Vacuum Filter / Steam Bottler - Hobby/DIY

Does anyone else find filtering to be one of the most frustrating (and slow) parts of sugaring?

I do.  If you are a small/hobby producer and are using a set of cone filters like I have been, it's awful.  It's slow.  It wastes your precious syrup.  And the results can leave some niter which settles out later - not attractive in nice glass bottles.

Filter presses (like the big producers use) work awesome but they aren't conducive to smaller scale hobbyists.  First, they are expensive.  Second, they require a fairly large minimum volume of syrup for processing (5 gallons might be my entire season!).  Third, fairly involved set up, tear down, and cleaning.

So what is an alternative? A vacuum filter.

You can achieve drastic improvement over cone filtering (time and quality) at a fraction of the cost of a filter press.

This year I built a vacuum filtering unit that also has a steam pan to keep the filtered syrup at a constant temperature for bottling.  That prevents more niter/sugar sand from being created while keeping your nicely filtered syrup at a constant 185° - 190° F for bottling. 

The vacuum filtering approach significantly speeds up the filtering process compared to cone filtering (pre-filters and orlon) and helps to avoid the syrup cooling while trying to get it all filtered or over cooking some while trying to keep it hot while waiting for the previous pour to make it thru the filters.

I used a set of older stainless steel pots for this build which were very thick walled/heavy duty.  Below are some pictures of the unit along with a comparison test of cone filtered syrup (pre-filers and orlon) vs. the vacuum filter with pre-filters and an orlon filter.  I am using a Hiblow HP-200 air pump but a normal vacuum pump for HVAC applications should also work well (search Amazon or Harbor Frieght).

Once the season starts I will post more videos that go over the basic principles and design and a simple demonstration of it in use.

Test run - cone on left, vacuum on right
Vacuum set up resulted in clearer syrup

 Vacuum filter and steam bottler

Inside main vacuum pot - elbow to act as a dip tube 

Vacuum manifold - ball valve, vacuum gauge, moisture seperator

Top filter retaining pan and filter/seal plate below

Vacuum pot with silicone covered wire gasket

1/4-inch silicone tube gasket over 10 gauge wire hoop

Bottom steam pan

Top pan is clamped down over pre filter papers and orlon filter using 3 turnbuckles

Top view


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