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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Brewing in garage - be afraid of sawdust?
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Old 11-25-2010, 04:03 PM   #1
kpr121
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Default Brewing in garage - be afraid of sawdust?

Since its starting to get cold out, I am planning on brewing more often in the garage. I am actually setting up a three tier system using an existing workbench. I also would like to store most of my gear out there as well (mash tun, buckets, bottles, equipment, etc) since the wife is getting sick of it taking over the basement.

My question is: Generally, should I worry about sawdust at all other than it being a pain in the butt to clean off all my equipment? I do some occasional woodwork, and while I have a shop vac running usually while making cuts, the sawdust still ends up everywhere.

I have good cleaning/sanitizing practices, but I foresee endless vacuuming and cleaning making my brewday even longer than it currently is.

I have thought about maybe making a cabinet to store everything in, but that is just one more project on the list of many. I'll probably put most of the stuff in rubbermaid containers if possible.

Are my sawdust worries warranted?

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Old 11-25-2010, 04:17 PM   #2
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Yes and no.

The first and most important point is that you SHOULD NEVER have an open flame near saw-dust if it's just been kicked up into the air in a cloud. If you haven't done the experiment where you light a cloud of flour on fire in chemistry class, I'm sure you can find the video on youtube. The same thing happens with sawdust: it will explode. This is going to be ESPECIALLY problematic if your garage has poor ventilation, because you'll be trapping the excess propane along with the airborne wood particles.

So if you're going to brew in your garage, make sure that you don't do it RIGHT after you build a table or something.

If there's only a LITTLE saw-dust in the air, then you run into the same problem that you would in any brewing situation: airborne particulates carry bacteria and wild-yeast, and as they settle into your brewing kettle you risk infection. That said, as long as there's not too much saw-dust floating in the air, you shouldn't have a substantially greater risk of infection than you would anywhere else.

Aside from wild-yeast and bacteria, there's nothing inherently bad about having some wood in your beer. Some beers are intentionally conditioned with oak chips. Your sawdust should, after a week or two, settle to the bottom, so you shouldn't get any in the glass.

There's also nothing wrong with sawdust on the floor (as long as it isn't getting kicked up into the air.) Some breweries keep sawdust on the floor intentionally, in order to sop up spills - although I think sand, or a good floor grate is more common.

Good luck, and let us know how it turns out!

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Old 11-25-2010, 05:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pericles View Post
Yes and no.

The first and most important point is that you SHOULD NEVER have an open flame near saw-dust if it's just been kicked up into the air in a cloud. If you haven't done the experiment where you light a cloud of flour on fire in chemistry class, I'm sure you can find the video on youtube. The same thing happens with sawdust: it will explode. This is going to be ESPECIALLY problematic if your garage has poor ventilation, because you'll be trapping the excess propane along with the airborne wood particles.
Great safety points - may I also add:
Don't crush while an open flame is on (even more flammable)
Do have great ventilation (at least as much CFM movement as you would plan in a kitchen) since you will be generating carbon monoxide which is dangerous to you and you will be generating steam which will settle out on all your steel tools and leave a lovely rust on everything.

Don't worry too much about the sawdust - just clean up your beer area before you start (any part of the garage that will not be disturbed during the brew you can leave with a layer of dust). You will wind up spilling, water, beer and wort all over the place so, once again, watch out for your tools.
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Old 11-25-2010, 06:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
you SHOULD NEVER have an open flame near saw-dust if it's just been kicked up into the air in a cloud. If you haven't done the experiment where you light a cloud of flour on fire in chemistry class, I'm sure you can find the video on youtube.
This one's done with non dairy creamer, but it's still a cloud of flammable dust

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