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Old 03-05-2007, 03:03 AM   #1
efreem01's Avatar
Dec 2006
Hicksville, NY
Posts: 261

Hey All, I'm only on my third batch as of now but i have learned a great deal about removing beer bottle labels. I thought i would share and see if anyone else has any additions to put in.

Removing paper labels from Bottles:
Fill up a sink, or tub with a decent amount of hot water. Add the appropriate amount of Oxy-Clean powder [1/2-1 cup per gallon]. Put as many bottles as you can fit in the sink/tub (make sure they're underwater) and just let them soak. In 20 minutes, the labels will literally be falling off of the bottles. Use a brillo pad, or SOS over the surface of the bottle to wipe off residual glue and paper. I've tried this trick with Budweiser, Sam Adams, and a half dozen other commercial beers.

Removing Clear Plastic Labels from Bottles:
When i was approaching bottling day with my first batch, i really only had one type of beer bottle in the house with a crown top. That's Amstel Light. It had the annoying clear plastic labels with some sort of crazy adhesive behind them. I tried the Oxy-Clean trick with these, but it's useless. The plastic creates a barrier so the solution can't get to the glue. First, you need something metal that can get under the label such as a knife or razor blade. Boil a pot of water and dip the bottle in for about two minutes. The bottle will be really hot, so i use cooking tongs. Use the razor to peel the corner of the label. Once you have enough to get a firm grip just peel off the label with your fingers. When the labels are all off, dip the bottle in the oxy-clean solution (see above) and use SOS to remove the adhesive. WIthout adding the oxy-clean, that adhesive is brutal.

Using these two methods (as i did 10 minutes ago) you can get any commercial beer bottle with a crown-top up to homebrew standards. Some beer bottles (sam adams) have a logo engraved in the bottle itself. This is just something we have to live with. I seriously recommend any crown top bottle with a paper label. They're a breeze.

I'm going to do a seperate post on printing and labeling a 'blank' beer bottle.
Primary : Nada
Secondary Edwort's Apfelwein, AHS Titannia Wheat On Deck: LHBS IPA [Recipe Unknown], Corona Clone (Lawnmower Beer)
Bottled: Spicy Orange Pale Ale, Stone Cold Brown Ale Kegged: Spicy Pumpkin Ale
"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading"

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Old 03-05-2007, 03:06 AM   #2
Jan 2007
Posts: 339
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Thats pretty much what I do. The first time I used my tub was also the last because I had tons of label residue to clean up. Now I just use my big ice chest that way I can just drain it and hose it out.

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Old 03-05-2007, 08:13 AM   #3
Sep 2006
Posts: 258

nobody else just use soapy water? works fine with all the bottles iv tried

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Old 03-05-2007, 11:03 PM   #4
RoaringBrewer's Avatar
Oct 2006
Lancaster County, PA
Posts: 1,787
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

I don't know much about screenprinting in general, but is there ANY way to remove screenprint from glass bottles so you can reuse them? paint thinner? anything? I don't even know what screenprint is honestly... I've searched yahoo and the forum for how to remove screenprint and nothing...

Or am I stuck using these arrogant bastard bottles I have for internal/personal use and buying 22oz. for gifts, etc. ? I guess its not that bad since the bottles rock, but it would be cool if there was a way to remove it too.

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Old 03-06-2007, 01:40 PM   #5
Oct 2006
Posts: 254
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Them Sam Adams bottles are a PITA... worst I've encountered. The Magic Hats I had fell off after a short soak.

Have yet to try the oxyclean though... I've heard good things about it.

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Old 03-06-2007, 01:45 PM   #6
Sir Humpsalot
Sir Humpsalot's Avatar
Nov 2006
Posts: 4,005
Liked 88 Times on 70 Posts

Steigel labels come off like panties on prom night, but Great Lakes Brewing company's really like to hang on for a long time.
In Process: Mango Beer, Homebrewers Pale Ale
Bottled/Kegged:Spicy Light Rye, Rice-adjunct Pale Ale, Mild Bourbon Porter, Roasty Stout, Basic Light Mead, Bourbon County Stout Clone
Up Next: Berlinerweiss, Chocolate Raspberry Ale, and American IPA

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Old 03-06-2007, 01:50 PM   #7
ayrton's Avatar
Aug 2006
South Jersey
Posts: 809
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I've noticed that most foreign beer labels will just fall off after a short soak, even without oxyclean. Stoudt's bottles are by far the biggest PITA, as you really have to scrub with a brillo pad to get all of the glue off. I hate de-labeling.
Primary 1: None
Primary 2: None
Secondary 1: None
Conditioning: None
Drinking: None (!)
Recently Kicked: None
Up Next: Beats me!

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Old 03-06-2007, 09:08 PM   #8
Mar 2007
New Jersey, for now at least!
Posts: 4

I thought you couldn't reuse regular beer bottles for homebrewing because they would explode or something like that. Was I wrong or is there a way to discover which bottles are OK to use? I've been using the grolsch type bottles, but I'd like to switch to normal bottles and your way would be a cheap way to do it.

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Old 03-06-2007, 11:40 PM   #9
Sep 2005
Baltimore, MD
Posts: 342

Originally Posted by SilkkyBrew
I don't know much about screenprinting in general, but is there ANY way to remove screenprint from glass bottles so you can reuse them? paint thinner? anything? I don't even know what screenprint is honestly... I've searched yahoo and the forum for how to remove screenprint and nothing...
I know a bit about screenprinting...

That ink is going to be a solvent based (oil / rubber based) ink, which is heat cured to the bottle.

You should be able to remove it with acetone or lacquer thinner. Simple paint thinner won't be enough.

You can probably buy a quart of the stuff at any hardware store - it ought to be enough to clean your bottles.

HOWEVER - these are toxic chemicals, and if it were my call, I wouldn't want them anywhere near comsumables. Now, between the 2, acetone dries much faster and is theoretically less harmful (it will feel cold like rubbing alcohol does when you get it on your hands - even through gloves due to the high evaporation rate). The disadvantage of this is that you end up using more to counteract how quickly it dries.

If it were me, I'd cap the bottles filled with water, to keep fumes and residues from getting inside your bottles. Buy some heavy, solvent proof gloves (not just disposable latex - HEAVY ones - thicker than dish washing gloves if you can find them). I'd tell you to wear a mask but this stuff goes through anything, so unless you have a respirator that blocks solvents, you might as well wear nothing.

In open air, with a breeze if possible, use an old towel torn into pieces to saturate the bottle fronts. It should immediately bleed and run. You'll want probably 3 rags with solvent, each cleaning more and more, and a fourth to wipe them clean with. Try not to pour solvent into grass, onto pavement, or anywhere that will lead into your water table or sewer run off. Don't be sloppy with this, and don't soak them in a bath of solvent. You'll probably eat through the rubber on the crown caps and lose your seal.

After they're clean and shiny again, let them air dry in the sun to allow as much solvent to evaporate. If you leave them for an hour and come back and smell them you should be able to tell if it's evaporated or not.

Finally, soak them in HOT soapy water, the kind of soap that removes grease and oil from dishes. You want nothing to do with acetone by the time your beer meets the bottles. Rinsing twice would be better. Three, better still.

That should hopefully work.

Want to do a quick test to see if this will work at all? Dip a q-tip into your wife or girlfriend's nail polish remover and swab your bottle. If it comes off with color on the cotton swab, you're in luck.

Also, want to see how screenprinting works? Youtube has the answers. This video shows making a screen and printing a shirt. There are rigs for bottles, mugs and glasses, as well as hats, shirts, and just about anything you can imagine.

Make beer, not bombs.
(...and not bottle bombs either.)
Primary Fermentor - *empty*
Primary Fermentor -

Secondary - Mystery IPA
Secondary -
Bottle Conditioning -
Keg Conditioning -

Draft: - Apfelwein, Belgian-style Dubbel w/ Grains of Paradise
Bottles:(and still in stock): FIRST AG - (I)IPA 4.1.07, PK's Warm Spring Marzen, Summer Cerveza -BANG, PK's Winter Spice II, Espresso Stout, Indiana Pale Ale, PK's Chocolate Bitter II, Porterfield Porter, and New Year's 2006 remnants.

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Old 03-07-2007, 12:05 AM   #10
Fire_travels's Avatar
Jan 2007
Central, Wisconsin
Posts: 206
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oxyclean FREE is the way to go!! in the mean time RDWAHA(F)HB!
primary = Nomadic Caribou Stout, 10 gallons Extra Pale Ale

1 gal. Primary = 2 gallons of Blueberry wine with a hint of honey

kegged = Three Hearted IPA

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