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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2004 * April 13, 2004 * Metals in Brewing < Previous Next >

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Cal Downey (65.27.21.143)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 02:43 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

All - I have heard that stainless is the only way to go. A couple of other quotes: "Copper ions are toxic to yeast during early fermentation, but help the beer drop clear at the end." "Non-stainless steel will make you beer taste like blood."

I have seen the insides of more than one regional mash tun with non-stainless steel in it. I've seen copper cladding inside their boil kettles. I've seen copper plumbing for moving beer in German breweries.

I've seen these practices in far larger scale breweries than my humble set-up. Can anyone tell me what effect brass fittings in a 204 stainless fermentation vessel will have on the finished product?

Cal
 

Belly Buster Bob (142.177.103.191)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 03:32 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

absolutely none....I don't even remove the surface lead (hoax)
 

Cal Downey (65.27.21.143)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 01:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanx BBB. I assume that the silence on this subject by the other esteemed contributors of the forum indicates that there is no dissenting view. I'll drive on as planned.

BTW - Typo on initial post. The fermenter is 304 stainless not 204.

Cal
 

Paul Edwards (68.251.106.214)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 02:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

People say that iron & mild steel are to be avoided.

That said, I saw more than one cast iron mash tun in breweries in Belgium, notably at De Dolle Brouwer. Of course that mash tun was over 100 years old, and probably had a very thick coating of dried wort sugar on it.

I use brass fittings & copper tubing in my brewery on my HLT and boiler. I did treat the brass with the vinegar-hydrogen peroxide solution (2 parts white vinegar to 1 part H2O2), becasue It was easy, and I have the vinegar and H2O2 lying about.

Too soon to tell if any remaining lead is making me crazy ;-)
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.129.137)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 03:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cal, I think you're overly concerned. Mild steel will indeed rust and cause some off flavors, but copper or brass will not cause problems. It's true that wort and beer will leach the small amount of surface lead in the brass, but this can be prevented by pickling the brass briefly in a 2:1 solution of white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide before use.

Stainless is most commonly used in commercial brewing because of its ease of cleaning and durability. Some homebrewers have a stainless fetish, which is fine if you have the budget for it, but not a requirement.
 

Cal Downey (65.27.21.143)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 03:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill - Thanx. I've been brewing for a while and am now moving to conical fermenters. As I put the rotating racking arm together, I was unable to track down a female flare nut in stainless and so went for the available option.

Anyone knowing a source for stainless 1/4" female flare nuts please chime in!

Cal
 

Paul Edwards (68.251.106.214)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 04:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cal,

take a look at the SS hose barb & flare nuts designed to go on Corney keg connectors. The ones for Ball-lock fittings are 1/4 inch.

I don't remember the thread pitch on the SS fittings, but at least worth a look.

Your LHBS ought to have them.
 

Cal Downey (65.27.21.143)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 07:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul - That is an option I considered and initially discarded. The opening on those nuts is designed to accomodate the square shoulders of the barb portion of the fitting rather than conform to the flare. While the barb is stainless, the nut is nickel covered brass...strike two in a SS purist approach. After starting this thread I considered using two of the nylon flare washers. One as a gasket between the flared SS tube and the flared male side and the other bettween the other side of the tube flare facing the squared shoulders of the nut. I'll give it a shot.

Thanx again for all of the input. My mind is much more at ease about non-stainless in the fermenter.

Cal
 

John McElver (172.143.126.55)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 08:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

FWIW, various governments (Kali) consider any lead bad. Since it's not much trouble to remove surface lead, go ahead and do it.

There's another point to be considered: stainless is simply cooler, IMHO. Toss a stainless part in starsan for weeks on end and it won't turn green.
Since you can shop around for stainless ball valves for only a few bucks more than brass from the local home hardware hut, why not go for it? (Try Ebay, hempel pipe, plumbingsupply.com)

John
 

Cal Downey (65.27.21.143)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 08:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

John - After 12 hours of searching for this part on the internet, in addition to visiting 5 plumbing specialty shops in the Kansas City area over the past 4 days, I feel as though I have shopped around. Agree on the presentation factor...but echoing a common thread over the past month...how much is toooo much!

Cal
 

John McElver (172.143.126.55)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 08:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cal,
Try McMaster-Carr

www.mcmaster.com brass, steel, & stainless nuts are on pg 127. 1/4" brass ones are 70 cents, stainless are a buck-forty. 70 cents more for cooler & no worries, hey its worth it.

John

Edited to add catalog page info.
 

Cal Downey (65.27.21.143)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 11:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

John - You are the man. What is the difference between 37 deg and 45 deg. Any idea what a standard flaring tool produces?

Cal
 

John McElver (172.166.80.213)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 11:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cal,
I don't know. There's probably a page in the McMaster Carr website that has that info. It's a great source of info.
John
 

Cal Downey (65.27.21.143)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 11:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

John - Thanx again for the help. Will play around with the parts I have and continually look to upgrade...aren't we all?

The best plan often falls apart when face with the reality of final assembly.

Cal
 

Chris Smedley (67.85.185.48)
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 11:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hmm... just found this quote in the HBD archives: "If you have a SS beer keg, it is made from 304 stainless and it is imperative that you get your fitting in 304 also (Dion Hollenbeck, HBD #1294)." Is this guy just flat-out wrong or what? I just welded a 316 coupling to a 304 keg and I can't imagine why it would be a problem, but I'm no metalurgist by a long stretch. Any thoughts?

How many of you guys buy your ball valves in SS? Or brass with an SS ball? Will it make any difference at all (besides looking cooler?)?
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.129.137)
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 12:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

To my knowledge (I'm not a metallurgist either), there is no problem using 316 fittings with 304 series stainless kegs. The differences are minimal.

My system has a mixture of stainless and brass fittings. I was able to buy a number of stainless valves at a discount, so I did, but I don't see any problem with brass if you remove the surface lead. Stainless may last longer, but it's not like most of us are brewing daily as in some commercial breweries. What practical difference does it make whether a part should be replaced after 1000 or 10,000 batches?
 

John McElver (172.129.85.199)
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 04:09 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dion's point may have something to do with welding. A weld is the same metal as the two pieces being brought together, otherwise it's a solder or braze. I have no idea if that maters for 304 and 316.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.129.137)
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 03:08 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The welders I know say that all 300 series stainless can be welded interchangeably without any problems.
 

Cal Downey (65.27.21.143)
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 03:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The "Stainless is Cool" factor it starts early.

First - I found a way to get the flare nuts. Take a stainelss swivel fitting with two flare nuts. Cut the swivel portion out. Voila! Two flare nuts.

Second - Showed the stainless and brass flare nuts on the racking arm to my 6 and 4 year old and asked which one they liked better. Both selected the stainless which I felt was more compact. I asked them why they didn't like the brass. Both said the stainless just looked cooler.

Both plan to help today as I re-plumb my 10 tap portable dispenser and 4 tap jockey box as we get ready for the spring and summer party season.

Cal
 

Randy McCord (216.174.177.197)
Posted on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 03:52 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

As far a the two different kinds of stainless being welded together goes: don't worry about it. 316 and 304 are pretty close and they can be welded together easily with no worries. I've welded a lot of different alloys of pipe together in chemical plants and oil refineries. Some people may not realize it, but stainless can also be welded directly to carbon steel, but that doesn't apply to us homebrewers. When I "hire in" on some jobs, we take a stainless steel "tig" welding test using carbon steel pipe and stainless filler wire. Carbon steel is cheaper to use especially when you have 20 or more welders taking the test. Just my .02
 

Paul Tackmann (12.2.142.7)
Posted on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 09:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

On the subject of surface lead content in brass
should we all deinstall and pickle our pluming fixtures that are chrome plated Brass?
 

Paul Edwards (68.251.110.61)
Posted on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 10:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul,

The concern is that since beer and wort are acidic, the surface lead will dissolve into them.

Tap water is not acidic. My tap water is around a pH of 7.5. Some places the tap water gets s high at 9.0. Thus, the surface lead in your brass kitchen or bathroom fixtures won't readily dissolve.

I treated my brass brewing connections more to see what would happen than any real worries about surface lead. Makes the pieces look very nice, if nothing else.

The treating process is easy and takes hardly any time, so why not do it??
 

Paul Tackmann (12.221.37.240)
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 12:21 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well that answers my question Thanks
so We need not worry about brass in a pre-beer\wort just afterwards I take it that mash system would also be included in treatment if brass is used.
 

Paul Edwards (68.251.110.61)
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 03:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

pH of a mash should be in the 5.2 to 5.5 range. The resulting wort will probably be in that range or maybe up to nearly 6.0, tho I've never measure wort pH because if the mash pH was correct, I figure the wort will be fine.

The pH scale is logarithmic, that is a solution that is pH 5.0 has ten times the hydronium ion (H3O+) content as one of pH 6.0, pH 4.0 would have 100 times the H3O+ content of the 6.0 solution, etc.

Since I had the vinegar-peroxide solution mixed up in a small plastic bucket. I treated all the brass in my brewery set-up, HLT included. That's because I adjust the pH of my sparge water to below 6.0

So all the liquids in my brewery (mash water, sparge water, mash, wort and beer) are all somewhat acidic.

Is there _really_ anything to worry about if using untreated brass? I don't know...
 

Chris Smedley (67.85.185.48)
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 05:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I really doubt you have anything to worry about, Paul. However, a vinegar/peroxide soak is easy and cheap enough that we all might as well do it, if only for peace of mind. That said, I smoke, drink, eat unhealthily and tend not to sweat the minor health hazards involved in the enjoyable things in life, so maybe you should listen to someone else.

Since this started as a general brewing metallurgy thread, I'll ask another question about SS. Having had a 316 coupling welding to my keg, there is fairly significant "sugaring" (raised, blackened bubbling circling the coupling) on the inside of the weld. BKF and a nylon scrub pad took off all the rainbowish heat discoloration surrounding the welds but, obviously, cannot fix the inside sugaring. From what I've read of John Palmer's HBD posts and rec.crafts.metalworking, there seems to be no real consensus as to whether I should grind the weld back flush to the keg material and repassivate. Sometimes it seems that Palmer recommends doing this and other times it seems that he recommends not performing any grinding/sanding anytime. Furthermore, I know enough not to use aluminum alloy or other metals as the grinding stone material. That being said, what CAN I use? All the metal grinding/sanding material I've been able to find is made of aluminum alloy, tungsten metal or is otherwise unlabled. Should I use regular sandpaper made for metals and do it by hand? Not do anything at all?

Any advice would be appreciated!
 

Marlon Lang (65.0.99.242)
Posted on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 01:15 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cal: 37 degree flare is "standard" 45 degree is some sort of weird military thing.

All: 304 and 316 are both "18-8" i.e. 18 chrome, 8 nickel. They differ in the stabilizing addition of molydibinum. As BP sez, brewers can use/weld them interchangably. FWIW, 304 is generally better in acid service.

Randy: You be right! They can be welded together. Welding is a melting process. The result of a ss-cs weld will not be corrosion resistant, but will indicate whether you left inclusions, lack of fusion, or porosity. (I'm one of those a__holes that read the xrays)

Chris: Grinding and polishing are usually needed only on welds that are in the sanitary vessels, e.g. fermentors, etc. The idea is to get the surfaces smooth and not afford places for nasty little bugs to hide. Don't worry about the grinding materials. Any grinding compounds left behind will be rinsed away.

BP: It is remarkable how much two Trois Pistoles will increase your intelligence!
 

Cal Downey (65.27.21.143)
Posted on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 01:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Marlon - Thanx for the input on this one! Hoppers have arrived from TMS and we are building a hanging system so that the 6 conicals can be hung on 24" depth steel shelving. I'll post pix of the wall of fermentation after next weekend's brew day.

If anyone finds themselves in in the Leavenworth, Kansas area, feel free to stop by for a pint!

Cal
 

Brewzz (65.88.98.1)
Posted on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 11:48 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chris- You can use a carbide burr on a dremel to remove the sugaring and then polish it out with a stone or sandpaper.Just clean it good with a green scrubbie or scothbrite and your good to go.
Brewzz
 

Chris Smedley (67.85.185.48)
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 12:00 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks, Brewzz. That was the info I was looking for. Now to find a carbide bit small enough for the job that will fit in my 1/2" chuck. What a PITA to deal with after paying an arm and a leg for the TIGing!

Marlon: I'm not worried about "sanitary welds." I'm worried about crevice corrosion. And, you are incorrect. The materials from grinding SS with other ferrous metals WILL NOT wash away with water. Rather tiny fibers of the grinding substrate will embed themselves into the SS and cause microscopic points of corrosion.
 

Marlon Lang (65.0.99.106)
Posted on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 01:08 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chris,
I bow humbly and stand corrected. Grinding welds is somewhat off the thread, but I would greatly appreciate an email going into it in greater depth. Wouldn't you think that if the welds have no lack of fusion points or porosity, there should be no sites for crevice corrosion? Dosen't crevice corrosion occur in joints, e.g. threads, tubing ferules, rather than in welds?

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