Barrel Steamer Wand (Homemade)
Pressure Cooker Barrel Steamer
Any proper barrel maintenance should include good sanitation practices. Hot water around 180 F is normally good to take care of most bugs, but they are tricky with wood. Wood is porous and life always finds a way. Getting the hot water to penetrate deep enough in the wood takes a lot of time and water, especially when venturing into bigger barrel sizes (Larger than 20L / 5 Gallon). Filling a 40L (10 gallon) barrel is not the most viable solution as it gets heavy very quickly. A full 40L barrel will weigh around 175 lbs which can lead to injury and/or broken equipment as you swing it around.
Steam provides better penetration and extraction, while being more sterile due to higher heat. It also uses considerably less water which is always a plus.
Before we dive in, understand that we had the two most expensive pieces of equipment and tools already on hand. If you do not have a Pressure Cooker or a Burner to use we would recommend purchasing this steamer on amazon. It has great reviews from homebrewers and probrewers.
- Large Pressure Cooker
- Stand Alone High Power Electric Burner
- Teflon Tape
- 1/4" MFL Swivel x 5/16" Barb
- 1/4" FPT x 1/4" Barb
- 3ft of 1/4" ID x 1/2" OD Silicon Tubing
- 1/4" MPT x 1/4" FPT Mini Ball Valve
- Weldless Bulkhead with Ball Lock (Gas)
- Ball Lock Gas Disconnect (With Male Flare)
- 1/4" Tube x 1/4 MPT Compression Fitting
- 18" 1/4" Stainless Steel Tube
- Rubber Stopper (Chose the size for your barrel)
- Smooth Worm Bands
Step 1 (Installing the Ball Lock Bulk Head)
- Using cutting oil and your Step Drill Bit create a pilot hole for your 9/16" Knock Out Punch
- Using the 9/16" Knock Out punch finish the hole with a ratchet to create a clean cut
- Install Bulk Head. Make sure you understand the orientation of your O-Rings.
Step 2 (Constructing the Valve)
- Using the 1/4" MPT x 1/4 FPT Ball Valve, the 1/4" FPT x 1/4" Barb, and the 1/4" Tube Compression x 1/4" MPT construct your tubing connection. Wrap all threads (3 or 4 times) with Teflon Tape and tighten the connections. Do not over tighten them, if the threading it too deep into the valve it will not fully open or close (something learned about this specific valve when constructing)
Step 3 (Hose Attachment)
- Using the 1/4" MFL x 5/16" Barb, the Gas Ball lock Disconnect, the Smooth Worm Bands, and your newly assembled Ball Valve create your hose attachment
Step 4 (The Wand)
- Your 18" x 1/4" OD Stainless Steel Tube needs a few modifications to distribute the steam inside the barrel. Normally this is achieved through holes drilled in the tubing to disperse the steam. Being as it is a PTA to drill through stainless (especially on tubing this small) we opted to cut small slits in the tube with a Jig Saw and a Stainless Steel Cutting Blade.
- Crimp the end of your 1/4" Stainless Tube. You want to create some back pressure on the Steam so it doesn't all go out the bottom and not get distributed through the slits. We just used a hammer on a hard surface to close off the end that goes into the barrel.
- Drill an 1/4" Hole through your Bung. Since it is rubber it will create a tight seal even after drilling. You may have to use a bit of force to get the tube through the stopper. Rest the stopper about 1/2" above the start of the slits you made.
Step 5 (Attach the Wand to Your Valve Assembly)
- This is your last step. Slip the Wand into your 1/4" Tube compression fitting on the Valve assembly you created earlier and tighten. Because the Stainless tube is rather thin it should only need a quarter turn past when the fitting starts giving you resistance. Do not over tighten.
And that's it! Heat up your Pressure Cooker to 15 PSI per your manufacturers guideline and then connect your homemade barrel steamer.
Insert the wand into the barrel and seal with the bung. Let the barrel Steam for a good 15 to 20 minutes to sanitize while you do other chores or drink beer.
After steaming it is wise to rinse it out and use a sanitizing solution per our Barrel Maintenance Guidelines (here) . Then you are free to refill.
Thoughts After Using:
- Probably would be wise to install some sort of handle on the Wand. It gets very very Hot (Around 250 F due to steam pressure being hotter than standard boiling)
- Will test actual Temp of the steam in barrel in a couple days when we clean a 40L Barrel