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Old 11-26-2013, 03:39 AM   #1
OaklandHills
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Default What kind of mash paddle?

What material do people recommend for a mash paddle? Is a $5 plastic mash paddle worth the investment or will it wilt in a hot mash tun? Will a stainless steel paddle conduct enough heat that I won't be able to hold on to it?

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Old 11-26-2013, 03:56 AM   #2
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Food grade plastic should not melt in the MLT and won't conduct enough heat to be uncomfortable. A metal utensil may get too warm for your liking if you leave it in the mash too long. I made mine out of a piece of red oak scrap I had laying around. Shaped basically like a small boat paddle with tapered tip and edges and a half dozen hole bored through the blade. I left it unfinished so I wouldn't have to worry about the finish affecting beer flavor or head retention. I also marked one gallon increments on it to use as a dipstick in my HLT & BK.

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Old 11-26-2013, 04:05 AM   #3
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Don't waste money on plastic. I had one, when it got hot it was too flexible. I have a long stainless spoon. I leave it in mash, then rinse between mash and boil and it remains in boil kettle until cleanup. It has never been too hot for me to handle with bare hands. Love the stainless spoon.

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Old 11-26-2013, 04:18 AM   #4
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The plastic ones are junk. But metal can scratch a plastic mash tun. I carved my own out of some exotic wood I bought online (South American jatoba) and it's worked very well.

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Old 11-26-2013, 11:50 AM   #5
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I ordered this when I bought my cheapo 10 gallon aluminum kettle. The good thing about wood is you can mark it to graduate it.

http://www.katom.com/370-MPW36.html

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Old 11-26-2013, 12:01 PM   #6
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If your stirring a 5 gallon batch the plastic paddles are awfully flimsy, the stainless ones will scratch up the plastic in converted cooler tuns...making them harder to clean effectively......personally I'm partial to maple

It has a number of qualities that make it a great choice for mash paddles.

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Old 11-27-2013, 04:23 PM   #7
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If you have the capability make one out of wood, the best wood species would be maple (rock maple, not soft maple) because of its hardness and lack of open pores, followed by cherry and beech. Oak is good but has tons open pores that could harbor sludge and junk. You have to be careful with exotic woods because a lot of them (bubinga, teak, jatoba, purpleheart, etc.) have natural oils in them that some people have reactions to. They will be great for water resistance and longevity but just be aware of the risks.

There are several studies that show bacteria does not live on wooden surfaces very long and is much safer to use in food prep than plastics (think cutting boards and butcher blocks). For brewing, I wouldn't seal your wood with anything for risk of leaching it into your wort, but just sand it using a fine grain sandpaper (120 first, 220 second, 320 final).

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Old 11-27-2013, 07:48 PM   #8
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As mentioned I made mine of oak because it was on hand, knowing it is an open grained wood. I didn't worry much about harborage of pathogens because there is always some boil time left after the last time it touches my wort. Are there other concerns that disinfection via boil won't resolve? Persistent compounds that might build up & be released from a porous wood that affect the end product? I'm not too familiar with the re-use of oak barrels but seems that could be a concern there also. Might just have to spring for a piece of maple if this is the case!

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Old 11-28-2013, 12:49 AM   #9
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Honestly I don't know how much of a difference it really makes. I worked in a cabinet shop for a few years and we made end-grain butcher blocks which are high end blocks, and the cutting surface is on the open end grain and they are great for food. Wood is surprisingly sanitary, especially if you're using it in a high-temp environment so I really don't think it makes a significant difference.

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