Ss Brewing Technologies Giveaway!

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Using an Air Pump to Aerate Wort
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 06-27-2012, 09:56 PM   #1
lexstarwalker
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 30
Likes Given: 3

Default Using an Air Pump to Aerate Wort

I thought I would share my experiences with using this method to aerate wort and yeast starters.

The method is very simple. You use an aquarium air pump, vinyl tubing, a stainless steel air stone, and a HEPA in-line air filter. You hook it all up, and drop your (sanitized) vinyl tubing with attached air stone into the wort. Plug in the pump (making sure to use a drip loop), and let it go for a half hour or so before pitching your yeast.

I wanted to try this method, because my previous method of siphoning the wort through a screen and shaking the primary fermentor didn't seem particularly effective to me. Not to mention shaking 5 gallons of wort is a PITA.

The first issue was finding the filter and air stone. Air stones used in aquariums are made of some kind of porous stone-like material that you definitely wouldn't want in your wort, if only because it would be nearly impossible to sanitize (that and little pieces are always crumbling off). I finally found a stainless steel air stone here, and an inline filter here. Once you add in shipping, this is quickly becoming a rather expensive undertaking.

More problems arose once I had the equipment and tried to use it. First, the air stone and filter have 0.25 inch fittings, and I'd gotten quarter-inch vinyl tubing to fit them. I'd forgotten that air line tubing used in aquariums is much smaller (I believe an eighth of an inch). So I had no way to attach the filter to the air pump. Luckily, in a stroke of sheer brilliance, my fiancee realized (as I was cursing my failure to notice the different sizes before brew day) that the orifice of the filter fit over the outlet of the air pump perfectly.

That problem solved, I hooked everything up and plugged in the pump. Nothing happened. Or rather, nothing seemed to happen. Upon close inspection, I was able to tell some air was coming out of the air stone, but not much.

I immediately suspected the filter. Perhaps the air pump wasn't powerful enough to push the air through the filter. I'd only gotten an air pump designed for a 10 gallon aquarium. Maybe I should have gotten a bigger one. Figuring that a little air was better than none, I finished my project (a yeast starter).

After the starter was done, I examined the system and found it wasn't the filter gumming the works, it was the air stone! I'm a trumpet player, so I can blow pretty hard, and I couldn't blow air through that stainless steel stone to save my life!

As an experiment, I tried hooking everything up, minus the airstone, and it worked beautifully. I'm now using the set up to aerate another yeast starter. I just have the vinyl tube in the jar, with no air stone. It works like a charm.

In aquariums, the air stone turns the large bubbles that would normally come out of the vinyl tube into a host of smaller bubbles. This, I imagine, is partly to look cool, partly to not freak the fish out, and partly to improve air exchange with the water. As a brewer, I don't care how it looks, and I don't have to worry about scaring fish (if there are fish in my beer, I have much more serious problems to worry about!).

Now, I imagine a host of smaller bubbles WOULD provide better air exchange than the 0.25 inch bubbles. However, the stainless steel air stone was a total fail, and a bunch of big bubbles is definitely better than few to no small bubbles. Also, without the air stone, the bubbles are coming out forcefully enough that they're effectively stirring the solution.

Maybe a larger air pump would be effective with the air stone. Perhaps one made for a 100+ gallon aquarium. Has anyone tried this? What were your results?

Barring that possibility, I think using the air pump and filter sans air stone is an effective way to aerate your wort, especially if you add it to the straining and shaking method. In a small jar, like for a yeast starter, it is also a decent way to keep the yeast in suspension (along with occasionally stirring/shaking the jar) if you don't want to shell out the money for a stir plate, or don't have the ability to make one.

Not buying the stainless steel air stone greatly reduces the cost of this venture. Also, you can make your own filter using a tube and wet cotton balls (as described in Palmer's How to Brew), which would save even more money.

All in all, I'm happy with this method. Some day I may try a bigger pump, but for now I'll just omit the air stone. If I try a bigger pump, I'll report my findings.

If anyone has experience with this method, please let me know how it worked out for you, and how you feel it compares to other methods.

__________________

Last edited by lexstarwalker; 06-27-2012 at 10:15 PM.
lexstarwalker is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-28-2012, 12:58 AM   #2
helibrewer
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 1 reviews
 
helibrewer's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Posts: 3,220
Liked 194 Times on 173 Posts
Likes Given: 47

Default

I have 2 SS stones, .5 micron I believe, and I use them for aeration (using an O2 tank), and for force carbonating in my cornies....I've never had a stone appear blocked or resistive.

__________________
Something is always fermenting....
"It's Bahl Hornin'"

Primary:
Brite Tank/Lagering:
Kegged: Hefeweizen, Chocolate Hazelnut Porter, Kumquat Saison, Tart Cherry Cider, Belgian Tripel, Maibock Bock, Ommegang Abbey Ale Clone, Belgian Golden Strong, German Pils (WLP830)
Bottled: Belgian Quad (Grand Reserve), Derangement (Belgian Dark Strong)
On Deck:
My Site: www.restlesscellars.com
helibrewer is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-28-2012, 01:17 AM   #3
passedpawn
Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth Class
HBT_MODERATOR.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
passedpawn's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: ☼ Clearwater, FL ☼
Posts: 18,858
Liked 3297 Times on 2054 Posts
Likes Given: 2815

Default

I just put the racking cane into the carboy and let it rip (no air stones). Seems to work fine. I have a box with a pump and power supply and pneumatic quick disconnects dedicated for this.

I tried a large industrial air pump that I have but it resulting in excessive foam in about 30 seconds. Completely unworkable. Stay with the small pump. The pump I use is not an aquarium pump, though.

__________________
Hey goomba I love how you dance the rumba
But take some advice paisano learn-a how to mambo
If you're gonna be a square you ain't-a gonna go anywhere.
passedpawn is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply



Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Do you Aerate your Wort ? simmons General Techniques 53 12-31-2013 12:05 AM
Is this an easy way to aerate the wort? onemanlan General Techniques 18 07-14-2010 07:58 PM
Do you need to aerate typical gravity wort? LayMeister General Techniques 9 09-27-2008 06:51 AM
Use racking cane to aerate wort.... StankAle General Techniques 4 03-12-2008 10:17 PM
Do I still need to aerate the wort when using a starter? reshp1 General Techniques 8 02-14-2008 05:59 PM