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Broken Glass Carboy Horror Stories Compendium

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DeafSmith

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As I recall, in some of those cases, the carboy was said to have broken without obvious cause - not dropped or bumped. I wonder if the reason might be, at least in part, weakened glass due to cleaning with strong solutions of caustic cleaners, or adding powdered cleaner to an empty carboy. This is described in a report from the Better Bottle company:

"Washing and Sanitizing Home Winemaking and Brewing Equipment", available on their website:

http://www.better-bottle.com/ (click Technical -> Wash/Sanitize - click on link in second paragraph).

"AN IMPORTANT WARNING
....
Glass, soft glass in particular, is slightly soluble in water and more soluble if the water contains caustics, which are common ingredients in washing agents. As glass dissolves from the surface of glass objects, micro cracks form and the strength of the object becomes increasingly compromised. With continued use, glass carboys become more and more fragile. Thus, a mode of handling that you may have executed many times with a given carboy can result in an unexpected breakage. Never carry glass carboys by their necks and be aware that even lifting a full glass carboy off a counter by placing your hands around its base can cause it to crack wide open. Carboy carrying harnesses are not an ideal solution, as they do not provide protection from flying glass shards. Carrying bags and crates offer greater protection. Washing glass carboys is especially dangerous, because they will be, of necessity, uncovered and likely to be slippery – always wear protective gloves and clothing."

Of course this was placed on their website to encourage people to buy their product, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.
 

TNGabe

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How many of these carboy horror stories involve milk crates with foam in the bottom? Where do you get 6.5 gallon better bottles? I can't seem to find them anywhere.
 

mariojr

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Not even sure what this post is supposed to accomplish? Do we all not know that when glass breaks it is sharp so we need to be careful when handling it?
 

swackattack

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Its a glass bottle, not a grenade. Im willing to bet more injuries have occured driving to lhbs than with glass carboys. Does that mean we shouldnt drive? No.
 

Gear101

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I have five of those still around the house, I hate moving glass. Maybe I should just off them on CL and move to SS or BBs.
 
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passedpawn
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Not even sure what this post is supposed to accomplish? Do we all not know that when glass breaks it is sharp so we need to be careful when handling it?
No. Obviously not or it wouldn't keep happening.

I don't have any agenda here. I just wanted to put together a bunch of links I've been saving since I broke my own glass carboy. If you don't like the post, just move on.
 

Intheswamp

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Those are some nasty pictures...but reality. I would imagine that this doesn't happen very frequently, but if it's you that it happens to then it's much too frequent!

I'm a newbee just starting out...a beekeeper who has started a couple of batches of mead. I had read a few posts about carboys breaking and they have caused me to stop and think about things.

I purchased two 3-gallon carboys and presently have one in use. I have only moved it once with must in it. I'm going to rethink my moving method (one hand on neck and one hand on bottom) and see if I can't come up with a "bag" for them. I've also got two older 5/6(?) gallon carboys that I've managed to hang onto for years...they've been hauled around here and there and I'm sure bumped and banged around a little. I'm wondering if it might be better to skip using these.

Anyhow, thanks for the reinforcement to be careful with these big jugs. I'm 55 years old and not the least bit interested in getting sliced meat sewn up. BTW, when I see a bad car wreck (or a fender-bender for that matter) it reminds me to slow down, buckle up, watch for the other guy, etc.,. ;)

Ed
 

Arrheinous

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Silicon dioxide, the chief component of glass along with some other compounds, is pretty soluble in water as a powder. Becomes very soluble (maybe 20wt%) with high pH (NaOH) when trying to form water glass.

Pulls a lot of water out of the air even. Been doing some research with these types of materials, neat stuff.
 

Intheswamp

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aubiecat

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Those pictures and stories are the reason I don't use glass carboys anymore. With me it wouldn't be a matter of "if" it would happen but a matter of "when" it would happen.
 
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As much as I dislike better bottles I'm going to start using them. I have handles on my carboys and I can see tiny stress fractures on mine.
 

Intheswamp

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I'm just starting to make mead and gathering equipment up. I've never brewed or anything before so this is all from scratch. I'm strongly leaning towards doing my primary in buckets and then rack into kegs for secondary and beyond. I'm just getting started and so far have only invested in two 3-gallon carboys (but also have a couple of old 5 or 6 gallon ones). I figure now is the time to make a decision before I make more purchases.

Ed
 

jerrodm

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That is horrific. I might have to think about switching away from my beloved glass carboys after seeing it.
 

TerraNova

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Those cuts are horrific, BUT I see lots of pics of carboy handles being held over broken FULL carboys or carboys broken after being "set down" in bathtubs or on other hard surfaces. While I HATE that anybody got hurt, and I don't want to sound like a douche, but I really see MANY OF THESE as operator error. Some are not, like the one just about this post.

Are people really surprised when an awkward sized slick glass bottle (sometimes soapy) slips out of their hand and they are wearing flip flops and shorts? Your high school shop teacher is silently shaking his head and rolling his eyes somewhere. Wear shoes and long pants for the few minutes it will take to handle the carboy.

We are talking about moving 5 gallons of heavy liquid in a glass bottle. Whatever happened to milk crate carriers? They were all the rage 15 years ago in the HB community. Or my favorite...Carboy Parkas. They pad the glass when being set it down, give the brewer supported handles to lift the carboys with, and contain any broken glass in the event of a drop. NO PROBLEMS. Not to mention they are good at helping to maintain temp during ferment.

Again, I don't mean to sound like an a$$, but these are avoidable and a glass carboy is a fantastic fermenting vessel. Off course things will happen and stuff will break so don't take this as me ripping on the poor souls that got cut here but just be careful. And don't run with scissors while we are at it. And you kids should stay off my lawn...wheeeeze.
 

BamaProud

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Scary stuff!

The first glass carboy I ever handled broke when I was washing it out. The bottom fell out of it, then kinda in slow motion as I was holding it by the neck the rest of it began to fall apart. It cut my leg about 8 inches but not deep at all. I'll never use another one. Buckets and Better Bottles are fine with me.
 

choosybeggar

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So I'm looking around for mik crates to more safely handle carboys. I found this on Amazon. No sure if it's sturdy enough to carry a carboy, though. Can anyone link to a product they purchased and are happy with?
 

phoenixs4r

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I had mine slip while lifting it up full of oxiclean/hot water. Rested it on the plastic garage/janitor style sink in the garage, felt the bottom edge slip out, didn't even try to save it just moved my hands out of the way and turned my head.

Still finding shivers of glass weeks later
 

highgravitybacon

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It seems like a lot of the ones that break are the Made in Mexico ones with the four ridges on the side. I had one of those break at when I poured cool water into a warm carboy. The glass is fairly thin and they always seem to break right at the bottom where the sides meet the floor of the carboy.

I use old glass water jugs. The ones from the 50s, 60s. They were intended to be swapped out, washed, and refilled. They seem quite a bit heavier, thicker, and more robust. You can find them for sale on Craigslist in most larger cities. Most people sell them for $20 or so. They're entirely smooth on the outside and often have a funky neck on them. One I have is threaded even.
 
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Yesterday was going great, until I had to take a trip to the ER. I had a 1 gallon carboy explode on my leg. I forgotten about it in my garage, and it had some pear wine overflow in it from winter. I stupidly capped it with the provided screw top. All it took was the slightest bump and BOOM! glass shrapnel everywhere, including my left leg.

5 stitches and a walking boot later, I'm all good.

The main laceration went deep enough to slice part of my calf muscle, just above my achilles tendon. I'm very lucky my 2year old assistant was napping inside when this happened.

Just a reminder to all, ALWAYS let your glass vessels vent via airlock!

I store my washed yeast in glass jars, and I will always let them vent when I remove them from the fridge!

On a side note, I think I'll be removing all glass from my brewhouse. Buckets and kegs from now on for me.


 
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Gross- this tread just encouraged me to join the forum and chime in. I just built a prototype carboy crate (nothing fancy) and feel a lot of these hospital trips could have been avoided. Check out the write up here:

DIY Wood Carboy crate

-cheers
 

greatschmaltez

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Wow, scary, at the same time, as mentioned above, the right PPE and lifting these things from the bottom and not having so much stress in the neck is probably good enough for mitigation.

My carboys were manufactures in Italy and they are pretty thick. These ones that are described as a "spontaneous combustion" type design are probably super thin.
 
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