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Use KNOX! It's the best label adhesive

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sidepart

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UPDATES:
  • Amount of water was amended to 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup.
  • I recommend microwaving the water, another user had luck with using hot tap water.
  • I tested for about 8 hours in room temperature water. Labels were fragile (soggy) but still stuck.
  • Another user had luck using a spray bottle instead of brushing it on.
  • Gelatin can be bought in bulk (used for clarifying beer). I haven't tried the generic bulk geltain, but I assume it works all the same. 2.5tsp (or about 1Tbsp) is equal to 1 Knox packet.
  • Tips at bottom for dissolving gelatin if you're getting boogers.
  • Gelatin doesn't seem to bond labels well to PET bottles. Thanks to nonameisgood who did some extensive testing, but without success. Sorry!
  • Brewcrew02 posted a video example of how easily the labels come off in hot (120F+) water. Excellent example! Thanks!

I've seen a lot of talk on the forums about using knox (gelatin) to clarify beer. But I have yet to see someone let you all know what a great adhesive Knox also makes! I probably wouldn't have known myself if my sisters hadn't used it to cement their hair for synchronized swimming.

What's awesome about Knox:

1. CHEAP...like $1.00 for 6 packets.
2. 1 packet can do more than 48 bottles if you use it right.
3. It's waterproof at all the temperatures that matter.
4. It turns back into gelatin when exposed to HOT water.
5. 3 and 4 make labels stay on when wet (usually even in a cooler), and makes the labels STUPID easy to remove with just a short dip in some hot water.

So...how does this magic stuff work? Read on.

Heat up about 2 cups of water in the microwave until it starts to bubble.



Afterwards, put the Knox in a small bowl and pour in about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of hot water and mix it together (I usually use a fork) until it's clear (no clumps). You may need to use less water, but use your best judgement to dial it in. Some of you may have used this as a hair gel (for mohawks)...add more water, you want more of a liquid and not a gel here.

That's really all there is to it. I print my labels using a color laser printer (so the ink won't run). I print on plain old laser grade paper too. Using a silicone brush, I paint on a thin amount of the adhesive and then stick it to the bottle.



Positioning the label is easy, you have a minute or so to move things around. I like to press the label on firmly so it's flat on the bottle.

Your fingers will get sticky! Don't worry...just wash in hot water and the Knox comes right off (dissolves).



If you start running low on adhesive, you can usually use the remaining cup of hot water to dilute it some more. Again I've done more than 48 bottles with just 1 packet, and still had enough left over to dilute.



Let me know if this works for you guys too. Like I said, the labels stayed on when the bottles condensed, and even in a cooler (although I haven't extensively tested this). I'd like to see if others have the same experience. Also, someone suggested that gelatin might help fix INKJET ink to labels (prevent them from running). The gelatin does soak through the paper before it dries...so maybe it'd fix the ink. I haven't tested it yet but would be interested in trying.

Dissolving Gelatin Tips

Sounds like some people might be getting snot instead of a liquid gelatin mixture. The snot will generally work all the same, but it'll be harder to work with and you might be applying more gelatin than is needed to your labels. Here are some tips.

  1. Add more hot water to dilute the mixture. Keep a glass measuring cup filled with about a cup of nearly boiling water handy. Add a small amount to your mixture and stir it in until it becomes more liquidy.
  2. Make sure you're using water that is near the boiling point before mixing into the gelatin powder.
  3. If you've used gelatin in cooking before and are aware of "blooming". Try it, see if it helps alleviates snot balls that are the bane of Jello makers.
 

MedicMang

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Awesome. I've been using milk. Works great except for any water situation, like in a cooler and the ice melts. Will be trying this next time. Does it leave a nasty residue in the tub after you soak the labels off?
 
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sidepart

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Awesome. I've been using milk. Works great except for any water situation, like in a cooler and the ice melts. Will be trying this next time. Does it leave a nasty residue in the tub after you soak the labels off?
Well...the labels might leave a residue if they dissolve. I haven't really had to soak them though. First time I filled a bucket up with nearly boiling water, dumped a few bottles in and literally seconds later the labels floated off. Ended up being a huge waste of time getting all of that ready.

Get a pot, heat some water up and dip a bottle in. Worked well.
 

TheDudeLebowski

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Best part of this solution is telling your vegan friends the beer is vegetarian but the bottle is not. Wait for beer volcano. (There are vegan gelatins)
 

MichaelBrock

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I have been using milk as well. Works perfectly well...except for that ice-chest label falling off thing. I'll give this a shot when I bottle this upcoming weekend. Is the gelatin mixture thin enough to spray on with a spray-bottle?
 
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sidepart

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I have been using milk as well. Works perfectly well...except for that ice-chest label falling off thing. I'll give this a shot when I bottle this upcoming weekend. Is the gelatin mixture thin enough to spray on with a spray-bottle?
I would worry about the gelatin clogging up the spray bottle once it cools. I'd also maybe worry about the gelatin fast cooling while it's misted onto the label. Otherwise The mixture seems thin enough to more or less spray.

I like the idea though. Anything that could make application less messy. I always get sticky stuff all over my hands from having to hold the labels flat while brushing, and then from applying/smoothing the label out.
 

MichaelBrock

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yeah, clogging of the nozzle was my concern as well. Probably still try it though...learn by failing! :)
 

static

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That's a great idea and spray bottles are only a buck at the dollar store.
 

DarkBrood

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I would worry about the gelatin clogging up the spray bottle once it cools. I'd also maybe worry about the gelatin fast cooling while it's misted onto the label. Otherwise The mixture seems thin enough to more or less spray.

I like the idea though. Anything that could make application less messy. I always get sticky stuff all over my hands from having to hold the labels flat while brushing, and then from applying/smoothing the label out.
Could always flip the top into a tub of hot water until the slog dissolves....a few squirts to clear it out and back-in-badness! :tank:
 

CaptnCully

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Wow! Labels on home brew? I use a sharpie on the caps. 10 gal every other weekend = 100 bottles.. There are never enough full bottles sittin' around to need labels.! Just sayin'!! I need to start brewin' more or..... enjoying the part of brewin' that I really love less..: and that's drinking 'EM!! And yes I do share my beer with others!! Make great beer and you don't need a label for folks to remember where they got it from!!
 

tracyt1800

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Nice! I'm definitely going to give this a try. At least for the ones I give away or set back to age. I've been doing the sharpie on the cap thing, too, and was looking for a better idea.
 

MichaelBrock

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The labels for me make it much easier to see what I have in the refrigerator. If I had to pull out a bottle at a time to look to see what my cap label says (I also label the caps) it would drive me to put labels on my bottles.... Of course if, like you, I was going through 5 gallons of beer a week I doubt I would bother. I usually have 3 or 4 different beers bottled.
 
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sidepart

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Wow! Labels on home brew? I use a sharpie on the caps. 10 gal every other weekend = 100 bottles.. There are never enough full bottles sittin' around to need labels.! Just sayin'!! I need to start brewin' more or..... enjoying the part of brewin' that I really love less..: and that's drinking 'EM!! And yes I do share my beer with others!! Make great beer and you don't need a label for folks to remember where they got it from!!
Honestly labels are part of the brewing process for me. I like to do vector art in Illustrator and stuff like that. Gives me an outlet.

Brewing is a total package of hobbies that I like. I've literally combined mathematics, science, cooking, computers, print artwork, drinking beer, partying and just general manliness into one kill all hobby known as brewing.
 

MichaelBrock

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I mixed one packet of Knox gelatin in 1 cup of hottest tap water. It dissolved well with a bit of stirring. I sprayed this on to printer paper labels and applied them to bottles. The process went well, just a bit of sticky residue on the bottles where I handled them. The labels stuck well and looked great once dried. After letting it dry for 1/2 hour I dunked it in cold water. Unfortunately, the labels came off in cold water even easier than they do with milk! I used the same amount as I do when I use milk, basically three spritzes to cover the label with droplets. Maybe I'll try it again, laying it on a little thicker.
 
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sidepart

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Try microwaving the water till it just reaches boiling. Then add your gelatin.

I'll do some testing but I believe this actually "ruins" the gelatin and makes it useless for making something like jello. Ends up just getting really hard.

Maybe I'll also test the coating method too. Maybe a mist of it just isn't enough to work. When I smooth my labels out, a small amount will ooze out on either side of the label.

One thing I've also noticed is that in some applications, the label will stick when wet, etc. But if I take the corner and gently pull, I can peel the sucker off sometimes. Haven't seen one float off yet.
 

MichaelBrock

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Yeah, it did occur to me later that maybe the temperature had something to do with it. The gelatin did dissolve completely and get "sticky" (as in a sugar sort of sticky) but maybe that gelatiny character requires the higher temperature. I'll give it another shot.
 
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sidepart

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Not sure here, like I said, I'll try some further testing.

I did a serious soak test today while I was brewing. I'll post some pictures when I get a chance but the short of it is that the bottles lasted 8 hours in a sink of room temperature water without the labels floating off.

When I pulled them out, I was able to put my thumbnail through one of the labels and tear off the section of label in my thumbnail's path. Seemed like it'd be pretty easy to remove with a scour pad or a plastic square (like you might expect for a New Glarus label if you're familiar with them). I also tried seeing if I could just lift the label up from one of the corners but I couldn't do so without tearing the labels.

After that I left the two bottles out for about an hour (two hours? it was while I was cleaning up), they dried and were stuck on quite well still.
 

el_kirk

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I haven't tried this, as I generally keg all my beers. If this works though, this should be a ...


...wait for it...


...sticky! :tank:
 

najel

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Cool idea! I have 150 bottles to label soon, so i think I will try this.
Just a question, if I get the bulk gelatin, can anyone look at a Knox packet and see how much is in one of those, to get the right ratio for mixing it?
 
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sidepart

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Cool idea! I have 150 bottles to label soon, so i think I will try this.
Just a question, if I get the bulk gelatin, can anyone look at a Knox packet and see how much is in one of those, to get the right ratio for mixing it?
2.5 tsp or 0.25oz (I think). I'm going to update my main post soon. I think I'm finding that it may be better to work with about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water instead. I misread the measurement ticks my glass cup has. 3/4 cup of water worked for me still but it was pretty watery which made things a little harder to work with (soggy).
 

MichaelBrock

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I did try this again, this time with 1 packet of knox gelatin in 1/2 cup of hottest tap water. It dissolved well and was still thin enough to spray easily from a spray bottle. Just to be safe I kept the spray bottle sitting in a bowl of hot water between uses but I'm not sure it made any difference. I had no clogging or cleaning issues. I spritzed each label 2-3 times with gelatin mixture and affixed the immediately to the bottles. Two weeks later and they are all still affixed. I soaked an empty bottle in room temperature water for 15 minutes and the label stayed well attached. A little while under hot tap water and it came right off. Just one trial, but looking good!
 
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sidepart

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I did try this again, this time with 1 packet of knox gelatin in 1/2 cup of hottest tap water. It dissolved well and was still thin enough to spray easily from a spray bottle. Just to be safe I kept the spray bottle sitting in a bowl of hot water between uses but I'm not sure it made any difference. I had no clogging or cleaning issues. I spritzed each label 2-3 times with gelatin mixture and affixed the immediately to the bottles. Two weeks later and they are all still affixed. I soaked an empty bottle in room temperature water for 15 minutes and the label stayed well attached. A little while under hot tap water and it came right off. Just one trial, but looking good!
That's fantastic! I might try the spray bottle as well going forward. Beats painting it on and getting sticky gunk all over my fingers.

I might still recommend microwaving the water to get it good and hot, but hey if really hot tap water worked. I've amended my first post to reflect 1/2-3/4 cup of water to a packet. I think that's going to be the limit.

I really like this method of fixing labels and heck...even if it doesn't catch on, it will be my method of labeling. Seems like it's the right mix of stick and ease of removal. I had to prep some bottles this past weekend. I couldn't believe how easy it was to soak off the labels in some hot tap water. I had a whole case done in minutes. Meanwhile it took about 2 hours to go through the process of boiling off the labels (in OneStep) for the other case of "donated bottles".
 

501irishred

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This is a great idea!! I've tried everything from milk (might as well have thrown the labels in the bottom of the fridge to start with) to 3M 77 spray adhesive (break out the pneumatic chisel!), but knew there had to be a middle ground somewhere. I will definitely be giving this a try next go round!

As for the mess, I came up with a contraption during my various spray adhesive attempts that might work well here as well. I used a PC fan mounted under a piece of foam, with small holes drilled in it, to create a vacuum that holds a label in place while adhesive is applied. You can then "roll" the bottle over the label to apply. This way you, or the front of the label, never come in contact with the adhesive.

photo(1).JPG
 
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sidepart

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what laser printer do you use? im looking to get one for this, but I don't want to spend a million bucks. I still want a quality print though. I was looking at this one. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16828113695
Probably worth making a new post for this so others can chime in. I use the following printer: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002VPU9E4/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

It prints simple labels that I make using vector art (in Adobe Illustrator) well, but it's not so great with actual photographs (much to my disappointment). I can't really speak to the quality of the printer you've posted. I'm no expert. However if you're looking to throw out your inkjet and go full laser, understand that printing color documents and photographs are two different things. I haven't found a laser printer that prints photos to my liking. So if photographs (aside from beer labels) are important to you, maybe keep the inkjet on standby for that.

If you have a microcenter or something like that nearby, maybe take along a picture or label you want to print out. They usually will let you test the print quality.
 
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jasonsbeer

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Followed this procedure tonight and I am impressed. This is a great idea. The gelatin is very tacky and the labels stick right on.

I took 1/2 cup of hot tap water and added a packet of Knox. I mixed it a little bit with a spoon, but it wasn't completely disolving. I stuck it in the microwave for 15 seconds and stirred again. This time got it completely disolved. I filled a 1 fl oz squirt bottle and sprayed the backs of three labels at a time. Once they touch the bottle they are pretty firm, so you want to square up the label before too much paper contacts the bottle. I labeled 28 bottles with maybe 1/2 fl oz of the mixture. A little goes a long ways.

After just a few minutes of drying they labels are very firmly attached. I tried to pull one off and the label was tearing.

It's a little late for me tonight, but after work tomorrow I'll soak a labeled bottle in a cooler for a few hours to see what happens. Regardless of the results of the cooler experiment tomorrow, this is a great way to label bottles.

I vote STICKY! Kudos to Sidepart!

 

rearview

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I tried this method tonight and it worked great! It is a bit hard to get the stuff to dissolve, but it didn't seem to matter.
 

jasonsbeer

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Here are the results of my "cooler" test. Rousing success in my opinion.

The bottles with labels sat overnight, about 21 hours. I grabbed a bottle to test on, one that I attached the label a little cock-eyed.


I soaked it in a "cooler" for 2 1/2 hours (I couldn't wait any longer)


The extracated bottle.


I started in the corner, trying to peel the label off. The Knox held fairly firm, no chance this label was going to fall off. It is notable that even though the Knox adhesive held well, it was very easy to scrub the remaing paper off with my thumb nail. This is just about perfect - strong enough to hold on in water, but weak enough to remove with minimal effort.
 

501irishred

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Hallelujah!! Thanks "sidepart" for bringing this wonderful trick to our attention! I've saved at least an hour (probably closer to two) using this method in just one batch over my closest alternatives. Easy on easy off.
 
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sidepart

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I took 1/2 cup of hot tap water and added a packet of Knox. I mixed it a little bit with a spoon, but it wasn't completely disolving. I stuck it in the microwave for 15 seconds and stirred again. This time got it completely disolved.
I tried this method tonight and it worked great! It is a but hard to get the stuff to dissolve, but it didn't seem to matter.
Glad to see people are having success with the method! I don't think I've ever been "nominated" for a sticky...on any forum.

If you're having trouble dissolving the gelatin, try adding more water. This is especially the case if it's sort of "snotty". Adding some more water will dilute it and thin it out. Still adheres pretty well. I've gotten my gelatin mixture to be pretty thin and was surprised by how well it worked still. Second tip is to make sure the water is near the boiling point too. Think of how you make jello, because it's the same stuff. If the water isn't hot enough, you just get pasty boogers.
 

mistercameron

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sidepart said:
Probably worth making a new post for this so others can chime in. I use the following printer: http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Color-Laser-Printer-CLP-620ND/dp/B002VPU9E4

It prints simple labels that I make using vector art (in Adobe Illustrator) well, but it's not so great with actual photographs (much to my disappointment). I can't really speak to the quality of the printer you've posted. I'm no expert. However if you're looking to throw out your inkjet and go full laser, understand that printing color documents and photographs are two different things. I haven't found a laser printer that prints photos to my liking. So if photographs (aside from beer labels) are important to you, maybe keep the inkjet on standby for that.

If you have a microcenter or something like that nearby, maybe take along a picture or label you want to print out. They usually will let you test the print quality.
Fwiw you can use water resistant inkjet inks. Most manufacturers make them and the quality of the prints will be much better than laser. I had a friend give me a sample from his hp using the photo inks (which are water proof) and it came out great. Sure, it might be relatively expensive to print on inkjet, but the quality can't be beat and you won't have to buy a brand new printer.
 
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mb82

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Just tried it. I used 1/2 cup of water and microwaved it. Labeled 48 beers and put it on with a small paint brush. It was easy and it seemed like I didn't even use much of the liquid. I had an extra label and an extra bottle so later I am going to try and remove it after applying it earlier tonight.

The label came off with a little hot water in the bottle like I was rinsing the bottle out.
 

Warthaug

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Down with milk!

I too have had great success with this method - 1/2 cup boiling water poured onto 1 packet knox = great glue. Comes off with hot tap water, but not in cold water (even with an overnight soak!).

I'd like to nominate this thread for a stiky.

Bryan
 

Cromwell

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+1 for a sticky! Especially for a thread that's all about being sticky! :D

I love this method more every time I finish a bottle. A quick douse in hot water to rinse it out and a little on the label and the label comes right off totally cleanly. No scraping, no soaking, easy as can be, but only when you want it to. I can't imagine a better way to label.

Oh, and great idea with the spray bottle, too. I'll have to try that next time. Does the bottle get gummed up? My fingers got kind of sticky with a brush.
 
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