Possible misinformation about plastic fermentation buckets - Home Brew Forums
Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Possible misinformation about plastic fermentation buckets
Cool Brewing Giveaway - Supporting Membership Drive & Discount

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 06-26-2012, 11:25 AM   #1
jarrodaden
Recipes 
 
Nov 2011
houston, texas
Posts: 151
Liked 4 Times on 4 Posts



I recently purchased a glass carboy thinking that I would begin using secondary fermentation. When I purchased the carboy, I put my wort into the carboy using it as the primary. It was later on this forum that I was told that the plastic bucket is better for a primary because when using the plastic bucket for a secondary, air could permeate into it causing undesired results.

I have been thinking about this and I am not sure that this is necessarily true. The fermentation process produces gas. Thus the reason for an airlock. The airlock will only release the gas when the pressure inside the fermenter is higher than outside.

That being said, if the pressure is higher inside than outside the fermenter I do not see how air would have any tendency to permeate into the fermenter. The only thing that might cause this is if the fermenter drops in temperature and the outside temperature becomes relatively higher there might be a brief moment that the pressure is actually higher outside than inside the fermenter. It is a fact that a set volume of gas will increase in pressure in the temperature rises and vice versa.

Some of us (including me) have seen this happened first hand when they put their wort into the bucket while it was still a bit warmer than room temperature. The following morning they come back to find the liquid in the airlock has been sucked into the fermenter. Set volume of gas is cooled and the pressure drops.

The key in my estimation is to transfer to the secondary while there is still a small amount of off gassing occurring so that the secondary will have a chance to build up gas again once it is sealed.

Another note - An "s bend" airlock has an added benefit if you understand the manometer principle. It will not only function as an airlock, it will give you an indication of how much higher the pressure is inside the fermenter vs outside. You don't necessarily need bubbles to know whether or not the fermenter is slightly under pressure due to off gas.

All of this said, I will still use the bucket for the primary because of ease of cleaning but thought it would be helpful to others to share a little science.



 
Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2012, 11:33 AM   #2
Revvy
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
 
Revvy's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Dec 2007
"Detroitish" Michigan
Posts: 40,890
Liked 3159 Times on 1869 Posts


Very few people give any real credence to the whole glass vs plastic idiocy. Most of us laugh when we hear those arguments bandied about. It's usually from the extremely noobish, and/or unscrupulous (or just plain ignorant) LHBS people trying to pimp an expensive glass carboy to the unsuspecting, rather than a cheaper (and just as fine) better bottle or plastic bucket.

The yeast don't care what they do their job in....In reality a fermenter is a fermenter is a fermenter.....glass, plastic, carboy, bucket, jerry can, keg, milk jug, ceramic crock, glass hurricane jar, stainless steel or plastic conicals, pet food storage vessels (vittle vaults), HD or Lowe's buckets, frosting buckets, water jugs, the old Mr Beer jug...All of those and anything you can think of, all work perfectly fine, and have been used by hundreds if not thousands of brewers...

No one type is better or worse than any other...good beer or crappy beer can be made in all of them, dependant onthe brewer, NOT what it's fermented in...

It's really just a matter of preference, nothing more....

It really isn't rocket science, it's really about using what works for you.

The only better or best in this race has to be what you've misunderstood. It's better to use a carboy (be it glass or plastic) as A SECONDARY, rather than a bucket, and that has to do with HEADSPACE (if you choose to use a secondary at all.) It doesn't matter what you use as a primary......


__________________
Like my snazzy new avatar? Get Sons of Zymurgy swag, here, and brew with the best.

Revvy's one of the cool reverends. He has a Harley and a t-shirt that says on the back "If you can read this, the bitch was Raptured. - Madman

I gotta tell ya, just between us girls, that Revvy is HOT. Very tall, gorgeous grey hair and a terrific smile. He's very good looking in person, with a charismatic personality... he drives like a ****ing maniac! - YooperBrew

6
People Like This 
Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2012, 12:02 PM   #3
duboman
Recipes 
 
Jul 2011
Glenview, IL
Posts: 6,368
Liked 507 Times on 469 Posts


Ever since I started brewing I have been using buckets as primaries and carboys as secondary, both have been serving me well for many years. Some of my buckets are 5 years old and to date I have never had a beer go bad or infection.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2012, 12:36 PM   #4
Spartangreen
Recipes 
 
Jan 2012
Holland, MI
Posts: 294
Liked 13 Times on 12 Posts


My theory is, that at some point CO2 stops being expelled by the fermentation process, and there is no longer a positive pressure airlock (higher pressure inside the fermenter). At that point oxygen can begin to migrate through the vessel walls. I don't know how long this takes,, weeks, months? Or if the rate is even enough to effect beer. But the fact that so many people can make great beer that sits in a HDPE pail for 3-4 weeks or longer without issue, is a testament that most of these polymers are acceptable for fermentation vessels.

*Glass is zero.
Oxygen permeability of different polymers.
Polymer Oxygen permeability (x10-13 cm3. cm cm-2 s-1 Pa-1
LDPE-low density poly ethylene 2.0
HDPE-High density poly ethylene 0.4
PET-Polyethylene terephthalate 0.03
PP-Polypropylene 1.7
PC-Polycarbonate 1.0
PS-Polystyrene 2.0

 
Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2012, 12:49 PM   #5
Ctforte
Recipes 
 
May 2012
Posts: 71
Liked 10 Times on 6 Posts


Quote:
Originally Posted by jarrodaden
The key in my estimation is to transfer to the secondary while there is still a small amount of off gassing occurring so that the secondary will have a chance to build up gas again once it

Had the same thoughts about when to transfer but now I have my own co2 tank and I try to purge all my fermentors of oxygen. It's probably not that effective but helps me sleep at night

 
Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2012, 12:49 PM   #6
jkendal
Recipes 
 
Jun 2012
Burton, TX
Posts: 219
Liked 12 Times on 9 Posts


Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
The yeast don't care what they do their job in....In reality a fermenter is a fermenter is a fermenter.....glass, plastic, carboy, bucket, jerry can, keg, milk jug, ceramic crock, glass hurricane jar, stainless steel or plastic conicals, pet food storage vessels (vittle vaults), HD or Lowe's buckets, frosting buckets, water jugs, the old Mr Beer jug...All of those and anything you can think of, all work perfectly fine, and have been used by hundreds if not thousands of brewers...
I once saw an article where a guy made a pumpkin ale and did the primary in a carved-out pumpkin fitted with an airlock. Pretty cool.

3
People Like This 
Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2012, 01:17 PM   #7
Revvy
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
 
Revvy's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Dec 2007
"Detroitish" Michigan
Posts: 40,890
Liked 3159 Times on 1869 Posts


Quote:
Originally Posted by Spartangreen View Post
But the fact that so many people can make great beer that sits in a HDPE pail for 3-4 weeks or longer without issue, is a testament that most of these polymers are acceptable for fermentation vessels.
Many people have left beer in buckets and other plastic vessels for YEARS with no issues.

But yeah, as you posted, the difference between most plastics and glass is really negligible.
__________________
Like my snazzy new avatar? Get Sons of Zymurgy swag, here, and brew with the best.

Revvy's one of the cool reverends. He has a Harley and a t-shirt that says on the back "If you can read this, the bitch was Raptured. - Madman

I gotta tell ya, just between us girls, that Revvy is HOT. Very tall, gorgeous grey hair and a terrific smile. He's very good looking in person, with a charismatic personality... he drives like a ****ing maniac! - YooperBrew

Spartangreen Likes This 
Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2012, 01:18 PM   #8
Revvy
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
 
Revvy's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Dec 2007
"Detroitish" Michigan
Posts: 40,890
Liked 3159 Times on 1869 Posts


Quote:
Originally Posted by jkendal View Post
I once saw an article where a guy made a pumpkin ale and did the primary in a carved-out pumpkin fitted with an airlock. Pretty cool.
Yeah the only issue was some mold formation on the pumpkin lid.

Just wait til after Big Brew Day in November, I'm going to do and post something that's going to blow everybody's minds.
__________________
Like my snazzy new avatar? Get Sons of Zymurgy swag, here, and brew with the best.

Revvy's one of the cool reverends. He has a Harley and a t-shirt that says on the back "If you can read this, the bitch was Raptured. - Madman

I gotta tell ya, just between us girls, that Revvy is HOT. Very tall, gorgeous grey hair and a terrific smile. He's very good looking in person, with a charismatic personality... he drives like a ****ing maniac! - YooperBrew

onipar Likes This 
Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2012, 01:31 PM   #9
Zamial
Recipes 
 
Apr 2010
WI
Posts: 3,168
Liked 176 Times on 157 Posts


I left a 13% Tart Cherry Braggot, on cherries, in secondary of an Ale Pail for 8 months. It is super yummy and not oxidized at all. Yooper has had some and I am sure she would have told me about it. It was force carbed and has been in bottles for a few months now. The bucket now has beer stone inside it, it sat so long.

I plan to make a second batch of this but will prob not leave it on the cherries quite so long and will use a carboy as all my buckets have been converted to do sours. In the fore mentioned bucket I have a Lambic going that will be in there for nearly 10 months.

YMMV but that is my story.

IMO:
Buckets: are cheap and work well. The 2 big draw backs are not being able to see the fermentation (Which is HUGE for new brewers) and scratching the inside. There is also a very real danger of getting "suck back" when lifting one full with an airlock attached.

Better bottles and Glass Carboys: These are great for new brewers because they can see what is happening. They are also great for wine so you know when it is done clearing, this can be months.

I use both bucket and glass. The right tool for the job.
__________________
I'm not drunk, I'm from Wisconsin.
We have been out drinking your state since 1848!

Revvy Likes This 
Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2012, 01:38 PM   #10
GreenDragon
Recipes 
 
Dec 2010
Wichita, KS
Posts: 416
Liked 4 Times on 4 Posts


My only issue with plastic buckets is that plastic can, and eventually will, scratch. Those scratches are a great place for baddies to hide. I've only had one infection since I started brewing and that was in a plastic bucket (Ed's Oktoberfest too.. I almost cried!). If for no other reason then a false sense of security I only brew in glass now.


__________________
-------------------------------------------------
Keg 1 : Castle Dea Oatmeal Stout
Keg 2 : What About Bock
Bottled: Summer Dea Wheat

 
Reply With Quote
Reply
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Plastic Bottling Buckets tiberiustibz Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 6 02-21-2012 07:07 PM
Clear plastic buckets. Jbird Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 23 12-30-2011 09:42 PM
Used Plastic Buckets as a Fermenter? Scruffy1207 Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 14 04-18-2011 05:21 PM
cleaning out plastic buckets BrewBoy19 Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 12 12-19-2010 05:01 AM
Help- Next Step after plastic buckets? WayneTree Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 7 04-25-2009 04:28 PM


Forum Jump