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Brewing Safety

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Brewing is a relatively safe hobby, but there are some aspects that can be hazardous, and these are not always obvious. Not long ago, I started a HomeBrewTalk thread called "Eye-Catching Safety Tips" with some hazards I was aware of. Other posters added some additional items. In this article, some of the hazards associated with brewing are identified. Since I'm not an authority on the subject, references are shown for those who would like more explanation. A key quote from each linked web page is included to give an indication of the content.
Bottle Bombs:
Bottling before fermentation is complete, adding too much priming sugar, failure to thoroughly mix in the priming sugar, bottle infection, and the use of poor quality bottles are the most common causes of bottle bombs. I also found a Beersmith article that discusses how storing bottled beer in a bright or hot area can cause bottle bombs.

Don't Let Bottle Bombs Ruin Your Day
Bottling Before Fermentation Is Complete:
Fermentables remaining in the beer at bottling time can continue to ferment and cause over carbonation and bottle bombs. Normally, only the priming sugar (or other fermentables added for priming) should be present when bottling. See the links below for more details...
  • "The only way to determine whether or not fermentation has finished is by taking gravity readings on consecutive days; if this reading remains constant, fermentation is complete." (Read more...)
  • "Bottle bombs typically occur when beer is bottled prior to fermentation ending, as the yeast are continuing to eat the sugars in the beer along with the added priming sugar. This concern underscores the need to take hydrometer readings to determine when primary fermentation is truly complete." (Read more...)
  • "One of the chief causes of exploding homebrew bottles is beer that has not been fully fermented before bottling." (Read more...)

Over Priming:

Too much of a good thing can cause problems. See the links below for more details...
  • "Sugar density varies tremendously depending on who made the sugar " one cup of corn sugar from one manufacturer weigh dramatically more than another. Weigh your priming sugar " dont just measure it by volume. You can calculate the exact weight of priming sugar needed using a spreadsheet, online calculator or BeerSmith" (Read more...)
Not Mixing In The Priming Sugar:
Opinions differ on whether stirring is necessary. Some advocate letting the beer whirlpool when racking to the bottling bucket and letting this do the mixing. You'll have to decide for yourself. See the links below for more details...
  • "Another area where one can make bottle bombs is by not properly mixing the priming sugar after adding to the beer. If the sugar doesnt mix well, it wont be distributed evenly between the bottles." (Read more...)
  • "You don't NEED to stir the priming solution when you add it to the bucket, I NEVER DO, and I've never had a problem with inconsistent carbonation." (Read more...)

Infection:
Bacteria can continue fermenting in the bottle and cause bottle bombs. See the link below for more details...
  • "The brewers arch nemesis, bacterial infection, is known to create bottle bombs as well." (Read more...)
Bottle Quality:
Naturally, poor quality or damaged bottles can be a problem. See the link below for more details...
Storing Bottled Beer In A Hot Or Bright Area:
I was unaware of this possibility until I started researching for this article. See the link for more details...
"Light and heat break down critical flavor compounds, promote additional fermentation and increase the CO2 pressure in the bottle." (Read more...)
Broken Carboys:
Obviously, glass carboys can break and cause injuries, but not everyone is aware of just how easily they can break.
General Considerations:
See the links below for more details...
  • "So, not saying all glass is a problem, but please be extra careful if you lift them when they are full. Buy some heavy gloves!" (Read more...)
  • "Well, it looks like Midwest came out with a "version 2" of their glass big mouth bubbler. Supposedly it has thicker glass walls, up to 17% thicker than the previous model." (Read more...)
  • "I took delivery yesterday of my BMB EVO2. I was impressed with the thickness of the glass and the general "feel" of the jar. It is about the same weight as a 6.5 gal. glass carboy and appears to be made of glass of similar thickness." (Read more...)
  • "Weve taken the revolutionary Big Mouth Bubbler glass and re-engineered it with the help of world-class Polish master glassmakers to ensure sturdy, solid, superior craftsmanship." (Read more...)
  • "A glass carboy, especially one filled with liquid, will explode into razor-sharp shrapnel when dropped." (Read more...)
Thermal Shock:
See the links below for more details...
  • "Glass (carboys and bottles) will likely break if you try to sanitize them with boiling water." (Read more...)
  • "If you are using a glass carboy, never pour hot wort directly into it, it will break from the temperature difference." (Read more...)
Rough Handling:
See the link below for more details...
  • "Will shatter if you bump them against any solid surface" (Read more...)

"Carrying" Handle:

Handles such as these are meant for carrying empty carboys - not full. Most, if not all, catalogs state this, but you may not remember, or you may buy a used one. See the links below for more details...
  • "Simply lifting a full glass carboy by its neck can break the neck off." (Read more...)
  • "There is always the chance of breaking the neck when using a Carboy handle when the Carboy is full." (Read more...)
  • "You should never pick up a full carboy by the handle alone: the neck just isn't designed for that kind of stress." (Read more...)
Using Propane Without Ventilation:
See the links below for more details...
  • "It is imperative that turkey fryers are used outdoors." (Read more...)
  • "This cooker is to be used outdoors only. Do not operate indoors (house, tent, garage) or in any unventilated or enclosed area." (Read more...)
Burns:
The links below demonstrate a few of the ways you can get burned...
  • "And not in the least, leaving water in the immersion chiller, without hoses attached and dunking it in the boiling wort will cause an unintentional steam shower." (Read more...)
  • "Do NOT stand close to your turkey fryer burner on full blast while wearing corduroy or other flammable type material pants, which is easy to do on a cold brew day, or while checking the floating thermometer or adding hops to the kettle. Said pants WILL catch fire..." (Read more...)
In Summary:
Brewing is a great hobby. It's fun, you use your imagination, and you end up with (hopefully) great beer to drink. But there are a few ways you or someone else can get injured. This article discusses the not-so-obvious ones that I'm aware of - you may know of some others. Let's all be mindful of safety.
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Let me add, When pumping boiling hot wort, be sure that the hose connections are tight and that there are no blockages.
 
When attempting to cool down the boil kettle and the wort chiller hose slips out of the sink splashing hot water on your feet and the kitchen floor. Not fun stuff
 
wear gloves when changing QC on hoses.
particularly on your boil kettle
circular scar is a good reminder....
 
If you have a leak in the valve on your mash tun...don't reach down into the mash to tighten a bolt. That seems pretty obvious, but after a few beers I thought I could do it...
 
nice article, brewing its very exciting and funny. But a minimum detail can take the batch to the pipes, I think being very sensible in every thing you do at brewing day is the ebst thing you can do.
 
When washing bottles or handling carboys I always wear a pair of cut resistant gloves. My favorites are the Ansel Hyflex because they have grip on the palms. They aren't exactly cheap, but they are MUCH cheaper than my insurance deductible... I think the home improvement stores might carry cut resistant gloves as well. I work at a testing lab and if you are touching glass, the gloves must be on.
 
Lots of good info, but one more element I'll add: STORAGE. See whta happened to me nearly 3 years ago. I got new shelving and haven't had a problem since. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=347589
 
Proper lifting. It is just about impossible to lift a kettle of hot wort properly, with the load close to your body. It is a heavy load, and a back or shoulder injury can really impact your quality of life.
Lay out your brewing process thoughtfully, and minimise the amount of lifting required.
 
Bringing wort to a boil is not the only way to create a boil-over. Adding hops, especially the first hopping, can cause a massive boil-over as the pellets become a nucleation point as they instantly disintegrate and flood the top with hot break. Always turn the heat down or off before adding hops and do so slowly at first, just to see how the wort will react to them.
 
@Vamptrump I have a set of silicone oven mits ($16) that are great for reaching into mashes with to tighten things up or insert the manifold you forgot to put in before you mashed in DUH!
 
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