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Old 03-14-2012, 02:33 AM   #1
Dietrich
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Default "Food Grade" plastic water bottles?

Hey Cats,

I make cider and other brews in my glass carbouys. My sister wants to make a simple cider soon, and right after having this conversation with her, I found two 5-gallon plastic water jugs in the recycling area of her apartment building.

They were used for water, the typical sort that sits neck-down in one of those familiar water coolers. They are clear, but held up to the light there is a slilght blue tint to the plastic. The label on the bottom says "Food Grade", along with some numbers.

Yeah, I know it would be best to go get some glass carbouys, but for a first time project, do you think using these plastic water jugs as a primary fermenter (no long storage) would be ok? If anything in the plastic were going to leach into the cider, I would assume they wouldn't be using these for drinking water. (We don't plan on boiling anything)

Thanks for any thoughts...

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Old 03-14-2012, 02:40 AM   #2
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Myself, if it has a triangle on the bottom with a 1 or a 2 in it, then ok. Anything else and I wouldn't use it. 1 = PET or PETE, 2 = HDPE, and both are considered "food grade".

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Old 03-14-2012, 03:45 AM   #3
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Thanks! I'll double check for that symbol. If my sister likes the result and finds it worthwhile, these bottles will get her started but will probably only be temporary. Or heck, I'll steal 'em back once she has glass, if they're safe to use.

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Old 03-14-2012, 03:53 AM   #4
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Yep, the grade of the plastic is key.

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Old 03-14-2012, 03:54 AM   #5
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Holy CARP, I was scrolling up after my post to go back to New Posts and thought I had posted another response to this and realized UpstateMike has quoted me!!! Suddenly I feel so special!

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Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. - C. S. Lewis, English essayist & juvenile novelist (1898 - 1963)

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Old 11-01-2012, 09:39 AM   #6
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Myself, if it has a triangle on the bottom with a 1 or a 2 in it, then ok. Anything else and I wouldn't use it. 1 = PET or PETE, 2 = HDPE, and both are considered "food grade".

Here in Europe 2 HDPE, 4 LDPE and 5 PP are plastic types used for foodgrade and then the foodgradsymbol is a added 'knife and fork' symbol. 1 PET are used for soda bottles.

(If it is a container not made for food but made from a safe plastic the producent can put additives in to make it resistent against e.g. sunlight/UV and there are no rules about informing about those additives so as a consumer you cant know).

If it is labeled food grade I would feel comfortable using it.

(My yeast fermenting bucket is labled 5 PP foodgrade and can restain 100 degree celsius).
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Old 11-01-2012, 12:25 PM   #7
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Myself, if it has a triangle on the bottom with a 1 or a 2 in it, then ok. Anything else and I wouldn't use it. 1 = PET or PETE, 2 = HDPE, and both are considered "food grade".

No they are not. Those are material designations, not food grade designations. Just because containers are made of PET or HDPE does not mean they are food grade. Their previous use is a far more accurate indication.

Food grade containers are made on food grade production lines with virgin materials and food grade processes (release agents for example). Non food grade containers (i.e. paint and oil buckets) may be made on the same line just to save money but food grade containers have to be made on food grade production lines.

As said before, the main indicator on whether a container is food grade is it's past history. In this specific case, it is potable water, hence it's going to be food grade. If this same container had been used to hold paint, oils, fuel etc., then in no case will the container ever by food grade, regardless of material type. An excellent example of this are the US Military Water Can (MWC) and Military Fuel Can (MFC). Both are made of the exact same material (HDPE) and are made by the same company (Scepter) and perhaps even on the same production line. Guess which one is certified as food grade?

Hope this helps.
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Old 11-01-2012, 12:37 PM   #8
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An excellent example of this are the US Military Water Can (MWC) and Military Fuel Can (MFC). Both are made of the exact same material (HDPE) and are made by the same company (Scepter) and perhaps even on the same production line. Guess which one is certified as food grade?

Hope this helps.
The more expensive one?
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Old 11-01-2012, 12:57 PM   #9
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The more expensive one?
No, the cheaper one. The MFCs are now banned in the US, so prices have skyrocketed. What used to sell for $25 is now $50-$75 each, and that's the used price. Brand new MWCs can be bought for $24 last time I checked.
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Old 11-02-2012, 07:05 PM   #10
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Here in Europe 2 HDPE, 4 LDPE and 5 PP are plastic types used for foodgrade and then the foodgradsymbol is a added 'knife and fork' symbol. 1 PET are used for soda bottles.

(If it is a container not made for food but made from a safe plastic the producent can put additives in to make it resistent against e.g. sunlight/UV and there are no rules about informing about those additives so as a consumer you cant know).

If it is labeled food grade I would feel comfortable using it.

(My yeast fermenting bucket is labled 5 PP foodgrade and can restain 100 degree celsius).
#5 here is also Polypropylene (PP). It is a material that is used in bumpers, car interior trim, industrial fibers. Not something I would recommend. I'm not saying don't use it, just that I personally wouldn't as long as there other choices available. For the record, i use glass carboys for primary and secondary fermentation.
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Oh, and get a hydrometer. Psychic brewing is great and all, but hard numbers get rid of MUCH of the guess work.
"No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities." ~ 1 Timothy 5:23

Currently Fermenting:
Skeeter Pee
Blueberry Cider

Bottle Conditioning:
None

In Bottles / Drinking:
Cranberry Cider
Citron Cider
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