What is the best way to heat up a bain marie boiler

edited May 2017 in General

I am looking into getting a bain marie boiler and was wondering what is the best way to heat the boiler. I have read about people using steam or oil.

It would be good to understand my options and what people feel is the most cost effective and suitable method to use.



  • The best and most suitable method is not the most cost-efficient method - therein lies the challenge.

    BTW - Steam.

  • edited May 2017

    Who's BM? With respect to our design,,,oil is a pain in the ass to maintenance,kinda spendy, adds to the heat up time, and does not respond well to input adjustments, not a great use of convection. Nothing to do with the design though. Its just an oil thing.

    On the other hand, 12 (45L) or 15 (56L) gallons of water in the reservoir will bring the jacket temps to 250°F (121°C) @ 1 bar very quickly, cost almost nothing, super duper easy to change out/maintain.....Ah steam yes. Our BM design is essentially a self contained steam system,,or can be. Certainly oil can be used if you prefer.

    Need about 35 watts per liter for a two (+ or -) hour heat up time. So roughly 70 watts per liter (+ or -) for a one hour heat up time...fyi. If using oil you'll also need to add the volume of oil to approximate your needed input.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited May 2017

    Assuming you will be working with grains. Do you plan on mashing and fermenting in the single vessel? If so then using water as a self contained steam jacket is the way to go.

    If you plan on mashing and fermenting in the same vessel and use oil as the heat exchange you will be waiting a LONG time to cool it down.

    Simply add enough water to cover the elements only, the rest of the jacket will fill with steam which is a quicker and more efficient way of transferring the heat. This is how I run my SD BM.

    Using water also has another advantage, you can dump it and then run cool water through the jacket to cool the contents. Once again this is assuming you are a single vessel type distiller.

    Have a squizz at this thread.

  • Thanks guys. I am looking at a double dragon,and it was suggested i looked into the BM. I know steam comes at a cost and you got to have a boiler.

    I don't plan on using one vessel for everything, it would be used primarily for the distilling phase.

  • edited May 2017

    Good point on the cooling ability @lumpany. Just need to be mindful about premature vapor collapse (vacuum) if using a cooling medium that is too cold. Not that big of a deal on the distilling kettles because of the spherical nature of the design.

    But the BM (actual) mash tun would be more susceptible to the affects of cooling too rapidly. Having said that,,the lads at Jackson Hole do indeed use their BM mash tun to also cool their wort with no issues.

    Two way vacuum break/ PRV solves the issue no matter.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • @smaug - do the new BM kettles accept wavy elements? What are the limiting dimensions? (length, and top/bottom/side?

  • The element ports remain as 2" ferrules.

    I wanna say the reservoir is 24" deep on yours.

    Should be no problem.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • will look into a bunch of these then:


    800 x 800 - 29K
  • Yep. These are the ones that I bought. I was so happy with the first two that I bought another 4.

  • @DonMateo - I got 3 of those, great for clear spirits and my steam generator and OK for well settled beer wash... Now want some 4500's for lower watt density for our molasses wash, had to go with the 1" NPS for the SD EGK, as they did not have those in 4500W... (3 4500's on a 240v 3-phase contactor is cheaper to implement and generates less control panel heat than SSR limiting my 5500W ones...

    On the baine-marie, @smaug -

    24" is 600mm, so assuming this 6kw 480mm triple element from dernord will fit and would be the bees knees..


    I bought one of the 9KW units, but it is 600mm, so might be a tight fit... they make a stainless screw-thread cover instead of the phenolic that I will probably get.. the units have all elements able to be wired independently, so you can use in on single phase or 3-phase, or could wire in series to get really low watt density.. the 9kw(3x 3000w) in series would be 1000w

    800 x 800 - 47K
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