Life span of bottles?

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drainbamage

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Now that I've been homebrewing for several years now, and I try to save and reuse my bottles between batches whenever possible, I've started running into an occasional problem. Sometimes I'll go to open a bottle and instead of popping the cap, the neck will totally shear off in my hand. (Thankfully I've avoided injury so far!) The caps always appear to be on tight, yet the beer inside of the broken bottles is flat, leading me to believe that things aren't airtight somewhere. I swear I'm not opening them by smacking them on the kitchen counter either. :cross:

So, my question is this: is the stress of repeated capping and un-capping of the same bottles enough to eventually lead to fatigue and stress fractures in the glass? Is there a certain amount of times you can reuse a bottle before it starts to get weaker?
 

Hammy71

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Some of the wing cappers are very "grabby" for lack of a better word. I've had several and the one that had the part that grabs the bottle with metal "hands" seemed to often cause the problem you've described. I've since moved to a bench capper and haven't had one snap off yet. The bottles should really be able to take the capping and recapping for a very long time.
 

MedicMang

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I've also been having that problem. I have noticed that some are worse than others. I have a problem capping any of Anchors style bottles. Also have used the bottles from some cider, woodchuck I think, and they are prone to that. Ya it's weird. Like a perfect ring about an inch below the cap? Such a pain. I've noticed little ping noises when I cap those. I set them aside just in case that happens.

I've been wanting to ask this for a while now but never did. Also been wanting to ask if a bench capper would fix this.
 

45_70sharps

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The bottles will last forever.

I'm going to guess that somewhere in the handling of them they are getting banged around and the necks are being damaged.
 
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drainbamage

drainbamage

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Some of the wing cappers are very "grabby" for lack of a better word. I've had several and the one that had the part that grabs the bottle with metal "hands" seemed to often cause the problem you've described. I've since moved to a bench capper and haven't had one snap off yet. The bottles should really be able to take the capping and recapping for a very long time.
I think this may be the culprit. I do use a wing capper, and it occasionally appears to clamp the neck of the bottle too tight to get a good seal. In fact, the last break I had, my wife was going to cap an old Fat Tire bottle, and when she pulled down the wings of the capper, the neck just shattered. Once again, no injury, but we lost a beer (NOOOOOO!!!) and spent several minutes cleaning little pieces of glass out of the capper so it wouldn't end up in the next ones. Not pleasant.

@ MedicMang, I haven't had any Anchor bottles break (yet), but they seem like they don't get as good of a seal as some of the other styles, like the lip at the top of the bottle is just a little bit thicker. I like the look of the Anchor bottles, but I don't use them as much for that reason. Of course, it could be all in my head. I think all the ones that have broken (aside from the FT) have just been standard longneck bottles.
 

MedicMang

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Actually in terms of the anchor bottles, just the lip seems to break off a bit. The whole bottle stays ok but the ridge that the capper grabs sometimes breaks. Maybe I'm being to violent with my capping. MEDICMANG SMASH!!
 

glenn514

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I think the culprit is, indeed, the wing capper. When I first started to use mine, I broke a few bottles in each batch by pulling the handles down too hard. I have now learned how to do the capping more gently, and haven't had any more problems with broken bottle necks.

glenn514:mug:
 

45_70sharps

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I've been known to pop the top ring of the bottle off on new bottles.
I usually use the side of my pocket knife as a bottle opener, but on occasion I'll use whatever's handy.
A 9/16 or 5/8 wrench will occasionally grab a little more than the cap.
 

cayergeau

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I've also been having that problem. I have noticed that some are worse than others. I have a problem capping any of Anchors style bottles. Also have used the bottles from some cider, woodchuck I think, and they are prone to that. Ya it's weird. Like a perfect ring about an inch below the cap? Such a pain. I've noticed little ping noises when I cap those. I set them aside just in case that happens.

I've been wanting to ask this for a while now but never did. Also been wanting to ask if a bench capper would fix this.
Having used both, I greatly prefer my bench capper. The one or two times that I've used a wing capper, I get all paranoid about pushing down and having the bottle shoot out across the floor. So far it hasn't happened yet, but I don't want to take my chances. Seems to me like bench cappers are just inherently more gentle and controlled.

Also, just out of interest, about how old are the Woodchuck bottles that you've been using?
 

MedicMang

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cayergeau said:
Also, just out of interest, about how old are the Woodchuck bottles that you've been using?
Some were the first time I used them. Some held and then broke the next. I still have some in use that are like 5th generation though.

I think I'm just going to buy a bench capper. Seems worth it.
 

amandabab

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I have bottle from the 1940's/50's/60's/70's plus new many new bottles that are considered thin glass.

I've never broken a bottle capping/uncapping. I use a bench capper.
 
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