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Thread: Filtering woes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Warren, MA

    Default Filtering woes

    I have been having a very hard time filtering this year and I am beside myself with what to do. We have a SmokyLake, short bank (3 window plates), filter press with air pump. SmokyLake filters and up until Tuesday evening, their DE as well.

    We’ve bottled twice so far this season. The first boil gave us 8 gallons. I used 9 cups of DE , mixed it in with 1-2 gallons of heated syrup, charged the filter, and we filtered the hot syrup (185-190 degrees) everything in one shot. I never had to adjust the air regulator higher than 40 psi.

    The next boil yielded 9 gallons. I did the same thing as far as prep but this time I could only run half of it through the press before it clogged. I broke down the press, cleaned everything, re-assembled and recharged the press and got the rest filtered through…barely. I had to run at 60 psi.

    This past weekend we made around 17 gallons of syrup. So on Monday, we did the same thing as always, warmed the syrup to 185 or so, mixed a gallon or two in a separate pot with 9 cups of DE and attempted to charge the filter press. We could barely get the the 2 gallons of of DE mixed syrup through before it wouldn’t pump anymore. We ran up as high as 80 psi and manged to squeeze a gallon through to the bottler. I broke it down and went through the process of cleaing the plates, re-charging the filter, etc. three times that night. We only got 8-3/4 quarts through before we gave up for the night. Each time I broke it down, the window plates only had a buildup of 3/8” to ½” of dirty syrup/DE, whereas the two previous times we bottled, the widow plates were full.

    After Monday nights fiasco we ran everything we had through a pre-filter which was just a glorified canning filter we had, then we ran it through the filter press. We bottled 3 gallons before I had to clean the press out. I ran the pressure up to 75 psi before it started leaking out too much. The second attempt after breaking everything down, cleaning it and reassembling it we only got up to 40 psi and we were leaking more than what was going through. We only were able to filter 5 quarts and we probably dumped half a pint from the press.

    SmokyLake suggested the new DE may be a problem, but we used their DE up until Tuesday when we finished off what we had left (about 2+ cups) and started using the DE we bought from Bascom's. If anything, Tuesday went better than Monday if only slightly.

    I ran hot water through the pump each time we broke it down. I also used fresh filter papers everytime. I don’t think we are doing anything wrong are we? Is it just because our syrup is that dirty? If so, what can we do? It’s very frustrating. We still have over 10 gallons to filter and this is so frustrating I don't even want to make any more syrup! Help!
    2016 - 2 x 4 Randy Worthen built arch and pans (just starting out!) 11 taps; 2.625 gallons of syrup!
    2017 - 29 taps; 11.625 gallons of syrup!
    2018 - 30 taps; 98 pints bottled! 2x4 Arch and pans sold! New sugar house being built, new equipment coming!
    2019 - 125 taps; 50 gallons made! New 2x6 Smoky Lake Corsair arch, drop flue pan, auto draw. Smoky Lake filter press and Steam Bottler

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Cabot Vermont


    We are having the same problem with 2 10 in. presses. It was about 20 gallons a press,now we are up to about a drum a press. Some years we can do 150 gallons on 1 press. I am glad my wife likes to change the papers. She don't complain much.
    Blaisdell's Maple Farm

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Loudon NH


    If I'm reading it correctly you're using 9 cups of filter aid to charge your press? If so that's way to much. The rule of thumb is 20% to charge the press and then a 1/2 cup per gallon of syrup until the capacity of the press is reached. In your case you should be charging the press with 2 cups and mixing the rest in with your syrup. Use more than a 1/2 cup per gallon when the syrup is really dirty. A short stack Wes Fab 7" press holds 9 cups total your Smoky Lake is probably about the same.

    You should also heat your syrup more. I heat mine to boiling or just under and it goes through the press easier.

    Is it possible to assemble your press with a plate in backwards. If so did you do that by mistake?

    "Red Roof Maples" Where the term "boiling soda" was first introduced to the maple producing world!

    Algier 2x6 evaporator, W F Mason arch
    Lapierre 250 Turbo RO machine
    SP-22 vacuum pump
    1930 Ford Model AA Doodlebug tractor
    1971 IH 454 52hp diesel tractor
    A couple of Honda 4 wheelers
    About a dozen chainsaws and no chickens

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Oneida NY


    Start with a clean press, add up to 2 cups max and with the syrup at 190 or more, run that thru the press and back into the mixing tank. When the syrup coming from the filter looks sparkly clear, stop the press and move the hose to your bottler or a barrel. Then for each additional 5-6 gal of syrup in that same session add up to 1 cup DE, mix it in and send it thru the filter. With each new batch of 5-6 gal, add 1 more cup of DE
    You were filling the hollow plates with your initial charge, that is why it plugged.
    Late in the season you might need to add an additional 1/4-1/2 cup of DE per 5-6 gal batch.
    Dave Klish about 1320 taps in '15, doing fewer each year, about 450 planned for 2020 (and after?)
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    3x8 raised flue evaporator
    250 GPH converted to electric, RO by Ray Gingerich
    6.32 KW solar system, 1.48KW is battery backed up, all net metered
    website: www.cnymaple.com

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