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Old 06-19-2013, 07:25 PM   #1
el_loco
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Default Anyone steam-mashing?

Using a pressure cooker or canner to do step mashes in a cooler? I'm about to put together the necessary items in order to build this set-up and would appreciate a little dialog on the subject.

Thanks

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Old 06-19-2013, 08:51 PM   #2
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kaboom...

I thought about going steam for a long time but the more I researched the more I realized it was probably safer to go electric.

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Old 06-19-2013, 09:02 PM   #3
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Here's a thread that almost got me to try it:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/easy...-system-25974/

I have a much bigger pressure cooker and I didn't want to modify it, otherwise I think it's a great idea.

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Old 06-19-2013, 09:17 PM   #4
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I remember that thread too. I got into reading about proper steam systems and the safety mechanisms involved and quickly came to the conclusion that it may not be a safe path to modify a pressure cooker without proper safety precautions and since I don't know any steam engineers to help me out I gave up on the idea. I figure electric brewing has much more knowledge behind it with plenty of electrical engineers being involved in design process, and my neighbor is an electrician so it was the safer path for me.

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Old 06-20-2013, 05:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bensiff View Post
...I got into reading about proper steam systems and the safety mechanisms involved and quickly came to the conclusion that it may not be a safe path to modify a pressure cooker without proper safety precautions and since I don't know any steam engineers to help me out I gave up on the idea...
Fair enough, but without evidence this is really just conjecture. We are only dealing with 15 lbs of pressure MAYBE. Adding a valve to a commercially designed pressure cooker seems pretty safe to me. As long as you don't alter the safety release and do a decent job of affixing the valve there's really no reason to be concerned about accidents, especially at such low pressures.
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Old 06-20-2013, 05:33 AM   #6
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You guys are mixing up two totally different ideas. Steam injection mashing is a way to use atmospheric pressure steam, bubbled through the mash, to perform step mashing. You do add a very small amount of water in the process that you should account for. The reason that some use pressure cookers is because they have a sealed lid, allowing for easier connection to a tube to run into the mash. There is no pressure beyond atmospheric. This can be a very nice way to perform step mashing if you're using a plastic MT.

Many breweries boil using steam at a bit below 15psi. The steam boiler also has a connection to the mash tun to heat it up as well. In these circumstances the steam transfers energy through a wall, not directly into the mash or wort.

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Old 06-20-2013, 06:11 AM   #7
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I'm no physicist, but the pressure cooker prevents water from boiling at 212 (or equivalent) by keeping it under pressure and in doing holds the stored energy. This energy would normally be released at standard atmospheric pressures. When the valve opens the steam rushes out as a result of the pressure difference between the atmosphere and the inside of the pressure cooker so in a sense: Yes, we are only using steam at standard pressures. It's that the water is being held at above normal atmosphere by an altered tool that freaks some folks out. But bottom line: A pressure cooker is designed to heat water to 240 degrees, above it's boiling point, and you CAN'T do that at standard atmospheric pressure. I believe you are mistaken in your understanding.

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Old 06-20-2013, 01:46 PM   #8
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StMarcos's is mostly correct. I believe he is saying that you do not have to operate the pressure cooker at a higher pressure (it of course is safer not too). The lid is just a convenient way to funnel the steam to the mash tun.
With a pressure cooker, you just take the little weight off and connect the steam line to the stem. The weight is what regulates the amount of pressure generated (at least on old school/inexpensive models). You might get some pressure generated just because of the tubing length and the weight of the mash.
It would be no different than putting a regular pot on the stove and drilling a hole in the lid, and inserting a nipple to connect a steam line to. (Well a little different as the lid on a regular pot would allow some steam to escape)


One could add a valve to give some back pressure, and that would result in hotter steam for faster stepping

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Old 06-20-2013, 02:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by el_loco View Post
Fair enough, but without evidence this is really just conjecture. We are only dealing with 15 lbs of pressure MAYBE. Adding a valve to a commercially designed pressure cooker seems pretty safe to me. As long as you don't alter the safety release and do a decent job of affixing the valve there's really no reason to be concerned about accidents, especially at such low pressures.
15psi is nothing to sneeze at especially considering that it is playing with superheated steam that would be rapidly expanding and burning anyone nearby if anything went wrong in the system. My reasoning is this, pressure cookers were designed for a specific purpose, by adding a valve and hose onto them you change the dynamics of the system. The biggest issue I saw was that when you open the valve to inject steam you run the risk of causing a pressure drop which if enough could result in a rapid vaporization in the boiler which can cause a boil over. If that occurs the safety valve can get clogged with water and not function momentarily which in turn can spike pressure which if that exceeds anything in the system you can have a blow out. Perhaps a minor inconvenience of it blowing your mash all over the place or worse, the hose next to your body rupturing.

With such concerns and the desire to build an automated system that I could comfortably walk away from, this made me think that a much more robust steam system was in order which was out of my knowledge base and ability to fund. I would love to see someone build a solid steam system though as I am fully sold on the superiority of steam.
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Old 06-20-2013, 02:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjj2ba View Post
StMarcos's is mostly correct. I believe he is saying that you do not have to operate the pressure cooker at a higher pressure (it of course is safer not too). The lid is just a convenient way to funnel the steam to the mash tun.
With a pressure cooker, you just take the little weight off and connect the steam line to the stem. The weight is what regulates the amount of pressure generated (at least on old school/inexpensive models). You might get some pressure generated just because of the tubing length and the weight of the mash.
It would be no different than putting a regular pot on the stove and drilling a hole in the lid, and inserting a nipple to connect a steam line to. (Well a little different as the lid on a regular pot would allow some steam to escape)


One could add a valve to give some back pressure, and that would result in hotter steam for faster stepping
Saturated steam is only 212 degrees so you would need a lot of steam to raise the systems temperature, that is why you need superheated steam as it holds way more energy and you can feasibly raise the temperature of a mash with a relatively small boiler.
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