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Old 12-30-2010, 01:08 PM   #1
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Default Liquid in Airlock

Not that the airlock type used matters, but I happen to have the 3 peice type.

I've read either on here or somewhere to use sterilized water in the airlock. The brains of my beermaking posse always poured some vodka in ours (somewhere from 80-100 proof).

Other than the fact that a shot of vodka is more expensive than a shot of water, and it probably will evaporate faster, is there anything bad in terms of staying sanitary about using vodka vs. sterilized water? So far none of us have gotten sick after drinking our beers.

If sterilized water is the way of the beer gods, I am prepared to make the switch. It's not hard to boil some water and pour into an air lock.


Thanks!

Nic

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Old 12-30-2010, 01:31 PM   #2
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The main reason people put vodka or sanitized water in the airlock is in case of suck back (where the pressure drops in the carboy/bucket to the point where some water gets sucked back in. However, this really only happens if you overfill the airlock. I've always just used tap water in my airlocks and have never had a problem.

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Old 12-30-2010, 01:39 PM   #3
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Yeah, I had read about the liquid going back into the fermenter, which I had never thought about till I read it here. I just wondered if the vodka getting sucked in would cause any strange things to happen or if it was considered sanitary.

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Old 12-30-2010, 01:45 PM   #4
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I just use Starsan. My liquid got sucked back in because the temps were too high. But I doubt even that much Starsan will have any effect on the beer.

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Old 12-30-2010, 01:57 PM   #5
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I just use Starsan. My liquid got sucked back in because the temps were too high. But I doubt even that much Starsan will have any effect on the beer.
I use a combination of StarSan and sterile water, in about a 1:10 ratio. I've been afraid to use straight StarSan, as I had heard some people do. However, since diluted StarSan is not harmful to fermentation in moderate doses, I get the best of both worlds.

Only time I have gotten reverse pressure in the airlock was when the power went out a few weeks ago and the heater wasn't kicking on. The contraction of the gases in the headspace of the carboy (and maybe the liquid, too?) created a vacuum that pulled about a third of the liquid of the airlock in. Once the heater was back on, refilled the airlock to the line.

I had thought about using vodka, as well. Unfortunately, I do not get along with any hard liquors anymore, and just the smell of a cheap vodka would have my hurling in the wort.
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:05 PM   #6
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I've been afraid to use straight StarSan, as I had heard some people do.
I honestly don't think you will find anyone using straight StarSan in the airlocks. Undoubtedly they are talking about first diluting the StarSan per the manufacturer's recommendations and then putting that in the airlock.
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:07 PM   #7
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I use a combination of StarSan and sterile water, in about a 1:10 ratio.
That ratio is probably too strong for the use and intended effect. Utilize the manufacturer's recommended dilution (i.e., 1 oz in 5 gal, or 1:640 Starsan to water).
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Old 12-30-2010, 02:11 PM   #8
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That ratio is probably too strong for the use and intended effect. Utilize the manufacturer's recommended dilution (i.e., 1 oz in 5 gal, or 1:640 Starsan to water).
Definitely sound advice. I probably don't need to use it in the sort of a ratio I do, but it is hard to measure out the correct ratio for such a small quantity. Probably a couple of drops in an eyedropper would be adequate (and I do have a few glass droppers en route, as we speak). Worst case scenario, though, the dilution would be considerable higher once it is sucked in to the carboy.

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Old 12-30-2010, 02:13 PM   #9
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Your best bet is just to take some of the solution out of your bucket (or whatever you use to soak your brewing gear) on the brew day. Just fill your airlock up with that solution, which is already properly diluted, and you are good to go.

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Old 12-30-2010, 02:14 PM   #10
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I just keep a cheap bottle of Colonial Club next to where I ferment. It's just easy to twist the cap off and pour and not worry about mixing up starsan or anything.

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