a question for larger quantity brewers???

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a question for larger quantity brewers???

Postby bluegrass » Tue Jan 29, 2002 9:20 am

I'm in the process of going to a 25-30 gallon batch with my homebrew. The vessel I want to use for a fermenter is a glass lined 50 gallon water heater. The only problem (unless you know another LOL) is cleaning once the primary finishes. The inside is not easily accessible and I think I'll have to use a liquid cleaner or enzyme since a large brush is out. Thanks everybody!!Prost!
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TSP

Postby chupacabra » Wed Jan 30, 2002 1:07 pm

Use TSP from the local Hardware store, mix it to the concentration on the box. It will get all the crud off the inside of your fermenter, just make sure you rinse it well when done cleaning.
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PBW...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Wed Jan 30, 2002 8:00 pm

One of the best alkaline cleansers available to homebrewers would apply to your situation... PBW. Powder Brewery Wash (Five Star Chemical) is a cleaner that was designed to supplant caustic (sodium hydroxide) due to the dangers and the environmental effects it's use causes.

Since the real TSP (Tri-Sodium Phosphate) was found to be very bad for the environment, it was deemed illegal to use a number of years ago having been banned at the same time that phosphates were banned in laundry detergent.

The present stuff labeled TSP is now a brand, not the product's composition. When they re-formulated it, it resulted in reduced cleaning power. It is still suitable for it's most common uses, among which are cleaning painted and concrete surfaces, but it is not as effective against calcium and calcium oxilate (beer stone) nor hot break proteins.

The only two compounds for cleaning I use in my brewery are PBW and a phosphoric/nitric acid blend. The acid blend is to remove calcium and oxilate buildup that occurs both from our source water and that that was extracted from the malt. Unless you uses stainless steel fermenters, the acid is unnecessary and should be avoided by homebrewers anyway as it is a dangerous product requiring significant safety precautions and careful storage.

I use both compounds in CIP (Clean-In-Place) cycles separately and never have to do any manual scrubbing. If you fill vessels, particularly carboys & cornys, with a PBW solution and let it soak over night, you only have to rinse it out as it will dissolve all matter stuck to the surfaces. PBW can even be reused with a dirt load (to a limit as it's cleansing power will decline otherwise) in it as it will not lead to re-deposition of the soils removed. TSP on the otherhand is not as effective, will re-deposit (non-reusable) and does not rinse nearly as well.

In your case, I am assuming you cannot view most of the interior of the water heater, so I would move to PBW to give better results. Of course, the best possible solution would be to circulate the fluid during a cleaning cycle which would speed up the process.
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Thanks again

Postby bluegrass » Thu Jan 31, 2002 3:45 am

Thanks Mesa, as always a valuable source of comprehensive info. What do you think about the water heater idea? It seems to me an inexpensive vessel with all the needed valves, blowoffs and pipes all ready. Using a 30 gallon tank for a 20 gallon batch of beer should give me plenty of room for head space. The insulation should help too with maintaining temperature in my garage which is not heated at this point. Have you known anyone to use one? Thanks again!
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Water heater fermentor...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Thu Jan 31, 2002 9:05 am

Yes, the water heater can be used, but you will need to replace the valves with something that can be removed and cleaned thoroughly. The brass valves tend to become less cleanable over time and if they are plastic, they will scratch quickly and become uncleanable as the PVC used in them is very soft. You will also need to replace the pressure relief valve with a bung and airlock because once any stuff gets in it, it will not work any longer. (READ: I HAVE A BIG BOMB IN MY BASEMENT !) The PRV is also typically set to relieve at 15 PSI which is not going to allow the CO2 to escape enough and will effect your fermentation performance by causing yeast cell rupture. (very bad !)

Your main concern will be cleaning the vessel. You will need to devise a way to assess your cleaning effectiveness. I would surmise that if the vessel became infected, you may never be able to get rid of the beasts because there are numerous blind spots in the surface of water heater liners and valve connection points. I would consider installing a spray ball or the likes thereof to eliminate this possibility.

I don't know of anyone using hot water heaters to ferment in, but unrelatedly, there is a commercial distillery near me that uses gas fired water heaters as mash vessels !!!
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Whoops...I was wrong about TSP !!!!...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Sun Feb 10, 2002 12:29 pm

I was just at Lowes and saw small boxes of actual Tri-Sodium Phosphate (TSP). I asked the manager how it came back on the market and was told they have re-allowed it if sold in small quantities and if not mixed in as an ingredient in any other product. Go figure... Even so, PBW is a better cleaner and IS environmentally friendly unlike TSP.
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