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Re: [Distillers] Re: boiler insulation

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  • Mike Nixon
    rodmacd2000 wrote: Subject: [Distillers] Re: boiler insulation For heaven s sake why don t you all just do the *simple* thing: i.e. use a hot water heater as
    Message 1 of 36 , Jun 30, 2003
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      rodmacd2000 wrote:
      Subject: [Distillers] Re: boiler insulation

      For heaven's sake why don't you all just do the *simple* thing: i.e. use a hot water heater as your boiler! If I may quote John Stone once again (this time from his book "The Carriage Still".

      When it comes to amateur distilling there seems to be a burning desire on the part of the handyman to improvise a boiler out of some odd vessel which happens to be available, and no- one should be surprised to learn that everything from pressure cookers to beer kegs to milk churns to vacuum cleaner tanks have been adapted by ingenious do-it-yourself types for this purpose. However, we strongly recommend that you save yourselves a lot of time, trouble and expense by using an ordinary domestic hot water heater.  In N. America these are available in all sizes from 9 litres up to several hundred litres, and are ideally suited for acting as the boiler in all amateur distillation systems.  They are rugged, glass lined, already have an immersion heater installed, they are insulated, they have pipe fittings in all the right places, and are housed in attractive white-enamel steel housings.  What more could you wish for?  If you had drawn up the specifications yourself for the ideal boiler required for a still it would not be very different from a hot water heater.  In N. America they cost around $140 in all sizes up to 100 litres.
      For the simple reason that modifying commercal water heaters is not always that simple.  I note that John no longer talks about removing the magnesium sacrificial anode, nor the thermostat, nor the down pipe that is often attached to the inlet port, nor any of the other things that have to be done to convert a water heater into a safe distillation boiler.  If you know what you are doing, and know the design of the particular water heater you are working on, then modifying something intended for an entirely different purpose is feasible ... and yes, it is a cheap solution and looks like an attractive proposition.  If you do not (and how many are experienced plumbers?) then it can result in unforseen problems.  I have personally seen a domestic water heater modified in this manner which blew up and caused a hell of a mess, fortunately without without injuring anybody.  Before even thinking of modifying a commercial hot water heater, please be absolutely honest with yourself ... do you really have enough practical experience to do it safely?  If you do, then please also remember that not everyone is as experienced as you are before endorsing a potentially hazardous procedure.  I am am a crusty old engineer, and would like to think that I have a fair bit of experience, and I personally use a hot water heater as a boiler.  However, I first asked a plumber to make all the necessary modifications needed and, despite my 'extensive experience', I was very surprised at all the things he had to do to convert the thing so it would operate safely.  It rammed home the lesson that a little knowledge outside your speciality can be a very dangerous thing.
      Mike N
    • rodmacd2000
      Don t forget to insulate your column while you re at it!
      Message 36 of 36 , Jan 5, 2005
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        Don't forget to insulate your column while you're at it!

        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "hermit720022002"
        <hermit720022002@y...> wrote:
        > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, dean <deanlil@p...> wrote:
        > >
        > > > Hey all,
        > > >
        > > > Was wondering about boiler insulation, whether bother to use it
        > and
        > > > if so what to use? I'd imagine it would increase the heat
        > effeciency
        > > > greatly. Thoughts?
        > >
        > > I wrap my boiler with a 1" rockwool blanket. Propane and time
        > consumption is gratly reduced. I use it with a propane burner
        > without problem. Rockwool (or sg. similar product) is flame
        > resistant at this temperature.
        > Joe
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