End of Season Equipment Cleaning

When then maple sugaring season has come to a close, there is a lot of cleanup and storage that needs to be done so that everything is well maintained and kept in order for the next season.  In this post we will discuss tips for cleaning the following maple equipment:
  1. Evaporator pan
  2. Reverse Osmosis (RO) cleaning and storage
  3. Buckets & lids (collection and gathering)
  4. Spiles
  5. Collection / gathering tanks 
The required items and process steps are outlined below and are accompanied by instructional videos. 

Evaporator Pan
Things you will need:
  1. White vinegar
  2. Water (preferably permeate or distilled)
  3. Non-abrasive cleaning cloth or large scrub brush
  4. Baking soda
  5. Garden hose or pressure washer (optional)
  6. Detergent free SOS/scouring pad (optional)
Process:
  1. First, make sure your pan has been drained of all sap and syrup.  
  2. Premix a 50/50 blend of white vinegar and hot permeate (if you used an RO system during the year), distilled water, or tap water (as last choice due to potential chlorine).  For smaller, flat pan evaporators, you can add the water first, heat it to a boil using your normal fuel source and then mix in the white vinegar, stirring to ensure full mixing.  
  3. Let this soak for up to 24 hours and scrub with cloth or brush, then drain, and rinse, wiping with a non-abrasive cloth as you rinse.  A pressure washer can also be used at this stage if available.  
  4. Spot clean any problem areas by applying baking soda, and spritzing with 50/50 white vinegar and water mix.  Once the bubbles have subsided you should be able to wipe most of the build up away with a non-abrasive cloth.  
  5. Repeat process or any steps as necessary to remove all buildup. 
  6. (Optional) For extremely hard to remove areas, including any scorched or burned areas, you might need to use a detergent free scouring pad.  This should be a last resort after the steps above have been tried and repeated.  
For cleaning any soot off the bottom of your pan, baking soda and the 50/50 mix should also work well. 

Reverse Osmosis (RO) - cleaning and adding membrane preservative
Things you will need:
  1. Water (~11 gallons; preferably permeate or distilled)
  2. Two clean food grade buckets (5 gallon size)
  3. RO membrane preservative
  4. A fresh 5-micron filter
  5. Gloves and goggles
Process:
  1. Perform a routine flush/rinse of the RO system following the video instructions above
  2. Install a new 5 micron pre-filter into the filter housing. 
  3. Warm 1 gallon of water to ~80°F and dissolve 10-ml of membrane preservative into the water in a bucket (or jug if using distilled water)
  4. Recirculate this mix through the system for a minimum of 10 minutes and then pull the intake suction hose from the bucket and allow the system to run dry. 
  5. Open the filter housing and dump excess water.
  6. Stage 5 gallons of water in another clean bucket and move discharge lines to a drain/sink (or another bucket)
  7. Insert intake suction hose into the clean clean water bucket and run the system, adding another 5 gallons (for a total of 10), until system runs dry.
  8. Your system is now ready for off-season storage without needing to remove the membranes. 

Buckets
Things you will need:
  1. Water (preferably permeate or distilled)
  2. High temperature, water proof gloves  
  3. Garden hose
  4. Large scrub brush 
  5. Clean evaporator pan (see above)
Process:
  1. Heat a large amount of water to a boil in your clean evaporator pan.
  2. (Optional) Pre-rinse buckets and lids with garden hose if necessary to remove any larger debris or mud/dirt on the exterior.  
  3. Dip each bucket (or lid) into the boiling water bath and slowly roll it around, scrubbing with the large brush and ensuring all sides of it have been cleaned well.
  4. Allow to soak in boiling water for 10 minutes. 
  5. Set upside-down on wooden slats to fully dry before stacking and storing for next year. 

Spiles
Things you will need:
  1. Water (preferably permeate or distilled)
  2. High temperature, water proof gloves  
  3. Large stainless spoon or tongs 
  4. Clean evaporator pan (see above)
Process:
  1. Heat a large amount of water to a boil in your clean evaporator pan.
  2. Place spiles in boiling water bath and let soak for 10 - 15 minutes, maintaining a steady boil. 
  3. Remove spiles using spoon or tongs and set out on clean surface to fully dry. 
  4. Package in clean plastic bag or container for next season. 
Collection / Gathering Tanks
Things you will need:
  1. Water (preferably permeate or distilled)
  2. Clean food grade buckets (see above)
  3. Clean evaporator pan (see above)
  4. Large scrub brush
  5. Baking soda (optional) 
  6. Peroxide (optional) 
  7. Garden hose or pressure washer (optional)
Process:
  1. Heat water to a boil
  2. Drain into bucket (or directly to tank if possible) 
  3. Dump boiling water into the tank and scrub with large brush. 
  4. Repeat, rinse, allow to fully air dry. 
  5. (Optional) For tanks tha exhibit odors from fermented sap and bacteria growth, pour in baking soda, peroxide, and boiling water and scrub. Repeat as necessary and rinse well with  boiling or hot water until all odors and residues are eliminated.  Additional rinsing with a garden hose or pressure washer may be necessary.  Allow to fully air dry.  

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