Igloo Mod, HLT / Mash Tun

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Ward Chillington, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    776
    Likes Received:
    1,066
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    South Central Pennsylvania
    Looking for some input here on something I was noodling through while driving back from a parking lot deal I got on a 10 gallon Igloo water cooler that I had planned on using as just a HLT.

    When I was using a square cooler as a mash tun, I integrated a sparging arm into the lid that I think did a pretty good job of washing my mash of every bit of useful wort and I want to take one of the lid's of my 2 Igloos and do it again but I want to insulate the lid as I will be penetrating the lid to make a path for the pvc pipe that will be the sparging arm and to attach the arm to the underside of the lid. Additionally, now with a HLT that is going to be sitting on top of my 6 and a half foot brewing tower, running a pipe through a securely attached lid to fill the tank also sounds better and safer than hanging a hose over the side of the cooler or asking my pump to push it through the outlet and fighting all that head pressure.

    Here's the mod idea I want some input on....does anyone have experience with some sort of food grade "Stuff in a Can" or "Great Stuff" spray expanding foam insulation?

    I know there is one that's made for pond use that will not kill your fish but not having found a MSDS print out that says it's OK, I'm being cautious. If I was only penetrating the top, I would have no hesitation using the same stuff I used to fill in some cracks around where my HVAC lines come into the house but since I am penetrating the inside portion of the lid, I want to be ultra careful about not introducing any toxins to the brew.
     
  2. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Ward, I use a 10 gal Igloo as a Mash Tun to hold 150 deg strike & spare water. As I Preheat the Igloo before adding grain & hold Mash temps for an hour, heat loss through the lid was a concern.
    I drilled holes around the inside of the lid & used about a half a can of "Great Stuff" low expanding foam to fill the hollow Igloo lid. I also capped each hole with Silicon sealant. As I brew outdoors in Colorado winters, down to 30 deg F, it's easy to see if the heat is escaping. It doesn't. I must say that I never thought about the foam or the silicon being toxic but I've been using the foam filled lid for 4 years & it ain't killed me yet. So, maybe it's OK.
     
    Ward Chillington likes this.
  3. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    776
    Likes Received:
    1,066
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    South Central Pennsylvania
    LOL..You gave me a flashback!

    upload_2020-8-1_19-53-6.jpeg

    I blame the silicone! I could snug the pipe and get the couplings nice and tight but when your dealing with molecular level stuff, well you need a seal...I'm not that nutsy that I'm anti plastic...hell, it's an Igloo cooler....I think the only thing in it that is not plastic is the 6 stainless screws that held the handles and cup holder in place! Maybe a sleeve,,,,,,hmmmmm
     
  4. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    113
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Ward Chillington likes this.
  5. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Hmmm. Wish I'd had known about the Food Grade Silicon when I made this mod 4 years ago. I used GE Clear Construction Silicon.
    I would like to see your approach to a Sparge Manifold on the bottom of the Igloo lid. I've been trying to do that for a while with no success.
    Thanx
     
    Ward Chillington likes this.
  6. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    113
    Trophy Points:
    43
    You could try to drill holes every couple of inches in a heat resistant piece of silicone tubing. 3 foot should be plenty, might need to cut it to fit. Then make a spiral design with it and attach it under the lid with the food grade silicone sealant i mentioned above. Drill a hole in the middle of the lid and install a nipple that will attach the under side silicone (dripping water on the mash) to the top side silicone (coming from your sparge water). Then you can use a false bottom with a ball valve at the bottom to recirculate during the mash or fly sparge.

    You would probably need to install a sight glass or keep an eye on the water level so that you don't burn up your pump.

    Another option would be to install the nipple like above, but instead of silicone tubing, use the SS spray valve that Clawhammer has on the link below. The rest of the setup would be same as above.

    https://www.clawhammersupply.com/products/biab-spray-valve


    I'm sure there are other options that smarter folks than me will be able to come up with, just something I thought off the top of my head.
     
  7. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    776
    Likes Received:
    1,066
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    South Central Pennsylvania
    #7 Ward Chillington, Aug 3, 2020 at 12:07 AM
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2020 at 3:12 AM
    So as a picture paints a thousand words...here you go...

    20180915_130453.jpeg



    it was pretty easy with the square tun as PVC fittings are 90° for the most part and as far as tips and tricks, the bottom pipes are drilled on one side facing down so that the wort is pushed up into the manifold and for the arm in the lid, I placed the pipe so that the outlet holes in the arm are horizonal to the tun bottom so that the water level is a little more balanced and has to reach approximately a half full level in the pipe before it begins to drain as the water will take the least path of resistance..in other words, if the holes pointed directly down, the water would never get to the end of the arms. That coupling in the middle of the lid is a tee fitting that penitrates the lid and gave me a place to stick the supply line to the HLT for the sparging water.

    Sorry for the screwy pix order but that one on the bottom is the draining manifold and those holes are only on one side of the pipes that get pointed down in the bottom of the tun, Never once had a stuck sparge! 20180915_130453.jpeg 20180915_130441 (1).jpeg
     
    BarbarianBrewer, AGbrewer and Megary like this.
  8. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2018
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    5,163
    Trophy Points:
    113
    You could use some 1/2" soft copper tube and shape it to the diameter of the lid. To do any soldering with 1/2" soft copper tube you would need 3/8" copper fittings. Copper TUBE goes by OD, copper PIPE is a nominal size and the OD is 1/8" larger than the nominal size. Copper soldering fittings are made for pipe. Just get a spring bender at the Home Depot, it will prevent the tube from kinking when you bend it.
     
    AGbrewer likes this.
  9. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Thanks Ward & AGBrewer.
    I was inspired by the exchange with both of you.
    Here's a couple of pics from today's efforts with my 10 gal Igloo lid.
    20200804_204124.jpg 20200804_204045.jpg



    Ward & AGBrewer thanks for the inspiration. I had been using this Sparge manifold with limited success. Previous efforts included a colander hanging under the lid. FAIL.
    I got serious this afternoon & modified it to fit under the lid & used some copper wire to secure it. The pic of the top of the lid shows previous mods. The piece of tubing is an air vent for both filling & draining. Vents in lid weren't big enough so I was getting air bound. Vent fixed that. Hole in lid is for thermowell.
    Keeping levels in Tun & Kettle is a challenge but I'm going to build water levels for both next.
    I plan on using the manifold for both Sparge & Recirculating. So, I got the Sparge part figured, but I'm puzzling on the recirc. Do you drain from MT into kettle with low fireing to maintaining temp. Easy to see how it would work for Steps but it seems that maintaining temp while recirculating is going to require heat.
    Input?
     
  10. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2018
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    5,163
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Nice work!
    I don't think most people with cooler MLT's recirculate their mash. The cooler should hold temp really well, a few stirs during the mash will make your process a lot simpler.
     
  11. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    113
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Very cool @56 Firedome , good work.

    I'm with @Craigerrr on the recirculation. With an insulated mash tun like that, you shouldn't need to recirculate. It should hold temp pretty good.

    Let us know how the maiden voyage goes.
     
  12. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    So, the Igloo MT holds 150 f for an hour without losing a deg. I preheat the Igloo with the Strike Water to 3 deg above strike temp & hold it for15 min. Thus the hole for the Thermowell. I drain back to Kettle to bump up temp if needed, never has been.
    I pour in the Grain `& switch hoses to the valve on bottom of Tun & use the pump to fill from bottom. No dry grain bubbles. I also stir grain with a Paint Stir on my drill driver. 30 sec max.
    At that time I move the hose from the bottom of the Tun to the elbow connected to the manifold through the lid. I connect the drain on the Tun to the top of the Kettle. If a step in the mash is needed I fire up the burner, heat to next step temp & start pump which is controlled by the Inkbird.
    I think I'm pretty much in line with proper practices. My understanding of the reason for recirculation is filtering/clearing the Mash before draining into the Kettle. The reason for the Manifold is to spread the recirculation out so tunnels don't form a short cut to the drain without filtering through the grain bed. I experienced the tunnel when I first tried to recirculate. It looked like you were flying over a the eye of a hurricane. Thus the search for a manifold design. I also plan to build 2 Sight Glasses, Kettle & Tun, to prevent pump damage.
    I use a 3 gal Igloo for the Sparge tank. I was gravity draining into a previous version of the manifold pictured above. Now I plan to move the Pump suction to the Sparge drain & pumping it through the same manifold. Hold at sparge temperature for 15 minutes & drain to Kettle for the boil.
    So, am I up in the night on recirculating for clarity not so much to maintain mash temperature?
     
  13. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2018
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    113
    Trophy Points:
    43
    recirculation helps with mash temps, but you don't really have that issue if you avoid step mashes. It can help with clarity, however...

    Well, I've always done BIAB, so take my advice for what you will.

    Having said that, I don't bother sparging for clarity, I just squeeze the bag and move on. I've had no issues with clarity in the final product. I'm sure that others have need for it, but not so much in my BIAB experience.

    I don't do step mashes anymore as I haven't found them to be of any significant use from my personal experience (I'm sure other folks have different opinions).

    Lastly, and this is just my personal opinion, I would probably just do a BIAB bag big enough to fit in your MT and do away with the rest of the stuff. I bought the pump and did the recirculation thing. From what I can tell, BIAB is cheaper, easier, and produces the same quality of beer. If you decide to go BIAB, you may need to install a pulley system for lifting the bag depending on how much grain you are dealing with.

    I'm really not trying to discourage you as I know that you have put a ton of time, effort, and money into your system. Just providing some constructive feedback on what I would likely do if I were in your shoes.

    Either way, you are going to end up making beer, so no worries!
     
    thunderwagn and Ward Chillington like this.
  14. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    82
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Thanks for the feedback. BIAB has a lot of pluses especially in the beginning. My equipment & techniques have evolved over 20 +/- years from Mr. Beer through Extract & finally all grain. Lots of input from folks at LBS & other experienced brewers. Truth to tell, unless you went through one of the university brewing degrees we are all self taught. By definition there gaps & thin spots in our knowledge which can only be filled with input from other brewers & our own experiences.
     
    Ward Chillington and AGbrewer like this.
  15. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2018
    Messages:
    776
    Likes Received:
    1,066
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    South Central Pennsylvania
    OUTSTANDING! You did a great job reading my mind there Domey!

    Picking up on your levels comment.." Keeping levels in Tun & Kettle is a challenge but I'm going to build water levels for both next. "...It looks like you have glued some of but not all of your fittings so perhaps turning your manifold tubes 90° inwards would give you more control of the sparge water when you are washing the mash. Granted you may leave a little liquid in the manifold at the end of the sparge cycle but just lift the lid slowly to one side and you'll drain 90% of anything left in there.

    I'm with the other comments about recirculating in the tun....just a few stirs with the mash paddle in the first third of the mash cycle...maybe around the same time you do an iodine test...if you do an iodine test..

    Hear here Domey, hear hear!
     
  16. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2017
    Messages:
    3,372
    Likes Received:
    2,552
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Edmonton
    I've used an igloo cooler with a brewbag for 3 years or so now and it works well. I've started playing around with BIAB to downsize my footprint but I still have the cooler. It maybe lost 1C over an hour with stirring.
     
    AGbrewer likes this.

Share This Page

arrow_white