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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Common Sense Advice : Never, ever use a varnished stirrer!

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Old 10-26-2008, 05:03 PM   #1
talkingmonkey
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Default Common Sense Advice : Never, ever use a varnished stirrer!

I'm about to dump a batch that I worked on for 3-4 months, and thought would be my masterpiece. I finally got a second opinion on what I already knew. I made a varnish flavored dubbelbock. Polyurethanator??? This all happened because of one stupid, small decision when cooking. I had a buddy pick up a stirrer for me and he grabbed a boat oar with varnish. I knew better, but I thought it wouldn't be a huge deal. Wrong! It's gonna be hard to do, but I gotta dump it. Lesson learned.

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Old 10-26-2008, 05:12 PM   #2
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ouch.... If you need a shoulder to cry on I'm here!

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Old 10-26-2008, 05:18 PM   #3
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That really sucks, I'm sorry. Lesson learned: stay away from wooden spoons for the boil. Not only because of varnish, but wood is hard to cleanse of bacteria and what not

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Old 10-26-2008, 05:30 PM   #4
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Sounds like good advice. My mash paddle is wooden and unfinished, but mash temps are not high, so I wouldn't be concerned if it had a food-safe finish on it. I don't have a need to stir my wort in the boil kettle except once at the beginning to ensure all my mash runnings are well mixed before I measure my OG. But even so, I use a four foot long SS paddle I bought at a restaurant supply store for that job.

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Old 10-26-2008, 11:58 PM   #5
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A boat oar? How much beer did you make...like 200 gallons? Sorry about your beer.

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Old 10-26-2008, 11:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker36 View Post
wooden spoons for the boil...

...wood is hard to cleanse of bacteria
Makes no sense. Boiling kills any possible sources of infection.
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:33 AM   #7
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Quote:
Boiling kills any possible sources of infection
Yeah, I use wooden spoons (unvarnished though) all the time during boiling and for stirring my mini-mashes. After boiling I always use a sanitized plastic slotted spoon if I need to stir.

Sorry about your ruined batch.
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Old 10-27-2008, 03:20 AM   #8
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I've been searching for about an hour trying to find something that conclusively settles the question of whether wood is a good material for a wort-stirring spoon for the boil. I have come to the conclusion that there is much more religion than science accessible on this topic via a google search. I can't really find anything scientifically conclusive about it.

There are many sites whose authors claim that wooden utensils are prone to harboring bacteria. This seems to be a widely-held belief about wooden utensils, expressed on both cooking and brewing sites. Then there are a number of sources that claim that wood is naturally anti-bacterial. Some sites claim that wooden cooking utensils, tested a couple of days after having been used, cleaned, and air-dried, have been found to have far less bacteria on the surface than similarly used and cleaned plastic and metal utensils. None of the sources cited scientific references to back up their claims, one way or the other, so you just have to take it as religion.

I am not sure you can trust the boil to sterilize a wooden spoon. In fact, boiling doesn't sterilize; it only disinfects. But disinfecting is good enough for cooking or brewing. It takes five minutes of continuous immersion at boiling point to disinfect a utensil. No one is likely to do that with a wooden utensil due to risk of excessive liquid absorption and damage to the utensil. Nor would one likely leave it soaking in a bucket of Iodophor between uses, as I do with my SS stirrer. I'm sure there's no harm in using a wooden utensil to stir the wort while it is boiling, but I would not use it after the boil, just in case it were not adequately disinfected. It just doesn't make sense to take that risk.

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