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Old 10-22-2009, 05:03 AM   #1
yeoldebrewer
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Default towel around brewpot

My electric stove will bring 4.5 gallons of water to a simmer but not a rolling boil.
As it turns out, 4 gallon batches work well for my current situation.

I'm wondering if just taping a clean towel around the brew pot might make enough difference to get to a rolling boil. I know that some brewers use various types of more high-tech insulation. But I would rather use materials in my kitchen that I know are not toxic.

Fire hazard? Acceptable fire hazard with close attendance and a handy fire extinguisher? Since the brew pot is larger in diameter than the burner, I doubt accidental contact with the stove surface would ignite the towel.

Opinions would be appreciated.


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Old 10-22-2009, 05:09 AM   #2
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I'd partially cover it with a lid to get a rolling boil, but not fully cover the pot. That's just a personal opinion. If you cover the pot fully you run the risk of a boilover, and possible DMS. And I'd avoid the towel. I'd think the Fire Department would agree with me.


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Old 10-22-2009, 05:32 AM   #3
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True, towels are non-toxic but they don't tasted good when burnt and added to wort. Kidding, kidding. It's hard to say without seeing your setup. I personally would not try this in a kitchen but if I were brewing outside it would be worth an experiment.

I would do a test run and feel how hot the air is up the side of your brew pot with your hand and thermometer. If not too hot then you could possibly try putting a towel on it partially up the brew kettle. Having said that, I still visualize it as not a good idea but that's my opinion.
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Old 10-22-2009, 06:34 AM   #4
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I do this in the kitchen. I wrap a towel around my brew pot but make sure that it is still at least about six inches from the bottom of the pot. If you use a white towel you can keep an eye on the bottom edge to see if it starts to brown; this is a good indicator of if there is a fire risk. Leaving the lid on until boiling and then leaving the lid cracked during the boil should also get a better boil, but if you have the lid on you might want to consider using fermcap or simethicone (gas-x, etc...) in the boil to prevent boilovers. I haven't determined the max I can boil on my gas range, but I have no problem boiling seven gallons using aluminum pots.
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Old 10-22-2009, 06:46 AM   #5
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I know it sounds weird, but after 5 batches on an electric range, I can vouch for moving the kettle around the burner every few minutes.

I can't explain the science around it, and I'm (usually) pretty sober when I brew, so I know for a fact that heating different parts of the kettle gets a good rolling boil.
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Old 10-22-2009, 12:25 PM   #6
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I don't know the exact thread, but someone on here insulated their brew pot with something to be able to do this. I can't recall what it was they used, but it was actually an insulator, not a towel. AFAIK, they have not set any fires. Search full stovetop boils, I bet it will come up.
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Old 10-22-2009, 12:55 PM   #7
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While not as good an insulator, I have simply wrapped the kettle w/ a few turns of aluminum foil and a piece of tape. Not a good as a towel, but it will help and won't catch fire. Roll up the foil and use it again if you like. Wrinkle the foil beforehand to capture some air next to the pot.
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Old 10-22-2009, 02:19 PM   #8
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I can see that working fine.....just be careful, of course, of fire.

Another option is a "Heatstick"....I think you can build em for 20-30 bucks, and if your kitchen already has GFI outlets, (code, nowadays), you are good to go.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:05 PM   #9
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Many thanks for all the good advice. I think this may be worth a try as long as the bottom edge of the towel is kept at some distance from the heat source. You can be I will keep a fire extinguisher handy also.

A cheap brew pot and an electric stove is a less than optimum combination. Gotta work with what I have for now.
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Old 10-23-2009, 01:28 AM   #10
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I usually cover about 1/2 of my kettle with a couple pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil, this helps give me a better boil, and I think it still lows for dissipation of DMS as well...


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