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Old 08-17-2012, 06:53 PM   #1
bizarrojosh
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Default A simple Bubble Lock vs Tinfoil experiment.

In the thread "Yeast starter - airlock or tinfoil" the general consensus is that tinfoil on starters is superior to airlocks/bubble locks because tinfoil lets oxygen into the container and thus the yeast will multiply and perform better than a container with a bubble lock.

I'm not convinced. I'm not in any way saying that tinfoil doesn't work; it does and it works well. But I'm not sure that the claim that "because oxygen gets into the container the yeast multiply more and one can get a bigger starter" is true. So I've decided to conduct an experiment to test my hypothesis that yeast starters with bubble locks perform as good or better than than starters covered with tinfoil.

The Experiment to test my hypothesis:

1. Make two (2) one liter starters. The preparation of each starter will be created by making 8 cups of water and 2 cups of DME. After the wort has boiled and cooled I will mix thoroughly and divide the wort evenly into two jugs. (thanks StoneHands and kh54s10)

2. Each starter will be transferred to sanitized half gallon jugs that are identical in size and shape.

3. When the temperature in both starters is below 80F I will pitch the exact strand of yeast in the exact quantity into each of the containers.

4. I will swirl/shake each starter the same number of times i.e., if I swirl one starter 5 times then I will also swirl the other starter 5 times, no more no less.

5. Each starter will work for 72 hours.

6. Before I seal each starter and after 72 hours the starters will be measured using a hemocytometer (thanks StoneHands and mewithstewpid)


Variables.

One jug will be covered with tinfoil.
The other jug will have a stopper and a 3 piece bubble lock.

Hypothesis - The starter with the 3 piece bubble lock will produce equal amounts of yeast (or more) as the starter with tinfoil.


Limitations:
1. I do not have 2 stir plates and therefore they cannot be used in this experiment.
2. I have to learn how to use a hemocytometer properly and accurately.


So now I have to ask you all how to make this experiment better. I need a way to measure yeast counts but I'm not sure how to do it in the best way possible. Any kind of suggestion would be helpful and will greatly influence how I measure the yeast count. Anything else that you see to make this experiment better is welcomed!

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Old 08-17-2012, 06:57 PM   #2
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Reserved for Results of Experiment

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Old 08-17-2012, 07:05 PM   #3
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I use the foam stopper that came with my flask, maybe you could throw that into the mix as well test out all 3 options

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Old 08-17-2012, 07:05 PM   #4
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I'd mix up your starter wort in the same batch, boil it, etc. all in one, and then transfer the exact volume into two separate containers. But, that being said, I think you need a scope and a hemocytometer (wow, that spelling seems awful) to get an accurate count. Without that, the two amounts of yeast in your separate containers will seem the same, no matter the method you use. Also, how will you make sure you're pitching the same in each? Even if you do a full vial in each, I would think you'd have a lot of variability from one vial to the next. I think you'd need your scope and hemo to count your cells pre pitch (and pitch by volume here too).

Not trying to discourage, I just don't think you'll get good results without a hemocytometer.

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Old 08-17-2012, 07:08 PM   #5
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To get an accurate wort sample I would create it as one batch then split it into equal parts. If you don't you have 2 variables - how densely packed is the cup of DME and did you get equal boil off and thus samples of equal gravity?

Swirling 5 times seems a bit inaccurate... How much variable for the force of each swirl?

As to measuring the yeast I guess if you were able to chill and make them settle in graduated cylinders you might get a close idea of the yeast amounts. This would be in volume not cell counts.

For me, I'll just take the word of more experienced people, including yeast lab scientists, that it is better to use foil than an airlock.

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Old 08-17-2012, 07:14 PM   #6
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I am afraid the experimental design is not valid... too many uncontrolled variables and no way to actually measure your final yeast count.

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Old 08-17-2012, 07:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StoneHands View Post
I'd mix up your starter wort in the same batch, boil it, etc. all in one, and then transfer the exact volume into two separate containers. But, that being said, I think you need a scope and a hemocytometer (wow, that spelling seems awful) to get an accurate count. Without that, the two amounts of yeast in your separate containers will seem the same, no matter the method you use. Also, how will you make sure you're pitching the same in each? Even if you do a full vial in each, I would think you'd have a lot of variability from one vial to the next. I think you'd need your scope and hemo to count your cells pre pitch (and pitch by volume here too).

Not trying to discourage, I just don't think you'll get good results without a hemocytometer.
Not discouraging at all! That's exactly what I'm looking for. But since a hemocytometer is for blood cells (hematic - pertaining to blood) is this still the best tool for measuring?

Quote:
To get an accurate wort sample I would create it as one batch then split it into equal parts. If you don't you have 2 variables - how densely packed is the cup of DME and did you get equal boil off and thus samples of equal gravity?
Excellent point, which is exactly why I asked for advise. I will certainly do this. Thanks for the input.

Quote:
I am afraid the experimental design is not valid... too many uncontrolled variables and no way to actually measure your final yeast count.
No offense, but this is a very unhelpful statement and one that seems to be rather careless. It's fine to be critical of the experiment, but at least offer some advise (or at least tell me where the problem are so that I can try to fix them) like the others above you. I'm extremely receptive and open to thoughtful comments.
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Old 08-17-2012, 07:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hungry4hops View Post
I use the foam stopper that came with my flask, maybe you could throw that into the mix as well test out all 3 options
That's also an excellent idea, I just need a stopper!

If I can get this experiment to work (after I have worked out the bugs a bit first) then I'll do it again and add more variables. later I'll make two or three stir plates and see what that does!
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Old 08-17-2012, 07:59 PM   #9
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Hemocytometers are used to count cells under a microscope. I use them all the time. In order for this experiment to work you need to precisely count the number of cells before and after fermentation. If you don't count before you may end up thinking there is a difference when it might just be different pitch rates.

Without counting you might just be wasting your time, sorry!

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Old 08-17-2012, 08:07 PM   #10
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Without the use of two stir plates your experiment will have no bearing on how I prepare a yeast starter. Having a stir plate changes everything in my opinion.

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