use new fangled TPM but have not got to the point of working out what to do with waste, I dont even have a gallon of TPM waste yet as it seems to hold a lot more uncured resing compared with IPA Still got some ultra fine filters though…

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If you live in London disposal is free for small amounts.

IIRC the limits are 40 litres four times a year.

Thanks billb,
I live in Wimbledon so a bit further out. Will check if they have a similar scheme here.
All the best

Distillation of Ethanol in the U.S. requires a license from the BATF. Distilling Ethanol without a license is illegal. It’s what got Uncle Jessie time in the klink on “The Dukes of Hazard.”

Home brewing of beer and wine does not involve distilling, and does not require licensing.

None of that has anything to do with IPA, but it’s worth pointing out.

Also, the BATF has been known to investigate purchasers of still equipment to verify that they’re not nascent moonshiners.

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I dispose of my IPA by allowing the sun to evaporate the IPA leaving the resin residue to harden to dispose in the trash .
My simple set up : Buy a pack of deep aluminum trays (think turkey basting aluminum pan.
Duck tape tape as many as you want to a board. (so they do not get blown away by the wind).
I like a board with two trays it is easier to bring inside after work. (Do not leave them out in rain!)
Set them out in the sun in morning pour about about 1/4 to 3/8 inch deep pool of dirty IPA in the morning and most of it will be gone.
Cycle that a few times per tray.
Depending on the type of resin you will eventually get sheets or thick slurry that will eventually harden or peel up.
I have a semi clear bucket that I thrown the soft sheets shards in, that goes out into the sun.
I also pull off most of the supports before I wash a print and they too go into the bucket and outside under the sun (Save IPA)

Thats been working for me. Good luck