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Tips for cleaning scorched copper?


Charles@AEppelTreow

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If the last bit of its giving you trouble while its warm hit it with "0000" steel wool, and elbow grease.

BW

I ran cider lees a bit too thick and wound up scorching some yeast to the bottom of my still. (A 20 gal Colonel Wilson job.) Any tips for helping to loosen it up?

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If you can find it the best thing to use would be lye since is attacks organic material. Even though it's lye based I wouldn't recommend using oven cleaner because of the other chemicals in them. I get mine from an old hardware store but if you google lye for soap making you'll find companies that sell pure lye.

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Hello all,

I took a quick look at the colonel's 20 gallon designs and the bases all look quite similar. I take it you can fit your arm in and your hand to the bottom giving you direct contact. I just wanted to add that for polishing anything-I prefer different grades of scotchbrite, by 3M. the brown is very aggressive and can change the "grain" of stainless steel. the maroon is slightly less agressive and the gray is fairly soft. these three are commericial grades and available through places such as McMaster.com they have damn near everything. like any convenience store, they are a little bit expensive. the stuff is great though. I buy it in the 6"X9" pads. you can slice them down with a utility knife into either smaller focus pads or long strips to "shoe-shine" polish smaller OD surfaces. Id be more of a fan of elbow grease rather than chemicals. IMHO...

Jesse

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Thanks for all the various tips. We'd been alternating oxiclean (essentially soda ash and hydrogen peroxide) with citric acid. I've got some good ol' "natrium hydroxide" (aka NaOH, caustic soda, lye, sodium hydroxide) and I'm sure I can get my hands on some phosphoric acid, too.

Jester, while I can get my arm in the top, I can't reach the bottom. My tank brush is too soft, but I keep stacks of scotchbright pads around, and am working on a holder I can put on the end of a stick.

Lesson learned : 10 gallons of lees, plus water & tails is plenty. 15 gallons of yeast is too much.

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Hello all,

I took a quick look at the colonel's 20 gallon designs and the bases all look quite similar. I take it you can fit your arm in and your hand to the bottom giving you direct contact. I just wanted to add that for polishing anything-I prefer different grades of scotchbrite, by 3M. the brown is very aggressive and can change the "grain" of stainless steel. the maroon is slightly less agressive and the gray is fairly soft. these three are commericial grades and available through places such as McMaster.com they have damn near everything. like any convenience store, they are a little bit expensive. the stuff is great though. I buy it in the 6"X9" pads. you can slice them down with a utility knife into either smaller focus pads or long strips to "shoe-shine" polish smaller OD surfaces. Id be more of a fan of elbow grease rather than chemicals. IMHO...

Jesse

I agree with Jester that scotch brite works well. You can also get scotch brite pads to fit a 4.5" grinder that will really. Be really careful with chemicals, especially caustics like lye. They might clean organic material up, but they're also really hard on soft metals too. I have found that it's generally better to use the lightest possible abrasion to physically remove a burned spot and only use chemicals if you have bigger cleaning jobs like protein cake or scale. Five Stars PBW might be the best caustic to use on copper if you must because it's well buffered, but only when necessary. Just my 2 cents.

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I agree with Jester that scotch brite works well. You can also get scotch brite pads to fit a 4.5" grinder that will really. Be really careful with chemicals, especially caustics like lye. They might clean organic material up, but they're also really hard on soft metals too. I have found that it's generally better to use the lightest possible abrasion to physically remove a burned spot and only use chemicals if you have bigger cleaning jobs like protein cake or scale. Five Stars PBW might be the best caustic to use on copper if you must because it's well buffered, but only when necessary. Just my 2 cents.

Great points...the smaller pads are just the 6"X9" pads cut in half, this give you the extra to wrap up around and get into the clamps.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just to follow up, again, thanks for the various suggestions. The scorch was beyond a simple build up. It wasn't organic carbon anymore - it was plain, simple elemental carbon. A powerwasher knocked most of it off. Scotchbright pads on a pole took a little more off. A similar material made as a 2" sanding disk mounted on a 3 foot flexible drill extension tool, duct taped to a broom handle, took the rest off.

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