Introduction: Chocolate Tempering Pot

OK so my mother use to work making hand dipped chocolate and wanted to do it for Christmas for the family.  However, she has expressed frustration with what is available for tempering chocolate.  A small tempering machine that only does a pound and a half of chocolate cost between 400 and 500 dollars and she simply could not justify spending that much when she may only make chocolates once a year.   On top of that when she makes some, she wants to make a lot.  A pound and a half of chocolate at a time isn't enough.

She's expressed frustration with crock-pots and pans because of how difficult it is to maintain a constant temperature.  So I came up with this to give to her as a Christmas gift.  She got her present early so I could get mine and I am rather pleased at how it turned out.

I know it doesn't look like much, but it holds the chocolate at a pretty constant temperature.  Only drops like one degree every 5 to 10 minutes.  If it drops to far just flip it on for a few seconds and the chocolate's temperature is right back where it was.

I used a push button switch for this that sits on the floor so that it can be turned on and off with your foot.  Cause lets face it when your hands are covered with chocolate you don't want to be flipping a switch.

In the picture the chocolate has set over night and hardened up.  I will try to get another picture of it actually in use.

Step 1: Items Needed

Bucket with Lid
Stainless Steel Bowl with a lip (smaller in diameter than bucket)

Items I purchased at Home Depot:
Heat Shield insulation
Adhesive (I like the spray on kind works fantastic for this)
Low profile light socket (You may need to purchase small bolts and nuts to attach)
100 Watt Bulb
Extension cord
Push button switch
Electric Box
Wire nuts

Tools Used:
Drill with bits
Heavy Scissors
Screw Drivers (phillips and slot)
Sharpie or other marker
Wire cutter with stripper (I just used a knife - but do as I say not as I do)

Step 2: Prepare the Lid

Ok, I got lucky.  My bowl fit my bucket pretty exact.  If you are lucky enough to find a bowl that fits your bucket like mine did.  Well good for you, Yeah!!! you can skip this step.  Otherwise...

You will need to cut a circle from the foil insulation with the scissors the same size as the inside of your lid.  Then cut from the middle of that circle a whole the same size as your bowl.  Glue the circle to the bottom of the lid.  Then cut a whole in the lid with a knife, jigsaw, or Dremel the same size as the bowl so when placed inside the lip of the bowl will rest on the lid and hold the bowl up.  You can prepare multiple lids this way for different size bowls as well.

Step 3: Prepare the Bottom of the Bucket


With the scissors cut out a circle the same size as the bottom of the bucket.

Place the light socket on the middle of the insulation and trace around it.  Then cut out a fraction of an inch inside your trace so that when you mount the light socket it extend slightly under the socket. 

Turn the bucket upside down, place the insulation on the bottom of the bucket, then place the socket on top of it where it should go.  Drill holes in the bucket through the mounting holes for the socket.  (Note: This may not work if your mounting holes are not symmetrical.  If they aren't just mark where the holes should go.  Mine were so it worked for me.)

Now using the adhesive, glue the insulation to the bottom of the bucket.

Step 4: Attach Socket

Drill a hole in the bottom of the bucket where you want the wires to come into the bucket.  I would suggest you do not drill it in the middle of the bucket or directly under where the contacts will be for the socket you don't want the contacts or any of the wires to be exposed.

I drilled mine slightly off-centre but still well under the socket.

Cut the end off the extension and strip the ends.  Run the wire through the hole and wire it to your light socket.

Then put the light socket in place and bolt it to the bottom of the bucket.  I bought smaller bolts so that they didn't extend past the lip on the bottom of the bucket.

I cut a notch in the bottom lip of the bucket to run the wire through so it's not sitting on the wire.  You can glue it in place, or if you do an angled cut in the lip, then the lip itself can hold it in place.


Step 5: Attach Insulation to the Sides of the Bucket.


My bucket had sloped sides.  The bottom of the bucket was about 8 inches in diameter and the top of the bucket was just over 9 inches in diameter.  I did a whole bunch of math to figure out the proper way to cut the insulation so it fit right.  I left the top long so that I could cut it off after gluing it in.  My suggestion, choose a bucket with straight sides and skip the math.  Although, because my bowl was 9 inches in diameter the sloped sides helped hold my bowl.  So there is an advantage.

However you choose to do it, cut the insulation for the sides and glue it in place. Like I said, I left it a long at the top and cut off the insulation after it was glued in place.

Step 6: Button


Drill a hole in your electrical box and mount the button.

Put your bucket where you are going to be using it, make sure you leave enough length so the box will sit on the floor, cut the cord and wire up the button.  I wired the button into the hot side of the cable.  Some electrician will probably tell me that's wrong.  But I figure since there is no ground, it probably didn't really make a difference.

The electric box had punch outs, but I thought drilling it would make it look cleaner.  To finish up I will be screwing the box down to a piece of wood. 

Step 7: Conclusion

That's it, put it a 100 watt bulb, put your lid on and put the metal bowl in place, or if you are lucky as I was to have a metal bowl that fits perfectly just put it in the bucket.

I thought about using a heat lamp, but a 100 watt bulb works great.

Put in the chocolate and turn on the light.

It took about 30 minutes to melt 2 1/2 pounds of chocolate.  With seed chocolate I believe it would go quite a bit faster.  When it finished melting it was at 120 degrees and she had to wait for it to cool down.  We ended up taking the bowl out because it was holding it at 120 solid.  once it got down to 95, she put it back in and it held the temperature solid.

My mom usually, melts her chocolate at 20% power in the microwave first cause it does go faster.

You are not going to want to leave the light on all the time.  You just turn it on for a little while at a time.  use an instant digital thermometer to watch the temperature.  This set up gives you much much greater control over the temperature than a crock-pot, a pan on the stove, or some of the other cheap methods I've seen.  But it still will take practice to learn to maintain the temperature where you want it. 

These are the first chocolates my mom made in 5 years.  She wants me to wait and take a picture of her next batch, cause they will "look a lot better".  I'll try to do that.

This is my first Instructable so if you like it or if you make one, I would love to hear from you.

Comments

author
bairn77 made it! (author)2014-10-10

Thank you. We made a run to Home Depot and put this together pretty quick. This works great for dipping chocolate. No more double boiler!

IMG_20141009_175607.jpg
author
stanbott (author)2013-07-22

You can also use a PID to automatically control the temperature. its easy to install and doesnt require anything more than plugging the power cord into it and selecting the temperature. im not sure If I would put the temp probe inside the bucket or inside the bowl but I am leaning towards the bucket. You can also add a light socket splitter to add more bulbs. I think i will use a painters light for the inside since I already got one.

author
stanbott (author)2013-07-22

Has anyone tried using an ice cream mixer for an agitator? it seems to me it would have to have a lot of torque. I know that one chocolate uses an immersion blender for moving the chocolate around. the upshot is that its cheap and small. I'm working on making a larger scale chocolate melter/temperer as well.

author
gholt (author)2013-05-16

Thank you for posting this. I'm nearly done with my build, and I've made some modifications.
1. To help secure the bowl in place, I've glued a strip of inner tube around the lid hole.
2. To make heating a bit easier, I've added a dual stage temperature control unit. I'm not using the cooling functionality at the moment, but it's there if I get ambitious.

I'll be testing this setup out today, but I'd like to make a few more improvements such as.
1. Adding a stirring mechanism, I'm thinking of a spinning disk for this.
2. Add some sort of cooling device. I'm thinking baffles and a fan, but I haven't figured out how to do this without loosing heat when I want to keep it in. Would need to be linked to the cooling circuit, but that's not hard.
3. Adding an Arduino microcontroller to automate the melting cycle so that it would be more of a tempering machine and not just a chocolate melter.
4. Creating a nice enclosure for everything so that it can be at a reasonable work height.
5. Try a horizontally mounted lightbulb to reduce the amount of vertical space that the bucket approach requires.

Once again, thank you for the great post. I'm really looking forward to testing this thing out.

author
bogie182 (author)2012-07-18

I love this and have been looking for this type of instructions on a tempering machine. Have you thought about using a hair dryer for heat insead of a light bulb? I'm trying to incorperate some dimmer switch, Arduino curcuit controller or even one of the temperature controls from the sous vide instructables? So far no luck.

Thanks again

author
Zenock (author)bogie1822012-07-31

I've been working on incorporating a pic chip controller for the bulb. But haven't had the time.

I used the lightbulb because that was what was used by the $$$ commercial unit where my mom worked. The whole idea is to trap and heat the air below the bowl and hold it at a constant temperature. I'm not sure how well a blow drier would work for that. The heating element might be useful, but could get too hot.

author
mynameisfait (author)2011-07-31

First off, a HUGE thanks to Zenock. This is perfect!

FIrst off and like others here, I couldn't find a local source for Heat Shield insulation. It's primarily used in auto racing, and none of my local home improvement stores or even the auto parts stores carry it (it's special order only at the auto parts stores.). I found it on Amazon, but...

I didn't feel like waiting for snail mail, so I substituted Reflectix insulation. It's is carried at Home Depot and Lowes in the aisle with rolls of fiberglass home insulation. They also carry it online.

Also, my husband made a minor tweak that helped - he drilled some very small additional holes in the bottom of the bucket and used small wire ties to hold the electric cord flat against the bucket.. On his first pass, he accidentally yanked the wires out of the light socket's contacts, so the ties only made sense. The bonus is that the cord remains guided through the notch in the lip of the bottom of the bucket.

author
rlarson1 (author)2011-06-26

Just wondering where did you get the Heat Shield insulation? i just got back from home depot, Lows and 2 auto places

author
Zenock (author)rlarson12011-07-10

It was Home Depot. Bought some more just the other day for another project.

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-100318553/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053&superSkuId=202938808

author
supersoftdrink (author)2011-04-26

Oh wow how did I not see this before?

I need to make one now.

author
Zenock (author)supersoftdrink2011-05-11

If you do, I would love to see some pictures and get feedback on how well it works for you.

author
richms (author)2011-04-28

Dimmer should let you regulate it a bit instead of turning it off and on like that

author
Zenock (author)richms2011-05-11

I thought about using a dimmer. But in the end I decided against it because I didn't believe the dimmer would linearly regulate the heat. Eventually I want to use a micro-controller to turn the light on and off based on the temperature of the chocolate.

author
papaiii (author)2011-04-27

This is very nice, is that a 2 1/2 gal. bucket?

Not bad at all!

author
Zenock (author)papaiii2011-05-11

Yes it is a 2 1/2 gal.

Thanks for the comment.

author
NathanWilliams (author)2010-12-26

Great solution!

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