Home made seals or gaskets

The first step in sealing a pot is to make an effective gasket for the lid. You are very unlikely to find a ready-made seal just the right size or shape. It used to be that the only solution was to make a flat gasket out of paper, rubber or soft metal, or to resort to crude (but effective) measures like flour paste.

Today, Room Temperature Vulcanizing (RTV) silicone sealants are readily available, and they make the job very easy. These sealants are often intended for outdoor use, and may contain toxic chemicals. You want the kind marked "acceptable for food contact" or "aquarium grade", which is clear and not colored.

To make an RTV gasket for a pot, first clean the mating surfaces with acetone to remove all traces of grease or oil. Smear the top edge of the pot with petroleum jelly, and apply RTV liberally to the outer edge of the lid. Put the lid firmly on top of the pot and wait for the sealant to cure (24 hours is best). This makes an excellent, semi-permanent seal that remains attached to the lid. Of course, by choosing where you put the petroleum grease, you can make it stick to the pot, or make it so it comes free as a separate item. Since the sealant is rather weak by itself, we recommend leaving it permanently attached to a strong surface. If it ever becomes damaged, it can be removed with a razor blade.

Now that you have a gasket, the lid needs to be securely clamped to the pot, especially if it is also supporting a long top-heavy column, which could easily topple over.

You can rivet brackets onto the sides of the pot, and use these to secure clamps that hold the lid on, but you have to make sure that the rivets don't cause more problems than they solve. Solid rivets used to be common, and good kitchenware still uses them. Modern "pop" rivets will hold the brackets firmly in place, but are unfortunately hollow and not gas-tight. If you do choose to use them, plug the holes through the rivets with self-tapping screws. Fig. 7-10

If the pot comes with handles, then all your troubles are over! You can easily make the sort of clamp that is used to secure inspection hatches onto whiskey stills. This clamp is simply a bar (or shaped plate) that crosses over the top of the lid and which, when screwed down using the handles as anchor points, presses the lid down firmly and evenly onto the top of the pot. No handles? Rivet or braze on your own supporting handles or brackets!

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