Author Topic: Stainless Steel vs "Food Safe" Stainless Steel  (Read 1567 times)

Offline surfin_mikeg

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Stainless Steel vs "Food Safe" Stainless Steel
« on: February 09, 2011, 09:44:53 PM »
Hi All,

I've been brewing for a while using a 48 quart cooler for mashing, but I can't get my temps quite right. To solve, I ordered a stainless steel kettle with a weldless thermometer & 304 stainless steel ball valve.  I'm on a budget & picked the cheapest 32 quart kettle I could find.  I'm wondering if this is a mistake and am asking for input.  Questions are:

1.  AFAIK, food safe means safe for storage for long periods of time, like a fermenting vessel.  Am I OK to use this for a mash tun?  Figuring, the longest I'd have grain in there for is 3 hours, more typically 1.5 hrs.

2.  Lead testing kits are available and lead should not be a problem, but what about copper or anything else that might leach?

I would not think any of this would be an issue, but my crafty blue-coller friends have questioned the quality of the steel and whether I should think otherwise.

Loving the AHA - thanks all.

Offline realbeerguy

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Re: Stainless Steel vs "Food Safe" Stainless Steel
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2011, 10:03:41 PM »
First, wecome to the site!

Regarding the s/s question, you will not have a problem.  The kettle is at a minimum 18-8 or 303 s/s..No issue with the quality of stainless.  A bigger question is why did you have a problem with hitting your temps with the cooler?  Also, are you going to use a braid or false bottem for the kettle/mashtun?
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Offline surfin_mikeg

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Re: Stainless Steel vs "Food Safe" Stainless Steel
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2011, 10:54:26 PM »
First, wecome to the site!

Thanks!  Much appreciate the welcome and feedback.

I've been winging it on equipment, and so purchase #2 is a digital and calibrating dial thermometer.  The strike temp is calculated well enough yet I'm thinking I could be a good 10 degrees off based on common yet different dial thermometers.  I'll add a false bottom based on whatever scrap stainless steel I can get a hold of.

What's happened is that as I give homebrew away, a person here or there can pick up on the less than full flavor across the tongue.  I see who gives me feedback (good or bad), and then I'll keep giving those people bottles when new batches are ready.  The surprise has been bumping into a BJCP Judge who was insistent that my "everyday" steamed pilsner would do well in competitions, hence signing up and checking out the upcoming schedule (it's 6%, Wyeast 2124, 39 ibu w/ saaz, dry-hopped w/ organic whole-hop cascade).   

I feel like AHA is a step up for me, but learning I don't necessarily need complex recipes to compete.  We'll see!  :-)

Offline euge

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Re: Stainless Steel vs "Food Safe" Stainless Steel
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2011, 12:13:41 AM »
Could you describe your mash temp problem a bit more in detail? Anyway, I commend you on the equipment upgrade! Welcome to the AHA forum.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline oscarvan

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Re: Stainless Steel vs "Food Safe" Stainless Steel
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2011, 06:06:43 AM »
I don't think a 90 minute mash or one hour boil is enough to release measurable amounts of anything from the metal..... I could be wrong.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Stainless Steel vs "Food Safe" Stainless Steel
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2011, 06:58:35 AM »
Food grade stainless is usualy 304 grade, so that should be good to go.  If you have concerns, you could do the lead test, but I think that would be a waste of time and money.  Why were your friends concerned?  My guess is that it was made in China?
Jeff Rankert
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Offline surfin_mikeg

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Re: Stainless Steel vs "Food Safe" Stainless Steel
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2011, 09:08:16 AM »
Why were your friends concerned?  My guess is that it was made in China?

These guys weld & shape different kinds of custom metalwork, the cheaper Chinese steel they've been rejecting simply because it's not holding up the same.

euge:  Getting the temp right in the mash tun has been hit or miss, and when I'm low I gotta add more water to get the temp up.  I'm looking to fine tune asap and do better quality control.

oscarvan:  agreed, but wondering if it is possible to remove the guess.  Just thinking that I could send in a water sample to a lab after a decent boil, that would at least test for some minerals.  I'm on a well near the ocean, I gotta do water sampling from time to time and can fit it in.

Thanks again guys!

Offline euge

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Re: Stainless Steel vs "Food Safe" Stainless Steel
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 10:30:39 AM »
euge:  Getting the temp right in the mash tun has been hit or miss, and when I'm low I gotta add more water to get the temp up.  I'm looking to fine tune asap and do better quality control.

Download a copy of promash if you haven't already. BTW it's free unless you wanna pay for it. This should ease your temp woes.

This is credited to the stain...Calculating Your Thermal Mass with ProMash

Quote from:  the stain
Q: What is the Thermal Mass of my mash tun, and how can I calculate it?

A: Thermal mass is the amount of heat your mash tun will absorb when you add the water. This can affect your calculations a bit when attempting to calculate your strike temperatures.

The default or "average" thermal mass of 0.30 will get you pretty close most of the time, but you can measure it yourself with the following procedure:

1. Go into ProMash and go into the Strike Temp calculator.
2. For Mash Tun Thermal Mass, Enter 0.
3. For Total Grain enter 0.00001 pounds. (It won't let you go any smaller - entering 0 will give you a division error.) This should make your water:grain ratio 120000:1.
4. For Total Water, enter 16.00 quarts.
5. For Desired Strike Temp, enter 170. (You can use any temperature but this will more accurately reflect actual mash temperatures.)
6. For Grain Temp, enter the current room temperature.
7. Heat 16 quarts (4 gallons) of water to 170 degrees and pour it quickly into the mash tun. Close the lid and seal it up, and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
8. Measure the temperature of the water in the mash tun.
9. Enter the temperature of the water in the mash tun in the "Desired Strike Temp" field in ProMash.
10. Now look at the "Initial Strike Water Temp Should Be" window. You will note that, with Thermal Mass set to 0, this number will be the same as the "Desired Strike Temp" field.
11. Now, in small (say 0.1 or smaller) increments, increase the Thermal Mass field until the "Initial Strike Water" field reads 170 (or whatever temperature you started with, if you didn't use 170 for some reason.).
12. Ta-da! Whatever the Thermal Mass field says is your mash tun's thermal mass!
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline hokerer

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Re: Stainless Steel vs "Food Safe" Stainless Steel
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2011, 10:34:52 AM »
This is credited to the stain...Calculating Your Thermal Mass with ProMash

Or, just go for extreme simplification and don't worry about your thermal mass.  Just heat your strike water 5-10F above your desired strike temp, dump in the cooler, wait until it reaches the desired temp, and then mash in.
Joe

Offline surfin_mikeg

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Re: Stainless Steel vs "Food Safe" Stainless Steel
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2011, 10:35:35 PM »
This is credited to the stain...Calculating Your Thermal Mass with ProMash

That's useful - is there a AHA wiki for collecting such references?

Also, following up on false bottoms - after sharing some urls, my steelworking friends say that the false bottoms sold by NB and the like are really good deals.

Cheers!

Offline hokerer

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Re: Stainless Steel vs "Food Safe" Stainless Steel
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2011, 07:49:47 AM »
That's useful - is there a AHA wiki for collecting such references?

There is an AHA wiki http://wiki.homebrewersassociation.org/  Haven't checked to see if the thermal mass thing is in there, though.
Joe