Water Heater as HLT

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Owly055

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There are a lot of warnings out there about using hot water, and they date back to the days of lead solder and such, and I don't believe the apply at all to modern systems. Common "wisdom" that's outlived it's day.

I propose using a water heater for an HLT by simply setting the thermostat to a suitable temperature..... A trial and error process. Perhaps starting out at 180F, and adjusting strike water temp using some cold water.

The idea is to eliminate one step in mashing. I want to be able to crush my grain, and fill my mash tun from the tap. Then wrap it up and go to work for the afternoon or go to bed, and do the boil later. A 30 minute boil works for the brews I make, and I can chill to pitch temp in about 10 minutes. It takes 8 minutes to hit a full rolling boil using my floating heater. That reduces the brew day time commitment to around 1.5 hours. One more step in the quest toward making brewing fast and easy.

H.W.
 

Rcbandl

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if you can get a stainless or glass lined water heater and filter the water going in you may be fine, but usually water coming out of a water heater taste pretty terrible. and if you have hard water, you dont even want to look inside a water heater
 

FloppyKnockers

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The problem as I see it is not lead or contaminants of the like. I have repaired and replaced my fair share of water heaters and wouldn't want any of that in my beer. There's particulate from the anode rod, rust, and plastic bits from the dip tube. However, if you have an on demand heater everything I just said is all for naught. The hot water out of a demand heater is just as clean as your cold tap.

That said, if you have a brand new one and modify it for single purpose...beer (no anode rod, no dip tube) then I'd say you'd be fine.
 
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Owly055

Owly055

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I think you guys are getting it backward........ The build up in your water heater comes from your water....... It's precipitating out in the water heater... from your water, which means that it is NOT in your hot water, but it IS in your cold water. In reality it is purifying your water, not the other way around. Think about it............... When you use cold water, that stuff all goes right into your beer. It's like saying "I won't use filtered water because look at all that crap that's in the filter".

This is a topic that really does need to be examined a bit more closely, and more realistically. The gunk in your water heater is from the water......not from the water heater. I would suggest that someone do a simple test. Take two 1 containers, fill each one with the same amount of water each day. One from the hot tap, one from the cold, then boil the water away. Do this for a few months, and look at the accumulation in each. The one that has used hot water will have less accumulation than the one that used cold water....... because some of it dropped out in the water heater. I discovered this years ago with coffee makers. Fill your coffee maker with hot water instead of cold, and the build up is slower.........

H.W.
 

Kh2o

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I don't think you're going down a path that will lead to success. If you're not already treating your water to adjust you mineral content for beer style at some point you WILL. You won't be able to do that with the water heater.

That is only reason 1 out of about 20 why you shouldn't. Get a 30 qt turkey fryer, water heater element and temperature controller. LOTS of tutorials online to do this.

IMG_4122.jpg
 

flars

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I think you guys are getting it backward........ The build up in your water heater comes from your water....... It's precipitating out in the water heater... from your water, which means that it is NOT in your hot water, but it IS in your cold water. In reality it is purifying your water, not the other way around. Think about it............... When you use cold water, that stuff all goes right into your beer. It's like saying "I won't use filtered water because look at all that crap that's in the filter".

This is a topic that really does need to be examined a bit more closely, and more realistically. The gunk in your water heater is from the water......not from the water heater. I would suggest that someone do a simple test. Take two 1 containers, fill each one with the same amount of water each day. One from the hot tap, one from the cold, then boil the water away. Do this for a few months, and look at the accumulation in each. The one that has used hot water will have less accumulation than the one that used cold water....... because some of it dropped out in the water heater. I discovered this years ago with coffee makers. Fill your coffee maker with hot water instead of cold, and the build up is slower.........

H.W.
I had done a simple test a year ago. Filled a glass with hot water from the tap and another glass from the cold water tap. Let them sit overnight to come to the same temperature and for the oxygen to come out of the cold water sample.
The hot water sample smelled bad and tasted worse. The cold water sample was fine.
 

augiedoggy

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The problem as I see it is not lead or contaminants of the like. I have repaired and replaced my fair share of water heaters and wouldn't want any of that in my beer. There's particulate from the anode rod, rust, and plastic bits from the dip tube. However, if you have an on demand heater everything I just said is all for naught. The hot water out of a demand heater is just as clean as your cold tap.

That said, if you have a brand new one and modify it for single purpose...beer (no anode rod, no dip tube) then I'd say you'd be fine.
I agree with you since I too have replaced many water heaters (many are just galvanized steel which is nasty to drink from and one of the reasons its discouraged still). Many tankless hot water heater like the one I use state they are not for potable water... back to the heated copper exchanger and possible lead in the solder depending on were the components were made... I have old school copper water lines in my house but I have read that they found even using copper for hot water is not ideal and are moving away from it.
Beer brewing is the only food related industry that still allows bare copper contact. That will very likely change over time.
 

augiedoggy

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I think you guys are getting it backward........ The build up in your water heater comes from your water....... It's precipitating out in the water heater... from your water, which means that it is NOT in your hot water, but it IS in your cold water. In reality it is purifying your water, not the other way around. Think about it............... When you use cold water, that stuff all goes right into your beer. It's like saying "I won't use filtered water because look at all that crap that's in the filter".

This is a topic that really does need to be examined a bit more closely, and more realistically. The gunk in your water heater is from the water......not from the water heater. I would suggest that someone do a simple test. Take two 1 containers, fill each one with the same amount of water each day. One from the hot tap, one from the cold, then boil the water away. Do this for a few months, and look at the accumulation in each. The one that has used hot water will have less accumulation than the one that used cold water....... because some of it dropped out in the water heater. I discovered this years ago with coffee makers. Fill your coffee maker with hot water instead of cold, and the build up is slower.........

H.W.
The cold water doesnt have a tank full of sediment and rust and metal contaminants from the galvanized tank it sits in.... your right in saying the contaminants come in on the water supply, I prefilter my water and the filter gets nasty. but the tank itself does infact make contribute to the issue... Hot water tanks are not designed for potable water from what I've read... and the recommendations are still not to use it as such, even with modern lead free brass and solder components.

There is a you tube video where a guy uses a TDS meter and a solution to show the contaminants between tap water, hot water tank water distilled and RO water... they were all different as expected and the hot water was the worst.

a fast and easy way to produce beer is to just buy is :) its cheaper in the long run too... It will get your brewday down to the time it takes you to get to the store and back :) (I'm just kidding of course) but for someone who home brews you sure dont seem to enjoy it as your always trying to shorten and simplify everything about it. For most Its supposed to be relaxing and not rushed and compressed into 1.5 hrs... you seem to make it out as a chore you just want to get out of the way ASAP...
 

Rcbandl

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I think you guys are getting it backward........ The build up in your water heater comes from your water....... It's precipitating out in the water heater... from your water, which means that it is NOT in your hot water, but it IS in your cold water. In reality it is purifying your water, not the other way around.
While this is true, now you have your water sitting in all that condensed crud, for months/years, in hot water, decomposing.

Your water heater is definitely not a purifier.
 

JoshuaW

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No you can't. I've never seen one that could be set above 135.
I have mine set as high as it will go, and I get 137* at the tap in the summer, and a little less in the winter. In reality is probably 140* or a little higher in the actual water heater.

Why you might ask? Well for one, 140* is really necessary to ensure that Legionella bacteria will be wiped out quickly (2 minutes, IIRC). Most people set their water heater around 120* so that it isnt scalding. That is incorrect, as it would take more than an hour to wipe out bacteria. The lower you go, the less safe it is. Ideally, you should set it above 140*, then use a mixing valve to prevent it from coming out at scalding temps. We dont have children in the house, so we just make sure we are careful.
 
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Owly055

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While this is true, now you have your water sitting in all that condensed crud, for months/years, in hot water, decomposing.

Your water heater is definitely not a purifier.
What makes you think it's "decomposing" ? I've never seen real evidence of decomposition, just accumulation...... It's ugly without a doubt, but it is in fact purifying your water by removing minerals, not putting them into the water......

H.W.
 

slym2none

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I have mine set as high as it will go, and I get 137* at the tap in the summer, and a little less in the winter. In reality is probably 140* or a little higher in the actual water heater.

Why you might ask? Well for one, 140* is really necessary to ensure that Legionella bacteria will be wiped out quickly (2 minutes, IIRC). Most people set their water heater around 120* so that it isnt scalding. That is incorrect, as it would take more than an hour to wipe out bacteria. The lower you go, the less safe it is. Ideally, you should set it above 140*, then use a mixing valve to prevent it from coming out at scalding temps. We dont have children in the house, so we just make sure we are careful.
Yeah, I am not sure what the heater itself is set at (no access) but my tap water reads right at 139-140 from the hot side.

:)
 

slym2none

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What makes you think it's "decomposing" ? I've never seen real evidence of decomposition, just accumulation...... It's ugly without a doubt, but it is in fact purifying your water by removing minerals, not putting them into the water......
Someone should contact a HWT maker and ask them if it could be considered a purifier.
 
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Owly055

Owly055

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Arguing about weather a water heater purifies is hardly the point....... they clearly remove minerals from the water......... You can see that with your own eyes. Do they degrade water quality....... I would say clearly not.

Commercial water heater thermostats such as the Reem SP8293 which is marketed as "commercial" because restaurants and hospitals, etc, require extra hot water, will adjust up as high as 170F, and I've seen thermostats that would take you to 180. These thermostats use surface contact just like the standard ones, and are available at not much over $20. They are not used on household water heaters because of the danger of children being scalded by hot water. Which should be a concern if you have children in the house. Most household water heater thermostats at the highest settings are well below 150F


H.W.
 

hunter_le five

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What makes you think it's "decomposing" ?
Aluminum water heater anode rods corrode relatively quickly, and are leached into the water.
And once those are gone, the rest of the tank will start to corrode.

And the EPA officially recommends you only use the cold water tap for cooking or drinking. I suspect the same recommendation would go for brewing.
 
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Owly055

Owly055

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Aluminum water heater anode rods corrode relatively quickly, and are leached into the water.
And once those are gone, the rest of the tank will start to corrode.

And the EPA officially recommends you only use the cold water tap for cooking or drinking. I suspect the same recommendation would go for brewing.
How about a reference...........


H.W.
 

1977Brewer

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All that crud that settles in the bottom is agitated into solution every time the tank refills. Yes..... it precipitates out when it's heated....but when you can heat strike water in ~30 minutes....depending on your setup....why risk exposure?
 

bja

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I agree with you since I too have replaced many water heaters (many are just galvanized steel which is nasty to drink from and one of the reasons its discouraged still).
Water heaters do not use galvanized steel tanks. They use a steel tank and bond vitreous glass to the inside to keep it from rusting.
 

bja

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All that crud that settles in the bottom is agitated into solution every time the tank refills. Yes..... it precipitates out when it's heated....but when you can heat strike water in ~30 minutes....depending on your setup....why risk exposure?
Exposure to what? That "crud" is calcium carbonate. A harmless mineral present in water which precipitates out during heating and settles to the bottom.
 

augiedoggy

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Water heaters do not use galvanized steel tanks. They use a steel tank and bond vitreous glass to the inside to keep it from rusting.
Yes I stand corrected.... Not that it makes a difference since as this article shows there is still steel exposed to the water and rusting... to be honest all the ones Ive seen inside were such a rusty mess i assumed they were galvanized like the older water pipes were..
http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Longevity/Inside-A-hot-water-heater.html
 

augiedoggy

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Exposure to what? That "crud" is calcium carbonate. A harmless mineral present in water which precipitates out during heating and settles to the bottom.
Not really true... there are other minerals and sediment carried in through the water supply (especially after pipe repairs are done in the supply line.) that accumulate and break down in the tank not to mention the tank lining itself.

Here ya go..
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_water_storage_tank

as you can see theres more than just calcium carbonate but this is an old topic discussed more than a few times here.
https://www.google.com/search?q=hot...0eCh23aAAD#tbm=isch&q=inside+a+hot+water+tank
 

augiedoggy

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Like what, specifically?
ahh you quoted me while I was editing... look at the pictures above in the google link...

I emptied one one that had a good amount of silty sand in it. Edit which I just learned was mainly calcium carbonate which I just learned creates a "nasty playground for aerobatic bacteria" often found in them.
 

augiedoggy

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Yeah, sand is deadly...
So your just going to completely ignore the main point which was the tanks is also full of rust and the water is harder which is bad for brewing in most cases... You would do a better job of making your points if you were so confrontational and obvious at ignoring the points trying to be made.

Your on a roll in all your threads today... looks like someone pissed in your wheaties or are you always this way online?

Bottom line is its not a good idea to use water from your hot water tank for brewing... you can pour a glass and compare if you like but as others have already said it tastes nasty and nasty water is not the ideal foundation for good tasting beer.
 

bja

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So your just going to completely ignore the main point which was the tanks is also full of rust and the water is harder which is bad for brewing in most cases...
Are you saying that every water tank is rusty inside? The tank won't start to rust until the anode is gone. That's why it needs to be replaced periodically.

And why would the water be harder?
 
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Owly055

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So your just going to completely ignore the main point which was the tanks is also full of rust and the water is harder which is bad for brewing in most cases... You would do a better job of making your points if you were so confrontational and obvious at ignoring the points trying to be made.

Your on a roll in all your threads today... looks like someone pissed in your wheaties or are you always this way online?

Bottom line is its not a good idea to use water from your hot water tank for brewing... you can pour a glass and compare if you like but as others have already said it tastes nasty and nasty water is not the ideal foundation for good tasting beer.
Frankly I have yet to see an argument that really was sound that would discourage me from using water from my water heater. It is by the way absurd to suggest that water from the water heater is harder ( higher mineral content ) than water from the cold tap. The very fact that minerals drop out forming deposits discredits that assertion. As far as water from the hot tap tasting nasty...... I call BS on that....... I suggest that you boil and cool water from your cold tap, and place a glass of that next to a glass from your hot tap. There is no difference....... Who drinks hot water? Hot water has lost it's aeration, and it has a reduced mineral content as compared to water from the cold tap. "it tastes nasty"..... is a totally subjective comment not based on any real useful comparison.

H.W.
 
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Owly055

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I think the idea of using an old water heater to generate hot liquor fits perfectly with a lot of the other ideas the OP has espoused...
Did I espouse using an "old hot water heater"?
 
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Owly055

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Yeah, I'm pretty sure you did.

Repeatedly...

Cheers!
Show me the quote........ I was advocating using a water heater in lieu of an HLT..... Nowhere did I advocate using an "old" hot water heater..... You read that in.


H.W.
 

augiedoggy

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It should be mentioned that many tried to use anodes to stop the rusting at the water heating element base in the electric brew setups and found they are not very effective. (There are a few threads on it here).. Chances are you will have rust in your hot water supply withing a couple years regardless of anode condition. Obviously there are factors that effect this such as the ph and hardness of your water (I'm no expert on this but have been told this stuff has a large effect on rust forming quicker.)
 

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Unless you have very clean clear water, probly not great idea. Could it work for you? Sure. But really not a great idea if you're on a well or otherwise have hard water or high TDS. I'd propose-

Get a small tankless heater, a used commercial model is best. They regularly will go to 160-170.

Find an old commercial coffee machine instead- all stainless inside

If you insist on using an old residential water heater, flush it like crazy with descaler or acid solution, rinse like hell, and put a filter inline to keep it clean inside and sediment free. (I assume it's dedicated fro brewing only).


Good luck.
 

augiedoggy

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As far as water from the hot tap tasting nasty...... I call BS on that....... I suggest that you boil and cool water from your cold tap, and place a glass of that next to a glass from your hot tap. There is no difference....... Who drinks hot water? Hot water has lost it's aeration, and it has a reduced mineral content as compared to water from the cold tap. "it tastes nasty"..... is a totally subjective comment not based on any real useful comparison.

H.W.
In Case you missed it on the first page of this thread....

I had done a simple test a year ago. Filled a glass with hot water from the tap and another glass from the cold water tap. Let them sit overnight to come to the same temperature and for the oxygen to come out of the cold water sample.
The hot water sample smelled bad and tasted worse. The cold water sample was fine.
I swapped out my hot water tank for a tankless years ago So I cant do this experiment even if I wanted to...
 

augiedoggy

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Show me the quote........ I was advocating using a water heater in lieu of an HLT..... Nowhere did I advocate using an "old" hot water heater..... You read that in.


H.W.
Your going to buy a hot water heater just for brewing? How will that be faster and more efficient? they are pretty slow to warm up. Are you going to keep it running with hot water all the time just for you brew sessions? You must brew quite a bit for that to even make sense..
Many have just automated their HLT with electric elements and a pid with a timer to warm it up head of time.... That seems much simpler to me.
I flip mine on prior to brewing and in about 30 minutes its ready to mash... Of course I no longer use tap water for any of my beers but stouts and porters without treating it with my RO setup first. Huge improvement especially in my lighter beers.
 
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