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Old 09-26-2005, 06:40 PM   #1
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Default Broken hydrometer

I'm a new homebrewer and I cooked my first batch last night. I tried using a hydrometer in a "sample tube" (gadget that you dunk straight into the wort and then float the hydrometer for the reading) and wasn't having much luck getting the tube to fill, so I gave up and popped the lock into the top of the carboy. This morning, I attempted to rinse out the sample tube with the hydrometer still in it. I filled it full of water from a shower head and then noticed that the water wasn't draining from the valve tip. I turned it over and got about 15 little bb's in my hand. I realized the hydrometer had broken on the weighted end. My question is: are there any nasty chemicals inside the hydrometer? I don't know if it broke before or during the sampling, or when I was trying to clean it. I hate to toss the batch, but I don't want lead poisoning or any other toxic chemicals in my beer. Help!

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Old 09-26-2005, 07:18 PM   #2
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Did you sanitize the sample tube before dipping it? Was the hydrometer in the tube when you dipped it?

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Old 09-26-2005, 07:21 PM   #3
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Check the bottom of your container for any lead or mercury looking stuff.

If anything's there then dump it. It's poisoned.

Always remember to place your hydrometer and thermometer back into their plastic cases when not in use.

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Old 09-26-2005, 07:23 PM   #4
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Both the sample tube and the hydrometer were sanitized with Idophor. The hydrometer was in the sample tube when I dipped it into the wort. Everything was clean - I'm just concerned about the potential for chemicals or lead from the broken tip of the hydrometer getting into the beer. It might not have broken until I was cleaning it... but I'm not sure. I have no idea what they put in those hydrometers when they make them and I wouldn't want to make anyone sick.

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Old 09-26-2005, 07:24 PM   #5
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or better yet... LEAVE the hydrometer in the plastic tube and never use it again. your beer will be beer regardless of whether you measure the gravity or not.

-walker

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Old 09-26-2005, 07:27 PM   #6
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If there's mercury in that thing, I'm not even going to risk it. $30 for the recipe and a few hours isn't worth the potential injury to someone.

Thanks for your help, folks.

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Old 09-26-2005, 07:50 PM   #7
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Is it possible that that stuff could be lodged in the trub and he wouldn't necessarily see it anyway? If the hydrometer was stored in the sample tube or if it was in the tube when he went for a sample, I think I'd rather play it safe...

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Old 09-27-2005, 11:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyLong
If there's mercury in that thing, I'm not even going to risk it. $30 for the recipe and a few hours isn't worth the potential injury to someone.

Thanks for your help, folks.
There isn't any mercury in your hydrometer...do not dump that beer!
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Old 09-27-2005, 11:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Pistolero
There isn't any mercury in your hydrometer...do not dump that beer!
I'd agree with that; it's probably only lead weights that certainly would drop right into the trub. Got one handy still? Is it lead? If you don't have a carboy/secondary I would get one for the $20 and then rack/move it over right away. You get to keep your beer and get a carboy out of the bargain as opposed to blowing $30 for nothing. That little amount of lead isn't going to hurt nothing and you'd probably get more out of eating a fish out of Lake Erie. If your still paranoid, don't stick your racking cane all the way into the trub.

Mmm, old fashioned paint chips are tasty!
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Old 09-28-2005, 12:34 AM   #10
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It appears that El P and desert are correct. I've recently visited the brew shop where I purchase the hydrometer and looked at another of the same item. The fellow helping me and I agreed that there is no mercury in my hydrometer, only lead pellets.

I have a second carboy that I can transfer the brew to. My quandry at this point is whether to let it sit for a few more days in the primary (getting the most out of the yeast), or moving it to the other to seperate it from any possible lead that may have made it into the primary. Decisions...

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