Aluminum pot?

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Aluminum pot?

Postby Firebird » Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:04 pm

I have an aluminum pressure cooker that I would like to use to make a still. Is there any problem with using aluminum?
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Postby Rudi » Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:09 pm

pitting longevity acidic wash blah blah blah :roll: search it man then get a ss keg 8) welcome
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Postby bronzdragon » Fri Oct 26, 2007 11:39 am

Stay away from aluminum. Stainless or copper are the ways to go, with copper being the best.

Things leach out of aluminum while brewing that you don't want to be drinking.

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Re: Aluminum pot?

Postby Johnny Reb » Fri Oct 26, 2007 2:59 pm

Firebird wrote:I have an aluminum pressure cooker that I would like to use to make a still. Is there any problem with using aluminum?


Alum tends to pit after a while. You can get away with using it for a bit but eventually you will end up getting a stainless steel so to be honest buy the SS now and use the Alum for cooking

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Postby defcon4 » Fri Oct 26, 2007 6:40 pm

I've used an aluminum pressure cooker for a year now and have made tons of shine in it. Aluminum pressure cookers are a good bit thicker than aluminum pots.

To answer the common criticisms of aluminum:

Pitting: I have seen not pitting in my aluminum boiler whatsoever, but this is probably because its a pressure cooker, they are made a lot thicker

Leeching out stuff: acidic washes just keep the aluminum clean, the owners manual even recommends scrubbing the inside with lemon juice and baking soda to keep it clean. As far as leeching out aluminum goes, well its going to stay in the pot. Heavy metals or any metals for that matter do not carry over into the steam, they stay in the pot. If you don't believe me, google distilling water.


All that being said, stainless steal is a superior metal, it is stronger and way more resistant to wear, much harder to drill or cut.

But I have had zero problems with my aluminum boiler, zero
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Postby Usge » Fri Oct 26, 2007 6:58 pm

You mean like this one?

Image

It seals metal to metal, no rubber gasket.

They make them larger as well (40 qt, etc., )
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Postby junkyard dawg » Sat Oct 27, 2007 12:09 am

Be sure you don't have the rubber gasket kind...

for the price of the All American pressure cooker you could make 5 or 6 stainless beerkeg boilers.

If you need a pressure cooker there is nothing better than the All American, like the pic.... For a still, I'd use a stainless keg.
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Postby Uncle Remus » Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:01 pm

Stay away from aluminum if you can. We got a big ole aluminum pot we mash in often and it gets a lot of black scum along the waterline sometimes. Before this pot we used a beer keg to cook mashes and this never happened.

I personally would not use aluminum for a still boiler....but thats JMHO. :?
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Postby manu de hanoi » Mon Oct 29, 2007 2:16 pm

i started distilling with an aluminium pressure cooker. A cheap chinese one.

The setup was very easy, and it was very interesting for experimenting my firsts distillations.

Now I realise it gives a metallic taste, and since it's too small anyways, I had made a 2nd one (stainless). I still use the pressure cooker sometimes to distill small plant baches to make concentrated flavors.

Have fun with the pressure cooker, but if you want to increase productivity and quality you will upgrade to a more serious still in a few month.
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Postby defcon4 » Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:17 pm

Uncle Remus wrote:Stay away from aluminum if you can. We got a big ole aluminum pot we mash in often and it gets a lot of black scum along the waterline sometimes. Before this pot we used a beer keg to cook mashes and this never happened.

I personally would not use aluminum for a still boiler....but thats JMHO. :?


That black scum is an oxidation layer that naturally protects the aluminum from further oxidation, pitting, or degradation. If you want to remove it for aesthetics, scrub it with something acidic.
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Postby defcon4 » Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:22 pm

manu de hanoi wrote:i started distilling with an aluminium pressure cooker. A cheap chinese one.

The setup was very easy, and it was very interesting for experimenting my firsts distillations.

Now I realise it gives a metallic taste, and since it's too small anyways, I had made a 2nd one (stainless). I still use the pressure cooker sometimes to distill small plant baches to make concentrated flavors.

Have fun with the pressure cooker, but if you want to increase productivity and quality you will upgrade to a more serious still in a few month.


I'm gonna have to disagree with you on that. The only way the ALUMINUM pot could be leaving a metallic taste in a distillate is if your wash is foaming through the still. The metallic taste you experienced probably came from your still head, primarily the condenser area.

Google distilled water. It is not possible for metals in the boiler to leave a taste in the distillate as the metals stay behind in the pot, and the steam/distillate boils and evaporates AWAY from the metals. The CONDENSER portion of the still could be leaving a taste in your distillate, so you just have to distill some more batches so the condenser can develop a patina and it will stop leaving a taste in your distillate.
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Postby junkyard dawg » Tue Oct 30, 2007 6:57 am

I'm not gonna wade in here and start argueing with you guys, but I think the idea that an aluminum boiler can produce metallic flavors has some merit.

I've cooked a lot. Its true that aluminum pots can flavor high acid foods. If the distillate carries the same flavor as the wash it came from, doesn't it make sense that if the wash is picking up flavor from the aluminum, the distillate will too? No metal may carry over, but the flavor of the wash is being affected, so the distillate will too.

probly not a big deal, but if your considering building a still, do it right the first time...
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Postby Ricky » Fri Nov 09, 2007 5:38 pm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

i dont know about sugar washes but the first still i patched together was with an aluminum pressure cooker and some pear wine. when i got through the aluminum was black. i refused to drink the stuff and bought a stainless pressure cooker and never looked back. until i had to go bigger. keg works great. and it was cheaper than the stainless pressure cooker. if your going to do it do it right.
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Postby defcon4 » Fri Nov 09, 2007 7:36 pm

Ricky wrote:--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

i dont know about sugar washes but the first still i patched together was with an aluminum pressure cooker and some pear wine. when i got through the aluminum was black. i refused to drink the stuff and bought a stainless pressure cooker and never looked back. until i had to go bigger. keg works great. and it was cheaper than the stainless pressure cooker. if your going to do it do it right.


Again, I've run all my washes through an aluminum boiler, and have drank copious amounts of the resulting spirits and I'm in perfect health. Got my physical not too long ago and the doctor said I was the healthiest patient he's seen in a few years.

That black coating is the oxide layer, it naturally forms on aluminum and actually PROTECTS your aluminum pot from corrosion. It DOES NOT harm you in any way

Here are some excerpts from the wikipedia article on Al (all excerpts had links to a reliable source)
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminum)

"Aluminium is nontoxic"

"Corrosion resistance is excellent due to a thin surface layer of aluminium oxide that forms when the metal is exposed to air, effectively preventing further oxidation." <i>-This is that black layer</i>

"Aluminum is a good thermal and electrical conductor, by weight better than copper"


And again, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR ALUMINUM TO CARRY OVER INTO YOUR DISTILLATE! It is a heavy metal and will stay behind in the pot during distillation. Don't believe me, here's an excerpt about distilled water (these purifying properties apply to any distilled liquid, why do you think that all distillates come out white and clear and don't have a silvery aluminum tint to them?)

"Distilled water is produced when water is passed over a heated coil and then vaporises. Volatile organic contaminants (gases) are discharged through a built-in vent. <b>Minerals and salts are retained in the boiling chamber</b> as hard deposits or scale. The steam then rises and transfers to a cooling chamber where it condenses and becomes a liquid again. <b>The resulting liquid contains no solids, minerals or trace elements.</b>

Distillation <b>separates water from inorganic compounds like <i>lead</i></b>‚ calcium and magnesium. Distillation also destroys bacteria. It <b>removes</b> organic and inorganic chemicals, <b>heavy metals</b>, volatile gases, and other contaminants."
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Postby Ricky » Fri Nov 09, 2007 8:19 pm

if i didnt know any better i would say you were holding a lot of stock in aluminum. i am stating my opinion and you sound like you ar trying to sell something
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Postby goose eye » Sat Nov 10, 2007 4:20 am

firebird you sayin that if your kettle was put together with lead soder
lead aint gonna end up in you likker

think i would be lookin some more reliable sorces.
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Postby Ricky » Sat Nov 10, 2007 4:30 am

goose i think defcon said that no metals would leave the boiler. but i would like to hear his answer.
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Postby defcon4 » Sat Nov 10, 2007 4:49 am

I don't hold any stock in aluminum, I just don't like it when people get scared away from aluminum boilers due to some misrepresented facts (I'm not saying it's just your post there is plenty of misrepresented information about aluminum all over this site). I think people have just forgotten to look at the basic science of this issue. Yes, it's true that <i>pure</i> aluminum will corrode when exposed to acids, but pretty much all the pots you buy today are aluminum <i>alloys</i>. Then to top that off, that black layer of aluminum oxide forms after a short while and <b>prevents</b> further corrosion or oxidation. Yes that oxide layer can be damaged by acids but it acts as a suicide barrier. The acid will break down the oxide layer quite slowly before it even contacts the aluminum alloy. If aluminum pots corroded as quickly as people suggest, a batch of tomatoes should burn a hole clear through aluminum in about an hour. Go take some acidic fruit and heat it up in an aluminum pot you have at home, see what happens.

Stainless steel is obviously a much stronger metal but it is also much harder to work with. Stainless even has a higher corrosion resistance than aluminum, but that doesn't mean aluminum has to avoided like the plague.

I'm not trying to be "aggressive" or an ***hole and I'm sorry if I come across that way but I think the basic scientific facts about aluminum should be properly represented.
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Postby defcon4 » Sat Nov 10, 2007 5:08 am

goose eye wrote:firebird you sayin that if your kettle was put together with lead soder
lead aint gonna end up in you likker

think i would be lookin some more reliable sorces.


(<b>Safety note for anyone reading this forum/thread, use ONLY food grade solder, and piping for the boiler lid, the lyne arm or distillation column, and the condenser. My following statement applys ONLY to the boiler</b>)

ALL heavy metals will stay behind IN THE BOILER ONLY. Think about it, if you took a bunch of molten lead and tried to superheat it and make it boil, would it evaporate? Of course not because as a heavy metal, it can NOT enter a gaseous state. It will remain a solid at normal temperatures and at very high temperatures it simply forms into a molten liquid.

When water or any other liquid is boiled in a still, the water steams "rises" up away from heavy metals, or other minerals. Metal is too heavy to be lifted up <b>steam</b>. How do you think people filter metals out of water? They distill it!

Again, since you people probably just won't believe me here is an excerpt from yet another site.

http://www.quikpack.com/Leadinfo.htm
"Distillation units, also normally placed on the kitchen counter, are effective in removing lead from drinking water"

Come on ya'll this is science 101, we know this stuff.
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Aluminum pot?

Postby birdwatcher » Sat Nov 10, 2007 5:38 am

defcon4 wrote:Stainless steel is obviously a much stronger metal but it is also much harder to work with. Stainless even has a higher corrosion resistance than aluminum, but that doesn't mean aluminum has to avoided like the plague.

I'm not trying to be "aggressive" or an ***hole and I'm sorry if I come across that way but I think the basic scientific facts about aluminum should be properly represented.


So far, I think you are winning this long running argument. Particularly for those distillers like myself who only make ethanol from sugar washes.

I have used converted water heaters for the past ten years or so. I have no idea what the boiler inside a North American water heater is constructed of. I have heard coated steel(cast iron?). and coated with what?

All I know is it also was the boiler of choice of John Stone Phd. Chemistry, University of London and author of Making Gin and Vodka.

I'm nearly 70, in good health and I have a snort of my vodka on a daily basis and sometimes a raspberry liqueur for desert.

I am considering a propane heated setup in the future, due to ever increasing electricity costs. This contest between the two metals is thought provoking.

Sure, I would prefer a nice SS boiler, but when you consider the cost differential and the fact that aluminum is easier to work with; your
arguments are compelling.

If I was the president of a proposed distilling company I would certainly choose SS or copper. Why? Because you could not afford to risk the perhaps perceived notion that that anything else might be harmful to ones health.

But, for the well informed home distiller??????

Thanks for your input.

G
My sugar wash for ethanol is under the Tried and true recipes forum.
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Re: Aluminum pot?

Postby defcon4 » Sat Nov 10, 2007 8:45 am

birdwatcher wrote:If I was the president of a proposed distilling company I would certainly choose SS or copper. Why? Because you could not afford to risk the perhaps perceived notion that that anything else might be harmful to ones health.


Thanks for your post!

The reason professional distilleries would choose SS over aluminum would be for durability reasons. They would be using their boiler every day for <i>decades</i> to come (and running it almost all day). They would actually need/use the durability that stainless would provide. That's just a simple business decision.

A small home distiller is not going to subject their boiler to such harsh treatment and therefore extreme durability is not a big concern for a home distiller. An aluminum pot could easily last a home distiller 25+ years (by then you'd want to build a newer/better still anyways).

The "facts" people commonly use to criticize aluminum are either misrepresented, or leave out essential information. The scientific facts behind aluminum all point to the fact that is perfectly OK to use as a boiler.

An analogy to illustrate my point:
Would you refuse to build a house out of wood because wood is flammable? Of course not, if you use it RIGHT then you won't have a problem. You have to use wood because if you built the house out of metal, you may not be able to afford it and it would be harder to construct.
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Postby HookLine » Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:20 am

My 2c worth.

From the mother site:

http://homedistiller.org/equip/materials

Both aluminium and copper are safe to use, but stainless steel will prove more durable and easier to maintain.

If you do need to make a still yourself, take care to avoid lead solder, etc which could contaminate ya. Use silver solder instead. Use only food grade type materials (eg stainless steel, glass, etc). Mine [Tony's] has an aluminium head on it - which is OK for the limited use it gets, provided it is kept clean & dry when not in use (or else it will pit & erode).

What Materials are Suitable ?
Coulson, Richardson & Sinnott report that:

• aluminium, aluminium bronze, brass, copper, gunmetal and bronze, high Si iron, nickel, nickle-copper alloys, platinum, silver, stainless steel (18/8, molybedenum & austenitic ferric), titanium, tantalum, and zirconium
• nylon 66 fibre & plastics, PCTFE, PTFE, polypropylene, and furane resin
• hard rubber, neophrene, nitrile rubber, chlorosulphinated polyethylene, and silicone rubbers
• concrete, glass, graphite, porcelain and stoneware, and vitreous enamel are corrosion resistant to alcohols, beer & water up to 100C.
Be safe.
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Postby junkyard dawg » Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:40 am

The "facts" people commonly use to criticize aluminum are either misrepresented, or leave out essential information. The scientific facts behind aluminum all point to the fact that is perfectly OK to use as a boiler.


which 'facts' are you taking issue with?

seems like you just have a hard time accepting that stainless or copper is the best choice. If someone asks 'what is better to put into your truck, motor oil or olive oil?' how would you answer? Olive oil is fine because it will work for a while...???

so, what I hear is that most folks who have tried both prefer stainless over aluminum. Pro's use stainless or copper. Maybe you should try stainless and see what you think? Maybe there are other factors in those opinions... other than just scientific 'facts'... I don't hear anyone saying aluminum won't work... just that it is not the best choice. Sorry if that bugs you, but 'facts' and opinion support stainless or copper boiler over aluminum. You acknowledge that stainless is better... why this advocacy for a second rate material?
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Postby BW Redneck » Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:52 am

When all of this is said and done, I'm still going to be wary of aluminum after I saw an aluminum shovel turn completely to white powder after being left for too long in a fertilizer bin...
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Postby junkyard dawg » Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:57 am

sorry for the double post... just reread this part...

you may not be able to afford it and it would be harder to construct.


If you're in the states, and you want to make your own likker and you can't find a cheap to free beer keg then you might need to look for a different hobby. :roll:

as far as fabrication, if you are doing anything more than drilling a hole, there is little difference in fabrication challenges.
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aluminum

Postby dunderhead » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:35 am

This is a hobby isn't
making the equipment is part of the fun?
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Postby junkyard dawg » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:47 am

it is for me...

workin on a new burner recently...

slow but steady...
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Postby HookLine » Sat Nov 10, 2007 11:17 am

Forgot to say that even though aluminium will work, I still think copper or stainless are best. Like JD said, a stainless beer keg is the best bet.
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Postby defcon4 » Sat Nov 10, 2007 11:24 am

junkyard dawg, all the questions you asked me were answered in my previous posts. I won't re-post them cause then I'd just be being an @**. Not all of us live in america and even so, I've heard its easy to find a keg in Texas but that it is very hard to get a keg anywhere else. A lot of kegs are aluminum, most are stainless, but you can also find a lot of aluminum ones. Even if I had a free keg, I wouldn't use it cause I don't want to do batches that large. I only make 2-3 gallon batches at a time.

Again, most home distillers probably won't need all the extra durability that SS provides. For example: If I had to choose between a regular truck for $30,000 or a much more durable truck made out of solid titanium alloy for $100,000 that I would use as a daily driver; would you tell me that I should stop advocating the cheaper truck and that the only logical thing to do would be to buy a $100,000 titanium truck? Of course you wouldn't. It would only make sense to buy a more expensive and stronger truck if you absolutely could not do without it.
Same with Al and SS, if you're really gonna use all the strength of SS, then it would make sense to put the extra money, time, and equipment into it. If you're only gonna run your still once a week or so, then you don't need to go through all that trouble. Like I've said, I've used an Al boiler for a year and a half now and it's still in perfect shape.

As for your olive oil/motor oil analogy. It would be better to compare conventional vs. synthetic oil. Conventional oil would be fine for my car because it's cheap and I don't push my car hard and I don't have to start it when it's freezing outside. If I owned a ferrari, yeah, I'd need the benefits of synthetic oil and it would be worth using it. Al is like conventional oil, SS is like synthetic oil.

And no, I'm not connected to the Al industry. I work for UPS, we ship it whether its Al or SS.

Oh, btw, I like my hobby very much. I'm not gonna find a new one, if I did what would I do on the weekend?


dunderhead

Making the equipment is part of the fun. Aluminum is lot more malleable and easier to machine or drill than SS. I can work with Al without purchasing any new equipment and I don't need to strength of SS.


BW Redneck

The shovel probably wasn't an aluminum alloy, it was probably pure aluminum. Plus, I'd be willing to bet that the chemicals in that fertilizer had something to do with it. And I'd bet there's not a lot of fertilizer in washes. :)
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Postby junkyard dawg » Sat Nov 10, 2007 12:21 pm

I only mention where I live because its the only place I know... since a lot of other places in the world drink as much or more beer than we do, i thought id mention the stainless beer keg. they are everywhere around here and its probably like that near most of the people who read this forum.

They make 5 gallon kegs... size don't matter.

its more than just durability...thats my point...
extra money, time, and equipment into it.

I don't think it matters where you are, it costs the same, time, equipment...

that olive oil thing was funny... :lol: if you wanna use synthetic thats cool too... :lol:

no offense meant...
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