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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Air Lock liquid - why the alcohol??
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Old 11-21-2011, 07:46 PM   #1
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Default Air Lock liquid - why the alcohol??

I'm trying to understand why some of you guys go out and purchase crappy (or good) alcohol to put in your air locks? I've always just filled the airlock with my sanitizer (iodaphor and water) that was in the carboy right before it was filled (it gets dumped into my 6 gal ale pail before being filled, so even easier access to it). I have (knock on wood) not had a single problem with this in 10+ years. I guess I'm trying to figure out why you would spend money on something else, when you'd most likely already have the sanitizer on hand during a normal brew day.

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Old 11-21-2011, 07:50 PM   #2
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They are preparing for "suck-back", where the solution due to temp changes gets pulled into the beer. Figuring that it would taste better to have a bit of Vodka in the beer.

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Old 11-21-2011, 07:53 PM   #3
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Well, speaking as someone who fills his airlock with Star-San, there is an argument for using booze.

Plain tap water *could* have contaminants in it.

StarSan *might* stop being an effective sanitizer, if the pH rises. In that case, it's basically tap water.

Iodophor; I wouldn't really want to get that in my beer.

Cheap booze, you eliminate any of those downsides. As I said, though, I've never bothered with anything other than my StarSan or tap water, because I figure the actual risk of infection is minimal. Plus, I don't want to waste the coin on even cheap booze.

EDIT: And yeah, suck-back's the issue. It's more of an issue, I find, with Better Bottles, which have (obviously) a lot more flex than glass carboys. Temp changes can cause suck-back, but moving around plastic carboys (even carefully) can cause some suckback as well.

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Old 11-21-2011, 07:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_bird View Post
Well, speaking as someone who fills his airlock with Star-San, there is an argument for using booze.

Plain tap water *could* have contaminants in it.

StarSan *might* stop being an effective sanitizer, if the pH rises. In that case, it's basically tap water.

Iodophor; I wouldn't really want to get that in my beer.

Cheap booze, you eliminate any of those downsides. As I said, though, I've never bothered with anything other than my StarSan or tap water, because I figure the actual risk of infection is minimal. Plus, I don't want to waste the coin on even cheap booze.

EDIT: And yeah, suck-back's the issue. It's more of an issue, I find, with Better Bottles, which have (obviously) a lot more flex than glass carboys. Temp changes can cause suck-back, but moving around plastic carboys (even carefully) can cause some suckback as well.
You know, this is a little off topic but when the pH of StarSan changes so much that it loses effectiveness, does that basically mean it no longer meets FDA standards of sanitization or that it is essentially as good as tap water? What I mean is that even if the pH is 3.1 and technically the StarSan isn't effective, wouldn't it still be partially effective and safer than tap water?
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:01 PM   #5
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I've been using Scotch....
My Dad drank Scotch and over the years we ended up with a few bottles...
And since we don't drink Scotch...why not use it?
It smells good when I open the freezer and if it does suck back, I like a nice Scotch Ale...

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Old 11-21-2011, 08:19 PM   #6
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ok. I've always used glass carboys. I have never heard of the "suck back", not ever had an issue with it.

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Old 11-21-2011, 08:30 PM   #7
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You ever cold crash dfess?

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Old 11-21-2011, 09:07 PM   #8
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I've had the contents of my airlock sucked back into my beer. Granted, it was when I was a novice homebrewer and I didn't have the temp controls I have now. But, I always have extra vodka or scotch on hand, so I just use a little for the airlock as an added precaution. Probably don't need to, just habit. Hasn't actually happened in years.

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Old 11-21-2011, 09:13 PM   #9
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Suckback is not an issue with s-shaped airlocks

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Old 11-21-2011, 11:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HexKrak View Post
You ever cold crash dfess?
yes. Actually just did it for the first time. Again, didn't see a problem with it. :shrug:
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