Help working out what burnt onto my Element

edited May 2020 in General

I did a single malt mash, the OG was 1.068, with the FG at 1.005 after 7 days.

I ferment and distill off grain.

As the distillation was happening, I noticed that the spirit had a odd ashy taste, I killed the run, and when cleaning I noticed the element had something burnt on it.

Not sure exactly that it is, could it be sugars left after the ferment, or is there another explanation?



600 x 800 - 53K


  • Dude, that’s some severe scorching. Looks like a lot of solids were still in your wash. What power did you run on the element and what watt density is it? I had some scorching before, but never as bad as you. Maybe either lower the power or change to a lower density element?

  • Yep and that wash if you kept it is ruined. The best thing you can do is dump it and dont mix it with anything else. Your elements must be ultra low watt density elements or you get burning. I use denord ulw density triclamp 5kw element and have used them for on grain ferments after a flitering. I run them, 2, at about 4kw each in a 200l boiler and rarely have scorching. After 2 stripping runs there will be a bit of gunk on them but i have a spare set so i change them every third run. Then give them a scrub down with a wire brush and they are good to go. Spirit runs you never have scorching. From the foto that burnt stuff is really baked on and cleaning it will be tough. But some new elements.

  • Thanks guys. It is a tough one.

    No solids were in the boiler at the time, I had a clear wort when fermenting and a clear beer when transferring to the boiler.

    This element has been used a lot, and this is the only time I've had an issue, I've run a lot of corn whiskey though this setup with the same process I am using for this single malt. I did a run a week before with no issues, same setup, etc. I've never had any issues with anything on the element before and always give it a good clean down.

    I have a 50l boiler with a 2500w element. Normally I run this hot at around 90% till the guage on the helmet reads about 50, then turn it down to 70, I can normally do a run at about 50-60% power.

    With the last couple of single malts, it has been incredibly foamy, so much so that I had to turn it right down a couple of times to let the foam settle then put it back up to about 70%.

    I killed the run after a couple of hours, so it wasn't very long it it to get that way. It took 1hr 45mons before it was at the point of spirit coming over, which is about 45-50mins longer than normal, because I had the issues with foaming.

    The previous run the week before was also foamy, but had no issues with scorching and the element was clean afterwards, apart some some areas which required some wiping.

    I would love to be running a larger element but the power supply would need to be changed to 3 phase.

    I have a new element on the way, as I don't think there is anything I can do about the saving this one. It has served me well.

    I am stumped why this happened, when it isn't any different to what I normally do, and have always produced good spirit from the setup. I'm happy to take advice on what I could look at to improve what I do, how I should heat up the boiler and reduce the foaming.

    Single malts are a new one to me, so getting to grips with 100% malted barley.


  • The foaming is an indication of some unfermented sugars i think so they could have started the sticking to the element process.. I notice that when i have a lot of foaming i get more residue on my heating elements. I wouldnt worry about it just gave a clean spare and change them out every run or second run, scrub them clean and keep on distilling. Not much you can do about it.

  • Excessive foaming is from proteins. Could be also the cause for your residue. You can always run a bigger element on lower voltage but with the same power. This would make the watt density even better (that’s what I’m doing on my RIMS setup - 220V element run on 110V and no scorching).

    Instead of scrubbing, I’m cleaning my elements with the @CothermanDistilling -method:

    Remove, run until red, dip in water. Cleans it every time!

  • Thanks guys. I am going to look at my stepped mashing process, maybe remove the beta glucanase step.

    @Unsensibel interesting method about cleaning the element, is this in cold water?

  • Tap temperature. Kinda like an oven cleaning cycle.

  • Will give it a go. Thanks

  • Another vote for proteins. Grain albumin denaturing onto the element and burning.

  • Thanks. I will be changing the mashing process to see if it will improve the situation, will let you know how it turns out

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