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Old 11-30-2009, 08:40 PM   #1
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Default Campden tablet misinformation?

This is kind of a rambling rant, but I hoping someone might be able to tell me if it sounds right or if I am misunderstanding the situation. I also had a question at the bottom if anyone knows:

I recently followed the directions in a BYO article to dechlorinate brewing water and after doing further internet research, I am pretty sure the BYO article is way off and I added way too much sodium metabisulfite to my brew.

Here is the article.

Quote:
The dechlorination reaction requires 1.47 mg of sodium metabisulfite to reduce 1 mg of free chlorine. In practice, this ratio is increased two–three fold. In easy to use terms, a 1/2-ounce Campden tablet can be used to dechlorinate 20 gallons
link: http://www.byo.com/stories/wizard/article/section/121-mr-wizard/475-clearing-chloramine-a-historical-hopping-mr-wizard

Mr. Wizard states that 1/2 ounce of sodium metabisulfite will dechlorinate 20 gallons of water. He also stated that this was one tablet. After doing the market research I found that pretty much all campden tablets that you can buy are actually only 550 mg or 1/50 of an ounce. However, before I realized that, I assumed that the tablets came in multiple sizes and I adjusted for my brew water based off of the weight stated in the article. I estimated 1/5 of an ounce for 7 gallons. That should have been at least 10 tablets, but my scale might be off because I ended up measuring out and adding 7 tablets to 7 gallons. Interestingly enough, that is the ratio that the bottle recommends for sterilization.

After reading more HBT threads on the subject (and reading the label), it seems that I should have used less than one tablet total. And also, doing the math in the BYO article shows that Mr. Wizard may be contradicting himself and that the article might have a fairly significant typo. 1.47 mg of SMS per 1 mg chlorine is only 38 mg for 26 Liters or 7 gallons. Scaled up for chlorine content of 2 - 4 mg/l, that is still only 76mg to 153 mg total. Mr. Wizard is off by at least a factor of 10 when he says to use 1/2 ounce for 20 gallons. It looks like that could be a typo and should say 1/2 gram for 20 gallons. That would make sense and match closely to his 1.47 to 1 ratio.

Anyway, so yea I put in 7 tablets for 7 gallons which is 3850 mg; so its a little higher than the 150mg I actually needed. My first concern was that the yeast would not survive or have a very hard time in the wort. However, this morning it looks like the yeast are fermenting the wort quite well. There was about 8 hours of time from when the water was treated and the yeast was pitched and as I understand it, the metabisulfite will be removed from the solution after a certain amount of time (24 hours is how long wine makers go). Perhaps 8 hours was long enough for it to get to safe levels. The wort was of course also boiled and I'm not sure if that also has an effect.

So is that a technical error in the BYO article? They are actually calling for numbers higher than even what I put in which would be beyond sterilization levels and leaving out the fact that you are supposed to wait 24 hours.

I also had another question if anyone knows, I couldn't find anything specific on this:

What does the sodium metabisulfate leave behind; anything that affects your water profile? I would guess there may be a certain amount of sodium. I also read a HBT thread that stated that the sulfite gets converted to sulfate. If this is true, anyone know how much of these compounds are present? Would it affect your chloride to sulfate ratio?
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Old 11-30-2009, 09:03 PM   #2
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Yeah, way too much. Everything I have ever read tells me that one (1) campden tablet will treat 20gal. of water. I use 1/2 tablet per 10gal. of water. I crush a whole tablet, reserve half and split it off to what I need for mash and sparge. A littel nore here and ther is no big deal, but more than one tablet for a 5gal. batch is overkill.

I'm not sure on your other questions - maybe a water geek -er, guru, will help out.

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Old 11-30-2009, 09:41 PM   #3
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Yeah, what Rhoobarb said. 1 tablet is indeed enough to treat 20 gallons, so I tend to crush up 1/2 of a tablet and treat my mash/sparge water all at once.

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Old 11-30-2009, 10:30 PM   #4
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You're mixing up some terms here. Potassium (or sodium) metabisulfite is a powder. It is used in VERY small doses for dechlorinating water, and as an antioxidant in wines, as well as a preservative. For sanitizing, the dosage is much larger.

Campden tablets are a convenient form of K meta (or Na meta) but the tablets are NOT pure k meta. They have binding agents and the like, so that you get approximately 50 ppm free so2 for wine making. That translates to roughly one campden tablet per gallon for antiseptic properties. It is NOT interchangable with k-meta powder.

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Old 11-30-2009, 10:33 PM   #5
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This seems nitpicky, but it's NOT 24 hours before sulfites dissipate. It's actually over a very long period of time. That's why you can add sulfites at bottling- it'll gradually lower but stay high enough to preserve the wine for a long time. I add approximately 50 ppm of K-meta at every other racking for wine (I don't use Na meta, as it WILL leave sodium in the wine) which will last several months. So, the idea that the sulfites will be gone in 24 hours is flawed.

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Old 12-01-2009, 04:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post
You're mixing up some terms here. Potassium (or sodium) metabisulfite is a powder. It is used in VERY small doses for dechlorinating water, and as an antioxidant in wines, as well as a preservative. For sanitizing, the dosage is much larger.

Campden tablets are a convenient form of K meta (or Na meta) but the tablets are NOT pure k meta. They have binding agents and the like, so that you get approximately 50 ppm free so2 for wine making. That translates to roughly one campden tablet per gallon for antiseptic properties. It is NOT interchangable with k-meta powder.
Yeah the BYO article doesn't explain that.

But that does explain why most sources list campden tablets as .44g of K or Na Metabisulfite. I was wondering why they said .44 when the tablet was more like .55g.

So that would mean that 1/2 ounce of campden is equal to 6.6 grams of sodium metabisulfite and you only need 440 mg for 20 gallons. Mr. Wizard is still way off.
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Old 12-01-2009, 01:40 PM   #7
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Hey, get off his case! He meant a METRIC 1/2 ounce.

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Old 12-01-2009, 03:33 PM   #8
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You are thinking too hard. I crush one caplet and add the whole thing to 12+ gallons of strike all at once. I also use the whole thing in much smaller mashes. I have not noted any issues.

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Old 12-01-2009, 06:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JVD_X View Post
You are thinking too hard. I crush one caplet and add the whole thing to 12+ gallons of strike all at once. I also use the whole thing in much smaller mashes. I have not noted any issues.
I disagree I have plenty to worry about considering that campden can stop or at least help stop fermentation. Read this: http://www.ehow.com/how_5627060_stop-fermentation-wine.html

That is how much campden I put in. You put in one tablet for 12 gallons, well if you put the same ratio that I put in, it would have been 12 tablets. (1 tablet per gallon).

It is true though that the yeast in my batch are actually going pretty well. I am not sure though if they are stressed out or whether a significant amount died, which may result in off flavors. Only time will tell.
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Old 12-01-2009, 06:17 PM   #10
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In Brewing Classic Styles, John Palmer says that "One tablet will treat 20 gallons, although using 1 tablet for only 5 gallons won't hurt anything. Both chlorine and chloramine are reduced to insignificant levels of sulfate and chloride ions (<10 ppm) within a couple of minutes at room temperature."

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