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Insulating a Pot for Sous Vide


Winebroker2000
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I am awaiting the arrival of my FMM kit, which I plan to use initially with a 12-qt stockpot. I would like to dedicate this pot solely for sous vide cooking, and want to know what would be the best material to use as a wrap to insulate the pot for optimum heat efficiency.

Any suggestions?

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Why not using something designed specifically to maintain liquids at a specific temperature rather than retrofitting a stockpot?

I have an SVM/FMM combo and use a cooler with a small notch in the corner as a wiring conduit. It wasn't expensive (less than $20) and has good efficiency, the addition of a nearly full lid has the added benefit of minimizing evaporation.

If you really want to stick with the stockpot, any decent easily cleaned insulator will do. I've seen people use bubble wrap.

Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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old blankets or synthetic blankets would work

but Im glad you are gettng the SVMagic kit.

get a coleman cooler, the 38 qt one as I have. you then cut a notch as previously mentioned in the side ( I cut mine in the front -- its OK but the side is better ) in both the top and the bottom. cut it carefully so it just fits the tube-ing.

then I put a small piece of clear packing tape on the whole when SV gets up to temp and cover ( or insulate the cover with non- expanding canned insuallation ) with a folded over blanket.

very little heat loss and minimal evaporative loss over 72 hrs

you will love this set up!

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Thanks! I have a small Gott ice chest, which I will eventually use for larger batches. For my preliminary foray into sous vide, I prefer to use a rig on my stovetop/counter where I can keep an eye on it, and learn through observation . . .

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my cooler fits on my counter top.

explore !!!

eventually you will go the Coleman Cooler Way ( or its equivalent )

did I mention you can make smaller coolers? look back in this thread.

:smile:

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A triple layer of bubble wrap will do the job to insulate the bottom and sides of a pot, see a post on FreshMealsSolutions' customer forum. Equally important is an adequate cover to avoid evaporation, see my post in the old SV topic. During a 48h-cooking without a cover you may easily evaporate 5 liters. Ping pong balls or styrofoam spheres would theoretically cover pi/(6*tg(30°))= 91% of the water surface, if they were exactly half immersed, but in practice they float higher. An alternative is a styrofoam cover fitting exactly into the pot and floating on the water, but in my experience it gets thinner and thinner with time (maybe due to the temperature changes expanding and contracting the included air), so I let the styrofoam cover ride on ping pong balls to separate it from the water. Whenever possible it is best to use the snugly fitting original lid of your pot, eventually cutting out a thumb-thick notch to accommodate the stem of the FMM.

Be aware that perfect PID tuning of a very well insulated pot may be trickier as there is less heat loss counteracting overshoot.

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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  • 5 weeks later...

I found my perfect insulated container for sous vide cooking. It's an Igloo 5 gallon seat-top beverage cooler. The lid pushes on, rather than screws on, so the cords become less problematic to install. The FMM heater fits perfectly in the bottom, and it's a great insulator for the water bath. In fact, the water bath, with the lid on, takes about four hours to drop 15°F. It's large enough for all my cooking needs so far, and I love the drain spigot, which allows me to drain the container without having to lift it.

Here's a picture of it in action (with the top rotated to show the notch I cut to insure a good seal):

FMM Container.jpg

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I use a 16Qt stockpot for my SV rig, uninsulated. If the pot is covered (no evaporative heat loss), then my steady state power consumption at 60C (140F) is less than that of a lightbulb, and I have no problems with PID overshoot. If I'm cooking at 85C, it's probably about 150-200W. Radiated heat emanating from the sides of the pot are very small - I can tell because you can stand right next to the pot and only feel a slight warmth if you put your hand very close - otherwise, very little heat comes off the side of the pot.

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On this setup, you can't feel ANY heat on the sides of the pot. The top does get a little warm, but I keep it covered with a small blanket. I have only cooked for 48 hours once, but evaporation was minimal (maybe a 1/4 inch drop in water volume).

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on my coleman cooler i use a multi-layer synthetic blanket on the top down the sides about a few inches. when Im at temp and have checked that the bags and gently moving in the water I add a piece of clear packing tape to the outlet and cover and wait.

at 72 hours I have no sig. evaporative loss. it condenses on the top and drips back into the pool if that.

there has been a discussion on Kill-a-watt and whether It can predict total cost. it has to be trivial for 15 - 20 lbs of meat ( about the max ive put in there. the sides of the colman feel cool to my hand and probably radiate little energy into the kitchen

important in the winter but far more important in the summer heat.

fantastic is the Igloo set up !

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