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Old 01-22-2011, 11:42 PM   #1
kbuzz
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Default my second brew - ruined??

I know you guys are probably going to tell me to just relax, but I wanted opinions on this anyway...

I brewed my second ever batch today, a Pumpkin Ale, and while trying to strain the pumpkin out with a funnel and filter, the wort wasn't moving through as quickly as I would have hoped. All I had handy at the time was my thermometer, so I was using it to try to move the pieces of pumpkin around on the filter to get the wort flowing a little more quickly. Well the thermometer must have caught on something cause it snapped and fell right into the fermentor which was filled with most of the wort at this point. Without truly thinking it through, I instinctively reached in with my bare arm and grabbed the thermometer out of the bottom of the fermentor almost immediately after it had fallen in. I looked and it didn't seem that any of the mercury escaped, but obviously I can't be completely sure. I pitched the yeast anyway and then started thinking afterward...should I just dump this now because of the potential mercury that might be in the beer from the thermometer??

I've read other posts about people sticking their whole arm into their fermentors to retrieve dropped items, so I know that I just have to wait and see on that, but I am a little worried about what mercury from the thermometer might do...as I said, it didn't look like any even came close to the broken end of the thermometer, but I don't really know how mercury reacts once the thermometer has been broken...

Any thoughts?? Should I dump this?

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Old 01-22-2011, 11:50 PM   #2
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Mercury does not dissociate (dissolve) in water. It might suspend, but its molecular weight is way to high for it to suspend for more than a microsecond or two. Its density is much much higer than water therefore it will sink to the bottom of your fermenter. Chances are that not much leaked out of your thermometer. And the tiny bit that did leak out would sink right to the bottom. The lethal dose of mercury (taken in one sitting) is about 4 grams (more if you are heavier). There is less than half a gram of mercury in thermometers (unless you have a super giant one but why would you). So that means your entire fermenter has only a fraction of half a gram and even that amount is diminished since it sinks. Im currently in medical school and mercury/methyl mercury poisoning was one of my papers during my first year.

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Old 01-23-2011, 12:01 AM   #3
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Are you sure it was a mercury thermometer? I could be very wrong, but I thought they no longer made them with mercury.

Unless your thermometer contained a silver liquid it is not mercury. Most likely a red-dyed alcohol based liquid.

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Old 01-23-2011, 12:02 AM   #4
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No, I'm not sure at all - just kind of assumed it would be mercury. What else could have been used in this thermometer? And then what are the dangers that that substance would pose??

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Old 01-23-2011, 12:10 AM   #5
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Well if its a red dye thermometer then you have even less to worry about health wise. Im not too sure about its affect on the beer but it shouldnt really matter since its just ethanol in alcohol thermometers. Plus its only a minisule amount in there.

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Old 01-23-2011, 12:14 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses guys...feeling a little bit better about this now...will probably wait it out and not dump it.

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Old 01-23-2011, 04:51 AM   #7
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YOU HAVE A MERCURY THERMOMETER? Get a different one. I would never use mercury with anything I am consuming.

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Old 01-23-2011, 05:46 PM   #8
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I have a couple thermometers...one is a stainless steel one (I think) that I use with my kettle...but I had this other one that I use to check the temp of my yeast, wort in fermentor before pitching yeast, hydro sample, etc... I don't know that it was mercury or not - just kind of assumed it was, but I'll make sure to replace it with something that is most definitely NOT mercury...just in case I do something dumb like this in the future

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Bottled:
Future Brews: a gluten-free beer for my mother-in-law, barleywine
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:39 PM   #9
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If the liquid is red it is alcohol...if the liquid is silver it is mercury

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