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Old 06-09-2009, 02:59 PM   #1
simcoe4life
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Default Broken Hydrometer

While cleaning equipment after brewing I noticed that the small glass tip of my hydrometer was cracked off. It might have been broken prior to the brew session, or I might have cracked it afterwards - I just don't know.

I'm not so concerned about glass shards because I used a strainer while moving the wort from the kettle to the carboys. And in a few weeks when I rack the beer to secondary, and eventually tertiary (I plan to add fruit in secondary) I'm planning on using a filter on the racking tube, to be safe.

What I'm concerned about is the exposure of the hydrometer's lead shot to the wort. I'm pretty sure its lead. It's not like pieces of the lead broke off and got into the wort. It simply floated in the wort at 80F.

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Old 06-09-2009, 04:06 PM   #2
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if the crack/broken tip did not get below the surface, or you didn't pour any liquid that got in the stem back into the wort you don't have anything to worry about.
also if liquid got in the stem the reading would be off as opposed to only air being in the stem of the hydrometer.

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Old 06-09-2009, 04:12 PM   #3
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The tip that was cracked was the bottom of the hydrometer. The lead tip is exposed - the stem isn't broken. Sorry if I was unclear.

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Old 06-09-2009, 05:11 PM   #4
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I'm by no means an expert in heavy metal exposure or health care, but I would say you should be fine. People used to drink water that was run through lead pipes for heavens sake, a 30 second exposure to a liquid shouldn't kill you.

Out of curiosity, how long was it in the wort? And was it in the entire batch or did you pull a sample?

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Old 06-09-2009, 05:39 PM   #5
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Doubtful that short term contact with such a small amount of lead would leach out any amount that would be harmful or detectable in 5 gallons of beer. Probably eat more lead & mercury from a can of Tuna fish.

Not sure why they don't make a plastic hydrometer - or do they and we all just don't know. I have never put my hydrometer into the wort, always draw off a sample and then taste/drink it. I think it helps me become a better brewer because I can tell from sampling along the way how it will turn out.

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Old 06-09-2009, 06:19 PM   #6
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I seem to remember another post a while back about broken hydrometer and someone indicated the (lead particles were acutcually magnetic steel particles not lead)


just my $0.02

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Old 06-09-2009, 07:31 PM   #7
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After sterilizing it the hydrometer was in the wort for no longer than 30 seconds or so. I usually put it in the wort because its easier for me to get a decent reading in the kettle instead of screwing around with a thief (which I end up doing anyway when sampling from carboys).

Thanks for making me feel better about the lead issue. After consulting my local homebrew shop today I was told that the hydrometer that I was using (there is a TrueBrew icon on the inner paper) has a combination lead/steel shot in the bottom that is encased with wax. So lead contamination is a non-issue in this case.

However now I've become obsessed with the concern over glass in the wort. A friend who was brewing with me mentioned that I indeed bumped the hydrometer into something post-boil. This is probably when I cracked the tip. This either happened just outside of the kettle or perhaps in my sanitizing bucket where I was keeping my chiller and other equipment.

This raises the question - when I did crack the hydrometer, did the glass simply shatter and fall to ground, or did the glass crack, stay clung to the hydrometer and fall off in the wort bucket when I took a final reading. It's hard to say. Either way, when I rack to secondary I'll wrap the end of the siphon with a (sanitized) cheese cloth or hop sack so I can get a really good filter going, and leave like two inches of beer in the bottom.

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Old 06-10-2009, 12:23 AM   #8
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It is not lead ,had same thing happen and called northern brewer about it and it is Tungsten ,same thing used in non-toxic waterfowl shot

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