Urea as nitrogen supply in sugar wash

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I had a teacher in HS that also went to my church and she was quite the brew master. She made wines, whiskey and beer.

When she was moving she contacted me and hired me to pack her place up for her and I got to see a lot of her equipment and a lot of the chemicals she used. I ran across one clear jug beside the sliding door leading out to the patio from her distilling lab and not knowing what it was I thought to pop the lid and sniff then I could determine how and where it would pack. It was straight ammonia and nearly burned the hairs out of my nose and not far from knocking me out I think.

Later I asked her what the ammonia was used for in the process and she explained the need for a nitrogen supply in wines and some of the higher alcohol fermentation processes and explained that the ammonia was used as the source of nitrogen in such fermentations.

I am a gardener as well as brewer and I save "urea" for my hugelkulture gardening. Hugelkulture taking branches, logs etc stacking piling and covering with soil, the wood rots and holds moisture through out the dry period... The wood rotting requires prodigious amounts of nitrogen and I cannot buy ammonium nitrate anymore because apparently a bunch of college students were using it for explosives instead of gardening, So long story even a bit longer, I went with urea as my nitrogen source.

In reading I came across a number of people using urea in the fermentation process as a nitrogen supply. I am currently trying it out on a sugar wash fermentation that is currently pounding away. Initially to be honest I did not view the idea very positively, but after I thought about it for a while I realized there really isn't anything keeping me from doing except the negative connotation in my mind.

The more I thought about it I realized that urine is antiseptic and non toxic so there aren't really any safety concerns unless maybe you take a medication then I would advise not considering this route.

I am curious as to whether it makes difference in flavor or scent within the alcohol, though as I will be separating the alcohol from water it seems unlikely that there would be enough of a difference to be of importance for me.

I am simply using the alcohol for extraction purposes and then I distill off most or all of the alcohol in the process of making medicinal extractions for myself.

Anyone ever tried this or know of anyone that has? Does it leave any effect of scent or taste within the fermented product? I know in wine people (not me) can actually taste the ammonia within the wine as well as other plants etc that were growing around the grape vines as the grapes grew. I would imagine one of those "tasters" would certainly be able to detect something.

I could not imagine ever using this for a product that someone else would use, though I ran into an ad for a medicinal supplement where they stated that they used urea in the fermentation of the alcohol used, then they went on to assure that it was a purified and sanitized urea. Yeahhhh I would not be buying that product after reading that caveat.... LOL...

What is your guys thoughts on urea as a nitrogen source in certain fermentation processes?
 

Orval

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Don't use urea it's a precursor of ethyl carbamate which is a carcinogen !
 

bernardsmith

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DAP is one source of nitrogen that does not use organic nitrogen and while it is better than nothing many folk these days use lab cultured nutrients (Fermaid O or K) and then Wyeast makes wine and beer nutrients too. But these lab cultured products contain many more of the essential minerals and vitamins and other compounds yeast need.
 

Orval

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The best nutrients are vitamins from the B group, essentially B1, and diammonium phosphate. You can also boil some yeast, I always add some lees from a previous fermentation and boil them. Adding some Epsom salts (Magnesium Sulfate) is also a good idea.
 

bracconiere

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The more I thought about it I realized that urine is antiseptic and non toxic so there aren't really any safety concerns unless maybe you take a medication then I would advise not considering this route.

i hope i'm reading that wrong....

but yeah i've used UREA turbo yeast, and even after distilling it has a nasty smell/taste....
 

Orval

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but yeah i've used UREA turbo yeast, and even after distilling it has a nasty smell/taste....
So far I made vodka (for gin later on) and rum, I only use bakers yeast, don't try to get a high ABV through your fermentation, around 10%ABV is fine. Turbo yeasts are expensive and give a bad taste.
 

bernardsmith

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Urine in your compost might provide the nitrogen needed for the bacteria, but I ain't gonna give a glass of any wine or any spirit to anyone I care for that has added urine. Nor will I drink such a beverage unless I am trapped in the desert with no water and only my own urine to drink. But I live upstate, in NY, and we are in the middle of a snow storm this afternoon. No exceptions.
 
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