Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

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CarolinaShiner
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Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by CarolinaShiner » Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:11 pm

I'm in the process of putting together a classic copper pot still that is a cross between an upscaled version of Pints 12 gallon and a 25 gallon copper pot that Corene had built. Capacity is 25 gallon(probably run around 18 gallons at a time), it will have a 12 gallon thumper and use a 5/8 OD worm condenser. The bottom of my pot has a 20 inch diameter and is made from 48 oz copper. I'm looking to heat this bad boy with propane so I've been looking at some of the bayou classic burners. I've been trying to decide between the KAB4 and the SP40. Here is where I need some advice. Both burners put out over 200000 BTUs, however the KAB4 only has a 17 inch cooking surface which I was afraid could possibly be unsafe/unsteady for a pot with a 20 inch bottom diameter. The SP40 offer a 22 inch cooking surface but it has a double jet burner which looks to me like it could potentially unevenly heat my pot since the jets would only be concentrated in 2 small areas. Both burners are within $3 of being the same price on Amazon. Which would be my best option or could anyone recommend another burner that would heat a boiler this size efficiently that is in the same price range ($80-$100)

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by DAD300 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:16 pm

Easy fix is don't set the boiler on the stand the burner comes with...

Stacked blocks or another metal stand, burner inside and under the pot.
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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by Appalachia-Shiner » Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:47 pm

Just weld you some "ears" on the outer ring of the burner. Make a cardboard template and get someone to cut them and weld them on if its over your pay grade. I posted up some photos of the ones my son made for me on here once and they work like a charm. I recommend 6 for the outer ring. Very stable.

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by shadylane » Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:59 pm

I'd build a separate stand with plenty of support for the bottom of the copper pot. The stand needs to be tall enough for draining the pot.
Having the ability to pull the burner out for lighting or maintenance would be a good idea.
And a heat shroud would be also.
Edited: Your building a 25 gallon copper pot, build the rest of it properly also. :thumbup:

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by Truckinbutch » Tue Nov 10, 2015 5:10 pm

Not often mentioned here any more is the wheel rim burner . I made one and placed it on top of my BC 70k btu burner . 15.5 keg fits in it nicely . Ears welded to the rim support a 1/8" wrap around heat shield that reaches to liquid level in the boiler . Also have a 15.5 keg thumper . On a strip run with 12 gal charges in both boiler and thumper it takes 1hr 40 min from fire lit to likker running . 200k btu sounds like an awful lot to me .
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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by CarolinaShiner » Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:58 pm

I'm thinking possibly a fire grate set up on blocks with the burner underneath. I'm kinda new to all this but I planned on doing single runs with around 18 gallons in the boiler and maybe 6 or so in the thumper. Does anybody else have any input on those double jet burners or if over 200000 btus on those models is too much to do a slow controlled single run? I've always heard if you run it too damn hot your likker will come out hotter than hell lol. I think ole Popcorn himself said something like that. I'm trying to get all my ducks in a row before the ole lady takes my credit card and starts Christmas shopping so I need to get a burner ASAP.

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by Jolly_Roger » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:14 pm

Have a look around for less expensive options than the Bayou. At 200k btu you'll be at high pressure and the thing will sound like a turbine (they look like one as well).
I'm running a 12 gal pot on a 70k btu propane burner and it's hard to get it low enough for spirit runs. I chose this burner based on it's output, it's stand construction and price. There is a lot of "talk" about stainless, but this burner has been used in my brewery (weekly) for 4 years.

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by pfshine » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:29 pm

Have you thought about electric? Is quiet, cheaper than propane, more control, better repeatability, faster heat up times, much more efficient, can be done indoors, don't have to worry about open flames, and you don't have to worry about running out of gas in the middle of a run. There is a ton more positive things about it but I seem to be rambling on. I understand if going electric is out of the picture for you, its just a ton safer, better and cheaper for most.
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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by shadylane » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:33 pm

+1 on the smaller burner
Just a thought since your using blocks and a grate. You could use enough blocks to make a proper furnace surrounding the lower part of the pot.
The extra efficiency would let you use the smaller burner. The blocks don't need to be cemented, so you can store or reuse them.
The smaller burner would also be easier to control.
Posting and agreeing with pfshine but the OP has his heart set on a 25G fired copper pot.

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by FullySilenced » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:35 pm

Nah move to a pacific island that has a volcano and set it up on the lava... free heat :roll:

I use a controller and electric... far as i am concerned its the only way to go...

happy stillin,

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by thatguy1313 » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:38 pm

+1 on going electric. 2 elements would heat that up no problem.
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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by pfshine » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:44 pm

shadylane wrote:+1 on the smaller burner
Just a thought since your using blocks and a grate. You could use enough blocks to make a proper furnace surrounding the lower part of the pot.
The extra efficiency would let you use the smaller burner. The blocks don't need to be cemented, so you can store or reuse them.
The smaller burner would also be easier to control.
Posting and agreeing with pfshine but the OP has his heart set on a 25G fired copper pot.
I put an element in my copper pot no problem. First I had it just screw in then made a ferrule and an adapter to just triclamp it in. I might have misconstrued what you were saying in totality
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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by bearriver » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:50 pm

I'd solder a couple 2" stainless tri clamp ferrules on there for heating element ports.

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by thecroweater » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:56 pm

Older rims are made in two pieces, cut the rivets with a cold chisel and you got a steel ring. To do this you just need to find a RIM that fits your boiler, mine is a (I think) a 1948 GM 17" under an 18 gal two piece beer keg with the outa skin removed and set up on bricks. Won't be on the cover of home beautiful but it works
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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by Jolly_Roger » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:59 pm

+1 on electric if you have an available circuit
PITA getting it together but so much easier improving efficientcies (even tho I can't spell it)

Side note; propane can be used in a shed with the addition of a simple bathroom fan forcing outside air into the burner
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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by DFitz » Wed Nov 11, 2015 5:03 pm

bearriver wrote:I'd solder a couple 2" stainless tri clamp ferrules on there for heating element ports.
Add a 2" nipple & ball valve to drain while your at it. All grain in a nice size pot needs a good size drain.

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by CarolinaShiner » Fri Nov 13, 2015 7:05 pm

I actually haven't put much thought into running an electric setup because I don't really have a 220 outlet available or really anywhere indoors to run. I'd just like a nice propane burner with good heat control so I could get a wash going quick and then back it off and run it slow and steady. I've read reviews on quite a few burners online now and a lot of them seem to have problems with defective regulators where the burners go out when you try to turn the gas back. Shadylane that sounds like just what I had in mind my friend. I'd like a little block furnace with my burner in the middle. Someone out there has to be heating a similar still with propane. Give me some advice on a quality burner.

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by jb-texshine » Sat Nov 14, 2015 1:31 am

CarolinaShiner wrote:I actually haven't put much thought into running an electric setup because I don't really have a 220 outlet available or really anywhere indoors to run. I'd just like a nice propane burner with good heat control so I could get a wash going quick and then back it off and run it slow and steady. I've read reviews on quite a few burners online now and a lot of them seem to have problems with defective regulators where the burners go out when you try to turn the gas back. Shadylane that sounds like just what I had in mind my friend. I'd like a little block furnace with my burner in the middle. Someone out there has to be heating a similar still with propane. Give me some advice on a quality burner.
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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by mtnshiner85 » Sun Jan 03, 2016 2:37 am

I been useing a Bayou Classic KAB 6 it works good for heating my stills and big stock pots for mashing I wrapped a piece of sheet metal around the legs of the burner to direct heat upwards more. I can get two runs off a grill tank on my 20 gallon copper pot

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by yakattack » Sun Jan 03, 2016 12:14 pm

My old setup would work well for you. Simple 60 000btu burner. Fits keg perfect. Take a clean 55 gallon metal barrel. Cut top to allow pot to rest inside. Allow half inch for vent around pot cut air gate in bottom to allow for air intake.

Metal drum insulates and creates a small furnace. Cut my heat up times by a third. Also used less propane. You can even insulate the barrel on the outside in order to increase efficiency.

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by Monkeyman88 » Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:01 am

2 x 5500w elements.

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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by Euphoria » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:44 am

I'm "all-electric." On my largest (25 gallon) boiler I use only one 5,500 kW electric element w/controller. It has more than enough heat output to heat my charge, usually around 22 gallons, and I never need to run it at "full throttle". Probably 60~70% of controller's rated capacity is more than I need to heat it up, and I usually wind up turning it down to just over 50% when it comes up to temp. YMMV
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Re: Best way to heat a 25 gallon copper pot still

Post by craftsman » Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:49 pm

Carolina, I have been using propane to heat a 25-gal stainless boiler on a 17-inch propane burner ( similar to KAb4). I only use it with my pot still since accuracy with heat is a learned practice, and I don't find heating a pot still critical.. I find it completely safe and I never really fill the boiler with more than 10-15 gallons of mash. I have been using this same setup for 10-years. Just be sure all your safety issues are met and watch the still closely. Since you probably are the only one around your stillin activity, you shouldn't need worry about someone bumping it hard enough to knock it over. I find it very stable and I can make a run from start to finish in about 2-hrs give or take. But remember I am using stainless and its pretty stable to begin with.

Considering your working with a copper pot, it may not have the strength to be supported just by placing it on a burner. You will definitely need to support your boiler on either a grate or a combination of grate and stones/bricks. I use both gas on my pot still and electric on my column still. I like gas because it heats faster. As I mentioned before it is hard to get a precise measurement when you back off the gas because the regulator don't always respond like I want it to. I always get to work but it takes patience. I'd say go for it, you won't be disappointed if you are willing to accept the inaccuracy of the burner controls.

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