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Old 07-05-2013, 11:34 AM   #1
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Default Mash tun temp stability problems

Hi!

I've seen a thread on that some days ago, but I'm still at a loss.

I have bought a Coleman cooler (2 gallons) for small batches. The lid is not insulated (i couldn't find any cooler with an insulated lid at this size). I have tried aluminum foil and styrofoam and blankets, and tested with water at mashing temps. I still get a 10°F loss over an hour at best.

Now, I'm thinking about spraying the lid with insulating foam (polyurethane), but I'm unsure about the toxicity? There is a lot of water that condensates on the lid and drops back down in the mash...

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Old 07-05-2013, 11:49 AM   #2
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Can you drill a hole in the lid and shoot it full of that expanding, insulating foam stuff?

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Old 07-05-2013, 12:12 PM   #3
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Can you drill a hole in the lid and shoot it full of that expanding, insulating foam stuff?
Nope. It's just a layer of plastic.
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I smoke, sit in traffic with my windows down, and eat bacon by the pound. Sometimes all at once. Food grade has become a myth to me...
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:33 PM   #4
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If the spray foam can contact the wort, I would avoid using it.

Have your tried pre-heating the cooler? That should help a lot.

An alternative to the cooler might be to mash in a metal pot inside your oven using the oven to maintain mash temp. You can then run the grain through a strainer or colander to lauter.

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Old 07-05-2013, 01:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ph0ngwh0ng View Post
Hi!

I've seen a thread on that some days ago, but I'm still at a loss.

I have bought a Coleman cooler (2 gallons) for small batches. The lid is not insulated (i couldn't find any cooler with an insulated lid at this size). I have tried aluminum foil and styrofoam and blankets, and tested with water at mashing temps. I still get a 10°F loss over an hour at best.

Now, I'm thinking about spraying the lid with insulating foam (polyurethane), but I'm unsure about the toxicity? There is a lot of water that condensates on the lid and drops back down in the mash...
have you actually used it to mash? or only tested with water?

testing with only water won't give you an accurate indication of how much heat you'll lose in a actual mash; you need a thermal mass (grains).
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Old 07-05-2013, 02:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pie_Man View Post

Have your tried pre-heating the cooler? That should help a lot.
This^^

You gonna lose a lot of heat of you're not precooling.

If you can't fill the lid with foam (Great Stuff is what it's called), maybe try wrapping an old sleeping bag or blanket or something to insulate the top. That's where the majority of your heat is going to go.

EDIT:

Oh looks like you did the blankets thing already.
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Old 07-05-2013, 02:44 PM   #7
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How much airspace is there between the mash and the lid?

I had a similar issue because I bought a cooler large enough to mash 10 gallon batches. When I tried to do a 5 gal batch the airspace inside the cooler really sucked a lot of heat.

What I did was buy some hard board type house insulation. This pink board has an r value of 10. I cut a square that would fit inside the cooler. I wrapped this in a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and made a quick rope handle to pull it out.

With this little contraption I can take up most of the airspace in the cooler. I only drop a few degrees over an hour.

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Old 07-05-2013, 08:33 PM   #8
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What was the thickness of the styrofoam you used?

My mash tun is a cheapo cooler which I insulated and also cut me a fake lid of 2" styrofoam. The styrofoam (wrapped in food plastic) goes as far down into the cooler as I can get it without touching the mash. During the first brew I did with it (and one only one so far) I actually forgot put on the lid which came with the cooler, but even then I only lost about 1F during one hour.

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Old 07-06-2013, 01:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pie_Man View Post
If the spray foam can contact the wort, I would avoid using it.

Have your tried pre-heating the cooler? That should help a lot..
The foam would not contact the wort directly, but condensation would drip back in the wort.

Yes, all tests I run are with cooler pre-heating for 5 minutes. Then I take the temp and start the timer for 60 minutes.

Quote:
testing with only water won't give you an accurate indication of how much heat you'll lose in a actual mash; you need a thermal mass (grains).
Yes, that was a concern during the tests. I have only tested with water with THIS cooler. The reason why I've begun tests is because I found out on my last batch that temp had dropped 15*°. I have since changed my cooler, because I noticed it lacked insulation around the faucet in an area of about 50 square inches, and it couldn't be fixed. But yes, i should test with an actual mash.

Quote:
What I did was buy some hard board type house insulation. This pink board has an r value of 10. I cut a square that would fit inside the cooler. I wrapped this in a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and made a quick rope handle to pull it out.
Ok yeah I should try this out. Although, I think I could just spray the foam on the lid, then cut a round plastic piece and glue it to the foam. That way, the water would condensate on the plastic, not the foam. Is this a good idea or not?
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I smoke, sit in traffic with my windows down, and eat bacon by the pound. Sometimes all at once. Food grade has become a myth to me...
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Old 07-06-2013, 01:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrogNerd View Post
have you actually used it to mash? or only tested with water?

testing with only water won't give you an accurate indication of how much heat you'll lose in a actual mash; you need a thermal mass (grains).
Would there be something I could test with except an actual mash? Oatmeal maybe?
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