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How to crush campden tablets without contamination?

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njohnsoncs

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I use campden tablets to treat my water during my extract brews. I want to treat all 5 gallons but I only use 3 gallons during the boil and top off with the other 2 gallons after the wort is cooled and in the fermenter.

My process is as follows. I use a clean and dry (but not sanitized) bowl and spoon from my cupboard, split the tablet with my fingers, and crush into a powder with the spoon in the bowl. Then I dump the powder into a bucket which contains 5 gallons of water. After about 30 minutes, I pour 3 gallons into my brew kettle and start the boil while the remaining 2 gallons sits in the bucket until I'm ready to top it off.

Since the extra 2 gallons has not been boiled, I'm concerned about possible contamination from splitting/crushing the campden tablet. How does everyone else do this?

A couple questions you may have which I can answer a priori:

1. I don't use a sanitized bowl or spoon because then they would be wet and would create a paste which would be difficult to get into the water and dissolve completely.

2. I cannot do a full boil because my electric stove is not able to get 5 gallons of water to boil.

Nick
 

bleme

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If you heat 2 gallons of top-off water to 95F and dump it in 3 gallons of boiling water at flame out, you should hit 165F which is hot enough to pasteurize and will nearly halt bitterness extraction from your hops.
 

Jwin

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You could boil the crushed tablet in a half cup of water and add it to the rest of your water.
Or you could just get 2g of spring water for $2
 

Revvy

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Uh.. I just cut them with whatever I have lying around and toss them in whatever I'm doing. They're a sanitizer, as soon as they dilute I figure they're going to burn the holy beejesus out of anything on their surface. I would think even if you keisterd them they'd still do what they need to do.

I've totally never worried about that.
 

flars

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I consider water coming out of the tap sanitary unless there is obvious debris clinging to the faucet. Sanitize the bucket and lid to treat all the water at the same time. Split the Campden tablet and use roughly one-quarter of one-third of the tablet. Split the tablet on a fresh paper towel or piece of plastic wrap. Very little chance of infecting the Campden tablet if a clean knife is used to split the tablet.
 
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njohnsoncs

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Uh.. I just cut them with whatever I have lying around and toss them in whatever I'm doing. They're a sanitizer, as soon as they dilute I figure they're going to burn the holy beejesus out of anything on their surface. I would think even if you keisterd them they'd still do what they need to do.

I've totally never worried about that.
After reading your comment I found that they act as a sterilizer to kill wild yeast and bacteria. I was told they are only to remove chlorine at tap water. So I guess I do not have to take any precautions when handling the campden tablets even in water that is not boiled.

Thanks!
 

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After reading your comment I found that they act as a sterilizer to kill wild yeast and bacteria. I was told they are only to remove chlorine at tap water. So I guess I do not have to take any precautions when handling the campden tablets even in water that is not boiled.

Thanks!
Correct- winemakers use them as a sanitizer, but in a much stronger dose. Still, it's pretty darn sanitary and I wouldn't sweat it at all. My water from my tap is sanitary, as we even drink it. So you shouldn't have an issue if your water is not full of bacteria- in which case you'd boil it before using anyway.

In other words, absolutely NO worries at all.
 

brandonlovesbeer

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Do you add the camp den tablets to the water premash/ pre-use? Or do you add it during the boil? I thought it was a water treatment as opposed to a wort treatment.
 

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Do you add the camp den tablets to the water premash/ pre-use? Or do you add it during the boil? I thought it was a water treatment as opposed to a wort treatment.
Yes, it is added to the water pre-mash and before using since the chlorine in the water interacts with the malt to create chlorophenols. It interacts with yeast, later.

The question in this case is using it in the "top off" water, in the case of extract brewing. That water is not used for the mash, or for boiling.
 

Jwin

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I'll state it again. My advice is to just get 2g of spring water at your local grocery. Campden doesn't​ treat chlorine, only chloramine IIRC(I may have this backwards, had a few RISs). Chlorine must be filtered.
Also, the amount of Campden to sanitize/kill bacteria etc is 5x the amount to de-chloramine. 1 tab per 1g/5g, respectfully.

So, unless/untill you know how your water is treated, buying packaged spring water (which provides nutrients that distilled/RO water doesn't, at the same price) is the safe bet. And it costs $2, can be pre chilled in the refrigerator, would be utting existing chlorine (if present) by 2/5ths, and only costs $2.

Now, once you go down the rabbit hole of AG and water chemistry, etc, you can ignore this.... But, for now, reaching beyond the OP, that's my recommendation.

Cheers
 
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njohnsoncs

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I'll state it again. My advice is to just get 2g of spring water at your local grocery. Campden doesn't​ treat chlorine, only chloramine IIRC(I may have this backwards, had a few RISs). Chlorine must be filtered.
Also, the amount of Campden to sanitize/kill bacteria etc is 5x the amount to de-chloramine. 1 tab per 1g/5g, respectfully.

So, unless/untill you know how your water is treated, buying packaged spring water (which provides nutrients that distilled/RO water doesn't, at the same price) is the safe bet. And it costs $2, can be pre chilled in the refrigerator, would be utting existing chlorine (if present) by 2/5ths, and only costs $2.

Now, once you go down the rabbit hole of AG and water chemistry, etc, you can ignore this.... But, for now, reaching beyond the OP, that's my recommendation.

Cheers
My understanding is that it does remove chlorine and chloramines. With a typical tablet, one can use 1 tablet to treat (i.e., remove chlorine/chloramines) 20 gallons of water. One can get 100 tablets for less than $5 so it would be a lot cheaper to use campden tablets than spring water from the grocery store.

However, it is a fair point to bring up how much campden should one use to sanitize the water (not just remove chlorine/chloramines). Perhaps using 1/4 tablet for 5 gallons of water is not enough and I should add more campden to the 2 gallons of water used for topping off.
 

jabba11

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"Campden tablets ( potassium or sodium metabisulfite ) are a sulfur -based product that is used primarily to sterilize wine , cider and in beer making to kill bacteria and to inhibit the growth of most wild yeast : this product is also used to eliminate both free chlorine and the more stable form , chloramine , from water solutions."
 

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My understanding is that it does remove chlorine and chloramines. With a typical tablet, one can use 1 tablet to treat (i.e., remove chlorine/chloramines) 20 gallons of water. One can get 100 tablets for less than $5 so it would be a lot cheaper to use campden tablets than spring water from the grocery store.

However, it is a fair point to bring up how much campden should one use to sanitize the water (not just remove chlorine/chloramines). Perhaps using 1/4 tablet for 5 gallons of water is not enough and I should add more campden to the 2 gallons of water used for topping off.
Yes, it removes chlorine and chloramines in an instantaneous reaction.

If you need to sanitize your water, you'd want to preboil it. You don't want more sulfur in the water than can instantly dissipate.

My water is so sanitary that we've even been known to drink it, but if your water supply is iffy, it should be boiled. If it's got chlorine in it, it should be city water that has been tested for contaminants, and of course sanitary, but you could could have things like iron in it that may make beer taste bad.

I will say that IF someone is purchasing water, the best bet is distilled or RO water and not spring water- some springs may have RO quality water, but some may be more highly mineralized.
 
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njohnsoncs

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One thing I noticed the last time is that, after dropping the campden tablet in, stirring, and leaving it sit for about 30 minutes, when I started my boil there was foam on top before I had added anything else to the water. Is this OK?
 
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I second the RO water. I have some crappy water here in Buffalo. I do a 50/50 mix of RO/tap water and add campden tablets to remove chlorine. That gets my water to levels that I can manipulate. Then I use EZ-Water to adjust it. If I didn't dilute it, I'd never be able to modify it with EZ-water.

As for campden tablets - I use an old, crusty flathead screwdriver to crush mine. I generally do it on a piece of paper or cardboard that I find lying around. Haven't had any problems so far. :D

You don't need to let them sit for 30 minutes either. I just toss them in as I heat my water.

Not sure about the foam. I've seen that a few times, but I've never attributed it to campden tablets.
 

PaulR

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Not that it matters much apparently, but I generally toss mine into a plastic baggie, crush them in the baggie with whatever is handy, and then pour from the baggie directly to the water.
 

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Why not just buy powedered NaMeta or KMeta? Cheaper and pre-crushed.
Probably because the dosage would be so small. You'd need a scale that could weigh tiny amounts. One crushed campden is equal to 1/24th of a teaspoon. If you only are using 5 gallons of water, you'd need a quarter of that- or about a hundredth of a teaspoon. That is less than .04 gram, if my (bad) arithmetic is not faulty.

What winemakers often do when the need tiny amounts of k-meta is to make a solution, like 4 grams in a tablespoon of water, and add 1/8 teaspoon or whatever they need. Or, they buy the campden tablets, since they are so much easier to use in very small doses.
 

Cavpilot2000

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Probably because the dosage would be so small. You'd need a scale that could weigh tiny amounts. One crushed campden is equal to 1/24th of a teaspoon. If you only are using 5 gallons of water, you'd need a quarter of that- or about a hundredth of a teaspoon. That is less than .04 gram, if my (bad) arithmetic is not faulty.

What winemakers often do when the need tiny amounts of k-meta is to make a solution, like 4 grams in a tablespoon of water, and add 1/8 teaspoon or whatever they need. Or, they buy the campden tablets, since they are so much easier to use in very small doses.
Ah, I forget that is an issue for some. I use a milligram scale for measuring my brewing salts and NaMeta, Brewtan B, or Antioxin SBT dosage.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0012TDNAM/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20
$23 and accurate enough (aim small, miss small). Great investment.
 
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seatazzz

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I use a shot glass and the non-business end of a table knife as a mortar & pestle...crush as much as I can then dump it in the water. I use 2 tablets for a 5 gallon batch (yes overkill but I've been burned too many times).
 

Cavpilot2000

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I use a shot glass and the non-business end of a table knife as a mortar & pestle...crush as much as I can then dump it in the water. I use 2 tablets for a 5 gallon batch (yes overkill but I've been burned too many times).
It's not overkill at all - it will scavenge dissolved oxygen and keep your beer tasting fresher longer (no, I'm not making this a LODO thread, just pointing out a fact). Just make sure you give a good dose of oxygen when pitching your yeast to scrub the sulfite out, otherwise a strong dose could both stunt your yeast's growth and reveal itself as residual sulfur during fermentation and even final product.
 

Jim311

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I use a mortar and pestle and don't sweat the sanitary aspect of it.
 

patthebrewer

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When I did use campden (don't now.....too sensitive to sulfites)......I used to put them between too pieces of aluminum foil and mash it with a spoon. The sulfates alone will mititgate the poss. of infection
 

Jim311

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When I did use campden (don't now.....too sensitive to sulfites)......I used to put them between too pieces of aluminum foil and mash it with a spoon. The sulfates alone will mititgate the poss. of infection
Regarding sensitivity to sulfites, half a tablet in your brewing water bugged you? I'm sensitive to it in the wines I've made but I used 8+ tablets in some of those. I haven't noticed the same effects in my beer brewing. I wonder if maybe the boiling doesn't drive off some of it?
 

seatazzz

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It's not overkill at all - it will scavenge dissolved oxygen and keep your beer tasting fresher longer (no, I'm not making this a LODO thread, just pointing out a fact). Just make sure you give a good dose of oxygen when pitching your yeast to scrub the sulfite out, otherwise a strong dose could both stunt your yeast's growth and reveal itself as residual sulfur during fermentation and even final product.
Would that explain the slight "sulfury" smell I get during primary fermentation? It's not there once the beer is finished, but I may be biased. I made some great beers last year without treating the water at all...maybe the next one I wil leave out the Campden and take the risk.
 

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Would that explain the slight "sulfury" smell I get during primary fermentation? It's not there once the beer is finished, but I may be biased. I made some great beers last year without treating the water at all...maybe the next one I wil leave out the Campden and take the risk.
Oh, I wouldn't leave it out! But you definitely can reduce the amount to 1/2 tab per 10 gallons, 1/4 tab per 5 gallons.
 

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Regarding sensitivity to sulfites, half a tablet in your brewing water bugged you? I'm sensitive to it in the wines I've made but I used 8+ tablets in some of those. I haven't noticed the same effects in my beer brewing. I wonder if maybe the boiling doesn't drive off some of it?
No, it's gone before it even boils. It's a chemical reaction, so that the k-meta interacts with the chlorine, and so neither exist in their original form any more. It's instantaneous.
 
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