Not being able to keep brewing kombucha at a warm enough temperature can lead to a a slow, bad fermentation, off taste, and even mold growth. The good news is that there is a simple solution to brewing kombucha in cold environments: kombucha heating pads.
What is a Kombucha Heating Pad?
A kombucha heating pad is a mat or wrap that can be placed under or around a container of brewing kombucha to keep it at the optimal brewing temperature of 78-80 degrees F (27 C).
It’s important that brewing kombucha is kept warm enough because at colder temperatures the living bacteria culture that ferments kombucha is not as active, leading to a longer fermentation time, worse taste, and high risk for mold growth.
Kombucha heating wraps are a great solution for anyone who brews in a colder climate or during the wintertime and isn't able to keep their house warm enough to get into the range of temperatures that booch can be brewed at.
The range of temperature that kombucha can be brewed at is between 70-82 degrees F (21-28 C)
Kombucha should never be brewed in an environment of 65 degrees F (18 C) or colder. Since at these colder temperatures the bacteria culture becomes so slow and inactive that it's doing very little fermenting. Meaning that the brew either will not ferment at all, or if it does will take a very long time.
And even if the brew does ferment, it's important for kombucha to be made above 65 degrees to avoid mold. Because when at cold temps where the kombucha is not fermenting much, there is very little acid being produced. And it’s the acidic environment of kombucha that fights off mold growth.
Types of Kombucha Heating Pads
There are two types of heating pads that can be used to keep kombucha at optimal brewing temperature.
1. Pads that horizontally wrap around the outside of the brewing vessel
2. Under the brew mats that the brewing vessel sits on top of
Let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Wrap Around Heating Pads
Wrap around heating pads are the most popular type of kombucha heating pads, mostly because they do the best job of equally distributing the heat throughout the entire brewing vessel.
The inconvenience of using wrap around heaters is that most of them only work on certain sized containers. So if the container you use is irregularly shaped or really large, a wrap around heater may not fit.
Under the Brew Heating Mats
Under the brew heating mats are not as popular as wrap arounds, but are still a viable option for heating your kombucha. The biggest advantage of under the brew mats is that they work with any size container, and can even be used to heat multiple containers at once
The bad thing about under the brew heating mats is that they only produce heat at the bottom of the brewing vessel. This could lead to unequal temperatures in the bottom and top of the brew, making the top more exposed to mold growth and slow fermentation while the bottom where the heat source is ferments quickly.
What to look for in a Kombucha Heating Pad
One of the most important characteristics of a kombucha heating pad is its energy efficiency.
A heating pad's efficiency is important because it's most likely going to be turned on, heating your kombucha 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Which means that if the pad is inefficient and using a lot of energy, it’s going to run up your electricity bill.
A good heating pad will be able to keep your kombucha warm all day and night, using very little power and keeping your utility bill low.
Heating capacity is important because we need the heating pad to at least be able to get the kombucha up to the minimum brewing temperature of 65 degrees F (18 C) and ideally up to the optimal brewing temperature of 80 degrees fahrenheit (27 C)
If a pad can only warm up a brew 10 degrees F and you're brewing in an environment that’s 55 degrees F, you need to find a more powerful pad.
Being able to adjust the temperature of the pad either manually or through a built in thermostat will help ensure that it gets up to a good temperature, without getting too hot and damaging the bacteria culture.
How to Use Kombucha Heating Pads for 2nd Fermentation
So far we’ve only been talking about using heating pads for first fermentation because that’s their most common use. But kombucha heating pads can also be used in the 2nd fermentation of kombucha, when the kombucha is carbonated and flavored.
Just like with 1st fermentation, the lower the temperature of the brewing kombucha, the slower the bacteria move and the worse the final drink is. If a 2nd fermentation takes place in an environment colder than 70 degrees F (21 C), it likely won’t develop significant carbonation, or will take a long time to do so.
The only difference in using a kombucha heating pad for 2nd fermentation instead of first is that instead of wrapping it around or putting it under 1 big jar, we're wrapping it around or putting it under multiple smaller fermenting bottles.
If you're brewing in a colder climate or in the wintertime and your booch isn’t getting enough carbonation, using a heating pad for your 2nd fermentation could be the solution.
Other Ways to Keep Your Kombucha Warm
Costing as little as 10$, a heating wrap is the most efficient and easiest way to get your kombucha brew warm. However, if your really set on not buying a heating wrap or mat, there are a few things you can do to get your kombucha brewing at a warmer temperature.
Move the kombucha out of the kitchen to a warmer area in your house such as a bed room or living room.
Store the kombucha above the refrigerator or on a high shelf where the air temperature is usually warmer.
Wrap the kombucha with a towel for insulation.
Place the kombucha, on top of a plate on an appliance thats always running like a DVR.
Some people recommend placing your kombucha in the oven with just the light on or near a lamp to keep it warm. I however wouldn’t recommend doing these things since some studies have found light to be antibacterial. Meaning that exposing your booch to light for extended periods of time could cause damage to the bacteria culture.
The Top 3 Best Kombucha Heating Pads
The Best Wrap Around Kombucha Heating Pad
In my opinion, the best wrap around heating pad with the most consistent heating quality and unique features is Perfect Kombucha’s Fermentation Heater
With 4 separate heat settings, this kit allows you to control the temperature of your kombucha and monitor the temperature accurately with the included stick on thermostat.
Plus Perfect Kombucha has so much confidence in the quality of their heating pad that they guarantee you a 100% refund within one year of purchase if you’re not satisfied.
Strap to Secure Heating Mat
Four Setting Temperature Controller
You can find Perfect Kombucha’s wrap-around heating pad on Amazon here.
The Best Under the Brew Kombucha Heating Mat
VIVOSUN makes my favorite kombucha heating mat. With a size of 10 by 20.75 inches, this mat is big enough to fit under multiple kombucha containers. But the best thing about VIVOSUN’s mat is that it comes with a thermostat which automatically adjusts the heat to the temperature you set.
10” x 20.75” Waterproof Heating Mat
You can find the VIVOSUN heat mat and thermostat on Amazon here.
The Best Priced Heating Pad
If you’re on a budget but still need to heat your kombucha, your best option is VIVOSUN’s Waterproof Heating Pad.
This energy efficient wrap around heating pad is easily the best bang for your buck out of the 3 options. But because it’s cheap, this kit does not include a thermostat. Which means you’ll have to regulate the heat of the brew with a thermometer by yourself.
Waterproof 3” x 20” Wrap Around Heating Pad
You can get VIVOSUNS Wrap Around Heating Pad for only $10 and with free shipping on Amazon here.