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Old 02-06-2013, 07:55 PM   #1
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Default Secondary question

My first mead has been in primary for just about 2 weeks now and I am going to start taking SG readings to see if it is time to rack just yet.

I was poking around and I just stumbled upon a thread that said when racking to secondary, I want to leave as little head space as possible. I currently have it in a 5 gal carboy, and was planning on picking up another for secondary (I need a new one anyways). This would be 5 gal as well. My volume will obviously decrease when I rack, so do I need to add something (like marbles) to raise the volume, or go to smaller container(s)?

Also, when I take SG readings I was just planning on popping my airlock off, making sure everything is sanitary using my thief and then putting the airlock on again. Anything wrong with this plan?

Thanks!

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Old 02-07-2013, 12:50 PM   #2
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Yep! You do not want head space because you want to prevent any oxidation from occuring. Using sanitized marbles will work.

As for your wine thief plan, that will work fine.

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Old 02-09-2013, 10:31 PM   #3
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So what kind of marbles are good to use? and where do you get them? lol

Also do I need to stabilize at all before botling?

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Old 02-10-2013, 12:41 AM   #4
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Any sort of glass marble will work. Be sure to sanitize them before use. Consult your local toy store.

You should make sure there is no more fermenting activity coming from your batch prior to bottling. Using potassium sorbate will inhibit the yeast and help prevent any bottle bombs from occurring.

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Old 02-10-2013, 01:59 AM   #5
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Not all marbles are made from lead free glass. A better idea is to top off with some wine, or make a topper by mixing some grain alcohol to the same % you were aiming for in your wine and add that, anything but just water. WVMJ
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Old 02-10-2013, 02:31 AM   #6
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People also use stainless steel shot, if you have access to things like that. I think there is a certain gauge/grade so you ensure the shot does not pit. On marbles, just make sure they are lead free. Three pounds will displace one liter.
Depending on what your ingredients are you may not lose substantial volume due to racking. For example, if just water/honey you should have minimal volume loss, and you can top right up with honey/water mixed to the same SG as when you started.
Moving forward you may consider starting with six gallons when you desire to bottle 5 gallons (or an extra 750ml if you make a gallon batch), as this will ensure you have adequate topping up must as you progress. A gallon glass jug plus a few wine bottles and spare wine bottle sized bungs/airlocks (or heavy latex balloons) come in handy. I have even found myself making a 12% traditional mead to age out for later enjoyment but also use it for topping up a wide variety of meads that are clearing/being racked/bulk aging.

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Old 02-10-2013, 04:52 PM   #7
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The problem with the honey water mix is that it will continue to ferment, while if you make a 12% or so dilution of alcohol it wont stretch out the ferment, adding to the sediment at the bottom. I also add a little acid blend so that it doesnt dilute the acid levels if that is important to the wine or mead. WVMJ

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Old 02-10-2013, 10:02 PM   #8
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So based on what im hearing, if I leave 2in at the top of a carboy (6gal to the top) I will have issues?

Also I should add potassium sorbate to make sure fermentation does not restart.

Is there any other way to raise the level without marbles or diluting that anyone has used?

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Old 02-11-2013, 02:06 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tims5377 View Post
So based on what im hearing, if I leave 2in at the top of a carboy (6gal to the top) I will have issues?

Also I should add potassium sorbate to make sure fermentation does not restart.

Is there any other way to raise the level without marbles or diluting that anyone has used?
Smaller demijohn or a bottle of your last mead.
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Old 02-14-2013, 04:43 PM   #10
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If I rack to a large carboy and leave headspace and then purge with CO2 will that take care of this problem too?

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