Aluminum Pots?

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Aluminum Pots?

Post by jeremyj » Tue Feb 10, 2004 9:24 pm

Does brewing in an aluminum pot create any sort of negative effect on the final outcome of the beer? I was looking at the post below this one, and I was just wondering.

Azorean Brewer
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DO NOT use them, they can be harmful.

Post by Azorean Brewer » Wed Feb 11, 2004 4:57 am

Aluminum pots cannot handle the corrosive enzymes from the malt, and although controversial and perhaps unproven, they are thought to leach unwanted chemicals into your food/brew. I'll let someone with more scientific explanation jump in here.

Go to a kitchen supply store and there you can find some reasonable stainless steel pots. There's a store down here in SC called Garden Ridge, where I found a 5 gallon (thin walled) SS pot for $19.99, I use it solely for heating my spagre water, you can find the same sort of deal if you are low on cash.

Good luck ...


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Got the same one I bet

Post by jcassady » Wed Feb 11, 2004 9:54 am

Paul we have Garden Ridge here in Illinois as well and I found a thin walled SS pot for 7.99 on clearance. I'm currently using it for my wort boil but I think it may be getting time to replace it after 5 brews. Of course I left water in it all night and noticed what looked like small rust pits in the bottom...

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All different grades of SS.

Post by Brewer2001 » Wed Feb 11, 2004 1:37 pm

All posts,

I would, if money permits stay away from aluminum. It reacts with the wort and low pH (acidic) sparge water. They tend not to hold up if you brew a lot. SS also comes in different grades. A cheap SS pot could be as problematic as a cheap aluminum one. Commercial equipment (and restaurant equipment) is ether 304 or 316 stainless. 304 is softer and has a gray apperence and is used for tank interiors. 316 is harder and is used for exteriors, manways and fittings (kettles too). They use 304 on the inside because it tends to be smoother (less pockets for bacteria) and 316 on the outside (it is sturdier) and can be 'polished' (ground) to a nice bright finish.

The part that makes SS useful in brewing and food service is the chromium oxide that forms to cover the surface. The problem with welding SS and cheaper SS is that you introduce (or have ) a small amount of iron in the metal. In the brewing trade we conduct a proceedure call passivating. It is required on new or repaired equipment. You use a acid wash (nitric or citric) to 'burn' out the iron to form 'oxidation' on the SS (don't do that at home). But you could use food grade phosphoric (Star San also helps) to reduce the amount of surface iron in your pot. The real point to SS is that you get what you pay for, but that is ok if it is disposable. I want my SS fermenters and kettle to out last me. Oh, DO NOT use any abrasives (3M pads) to clean your stainless. You will put scratches in the surface of the metal, and cause it to rust or worse make a nice home for bacteria (not so bad on a kettle but a bear on a fermenter, even a plastic bucket).

Good brewing,

Tom F.

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Just checked

Post by Brewer2001 » Wed Feb 11, 2004 1:44 pm

Aluminum reacts with caustic and gives of hydrogen gas as a byproduct. The caustic dissolves the surface of the metal and causes pitting. Although most of you don't use castic at home bleach will also react (too a lesser degree) with aluminum.


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Post by capper » Wed Feb 11, 2004 5:56 pm

Yes you can use aluminum for the brewing. John Palmer, an expert in homebrewing and author of a great book "How to Brew" says the following (part quote and part summary):

"Aluminum is a good choice for brewpots and actively-heated mash/lauter tuns. It has high heat conductivity which helps prevent hot spots and scorching of the wort or mash, and less expensive than stainless steel.... Under the conditions of temperature and pH normally encountered in brewing, aluminum (by itself) will not corrode and should not contribute to any metallic flavor to your beer. However when using aluminum for a brewing pot, do not clean the metal shiny bright between uses.... Aluminum will corrode if placed adjacent to another metal like copper in wort or beer,..... There was a concern in the last ten years that the use of aluminum in cooking and the ingestion of aluminum contributed to Alzheimer's Disease. The medical study that generated the controversy was later found to have been flawed due to contaminiation of the test samples......An independent experiment conducted by Jeff Donaghue and reported in Brewing Techniques, Vol. 3, No.1 showed that in side-by-side, aluminum vs. stainless steel, boils of wort from a single mash, there was no detectable difference in the amount of aluminum between the samples either before or after fermentation. The amount of aluminum in the wort boiled in the aluminum pot was less than the detection limit for the test (.4ppm) If you drand twenty leters of that beer you would only ingest 20mg of aluminum, about the same amount as a single buffered aspririn tablet......"

About 6 months ago I bough a turkey frier and it came with an 6.5gal aluminum pot. I wanted to use it so I could boil my entire batch (even before I started all grain brewing). I have never had a problem with it. I have used it many many times very successfully.

I know convention says not to use aluminum but from my research and experience it is OK. What is not OK is if the wort or beer touch the aluminum after the boil.

John Palmer (who I quoted above) is an engineer, author and contributor to the Brew Your Own magazine--he is not just some guy who "thinks" he knows what he is talking about.

Well, I rambled on a lot here. I am new (just joined)this group and hope that I did not come across as a smart !@# or a know it all. I have so many all grain questions to ask in the near future. I just read this and found it to be true.

Happy brewing,

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My Thoughts

Post by BillyBock » Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:51 am

I came to the same conclusions as Capper did in a previous post after my research on this subject. I used the aluminum pot that came with my turkey frier for about a year. I never noticed any metallic pickup, and neither did anyone else. However, I made sure I never scrubbed the pot with abrasives or used any caustics. I just used soapy water and a soft cloth to clean it out to keep the oxide layer formed which is what prevents direct contact with the aluminum. Aluminum, BTW, is a highly reactive metal, if not the most reactive metal, in the periodic table of elements. Before your first use, I would wash it out and not use it for a week to let the oxide layer build up on it. As an interesting experiment, grab any household product and I bet you'll find aluminum in the ingredients. Can you say Tums?

OTOH, I have seen new turkey friers that have SS pots in them for the same price. Having said all this, I now use a SS kettle because: (1) I was upgrading my setup and wanted something that would last a LONG time and (2) I was increasing my batch size and needed a big kettle. I never found anything suitable in the size I was looking for other than SS, so I went with that. I ended getting a 15 gal. Polarware--I always get looks from the neighbors when they see that baby on the burner (LOL).

Another option would be to get a converted keg with a drain as a kettle. Alot of homebrew shops sell these for $100.

Hope this helps.


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Big Fan of Converted Kegs

Post by Dr Strangebrew » Thu Feb 12, 2004 9:43 am

I went all grain last summer. I bought a sabco keg conversion. I spent about $120 bucks for the keg, valve and spigot. I really like this set up. The drain is on the side of the keg. When you drain your wort after the boil there is about 1.5 gallons of wort left in the kettle. I set the calculations for 6.5 gallon batch, but transfer 5 gallons to the fermenter. The 1.5 gallons left in the kettle is mostly hop residue- I use pellets- and trub. I suppose I do use a little more grain than I could, but quality is what I'm after. Besides, I figure I break even leaving some wort behind because my mash efficiency is right around 80%. I get plenty of bang for my buck.

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Al Conditioning

Post by capper » Thu Feb 12, 2004 9:40 pm

One thing that I did to condition my Al pot was to wash it with water then I stuck it in my oven (on its side)at 350 for 15min. This helps build the oxide layer.

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Post by fitz » Fri Feb 13, 2004 8:36 am

I have always heard if the al pot isn't shiny its OK that is what capper and Billy said in brief. I have used both SS and Al and have not been any more forgetful using either I can't remeber being forgetful anyhow. Like they both said watch how you clean it and be careful with everything else. I think an Al pot could be the least of your worries if your sanitation isn't there. The biggest thing is try it and see if it is for you. If you buy a turkey fryer and the al pot doesn't suit your need, you still have the burner and regulator!!!

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have to say something

Post by canman » Sun Feb 22, 2004 11:38 am

the alum. debate has been going on for years. I use 2 60qt alumnum pots and love them. Tough as nails!!!
he restaurant business primarily ses aluminum stock pots as a matter of cost efficiency.
The summer camp you send your kids to uses aluminum pots.
The old tale of aluminum pots and altsheimers is false and has been officially disproven many times over.
I can't remeber what else I was going to say.

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Re: My Thoughts

Post by Gus » Tue Aug 03, 2004 3:21 pm

BillyBock wrote:Aluminum, BTW, is a highly reactive metal, if not the most reactive metal, in the periodic table of elements.
I would have thought that would be something like Sodium and such.

*quote* from :

Sodium reacts with water to form Sodium Hydroxide and Hydrogen Gas. The reaction produces a lot of heat, which is sufficient to melt the metal (MP: 96C) if enough of it is used. If the reaction is scaled up further, the molten metal may start to boil, which is when exciting things start to happen: The boiling metal breaks apart and thus increases its surface area, speeding up the reaction rate. The faster reaction produces more heat, which ignites the Hydrogen Gas being produced, which leads to an explosion, which breaks up the remaining liquid metal, which leads to an extremely rapid reaction that results in so much heat that the metal catches fire. The final explosion probably releases as much energy from combusting Hydrogen as it does from burning sodium (2Na + O2 = 2NaO).
*end qoute*

can your Aluminium do this?

Gotta love the idiots that set that up!

Sorry about the hijacking :) [/img]

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