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Heating Alternatives: Hoga/Iberian Still


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I am exploring the possibilities/solutions for heating a Hoga/Iberian-type still. Anything in the realm of 100 to 250 litres.

Besides direct fire (gas etc.), or steam (coil), direct immersion, does anyone have any alternative - ideally 'explosion proof/intrinsically safe rated' solutions?

I think a (very big!) heating mantle could work. Not sure about a custom oil/water bath... as don't know who would make one, or whether this would be better than a mantle.

If anyone has some ideas, or thoughts that would be great. Thanks

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We use direct fire so I'm not speaking from person experience but I believe the Iberian folks make a bain marie (water bath) still in the size you are talking about. Perhaps you could add a couple of large immersion heaters to the water bath, you'd just want to figure out what heaters you were going to use and have them build your still with enough room in the water bath to add your heaters. I don't have experience with water bath stills but I would think they'd take a dog's age to heat up and get going. Someone else maybe able to weigh in on that.

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If you choose to go with a bain marie style heating setup, then be sure to include element ports in the jacket. An electric control system for the elements would be a good idea. If you go this route, and I have a simple manual control that would be perfect for a Hoga potstill of that size.

With 11Kw, a 100L still should heat up in around an hour or so, and with 13.5Kw, a 250L still should be able to heat up in around 2 hrs.

There are several folks running an Artisan Still Design 60gallon double boiler still with my 13.5kw heating system, perhaps one of them could chime in with exact numbers.

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Thanks very much guys. The water bath and elements sounds very interesting!

Ned, what is your experience of direct fire? Is it easy to set up? I guess you need venting (is this relatively simple)? Carbon monoxide alarms etc?

I am a little cautious of using direct fire (and I think the Iberian stills can leak at the joints a little... before slapping on rye paste), but it could be my best option (depending on insurance, regulations etc.).

Checked out your website, and your set up looks great!

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Thanks! I really like direct fire, we've got electronic controls for our burner including a flame sensor that shuts the gas off if it doesn't detect flame, Ward Burner Supply provided our burner and controls. Providing enough combustion air is a little tricky but we've dialed things in pretty well. We keep CO detectors around and have never tripped them (we run Nat gas). I'd check in with you local officials to get their input but ours had no concerns. As for Iberian stills, we use gaskets and o-rings at all joints in place of paste, they provide a better seal and are a hell of a lot easier to clean up.

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I can supply X-proof electric for either 180F or 250F max temp and "hot oil" high pressure to 550F.

This set-up pumps heat transfer fluid to and from the jacket.

Available from 8 KW 460/3/60 and up (230/3/60 special).

X-proof is expensive, and priced per quote.

Comes with a PID type controller.

If you have a good rate on electric power, you may see the payback, otherwise it is a matter of convenience and space saving.


Mike Gronski

MG Thermal


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  • 4 months later...


it can be done. we've been playing with doing so ourselves. the most common issue I've found (this is coming from the brewing world, so it should transcribe well) is that elements tend to develope caramelisation from the wort - or in our case mash. I don't have any direct experience so I'd be happy to hear other's thoughts. although I suppose you could throw a copper coil (for hot water or steam) in it if you took the head off...

At any rate, we direct fire our Hoga and provided you have 0 issues with condensing it's awesome: great heat control, fast, etc. However, if your water gets warm for any reason (cirulation, cooling, leak in the main water supply to your building..) it can be potentially very, very hazardous.

just my 2 cents.

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