Peg asked about temperature controllers. They’re very simple gadgets (think aquarium water heater) that flip a switch when the temperature reaches a certain setting. This enables me to plug my frying pan into the temperature controller, stick the probe into the water, set the temperature to whatever I like, and forget about it. No hovering over the dyepots. Wonderful tool, I only wish I could use it for large dyebaths, but I can’t plug my stove into it!
Here’s an example of the type I’m using. But you can also search eBay for “digital temperature controller” or just “temperature controller” and come up with dozens of them. The key is to find one that you can just plug into. A lot of the units require manual wiring – mine did actually and Mike wired it up for me. I believe there’s a fellow on eBay who makes a plug-and-play version.
I originally bought mine for use with (what else?) chocolate. Back in my impetuous youth (as opposed to my impetuous coming-up-on-middle age), I decided I was going to do chocolatiering “by the book”, which among other things involved holding the chocolates at 55 degrees for 2 days. I didn’t have a refrigerator that would do it – they mostly operate right around 32-40 degrees – so, with help from a technically knowledgeable friend, I built my own refrigerator.
Cool gadget, really: I took a 4×8 piece of foam insulation from Home Depot, cut it up, and rearranged it into a hinged box. I cut two holes in the box at one end, stuck a loop of metallic dryer duct into the holes, and plunged the loop into a big tub of ice. Mounted the temperature controller with the probe inside the box, and plugged two mini fans (meant for cooling desktop computers) into the temperature controller. When the temperature got too high, the controller switched the fans on, blowing air through the dryer duct in the tub of ice. The cold air cooled the box. Worked a treat.
Since then I have gotten less extreme in my chocolatiering techniques (also I think Mike would have something to say if I built a giant refrigeration box in the living room) but I still remember it as a cool gadget.
Peg in South Carolina says
Thank you, Tien. That looks like a nifty gadget. My guess is that it wouldn’t be useful until you had gotten the temperature to where you want it? It takes me an hour to raise the temperature; I try for the rate of one degree per minute. The solution is 120 degrees when I start. I don’t think the temperature regulator would do that? Part of it is also that I have to add boiling water to the bath from time to time to keep it at the right level. Once I have it at 180-190 degrees it stays there pretty well and all that is require is for me to add boiling water once or twice. I assume with the stemperature the level of water would not be so important? Though of course you wouldn’t want the water to disappear! I use Sabraset/Lanaset dyes with Karren Brito’s instructions. Other kinds of acid dyes might require some modifications.