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Old 02-11-2013, 04:55 PM   #1
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Default Heat stick build - safe?

Hi - I was going to build a heat stick for indoor winter brewing this week and all the plans call for the chrome plated brass drain tube. It looks like a lot of people use this but my question is using this piece safe? ie..lead, will chrome plating wear and break down in boiling wort? Considering this piece is used as a drain piece I can't imagine it takes being food safe into consideration. I've tried looking this up but haven't found anything regarding actual safety using this piece in a heat stick build. If anyone has any insight I'd appreciate it. Thanks.

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Old 02-12-2013, 07:07 PM   #2
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I'm glad you asked this question because I was just beginning to think about building a heat stick instead of mounting an element in my kettle. I wouldn't worry about what is inside the drain pipe as the wort will only be in contact with the chrome plated part, but the short answer is "I don't know." and I had not even thought about it not being safe.
I have seen one design that used copper tubing which I'm going to look for now.

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Old 02-12-2013, 07:28 PM   #3
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You could always use something like this and change out the endcap to remove the slot, this way it would be liquid tight and is made of SS

This is what i use on my kettles

or if you can weld SS, get the adapter plate and some sanitary 2" pipe from the site, weld the two together and you have a SS version of the chrome pipe
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:00 AM   #4
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My understanding of stainless steel is that it is an alloy of iron, chromium, and other elements. You passivate the stainless my using acid to remove the iron from the surface, leaving a layer of chromium that is resistant to oxidation.

The chromium layer on your brass drain tube should stay intact unless it is mechanically disrupted. Under it is a layer of brass, which will contain trace amounts of lead. You could "pickle" the brass to remove that lead, which I have done with some fittings for hoses and pumps. The amount of lead available through a scratch in the chromium layer should be vanishingly small. I would be very surprised to find that any other hazardous chemicals are in play in the metal.

I am not a metalurgist, so will readily defer to someone with more expertise. Meanwhile, I will continue to use my four heatsticks with their chrome plated brass pipes.
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