CapnJimbo Senior Member Joined: 30 Mar 2013 Posts: 20 Location: South Florida Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Wed Dec 25, 2013, 5:59pm Subject: Chimney How To: Why NOT to use a soup or tin can...
One of the most common and dangerous mods is to make a chimney out of an ordinary tin can, aka soup can or tin can. Do this and your health is at risk and here's why...
To begin, I am one of those that has used a chimney (glass) and considered using a common #303 tin can (think a can of beans or soup can), with the ends cut off, and the seam cut so that the can will fit. Now we all know glass under heat should be inert but how about tin cans?
Let's think about it: modern tin cans are simply very thin sheets of steel coated with "tin". Already we have a problem - acidic foods (like tomato sauce) may leach a little of this toxic tin and according to the Wiki:
"Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea have been reported after ingesting canned food containing 200 mg/kg of tin."
So unheated tin can cause problems, so let's now consider the high heat of roasting. You should know that the high heat of roasting can release some tin compounds. Want to take the chance? But that's not all. You should also know that lots of tin cans have a thin lacquer coating to prevent the leaching described above (eg tomato sauce). But if heated tin is a problem, how about heated lacquer? Good question. Still feeling safe? And some cans still also use BPA, now known to be a carcinogen. Think those fumes are good for you?
Please don't risk the multiple toxics emitted from hot tin can chimneys. Personally I believe glass chimneys (which are made to be inert and to stand heat) are a better and safer alternative, but the handling of a 400 degree fragile glass chimney has its own risks and slows you down when you need to dump. And think about this: if anything poppers are already a bit on the fast roasting side - reducing roast time even more with a tall glass chimney just doesn't make any sense.
You have two good, inexpensive and completely safe alternatives
First, don't use a chimney at all - worst case is you lose a few beans... while avoiding neurotoxins in your coffee.
Second, and if you feel that chimney is absolutely necessary you can buy an inexpensive thin sheet of aluminum at Home Depot or Lowes, cut a strip to suit the desired height, form it into an overlapped "tube" or cylinder, fit it into your popper, and then hold it together with a large stainless steel hose clamp or two. Now you have a non-toxic chimney made out of the same material as your popper's heating cup.
Making an aluminum chimney is easy, effective, and customized to the height you want. There is absolutely no reason to risk your health by breathing or drinking the neurotoxins released from cheap and dangerous tin cans. Please be safe... and don't take the chance!
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