Auto-siphon vs. Mouth

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jvp1

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Hi y'all,

I have a question that I figure might come down to preference. I've heard from various people that you either cannot start the siphon with your mouth or that it doesn't make a difference. Some say that the bacteria from your mouth can ruin your beer while my local homebrew guy swears that it won't make a difference (and that if you want, you can sanitize your mouth with some vodka and a couple Hail Marys, but that sucking beer through a straw is one of the best parts about homebrewing...)

I have to imagine this board is kind of divided on this issue. Is it a matter of personal preference, or is it a very important sticking point?

Thanks
 

unionrdr

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Never use your mouth to start a siphon,I don't care what they say. Your mouth is a germ riddled pit,they're even on your teeth! Get an auto siphon,it's way easier. Or better yet,put the white/red Italian spigots on your fermenters. They have a recess on the spout to except a 3/8" tube for racking or bottling. I love'em. The easiest way to do it & no mouth germs.
 

djfriesen

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I look at it as a comparison of cost. Save one batch from a bacteria infection, and you've paid for your auto-siphon (and this doesn't even account for the hassle of fixing any plastic equipment that is compromised in the process). I guess I would rather fork out the coin for an autopishon or find a way to prime the siphon w/o my mouth rather than risk losing a batch. I'm sure people have gotten away with it for years, but people get away with a lot of stupid stuff in the name of laziness or thrift.

The risk far outweighs the benefit, in my mind, so that's my decision made.
 

neosapien

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I just hold the end of the siphon up at the same level of the top of my primary and pour a bit of water down the tube (but not enough to get into my beer-to-be). Thumb over it, empty the water I poured down the tube into my dishwasher to get the suction going then move it into my fermentation jug once it's transferring. No mouth, no auto-siphon (don't own one yet), doesn't lose or disturb things too much. I've also heard from people often that mouth is a germ-haven. That's not to say people haven't had success using that method, it just seems inviting disaster you don't need to add.
 

dukesbb37

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I just do the carboy cap trick. I stick my racking cane in one nipple of the cap, and then gently blow in the other nipple to start the siphon.

You will hear plenty of "DONT EVER USE YOUR MOUTH" ... It depends on what works for you. Some people like to be over-cautious, some people like to scientifically measure every step of the beer, some people just wing it... All 3 have pros and cons...

Ive started about 200-300 siphons this way and havn't had a contaminated beer yet... But I suppose if I did... and I could somehow determine it was from the siphon method... I couldn't complain.
 

unionrdr

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It's one of the things we learned in the living sciences. We had to swab different parts of our mouth,then onto a couple different slides. You'd be surprised what we've come to co-exist with. It's the whole basic anxium behind War of the Worlds! IE; what we've become accostumed to began to kill them...:drunk: So dodging bullets so far is not a good way to live. Just a cheap one,& nothing more. Having a cold,flu,or something worse might introduce something really nastie that the little bit of alcohol may not kill.
When it's so easy to avoid,I value my hide more than saving a couple bucks.
 

BrewKnurd

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There are few things that I will be so "line in the sand" about when it comes to brewing, but I simply cannot see any good reason to siphon by mouth. Spend 2 dollars on a turkey baster if you don't want to buy an autosiphon. Or just submerge the majority of your racking tube in the beer and put your sanitized thumb over it. Pull the tubing out, you'll have a column of beer in there, use that to start your siphon. Or use the method of filling with sanitizer and use that to start your siphon.
 
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Yeah, I used my mouth when I bottled my first batch a couple weeks ago. FWIW, I did dip it in sanitizer after. It's fine, but I'll be using an auto siphon next time.
 

amandabab

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I use the old little bit of sanitizer in the hose and siphon clamp method.
never even owned an auto siphon, but I'd NEVER use the mouth method.
 
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jvp1

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No mouth, eh. My HB guy strongly recommended against an auto-siphon, so I might try the T method or just starting a vacuum with sanitizer/beer.

I do think my HB guy would be offended if I walked in and picked up an auto-siphon already :S
 

BrewKnurd

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No mouth, eh. My HB guy strongly recommended against an auto-siphon, so I might try the T method or just starting a vacuum with sanitizer/beer.
What reasons did he give? Just that it wasn't necessary? Or did he have an actual objection?

I do think my HB guy would be offended if I walked in and picked up an auto-siphon already :S
If your "HB guy" is offended that you buy a product that he carries from him... ummmm... he has issues. :D
 

unionrdr

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That does sound odd. He should know better by now. Get it anyway,he may not be as knowledgable as previously anticipated.
 
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jvp1

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He felt it wasn't necessary, mostly.

I don't know if he'd be offended, or I'd be embarrassed. I imagine a lot of these stores have newbies walking in once and never coming back and this place kind of feels like one of those record stores, you know, where the staff is very knowledgeable but not so approachable.
 

BrewKnurd

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I don't know if he'd be offended, or I'd be embarrassed. I imagine a lot of these stores have newbies walking in once and never coming back and this place kind of feels like one of those record stores, you know, where the staff is very knowledgeable but not so approachable.
Well, this can be a good test. Go in and buy the autosiphon. If he gives you crap about it, then maybe you just figured out this isn't the shop for you. It sure wouldn't be the shop for me.
 

Grumpybumpy

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I just fill up the hosing and cane with water from the sink, siphon some sanitizer so it's full of it, start racking the beer into a pot until beer comes out, then move to the bucket. Very easy and sanitary
 

amandabab

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No mouth, eh. My HB guy strongly recommended against an auto-siphon, so I might try the T method or just starting a vacuum with sanitizer/beer.

I do think my HB guy would be offended if I walked in and picked up an auto-siphon already :S
If he's offended by selling a product, buy elsewhere.
I can't understand him being strongly anti auto-siphon. they aren't evil or anything.
 

TLeahey

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Ever since I purchased my 8 gallon brew pot with a ball valve I usually never siphon. I transfer from my pot to primary using the ball valve and 1/2 ID tubing and fill from the bottom up. Transferring from primary to secondary, same thing. Only change is using a 5/8 ID tubing that fits my primary valve.
 

djfriesen

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I just fill up the hosing and cane with water from the sink, siphon some sanitizer so it's full of it, start racking the beer into a pot until beer comes out, then move to the bucket. Very easy and sanitary
I used to do this, and then borrowed an autosiphon from a friend. I won't ever go back.
 

Zuljin

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If he's offended by selling a product, buy elsewhere.
I can't understand him being strongly anti auto-siphon. they aren't evil or anything.
An Auto-siphon killed my family.

Oh, wait. That was a Decepticon.

Plenty of great options here to not suck hose.
 
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No mouth, eh. My HB guy strongly recommended against an auto-siphon, so I might try the T method or just starting a vacuum with sanitizer/beer.

I do think my HB guy would be offended if I walked in and picked up an auto-siphon already :S
I feel a bit silly asking for stuff at my LHBS, too. But probably since I've only been in a couple times so far. It's a small store in a small town. I like to think they were being kind to not put the big sell on a wanderer-in. Soon enough I'll be bombarding those poor guys with questions and requests, thanks to HBT. :mug:
 

ncbrewer

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I start the siphon with the tube full of star san method - works really well. This link is a good demo:
 
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neosapien

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An Auto-siphon killed my family.

Oh, wait. That was a Decepticon.

Plenty of great options here to not suck hose.
dude, didn't you know the next generation of decepticons hide as auto-siphons!?
 

BrewKnurd

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dude, didn't you know the next generation of decepticons hide as auto-siphons!?
This would explain why I sometimes find my auto-siphon somewhere other than where I thought I left it. I always assumed it was just the drinking that made me forget where I left it.... but now I know the truth. THANK YOU
 

jmprdood

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If you don't want to siphon, use a primary with a spigot and put a length of tubing on it, easy. Though, to all you auto-siphon fans, we didn't have 'em back in the day, so we did as Charlie said and rinsed our mouths with vodka and did it that way (OH MY GOD!!!), never had a problem - beer is tougher than we give it credit for...
Cheers!
 

cullen

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I've always used the "fill the siphon tube and racking cane with water" method. It's easier than sucking, IMHO, and I don't generally have vodka on hand.

OTOH, I haven't needed to siphon since buying a conical and a bottling bucket with a spigot.
 

eastoak

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if a auto siphon cost $50 i could understand the debate but i think they are something like $10.
 
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jvp1

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I feel a bit silly asking for stuff at my LHBS, too. But probably since I've only been in a couple times so far. It's a small store in a small town. I like to think they were being kind to not put the big sell on a wanderer-in. Soon enough I'll be bombarding those poor guys with questions and requests, thanks to HBT. :mug:
That's my predicament.



Thanks to everyone for the tips, tricks, and suggestions. I'll use my racking cane for now and probably pick up an auto-siphon my next time in.
 

ncbrewer

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I start the siphon with the tube full of star san method - works really well. This link is a good demo:

I realized I've changed a little from the method in the video. Here is my current method:
Sanitize cane, tube, and hands. Have the anti-sediment cup on the end of the racking cane. Attach tube to racking cane. Hold racking cane and tubing with the open ends up – both together at the same elevation. Pour Star-San into end of tube, moving tube and cane as needed until cane and tube are completely filled, with no air bubbles. Put thumb over end of tube. Gently turn over the racking cane and lower it into the full bucket. Lower the end of the tube to a small pan. Take thumb off the end of the tube – the siphon will start. Siphon the Star-San into the pan. When beer gets to the end, put thumb over the tube again. Move end of tube to bottling bucket. Remove thumb. Siphon will re-start.
 

ODI3

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Just attach a smaller or larger tube to the syphon tube, suck on the attached piece then when the syphon starts detach the attached piece before the liquid gets that far down the hose.
 

Homercidal

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Flyguy has a genius way to start a siphon with your mouth sanitarily using a tee. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/flyguys-t-siphon-3-replacement-autosiphon-25774/
I love my autosiphon, and use it on cooled wort or beer.

But since my hot wort melted my first one, I haven't used it right after boil. Then I heard about the T method and I've been using it ever since. Works great and is sanitary! Just about the easiest thing to make and use.

Of course once I get my BK rigged up with a spigot I will not have any use for it.
 

djfriesen

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I love my autosiphon, and use it on cooled wort or beer.

But since my hot wort melted my first one, I haven't used it right after boil. Then I heard about the T method and I've been using it ever since. Works great and is sanitary! Just about the easiest thing to make and use.

Of course once I get my BK rigged up with a spigot I will not have any use for it.
I looked at that T method and I think my tubing lengths must be too long. I found it almost impossible to start a siphon and keep it going. I still have all my equipment for it, so maybe I'll revisit it sometime, like when I break the autosiphon. As it is, the autosiphon is too convenient to abandon needlessly.
 

Homercidal

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I looked at that T method and I think my tubing lengths must be too long. I found it almost impossible to start a siphon and keep it going. I still have all my equipment for it, so maybe I'll revisit it sometime, like when I break the autosiphon. As it is, the autosiphon is too convenient to abandon needlessly.
I didn't have any problems when I remember to block off the end of the hose with my finger when sucking on the T, and clamping the T hose off after getting a good amount of wort going through the lines.
 

DrJerryrigger

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I used to use my mouth, never had a problem with infection after doing that. But now I just fill my siphon tube (some how I still don't have a proper raking cane) with sanstar and keep one end closed. Then put the other in the beer. I let the first runnings flow into a pt glass until they come out the color of the beer, and then into the bottling bucket (or whatever I'm doing).
If your just sucking you are only going to get bacteria on the out side of the tube. I would always clean my lips with rubbing alcohol before doing this, then wipe the outside of the tube with a sanitizer once the siphon started. Well most of the time, sometimes I didn't, and it worked out fine too.
Infections are less common, with even the most sloppy methods, that most brewers would have you believe. But it sure sucks when they do happen, and I now think it's worth taking even ridiculous steps to avoid. But not much will grow in a beer post fermentation. There are not simple sugars at this point, and you have some hops to keep things from growing, oh yeah, and there is ethanol.
 

ODI3

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I have upgraded from using a smaller tube to just sticking a tube from a pen into my syphon hose then sucking on the pen tube.
Remove the pen tube
 

m_stodd

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You can use the mouth method and be sanitary, but autosiphon is easy and has other benefits. I actually use my autosiphon just as much for sampling as I do for siphoning. Since the autosiphon has a one way valve, you can fill it by putting the bottom in liquid, then moving it up and down. No more uni-tasker.
 

F250

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There are few things that I will be so "line in the sand" about when it comes to brewing, but I simply cannot see any good reason to siphon by mouth. Spend 2 dollars on a turkey baster if you don't want to buy an autosiphon. Or just submerge the majority of your racking tube in the beer and put your sanitized thumb over it. Pull the tubing out, you'll have a column of beer in there, use that to start your siphon. Or use the method of filling with sanitizer and use that to start your siphon.
^^^^^This.

Rick
 
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