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How to build a homemade chicken scalder - Part 1

There's a fair amount of information on the web regarding building your own chicken scalder - I figure I'll add a simpler alternative.  Some of the sites and people even offer plans you can buy to assist the work effort.  That's all fine and dandy - but unlike the plucker I built last year - there really are no special parts to a scalder - nothing mechanical that needs to be in a tight tolerance.  Really, the parts that comprise a scalder are nothing more than a big pot to hold the water and a way to heat the water to the desired temperature - about 140 degrees F (reference here).

So if it's so simple to just fill a pot and scald away - why did I build a custom scalder this year?  Well, in processing last year, one of the major issues we had (read "source of lost time") was getting/keeping the scalder at the right temperature.  Last year we used a simple turkey fryer and burner (seen here).  It scalded - but more importantly - it took too long and WAY too much babysitting.  So understanding that this year we were going to be processing considerably more chickens - and next year even more...  it became very clear to me that we needed something with a much higher CPH (that's chickens per hour) than a turkey pot.  Enter the homemade chicken scalder.

Like half the chicken scalders on the Internet - mine started with a craigslists, lightly used propane hot water heater (the other half use a wash tub and electric water heating element).  Using an abrasive disk in the circular saw (metal cutting blade) we cut through the metal sheeting and the foam insulation.  I used the stick welder turned all the way up to cut through the much more substantial metal that forms the tank itself and around the top of the exhaust pipe.

Here's where our plans (the we, our, us refers to my technical contributor - Max) differed substantially from all the others I have seen out there.  Rather than spend the money on plywood that's going to get very wet and have to assemble it and paint it (Google Image Search "homemade chicken scalder") - We opted for a less expensive, stronger, waterproof alternative - a metal hand truck.

So - with a cut tank, a metal hand truck and the following parts - we launched into assembling our own high capacity homemade chicken scalder!

Homemade Chicken Scalder Parts List

Come back and see how these parts get assembled into a temperature controlled, highly regulated, high capacity homemade chicken scalder that will provide years and years of chicken scalding goodness.

Part 2 - here

Reader Comments (9)

The blog was precisely fantastic! Lots of good information and inspiration, both of which we all need!

January 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRichard J.

Simple, straight forward design and instruction. One question, though. Why did you choose to use a 24 V ETC rather than a 120/240 unit and bypass the need for a transformer? I can't see any advantages to the 24V unit, but I'm no engineer!

December 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDan Hayes

I just figured it out. The gas control valve is 24V.

December 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDan Hayes

You got it! :)

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

sir i need hen care and hen diseases and food book . please give me a book for send my email address. i am very thanksfull to you i have on money i buy these books. so plz free this books .
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May 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkhalid nazir

So, it needs to be a propane heater, as opposed to a natural gas heater, right?

June 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

Yes - per volume of NG there's less BTU's - so to make a 40K BTU water heater, NG uses bigger orifices in the burner. Last summer I "upgraded" the burner to one from an old NG heater hoping it would heat the water faster... all it did was burn propane faster and sent a LOT more heat up the chimney. Maybe 1 more degree of heat to the water per 5 minutes - not worth the excessive stack temperature that would surely singe bird feathers.

June 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

Do the controls that come on the water heater not go to a high enough temp? Is that way the replacement with the Honeywell valve?

October 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Great question. The reason the valve is changed out an the digital controller is added is really two fold. First - hot-water tanks are NOTORIOUSLY bad at holding a set temp within +/- 5 degrees and with scalding that 10 degree swing is the difference between feathers NOT coming out and actually scorching the skin so it tears in the plucking stage. The catch is - the valve on a hot water tank is part of the thermostat... so - you pull that and you got nothin' :)
That's why this design has a different valve AND digital temp controller. The temp controller can be set to +/- 1 degree (which is really a .5 degree over / under spread). The valve chosen was the cheapest that would let us dive it off the thermostat. I have seen some fancy Honeywell gas valves on Bradford White tanks that you MIGHT be able to disconnect the temp component and just use the digital thermostat... But they key is being able to drive the water to the EXACT temp you want and hold it there - and hot water tank systems are just not that accurate.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

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