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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Kettles, Mash Tuns, & Hot Liquor Tanks > Looking for Food Safe materials for Mash Ton.
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:51 PM   #1
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Default Looking for Food Safe materials for Mash Tun.

I am planning on making a Mash Tun and have seen quite a few DIY Mash Tun videos & posts... The problem is no one seems to mention the safety of the materials used in the DIY project. I've heard many of the Home Depot & Lowes parts are not food safe. I've read the metal "mesh" thats normally pulled from a dish washer supply line is not supposed to be used in food and have also read that PVC shouldn't be used in a circumstance where its going to be sitting in hot water for a long period of time.

Does anyone know of a good distributor or DIY instructional that has/uses safe parts? Thanks

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Old 03-28-2012, 07:06 PM   #2
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Check this thread out. In the end I put a slotted copper manifold in mine.
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/my-new-mash-tun-268370/

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Old 03-28-2012, 07:09 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by lpdjshaw View Post
Check this thread out. In the end I put a slotted copper manifold in mine.
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/my-new-mash-tun-268370/
Oh wow very nice! Arg Copper! Expensive stuff hehe, how much did the copper manifold cost you roughly?
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:12 PM   #4
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I have been wondering about the same thing. I don't understand why more people aren't concerned about this danger.

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Old 03-28-2012, 07:26 PM   #5
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The braid from a water supply line is stainless steel. It doesn't get more food grade than that. Most people use CPVC, not PVC for their plastic manifolds which is rated for hot potable water.

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Old 03-28-2012, 07:29 PM   #6
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What parts are you talking about? A cooler is food grade, a SS toilet braid is safe to use. For short term, like the amount you are mashing in, a pvc manifold is safe.

Although you are worried, folks have been using ALL The things we use for over a decade in homebrewing.

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Old 03-28-2012, 07:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTBYOOJ View Post
I have been wondering about the same thing. I don't understand why more people aren't concerned about this danger.
Because maybe there's been enough info to show us it's not dangerous.


For example the plastic cooler many of us use....

According to Northern Brewer, the interiors of the Igloo coolers are made of polypropylene. The MSDS for that type of plastic indicated that it is stable to 480 degrees. I found the MSDS for HDPE and it's melting point is 276.8F. Definitely lower, but still considerably higher than what people would ever use in mashing. So perhaps this does indicate that the issue is more one of safety from burns rather than safety from leaching.

Also this is from one of our members-
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Originally Posted by Brewtus
I am a materials engineer who has designed plastics formulations for almost twenty years. I have a BS degree in chemistry and did my MS thesis in the field of polymer science and engineering. I have experience in many different polymer systems (PE, PP, PVC, PUR, PA, EVA, PC, PS, ESBS, PET, EPDM, SBR, CSM, FEP, PTFE, PVDF, ECTFE, just to name a few).

Plastics are generally misunderstood. Plastic compounds are generally composed of the base polymer (i.e. PE, PP, PVC, etc.) and additional additives that further enhance the polymer's physical or chemical properties (i.e. impart flexibility, add flame retardancy, increase impact resistance, etc.). For example, white rigid PVC pipe that we buy in home improvement centers is the same polymer as garden hoses, namely PVC. yet these two items behave very differently in terms of flexibility. This is because an additive called a plasticizer (essentially an organic oil) has been added to the hose to impart flexibility. The plasticizer molecules essentially "fill in" between each of the long chain polymer molecules causing them to slide across each other. Think of a lube on a molecular level. It's important to remember the difference between polymers and compounds. (Note: the lead that is in garden hoses is from a lead salt (lead phthatale or lead sulfate) that is used as a heat stabilizer. It will leach out.)

As far as leaching goes, a food grade polypropylene will not typically contain anything harmful that will leach into the mash at an unacceptable level (true for HDPE as well). The company can not label it as food grade if this was the case (this isn't China where companies can put melamine into dog food without regulation, or lead based paints on toys). The only thing I can think of that might leach into the mash would be a mold release agent that's there to help separate the liner from the mold during it's initial manufacturing process. Probably a food grade mineral oil or paraffinic compound that's easily removed with soap and water. There may also be some type of antioxidant or UV inhibitor to stabilize the polymer from high manufacturing temperatures or sunlight exposure. Again, these would be food grade and not pose a risk at the levels added. Look at some food labels and see how often you find BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), yet you still eat this. Here's something else to think about: The residual component (terephthalic acid) used to make polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is in every plastic soda bottle because it leaches into the drink, especially the longer a bottle stays on the shelf. This is why a coke tastes different in plastic than glass or a can. Yet PET bottles are food safe.

Warping and cracking of the plastic is most likely due to temperature interactions. This is a physical event, not chemical. It has to do with the crystalinity of the polymer itself. Other things could be that the actual polymer itself could be oxidizing (which is a chemical reaction) over time at high temperatures if NO antioxidant is present. Also consider the melting points of LDPE, HDPE and PP (~100C, 130C and 160C respectively). LDPE softens at about 80C or so and HDPE softens at about 120C or so - meaning that at mashing temperatures, you're probably good with HDPE or PP. One has to remember that if you pour boiling water into a LDPE lined cooler, you could do some damage, but are fine in a HDPE or PP lined cooler.
He also did some experiments which he posted in THIS thread.

Quote:
Warning: Science below!

This is concerning the white portion only. It would have been ideal situation to determine melting points and glass transition temperatures to get a better ID, but a differential scanning calorimeter is required for that, and mine happens to be broken. So I just used infrared spectroscopy to ID the plastic. I needed to get the plastic into a thin film for analysis, so that required melting it and pressing it out. I started at 100C, and it softened but did not melt all the way. Mission accomplished at 110C. If this were PP, it would have melted at 160C (or perhaps 130C if it were syndiotactic). So I knew it wasn't PP. Then I actually took the sample to the spectrometer, and the results showed a infrared spectrum matching PP. But wait, there was also the indication of some PE present. I then realized that this had to be a PE modified PP copolymer. This makes sense since the PE portion lowers the crystallinity of the PP giving better low temperature properties (this is supposed to be a cooler after all). HDPE would not be ideal at below freezing temps, and LDPE is too elastomeric. A modified PP copolymer gives a rigid material with better low temp properties.
Basically we know that we're safe AT LEAST putting 180 degree water in there....

Since most of us put in 170 degree water in there, or even if we do add more, like step mashing, we're still keeping the internal temps usually withing the safety range.

And anyway, millions of gallons of beer have been brewed this way over the last decade or so that this has become an accepted method of brewing, and since I already have man-boobs, I ain't gonna worry about it. I'm more worried about a zombipocolypse occuring in the next 3 months or so than about supposed leaching, which no one can actually prove does happen, but plenty of information shows it is unlikely to happen anyway.
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:38 PM   #8
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If you are looking for food safe matierials, then simply go with SS for everything in your tun. Then make sure all your penitrations to your tun are sanitary welded to help ensure there are no cracks for bacteria to hide in.

Personally, I would never use PVC for anything in the brewing process due to the posability of chemical leach into the product @ high temperatures and the fact it will probally not last to repeated high temp application.

I see guys use coolers for tuns but I am not aware of the coolers operating temperture range if that is what you are after. What temperatures are you expecting to expose your tun to? once you know, look for a material to handle your temp spec.

I use boiling water from my HLT to run through my tun to help kill unwanted bacteria before use. That is why I have a SS tun to handle the temperature swings. I am not sure what a cooler would stand up to.

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Old 03-28-2012, 08:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
What parts are you talking about?
The 3 main things I was questioning

1. Various brass pieces and the possibility of them containing lead.
2. Supply Line mesh (Apparently there are different kinds and you want to stay away from galvanized)
3. PVC

Top two comments on this video are why I was questioning. I understand he explained how to get read of the lead in cooper but I'd rather just not deal with it at all. I guess I need to just make sure to be super safe I go with a stainless steel valve and stainless steal mesh.


Quotes for reference

"IMPORTANT: brass from most countries outside of the USA contain lead which is released in larger quantities when put into contact with an acid (ie the mash). Only recently was lead made illegal in the USA. I checked Lowes and their brass fittings are from China and contain .25% lead when wet (more when using it for beer). And the Gal steel is not food grade either. DO your research. Heavy metal poisoning is no joke. The only thing that is food grade in this video is the cooler and the SS."

"Nice video. One thing is the galvanized wire. The galvanic coating will come off into the beer and can poison you. I recommend stainless steel wire or copper wire. Also for people worried about lead in brass, just soak the brass in a solution of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Mix the solution 2 parts vinegar to 1 part peroxide and soak for no more than 5 minutes. This removes the lead from the surface of the brass. You can find this info in John Palmer's " How To Brew" book. Again nice video. "
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Old 03-28-2012, 08:25 PM   #10
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Revvy,

This may be true of the particular brand you mentioned, but I have yet to see ratings at all on many of the plastic mash tuns people use. In particular ice chest coolers, these products are not intended for exposure to hot liquid so I don't see why the manufacturer would have any reason to make them safe.

But hey I'd love to be wrong.

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