Serious Question (Broken Thermometer in Beer)

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Waylit

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I was so happy to be almost finished my first homebrew when my floating thermometer broke. It happened as I put my wort cooler into the kettle. The glass tip broke and some little black balls came out into my beer.

I filtered thru a strainer, and I'm not concerned about glass. I'm concerned about getting sick from mercury or whatever is in the thermometer. Do I need to discard 5 gallons of beer? What would you do? I need some feedback.
 

HOOTER

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If it's a mercury thermometer, I would toss it in a second. That stuff can kill you.
 

pickles

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if it's a new thermometer (especially foodgrade) chances are there is no mercury in it. That being said, if it was a mercury thermometer then don't taste the wort, find out where your local mercury recycler is (most cities have one that will accept small quantities from individuals) and take it to them. Don't dump down a drain! A minute ammount of mercury will contaminate a very large area.
 

pickles

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mercury is actually edible, however, the vapors affect your nervous system in a very bad way
 

Judd

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If they're little black balls, though, they are not mercury. Mercury is a silvery liquid. Most thermometers are not mercury.
 

chachi

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How much was the kit you brewed? Seriously, I will spot you the money for the kit if you want. Don't drink something you broke any kind of glass in.
 

HOOTER

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How much was the kit you brewed? Seriously, I will spot you the money for the kit if you want. Don't drink something you broke any kind of glass in.
Whoops! I just broke a thermometer in my wort also. :D
 

xamers

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You both are fine.

Be more cautious with racking to the next container, don't get into the trub, and you'll be just fine.

Leave all the crap in the primary behind......trub and fractured glass!
 

kubilusaurus

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I had a thermometer break in the wort once as well-the tube containing the liquid stayed intact but the casing broke and those little black beads ended up in the wort. The batch ended up with an infection. I don't think the black pieces inside the thermometer are sanitized. It was the first time I used the thermometer and its temp never got near a high enough temp to kill any baddies on the inside.
 

Dr Malt

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Get a bimetal thermometer for use in brewing. Glass thermometers are not designed for the kettle, mashing, etc as you experienced.

Dr Malt
 

Damonic

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Uhhh... I don't think he'll be fine. I'm new to brewing but I'm familiar with those thermometers. Those black balls are lead and are used to weigh down the bottom and keep the thermometer upright. It sucks to dump it but I wouldn't drink anything those things touched.
 
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Waylit

Waylit

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Uhhh... I don't think he'll be fine. I'm new to brewing but I'm familiar with those thermometers. Those black balls are lead and are used to weigh down the bottom and keep the thermometer upright.
The metal balls are not made of lead. I was able to determine this by testing the balls with a magnet. They were highly magnetic. Lead has no magnetic properties. The balls are most likely iron or steel.
 

Damonic

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The metal balls are not made of lead. I was able to determine this by testing the balls with a magnet. They were highly magnetic. Lead has no magnetic properties. The balls are most likely iron or steel.
Well there you go.
 

tdavisii

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If you have to ask "should i throw this away" you should have already thrown it away. A five gallon batch of beer that cost you 20-40$ is not worth a serious health risk. Just think what a good practice session. Now you can work on your brewing skill with another batch that you KNOW is safe. Dont risk anything over five gallons of the nectar you can always brew another day unless you ingest shards of glass and they rip thru your intestines. Bleeding rectom means no brewing for you.
 

Cugel

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If you have to ask "should i throw this away" you should have already thrown it away. A five gallon batch of beer that cost you 20-40$ is not worth a serious health risk. Just think what a good practice session. Now you can work on your brewing skill with another batch that you KNOW is safe. Dont risk anything over five gallons of the nectar you can always brew another day unless you ingest shards of glass and they rip thru your intestines. Bleeding rectom means no brewing for you.
+1

I threw away 5 gallons of a wee heavy once due to the same issue. Don't take the risk and brew again next weekend.
 
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Waylit

Waylit

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I talked with the folks who sold me the thermometer. They verified the ingredients as steel shot, alcohol, and wax. It's completely harmless. The small glass tip which broke was a clean break. There's no glass in the beer.
 

HomerT

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I talked with the folks who sold me the thermometer. They verified the ingredients as steel shot, alcohol, and wax. It's completely harmless. The small glass tip which broke was a clean break. There's no glass in the beer.
So glad to hear this....I broke the same thermometer last night in my wheat. Bumped it into my immersion chiller. The red temp tube was intact, but I lost all of the little shot and glass bottom into the wort. I siphoned very carefully, and used a paint straining bag (as always) in my primary. I found no glass or balls in the straining bag, and believe most of it stayed in the kettle.

My big concern now is infection, as the wort temp was only around 115F when it broke.

Did yours turn out ok?

-Todd
 

Shaggy

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I had this happen yesterday with 2 freakin minutes left in the boil!
It was an AHS Crisp Rye Ale that I really wanted to try and boy were we bummed.
The mistake made is I put in my IC for the last 10 min and thought I'd toss in the thermometer too to sanitize before taking it inside and cooling etc. Well, the thermometer must have caught up against the IC and was submerged for a bit and it busted up...either that or the IC conducted a lot of heat from the bottom of the pot and did it in.
There was no question for me too dump it though peeps here have had success in not doing so. It was an expensive mistake to learn from though. From no on I'll put in the thermometer after flame out or just soak in Star San before putting in during cool down.
But what else could we do but sit down and order a new thermometer and another batch of that beer to try again later this week lol!
 

njnear76

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Even if the black balls were lead, you most likely would be OK.

It's a good idea to strain it out, but from what I read.... Yeast will eat a bit of lead along with many other chemicals. If there is too much lead or other bad crap, the yeast would die.
 

Laurel

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I wouldn't worry about it TOO much. The glass will sink and if you're careful racking, you should be fine.

If you're just doing partial boils, you may consider using a candy thermometer. I have one of those floating thermos that came with my "kit," but I much prefer my trusty candy thermometer. It reads quicker, seems a little more precise, and is protected. It also clips on the side of the pot but easily comes off.
 

springer

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I talked with the folks who sold me the thermometer. They verified the ingredients as steel shot, alcohol, and wax. It's completely harmless. The small glass tip which broke was a clean break. There's no glass in the beer.

Good to hear, But I really doubt that you would ingest any glass anyways. If yeast settles the glass would drop out of suspension first and be covered.
 

impulsoren

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With all of these things breaking....doesn't anyone else use a digital thermometer? I always use my automotive multimeter with a Type K thermocouple in the kitchen. Easy to sanitize, never going to break, tolerates huge temp ranges and very accurate.
 
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