PDA

View Full Version : Stainless steel vs. Aluminum and why not Aluminum?



bjswift
08-18-2007, 11:42 PM
I am thinking of doing a five gallon batch, and am going to borrow a big pot from a friend. He hasn't pulled it out from his garage yet, and is unsure if it is Stainless-Steel or Aluminum. If it is aluminum, why would it be bad to use that vs. stainless steel? I have read somewhere to not use anything but stainless steel...

Thanks,

Brandon

wildaho
08-19-2007, 01:15 AM
I guess the first question is what are you going to use the pot for? I'm in the No-Heat-Applied camp for meads and so I don't use a pot.

If you're going to use it for beer, you should be fine. There has never been a conclusive study to tie aluminum to alzheimers although you'll find people that argue against it just to argue. In fact, the British Alzheimer's Organization's website has a whole page debunking it. (see link below)

I use to use aluminum and I don't thunk I've lost any cell brains, I mean brain cells. Some claim to be able to taste it but I can't and I'm told I have well developed palate. It's a good cheap way to get started and will serve you well until you're ready to invest more.

One thing to consider though is that aluminum will react in highly acidic or alkaline environments (and with some cleaners and sanitizers). That is why most people use stainless, it's more durable and easier to clean.

Here's link to a recent discussion on another board discussing the merits/demerits of aluminum for brewing beer: http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/1072678.

bjswift
08-19-2007, 02:29 PM
I would be using the pot to boil water, and disolve the honey into it, then letting it cool while sitting in the pot. I have used a smaller pot for my one gallon batches, but the smaller pot is stainless steel, but now that I am seeking to do 5 gallon batches, I wanted to check out all the reasons not to use aluminum (if it turns out to be), and to buy a cheap stainless steel pot if the reasons convince me that using aluminum will make the mead taste like metal, or uh, you know, cause me to, hmm, I've forgotten... :)

Anyhow, thanks for the reply and the advice!

Oskaar
08-19-2007, 03:00 PM
Question for you BJ,

What is driving you to boil your honey, and what kind of honey are you going to use?

Oskaar

wayneb
08-19-2007, 04:12 PM
Question for you BJ,

What is driving you to boil your honey, and what kind of honey are you going to use?

Oskaar


It's really hard to kill this "old meadmaker's tale," but there is really absolutely no reason to boil or pasteurize honey that will be used for mead. There is some benefit to warming a small amount of water to get the honey to more easily dissolve, but unless you're making mead the 15th century way (i.e. by throwing the entire skep hive into the pot, bees and all), heating your honey much above 110F will only detract from the mead that results.

bjswift
08-19-2007, 08:31 PM
Well, I don't necessarly let the honey boil, I just heat up the water so that it starts to bubble, then put honey in to mix it, and take it off heat. I may add and remove heat as I am preparing the other materials, or finishing cleaning my fermenter. So, after saying this, I assume I do not need to boil water at all, and for a 5 gallon batch, I can just use my 1gallon stainless pot, and warm up enough water to disolve the honey in, and use tap water to fill in the rest directly into the fermenter?

I thought another reason to boil the water was to kill bacteria or harmful stuff in the water. Guess not.

The honey I have been using is just basic clover honey, largest (2.5lb) container I can find at the store.

If I can just use my smaller pot to mix honey and water together with a little warm water, and fill the rest up with tap, let me know because that situation will work well with me, not having to find a stainless steel pot.

Thanks!

wayneb
08-19-2007, 10:00 PM
Yes, actually unless you have contaminated or excessively chlorinated tap water (it would have to smell like a swimming pool to be a problem), you can just heat a small amount of water, dissolve your honey in that, and add tap water up to the amount you want to ferment. Most municipal water supplies (at least in the US and Canada) are already fairly aseptic since they've been treated with chlorine or chloramines, and most well water that's fit to drink isn't going to be carrying any microbes that could hurt your mead. You might still want a bigger pot some day, but it isn't because you have to boil the water that you're making mead with.

Oskaar
08-19-2007, 10:50 PM
Well, I don't necessarly let the honey boil, I just heat up the water so that it starts to bubble, then put honey in to mix it, and take it off heat. I may add and remove heat as I am preparing the other materials, or finishing cleaning my fermenter. So, after saying this, I assume I do not need to boil water at all, and for a 5 gallon batch, I can just use my 1gallon stainless pot, and warm up enough water to disolve the honey in, and use tap water to fill in the rest directly into the fermenter?

I thought another reason to boil the water was to kill bacteria or harmful stuff in the water. Guess not.

The honey I have been using is just basic clover honey, largest (2.5lb) container I can find at the store.

If I can just use my smaller pot to mix honey and water together with a little warm water, and fill the rest up with tap, let me know because that situation will work well with me, not having to find a stainless steel pot.

Thanks!


If you have a lees-stirrer (do a forum search) you don't even need to heat the honey. If I do heat honey it's usually to de-crystalize it, which I do by a hot water bath, or recently, upon advice from a beekeeper have found that just setting it outside in the sun works miracles.

A couple of different beekeepers have told me that hive temperature is from 80-85 F and that they will bring their honey up to that temperature when it is cold and it will not flow well into the gallon jugs that they have.

I just did 10 gallons of mesquite mead over the weekend, and the water was filtered right out of the tap, and one of the sources of honey was crystalized. The lees stirrer made short work of that, as well as working miracles on getting the honey out of the gallon jar where it had crystalized. A lees stirrer on a power drill and you're rockin and rollin. No need for heat.

Cheers,

Oskaar

bjswift
08-19-2007, 11:00 PM
yea, now I can use power tools when making mead!

Time for me to buy a 6.5 gallon carboy as a primary, and ferment away! Thanks for the tips and advice!

wildaho
08-19-2007, 11:11 PM
A note on using the 6.5 gallon carboy for your primary: I've gone back to using a bucket for the primary on all my meads. It makes it a lot easier to get in there to aerate or give a daily swirl to keep the yeast in suspension. And, if you are adding any fruit in the primary, the bucket is the only way to go for cap management. In place of a lees stirrer, I use a straightened carboy brush in my cordless drill!

I use glass for the secondary on my meads and reserve my 6.5 gallon carboys for primary on my beers. And even then, on my next batch of beer I'll be going back to the bucket for aeration and swirling purposes. It's made a huge difference on my meads, I figure it will work every bit as well on my beers (most of which are over 1.085 to start with, I like big beers!)

teljkon
08-20-2007, 03:32 AM
The only thing that I can say is indeed there is metallic taste that I have picked up in cans of aluminum and there could or could not be truth to the Alzheimer thing those aside. Aluminum is a second rate metal for cooking and this is why it doesnít hold heat as well it itís usually thicker for the same volume, therefore harder to handle. It makes a pretty good sauce pan though but I still donít like those. Also the texture sucks to me I donít like touching aluminum. This is just what I get when I ask my self why dose aluminum gives me the hebe jeebes. Id never heard of the chemical reaction thing but one more notch on the why not list. On the other side there is the cost of steel. But you can get non commercial grade stainless for commercial grade pricing of aluminum about 65$ for a 10 gallon if I remember right.

:happy10:

Leonora
08-20-2007, 10:06 AM
Try talking to your favorite fine dining restaurant. They should be able to point you at a restaurant supply or where they order their pans.

I had a aluminium pot. I switched to using it for natural dye-ing after I got a SS one this way.

I got my big pot much cheaper than retail when my favorite restaurant ordered one for me. They paid the supply store, I paid them. Don't forget to order a lid as well, they come seperately.

Then I switched to the no-boil method and now I use it to make soap.

They clean up better and more completely, I think.

Re: crystallized honey:

I heat my crystalized honey just a bit until it starts to loosen. I shut off the heat and let the pan sit for 30 min or so to let the gentle heat work slowly. And then I pour the lot through a giant funnel into my carboy (that has 3 gal of cold aerated water in it). Then as I am aerating the must with my lees stirrer the rest of the crystals all dissolve. Done it this way twice and and it's worked a treat!

Leonora

Rhianni
08-26-2007, 03:28 PM
I've been using a stainless steel pot for years and have never noticed a metallic taste. You should be fine if this is your concern.

youngmeadman
08-27-2007, 01:05 PM
I would avoid a aluminum pot, just due to its habit to react with other substances. Aluminum reacts to a lot of things, and can cause problems. I have heard stories of aluminum reacting to rusting iron in a work shop. Well lets say they got a banging surprise. I realize that it happened to be the perfect environment for such a reaction, and how you wouldn't have that sort of problem in your kitchen. It may however react to your mead, and give it off flavours.

Heating mead*

The closest I get is heating water to dissolve honey, (the water barely reaches boiling, taken off heat, then honey added)
If I am using fruit I will often boil the fruit with the water, remove from heat, then add the honey.

wildaho
08-27-2007, 07:24 PM
....I have heard stories of aluminum reacting to rusting iron in a work shop...

A little tidbit I got from the Anarchists Cook Book many decades ago: You can make a common pyrotechnic by mixing aluminum powder with iron oxide. Oh great, I can just hear the knock on the door from Homeland Security now!

But I still think the OP will be fine to use aluminum. Boiling water in it just once is usually enough to passivate it and stop most reactions (unless exposed to highly acidic (< 2) or alkaline liquids (> 10). There are probably as many myths about aluminum as there are about mead!

beeboy
08-27-2007, 07:45 PM
I tried the aluminium and iron oxide thing a while back with no luck, it was a experiment brought on by bordom and access to aluminium powder. Getting back to using an aluminium pot for brewing mead I would think the lower Ph of mead could cause corrosion problems with the aluminium. I would go with stainless if possible or a good old glass carboy.

wildaho
08-28-2007, 05:36 PM
Oh, it works! It's all in the ignition source...

Oskaar
08-28-2007, 05:59 PM
Where precisely in chapter four did you see that?

Cheers,

Oskaar

WRATHWILDE
08-29-2007, 02:38 AM
2 grams Iron Oxide for every 1 gram powdered Aluminum + Ignited Magnesium Strip = Hot Times

Video of the results...

http://www.hallpass.com/media/howtomakethermite.html

Cheers,
Wrathwilde

ucflumberjack
08-29-2007, 10:43 AM
wow....... i'd heard about that and didnt believe my friends at all.... that is awesome.... now to gather ingredients......

wayneb
08-30-2007, 11:22 PM
2 grams Iron Oxide for every 1 gram powdered Aluminum + Ignited Magnesium Strip = Hot Times

Video of the results...

http://www.hallpass.com/media/howtomakethermite.html

Cheers,
Wrathwilde


Oh, yeah! This brings back some memories... we made up some thermite back when I was a physics student... and back before igniting the stuff might get you pegged as a terrorist!