The trouble is that there is no one answer—it all depends upon your volume, what your ambient temperature is, how much time you have and of course how deep your pockets are. Part of the problem is of course that “honeys ain’t honeys” and some are very difficult to shift from a solid state.
205 litre drum heating
For 205 litre drums, there is no doubt that the happiest of our customers are the ones using the HHD 1000w full length insulated jacket. Not only does it provide a lot of insulation against heat loss, but also an even heating all the way around the drum, from top to bottom. So leaving overnight in a shed or factory will generally see the honey heated without any discolouration or loss of quality, with the temperature control provided by a capillary thermostat.
In 2014 we introduced the HHND 750w insulated heater jacket which is one third of the height of the drum. This has proved popular with small growers and processors as a cost effective solution — Pure Origins for instance use it to heat 3 x 20 litre pails bundled together, as well as 205 litre drums; W.C. McNamara use it on a horizontally mounted 205 litre drum and cover it with a horse blanket to act as insulation.
Many smaller users feel that they cannot justify the cost of the insulated jackets and use silicone band heaters which can be 15% of the cost of an HHD. These rely on a significant heat density applied to a small area which dissipates around the drum surface or into the product quickly enough not to damage or discolour the contents. Our 750w band at 152mm wide dissipates the heat the most, but in many areas would not be sufficient heat due to starting ambient, so some users will take the 102mm wide 1200w band. In some cases, another piece of metal sheet is used to slightly draw away from direct heat to the drum wall, but we cannot recommend this.
Heaters for Smaller Drums and Pails
Insulated heater jackets and silicone band heaters are available for smaller drums and pails as small as 20 litres. It is important to note that at this size, there is variability in the shape and diameter of the drums / pails and particularly with silicone band heaters this can affect suitability - the use of a band heater is only effective where contact is direct, and any gaps can lead to hot spots and early failure.
IBC Heater Jackets
A mass of honey is of course harder to heat and takes longer. Time is the major factor here as it can take days. We recommend the use of an 2200w IBC2 jacket and lid, or the 2000w IBC1 Hi-Heat. The IBC2 has the advantage of allowing a different temperature to be set at the top half, or for the top circuit to be switched off as the volume in the container is used up; however, one customer of an IBC2 plus lid still found that he needed to build himself a makeshift hot box around the IBC due to the cold position of his shed. The IBC1 Hi-Heat was developed specifically to include insulated skirts that hang in the pallet space to reduce air movement under the base. It is used successfully by Beerenberg in replacement of a heated ISO container where they once stored their IBCs, and by a growing number of honey processors in their packing sheds. The uptake of this jacket from honey processors is such that we have dubbed it the 'IBC Honey Heater'.
This year we have introducing under floor heating trays to use with the IBC1 Hi-Heat. A pair of 350w heaters will assist with faster melting of the hardest to heat “cone” at the bottom middle of the IBC but must be used with a skirted IBC such as the IBC1 Hi-Heat.
We are able to custom make heater jackets to suit different drums or IBC. For instance, we manufactured a special size for Capilano’s stainless steel drum used on the sachet line; it takes so long to empty that the honey taken from the heating oven needed to be maintained at a level temperature.
For HHD and IBC jackets we offer trial before you buy, or for emergencies we offer short-term hire of IBC2 to get customers out of trouble. Ask for details.