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Old 09-13-2007, 05:34 PM   #1
Danek
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Default Do I need a blow-off tube / airlock on my fermenting bucket?

I'm about to start my first batch of beer, and have a small query. The books I've read mention using a blow-off tube from the primary fermenter to start with, and then using an airlock after that. However, the fermenter I've got is a 5 gallon plastic bucket with lid, but no hole for either a pipe or airlock. Is this likely to be a problem? I've not yet witnessed the fermentation process first hand, but from what I gather it can get quite lively, so I'm thinking that I should at least leave the lid open a tiny amount for the CO2 to escape - and perhaps use a little less than five gallons of wort to ease the pressure in the fermenter a bit. Do you think this will be adequate, or am I likely to get krauzen bursting out across the floor? At some point in the future I intend to drill a hole in the lid to fit an airlock, though I won't be able to get to the HBS for a few weeks, and I'd like to start a batch before then. Any thoughts or advice greatly appreciated!

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Old 09-13-2007, 05:44 PM   #2
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First of all, you have to have a hole in the lid when it's sealed on the bucket of you WILL have a very nasty explosion! Second, a five gallon bucket is really not big enough for use as a primary fermenter for a five gallon batch of beer.

Any purpose built fermenter sold by a home brew supplier will be bigger than five gallons (7.5 gal is common). It will also come with a lid with a hole in it and a rubber grommet to fit an airlock. It's always a good idea to start with a blow off tube into a container with water or sanitizer in it for the first few days, and you can either leave it like that or remove the tube and insert a sanitized airlock for the remainder of the primary fermentation period after any blow off has subsided.

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Old 09-13-2007, 05:47 PM   #3
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Yes, it is recomended that you have some sort of "airlock" device, be it a blow off tube or an acctual airlock. I second the larger fermentor, you are going to need the headspace, expecially when doing big beers or wheats.

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Old 09-13-2007, 05:48 PM   #4
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It's almost impossible to ferment a 5 gallon batch in a 5 gallon container. You need room for headspace for the rising krausen and even with a blow off tube or airlock you'll have a mess. You'd be fine with a 7 gallon bucket and lid with an airlock, or even a 6.5 gallon carboy. I'm sure that you're excited to get started, but even with the lid slightly askew to vent, the rising krausen will escape over the bucket and you'd have a mess. Do you have a bigger plastic bucket you can use, and just drill a little hole in the top for an airlock or blow off tube?

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Old 09-13-2007, 05:50 PM   #5
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I started out using 6.5g buckets and filled them to exactly 5g and had no major issues with a regular airlock. It was only when I started filling a 6g carboy up with 5.25g that I had real blowout problems. If you don't mind a chance of a small mess, put the bucket on a towel and just let the lid sit lightly on top. It will allow CO2 to escape but not contaminants to fall in. However, once the active ferment is over, you want a relatively sealed container with airlock to keep oxygen out.

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Old 09-13-2007, 06:12 PM   #6
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Wow! Thank you all very much for the very quick and helpful replies. Apologies too, but I think I may have mis-described my bucket - it's a purpose-built bucket from a home brew store, for brewing five-gallon batches of beer (so not actually a five gallon bucket - doh!). I assume it'll be 6 or 7 gallons, but I'll check the exact size when I get home. This has made things much clearer though - I did wonder why I'd seen more carboys with blow-off tubes than buckets, and I guess it's because they're that bit smaller.

It definitely sounds like some kind of outlet is the way to go. For the time being I'll drill a hole in the lid and set up a blow off tube into a bucket of water, and I'll get a proper airlock next time I'm at the store.

Thanks again everyone - I really appreciate the help.

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Old 09-13-2007, 06:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danek
Wow! Thank you all very much for the very quick and helpful replies. Apologies too, but I think I may have mis-described my bucket - it's a purpose-built bucket from a home brew store, for brewing five-gallon batches of beer (so not actually a five gallon bucket - doh!). I assume it'll be 6 or 7 gallons, but I'll check the exact size when I get home. This has made things much clearer though - I did wonder why I'd seen more carboys with blow-off tubes than buckets, and I guess it's because they're that bit smaller.

It definitely sounds like some kind of outlet is the way to go. For the time being I'll drill a hole in the lid and set up a blow off tube into a bucket of water, and I'll get a proper airlock next time I'm at the store.

Thanks again everyone - I really appreciate the help.
Sounds great! A blow off tube will work great and allow you to not worry about it. Good luck!
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Old 09-13-2007, 09:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danek
It definitely sounds like some kind of outlet is the way to go. For the time being I'll drill a hole in the lid and set up a blow off tube into a bucket of water, and I'll get a proper airlock next time I'm at the store.
If you can find one at a hardware store or whatever, get a rubber grommet that will snugly fit 5/16" ID vinyl tubing, drill the right size hole for that, and use that for your blowoff tube. This is the size of tubing normally used on siphons, etc, and that grommet should be the right size to fit an actual airlock when you buy one. I doubt you'll manage any kind of acceptable airtight seal with your tubing if you don't use a grommet.
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Old 09-14-2007, 11:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funkenjäger
If you can find one at a hardware store or whatever, get a rubber grommet that will snugly fit 5/16" ID vinyl tubing, drill the right size hole for that, and use that for your blowoff tube. This is the size of tubing normally used on siphons, etc, and that grommet should be the right size to fit an actual airlock when you buy one. I doubt you'll manage any kind of acceptable airtight seal with your tubing if you don't use a grommet.
Sounds like very good advice. I'll check out the hardware store this evening. Thanks!
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Old 09-15-2007, 02:43 AM   #10
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So a 5/16 blow off tube is acceptable? Just brewed my first batch, but will need to leave for the weekend, I'd hate to come home to an "incident".

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