Help! Hydrometer broke in carboy

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

polarbearbrewing

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2008
Messages
91
Reaction score
1
Location
Ohio
While attempting to remove a hydrometer from a glass carboy today I broke the hydrometer (I know, I should have used a test jar).
I immediately racked the wine from the carboy to a plastic bucket to get the wine out of there and assess the damage.
What worries me the most is that I don't know what the weight at the bottom is made out of. I would assume that manufacturers can't use lead in these types of products that will come in contact with food-grade items, but I'm not sure. It's just a cheapie hydrometer I got from my LHBS.
I really don't want to have to dump this wine if i don't have to as it was a very expensive, limited-edition kit. I plan on racking it again through some sanitized cheesecloth or something in a funnel to remove any glass shards that may still be there.

What do you guys think?

IMG_1941.jpg
 

orangehero

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2010
Messages
1,732
Reaction score
317
Location
Northeast
I'd worry more about the glass shards. Are you worried the wine might have a little bit of lead in it? Just don't serve the wine to any young children.
 

VT-NAV

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2013
Messages
100
Reaction score
44
Location
Virginia Beach
If you don't dump it, I think you have a moral obligation not to serve the wine to anyone else without first telling them it is possible it may contain small glass shards or lead contamination.
 

j1n

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Messages
2,147
Reaction score
1,029
Location
Northern
it could be lead since its inside the hydrometer and wouldn't come into contact unless broken. then again idk what the weight is made out of in the hydrometer...
 

arnobg

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2015
Messages
1,455
Reaction score
367
Location
Memphis
Older hydrometers contain lead but I believe they've been phased out, could be wrong though. Others contain steel or sometimes steel beads, test it with a magnet to know for sure....
 

sfgoat

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 4, 2013
Messages
1,191
Reaction score
175
Location
Plattsmouth
I wouldn't serve it to anyone else but I would probably just rack it through a makeshift filter of some sort like a paint strainer bag. The lead wouldn't be a huge concern to an adult in such small quantities and short exposure time. It would just be the glass but if you filter it it should be fine. But that's up to what you are willing to risk.
 

Aristotelian

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2015
Messages
939
Reaction score
226
If you do decide to serve it, run it through a very fine filter, like a coffee filter or a couple layers of cheesecloth. That said, I would dump it and buy a bottle of wine at the store.
 

Setesh

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 18, 2009
Messages
1,454
Reaction score
345
Location
Oklahoma City
I agree that I would rack it to another container immediately if not sooner in order to limit exposure to the weight material. If you have a filter then that should be all you need to remove any glass. If not I would use an auto siphon with the end cap on and stay a bit off the bottom. That should help in not picking up any glass. You could even do another racking just to be safe, again, staying off the bottom.
 

stpug

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2012
Messages
3,821
Reaction score
766
If I understand correctly: You were trying to fish out your hydrometer from your carboy. You broke the hydrometer. You immediately racked the wine out of the carboy to a bucket where it's currently resting.

If that's correct then I would not be concerned with any exposure to the lead (if it's even lead - looks like it though).

As for glass shards, I would let the wine settle for a few hours and rack again making sure to slowly lower the racking cane as the level drops so that you're always racking the uppermost layer of the wine. I would also use a black racking tip so the suction is from the top. Last, I would leave an inch of wine behind and call it my "lesson learned" casualty :D. You should also consider another metabisulphite dose due to the excess oxygen exposure the wine is going through these couple of days.

I wouldn't feel any need to think about this mishap ever again (certainly no moral obligation thoughts) with the exception of not putting your hydrometer directly in your carboy.
 

StandingZ

Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
20
Reaction score
0
Location
Milwaukee
Why risk it? Pitch it and make a new batch. Next time, transfer some of the wine to a graduated cylinder and put the hydrometer in there. That'll mitigate your risks
 
OP
polarbearbrewing

polarbearbrewing

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2008
Messages
91
Reaction score
1
Location
Ohio
If I understand correctly: You were trying to fish out your hydrometer from your carboy. You broke the hydrometer. You immediately racked the wine out of the carboy to a bucket where it's currently resting.

If that's correct then I would not be concerned with any exposure to the lead (if it's even lead - looks like it though).

As for glass shards, I would let the wine settle for a few hours and rack again making sure to slowly lower the racking cane as the level drops so that you're always racking the uppermost layer of the wine. I would also use a black racking tip so the suction is from the top. Last, I would leave an inch of wine behind and call it my "lesson learned" casualty :D. You should also consider another metabisulphite dose due to the excess oxygen exposure the wine is going through these couple of days.

I wouldn't feel any need to think about this mishap ever again (certainly no moral obligation thoughts) with the exception of not putting your hydrometer directly in your carboy.
that is exactly what happened and kind of what I was thinking too. I planned to add an extra dose of metabisulfite anyway since I plan on aging this about a year before I drink it.

I was planning on serving it to others for a special occasion. Does anyone know if Ward Labs or any other mail-in labs can test for lead concentration? I would gladly spend 20 bucks or so to gaurantee that it's safe to drink rather than paying ten times that to start over with a new kit. Im not worried about the glass as I'm sure I can rack/filter it out

thanks for all the replies so far
 

hezagenius

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
2,270
Reaction score
2,038
Location
Iowa
Dump it.

And now that your hydrometer is broken, buy a refractometer! No more breaking hydrometers and you all you need is a few drops to test.
 

sfgoat

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 4, 2013
Messages
1,191
Reaction score
175
Location
Plattsmouth
that is exactly what happened and kind of what I was thinking too. I planned to add an extra dose of metabisulfite anyway since I plan on aging this about a year before I drink it.

I was planning on serving it to others for a special occasion. Does anyone know if Ward Labs or any other mail-in labs can test for lead concentration? I would gladly spend 20 bucks or so to gaurantee that it's safe to drink rather than paying ten times that to start over with a new kit. Im not worried about the glass as I'm sure I can rack/filter it out

thanks for all the replies so far
It may not even be lead. Hold a magnet to it and if its effected by the magnet then it is steel. No effect means lead. I'm assuming you aren't giving this wine to children so only the adult levels matter. Cdc says that the lead levels that are concerning for adults begins at 25 ug/dL which equals 0.00025 g/L. Assuming a standard ballast is about 8 grams or less of lead and 3.78 L/gal in a 5 gallon batch is 18.9L . So this all gives a concentration of 0.423 g/L but that number assumes that all that lead was mixed into solution which it has not. All this considered I would say it's fine but I'm sure you could submit a sample and get the actual lead levels of your wine. If the ballast is even lead.
 
Top