Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > How is my airlock?
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Old 03-14-2013, 01:15 PM   #1
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Default How is my airlock?

I heard of many people using balloons as airlocks and just letting the air out when they get full, but I actually did it and found that on the large bottle openings (around 4cm) they just naturally let the pressure out and never inflate, I can also squeeze the balloon and they hiss out the extra air inside.

So I am thinking... Do I really need proper brewing airlocks? To me I don't see any reason other than being able to time the bubbles, and I could also just time the farts with this if i want haha. This is easier, cheaper and thus I will never run out of airlocks. I do of course clean the inside of the balloon very well before using.

These are 2 ciders btw, am thinking to brew beer the same though.

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Old 03-14-2013, 01:22 PM   #2
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Sorry bro. That won't work well for beer.

You want the air in the headspace to be able to easily escape and be replaced by CO2. A good ferment would probably blow the balloon off if it forms a seal. If the seal is weak you risk contamination. Also, I'm not sure how well you can sanitize a balloon.

Airlocks are cheap. Why not use the correct gear?

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Old 03-14-2013, 01:25 PM   #3
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For me i use regular airlocks. For less than $2 bucks a piece and i can use them countless times for anything i'm brewing, I see no reason to use a balloon or other. You can also just get tubing and place in a cup of sanitizer for your airlock. IF thats all you have then go for it. Just have to make sure it doesnt let any air in and it should work fine.

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Old 03-14-2013, 01:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Noz03 View Post
To me I don't see any reason other than being able to time the bubbles
Ask around...timing the bubbles is the least useful aspect of an airlock.
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Old 03-14-2013, 01:42 PM   #5
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Air locks are cheap. Like 3 bucks. Are you willing to risk contamination over $3?
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Old 03-14-2013, 01:44 PM   #6
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I agree. Airlocks are only a couple dollars. & they let the co2 being produced to mix with the air in the head space. Eventually overtaking it & resulting in just co2 in said head space. Cheap insurance to get a good,safe ferment.
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Old 03-14-2013, 01:45 PM   #7
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The airlock is all about sanitation. You don't want to run the risk of anything wild yeasts or anything getting into your fermenter. For $2 it is not a huge expense. The balloons in my opinion would probably not be a proper way to seal.
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Old 03-14-2013, 01:46 PM   #8
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I don't think timing the bubbles is accurate to determine when fermentation is complete. But it's a good window into when you might take a sample to actually check with a hydrometer.
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Old 03-14-2013, 01:48 PM   #9
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Back when I used to make hobo wine in college, I used balloon airlocks on plastic jugs similar to your setup, except that I would poke several pin-prick sized holes in the balloon to allow gas to escape when pressure built up. The positive pressure from fermentation and the self-sealing nature of rubber were enough to keep any air from ever getting back in. The balloons would even inflate just a little bit, but not as big as in your picture. The hobo wine always turned out fine this way (or as fine as hobo wine can be, anyway).

That being said, airlocks are cheap. Rubber stoppers are cheap. There's really no reason not to use a proper airlock.
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Old 03-14-2013, 01:50 PM   #10
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While I don't think you're necessarily risking much by using ballons, I have to agree with the others who're wondering why you're not just using the correct equipment. At least at my local shop, standard 3-piece airlocks are ninety-five cents a pop. I buy one whenever I go, whether I actually need it right then or not. Seems like there are more worthwhile ways to cut corners than playing around with balloons, ya know?

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