Using Bernzomatic Oxygen Cylinders for Oxygenating Wort

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Brewmegoodbeer

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I have been doing some research on what homebrewers use to oxygenate wort to promote fermentation/yeast health. Commonly the Bernzomatic Oxygen tanks are bought from hardware stores and used with oxygen regulators bought from home brew supply stores. I reviewed the safety data sheet the Bernzomatic has on the oxygen and basically all it says is “100% pure oxygen” but does not notate if purity testing is done to prove this. There is the argument that there is no difference between welding grade and medical grade oxygen all over the internet. I want to find facts. I asked 2 representatives at Airgas today and they both agreed that there is a difference as medical grade is tested for impurities and there are safety measures in place to assure that the oxygen is approved for human consumption. They even stated that if i came in and asked for welding grade oxygen and found out i was using it for human consumption that they could not sell it to me. This makes me scratch my head as home brewers swear its the same. I emailed Bernzomatic in the regard that 1000’s of homebrewers use their product for human consumption and asked them if they approve of this use. I will let you all know what they tell me. I have a feeling that they will tell me that they do not recommend this practice which goes back to the question: why are home brewers putting things in their beer that are not proven pure when we all harp on the quality of our practices??
 

mongoose33

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What else do you think might be in there if not oxygen? And would the yeast care?

Do you oxygenate your wort? What do you use if you do?
 
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Brewmegoodbeer

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What else do you think might be in there if not oxygen? And would the yeast care?

Do you oxygenate your wort? What do you use if you do?
everything my liquid touches from start to finish is approved for human consumption whether that be 304 stainless steel food grade silicone, food grade beer dispensing tubing, and beverage/food grade co2. I don’t use brass or even copper in my brewery. Lead free brass still leaches lead in acidic solvents (wort) and copper can turn green and become poisonous. Why would anyone want to introduce something that is not approved for human consumption into something that they are going to consume? I personally may be extra conscious about it but if best practices can be followed, why not follow them? I currently just splash my wort when I rack into fermenter to introduce oxygen.
 
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Brewmegoodbeer

Brewmegoodbeer

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The truth of this argument is that both sides lack facts. There is simply opinions but no data. I want purity testing that approves something for human consumption
 

mongoose33

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The truth of this argument is that both sides lack facts. There is simply opinions but no data. I want purity testing that approves something for human consumption
OK.

In the meantime, I'll continue to use those cylinders to introduce oxygen into my wort, rather than use the less-effective method of splashing the wort.

I do have a very few questions for you, though: what was the point of your posts? Was it to introduce us to Brewmegoodbeer's personal Reinheitsgebot purity law? Or a chance at virtue-signalling? Or?

Your post seemed pretty combative, wondering where you thought that would lead you.
 

SEndorf

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Your quest for "human consumption" data is noble but impractical.
I simply got tired of the short life span of the bernzomatic canisters and got a 5 Lb oxygen tank from my gas store, a regulator and a 2 micron stone.
This tank will probably be good for about 600 oxygenations.
I'd be more concerned about the microbes on my beer glasses...….
 

Iseneye

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I definitely don't have an answer for you. However, I always find these threads interesting where people are looking for some sort of healthy beer option when we are ingesting a beverage which is bad for you in so many ways. The tiny tiny amount of impurity in the oxygen cylinder, if any, is nothing compared to the alcohol portion of the drink. If you are stressing and chasing tiny things like this you are better off not drinking, IMHO.
 

Bobby_M

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This,. The beer is something like 3 to 15% contaminated with ethanol, a known poison.
I definitely don't have an answer for you. However, I always find these threads interesting where people are looking for some sort of healthy beer option when we are ingesting a beverage which is bad for you in so many ways. The tiny tiny amount of impurity in the oxygen cylinder, if any, is nothing compared to the alcohol portion of the drink. If you are stressing and chasing tiny things like this you are better off not drinking, IMHO.
 

ba-brewer

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1000's of alive homebrewers, homie. Proof is in the pudding.
The dead ones don't post much.:)

For the record I have been using those red cylinders for 3 or 4 years now and can report no new appendages.

Almost everything in California seems to have some sort of health warning, so it might be hard to identify the cause even if I did.
 

TheMadKing

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https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ac00195a005

Here's a link to the impurities found in typical high purity oxygen. It follows that the same impurities should exist in higher proportions in welding grade oxygen. Oxygen is seperated from the air using cryogenic distillation or vacuums. So it can be high in impurities meaning that a higher proportion of the gasses present in air are still there (nitrogen and argon) specifically. Medical grade oxygen is seperated using electrolysis with a platinum catylist and is very pure.

One thing to remember is that the word "purity" has been coopted by the advertising industry as a term that means it's healthy. So impurity must therefore be bad for you.

Just because there's impurities in a gas doesn't mean they are harmful, and since this gas came from the air originally, it's reasonable that the impurities are simply gasses leftover from air.

Your airgas guy was selling something, and you should be suspicious that his "concern" for your health would result in you buying the much more expensive medical grade oxygen.

I occasionally work with high purity gasses in an industrial capacity and we are required to have certified gasses with five-nines, meaning certified by NIST to be 99.999% free of impurities. Anyone who tells you there is no difference in gas grades is an idiot. I have been told that by multiple CO2 vendors.

Yes CO2 is CO2 and oxygen is oxygen and the source doesn't matter, however what's in your tank is only 99.something% CO2 or oxygen. 0.1% impurities can result in off flavors such as oxidation from force carbonating with CO2 containing an oxygen impurity.

Luckily the common impurities in oxygen are inert and I still have no problem using my bernzomatic tank.

I don't know why you're getting so many snarky replies for a seemingly perfectly reasonable question.
 

mongoose33

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https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ac00195a005

Here's a link to the impurities found in typical high purity oxygen. It follows that the same impurities should exist in higher proportions in welding grade oxygen. Oxygen is seperated from the air using cryogenic distillation or vacuums. So it can be high in impurities meaning that a higher proportion of the gasses present in air are still there (nitrogen and argon) specifically. Medical grade oxygen is seperated using electrolysis with a platinum catylist and is very pure.

One thing to remember is that the word "purity" has been coopted by the advertising industry as a term that means it's healthy. So impurity must therefore be bad for you.

Just because there's impurities in a gas doesn't mean they are harmful, and since this gas came from the air originally, it's reasonable that the impurities are simply gasses leftover from air.

Your airgas guy was selling something, and you should be suspicious that his "concern" for your health would result in you buying the much more expensive medical grade oxygen.

I occasionally work with high purity gasses in an industrial capacity and we are required to have certified gasses with five-nines, meaning certified by NIST to be 99.999% free of impurities. Anyone who tells you there is no difference in gas grades is an idiot. I have been told that by multiple CO2 vendors.

Yes CO2 is CO2 and oxygen is oxygen and the source doesn't matter, however what's in your tank is only 99.something% CO2 or oxygen. 0.1% impurities can result in off flavors such as oxidation from force carbonating with CO2 containing an oxygen impurity.

Luckily the common impurities in oxygen are inert and I still have no problem using my bernzomatic tank.

I don't know why you're getting so many snarky replies for a seemingly perfectly reasonable question.
Thank you. I read some of the article, and the abtract, and the trace elements in the oxygen they tested are all atmospheric gases, which anyone who is either aerating or splashing wort is getting into their wort.

One thing to note is that they didn't specifically test Bernzomatic oxygen cylinders, so theoretically there could be something in there from the process other than atmospheric gases. Theoretically.

As far as your description of the responses as snarky, go back and re-read his posts and see if you can pick up the attitude; it's there. Holier-than-thou is one phrase that comes to mind.
 

TheMadKing

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Thank you. I read some of the article, and the abtract, and the trace elements in the oxygen they tested are all atmospheric gases, which anyone who is either aerating or splashing wort is getting into their wort.

One thing to note is that they didn't specifically test Bernzomatic oxygen cylinders, so theoretically there could be something in there from the process other than atmospheric gases. Theoretically.

As far as your description of the responses as snarky, go back and re-read his posts and see if you can pick up the attitude; it's there. Holier-than-thou is one phrase that comes to mind.
I'm not getting attitude at all other than a guy who's been googling his butt off and is a little frustrated. I think that's partially an assumption on your part, no offense.

I can understand the frustration of being told conflicting information by so called "professionals" at airgas and other suppliers. My CO2 vendor fills fire extinguishers and knowingly told me “all CO2 is 100% pure, that grading stuff is just a gimmick to jack up the price”. I would guarantee his CO2 is not oxygen free down to 1ppb, so I’ve switched to priming my kegs and spunding for carbonation and only using the CO2 to push the beer.

Agreed that there theoretically could be something else in bernzomatic gas, but as long as it's not cyanide, machine oil or something I'm still not too worried about it.
 

mongoose33

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I'm not getting attitude at all other than a guy who's been googling his butt off and is a little frustrated. I think that's partially an assumption on your part, no offense.
None taken, but I would suggest, judging by the number of other responses, that many others are reading it differently than you. No offense. :)

I can understand the frustration of being told conflicting information by so called "professionals" at airgas and other suppliers. My CO2 vendor fills fire extinguishers and knowingly told me “all CO2 is 100% pure, that grading stuff is just a gimmick to jack up the price”. I would guarantee his CO2 is not oxygen free down to 1ppb, so I’ve switched to priming my kegs and spunding for carbonation and only using the CO2 to push the beer.
I do similar things. I've long thought this odyssey is more a journey than a destination, i.e., how close can I get to perfect, always knowing I can never achieve that. As Vince Lombardi is reputed to have said, "You can't achieve perfection, but if you chase perfection you can achieve excellence." Or something like that. :) I think it's a pretty good approach regardless, and it fits into my own approach of continuous quality improvement.

Agreed that there theoretically could be something else in bernzomatic gas, but as long as it's not cyanide, machine oil or something I'm still not too worried about it.
It's hard for me to believe there's anything in there of consequence given the apparently thousands of brewers who use those red canisters routinely, though if there was cyanide in mine I'd expect that at some point I'd lose consci
 

Dave Sarber

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Agreed that there theoretically could be something else in bernzomatic gas, but as long as it's not cyanide, machine oil or something I'm still not too worried about it.
I think you can be pretty sure there is NO machine oil of any kind in there!
I work aircraft repair, and have lots of experience with "aviator's breathing oxygen" which probably does have traces of other gases, but any oil, (even soap) is an explosion waiting to happen, and it won't wait long!
 

Moose_MI

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I would point out that determining what’s in Bernzomatic Oxygen is the easy part.

....and if we’re really going to take this seriously....

What you really need to know is what of those trace Bernzomatic Oxygen impurities actually make it into the consumed product.

Finally, you have to quantify the overall increase in carcinogenic properties of the beverage that resulted from a process involving Bernzomatic Oxygen and then extrapolate the possible health implications over different periods of time and varying levels of consumption.

Then of course you have panel tests over an extended period of time to measure and validate any health impact that your measurements may have indicated a potential for.

Call me when you’re doing the panel tests....I love free beer.
 
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Why would anyone want to introduce something that is not approved for human consumption into something that they are going to consume?
The issue here isn't if there's anything dangerous for human consumption in those bottles. The issue is labeling laws and testing requirements/limitations.

I currently just splash my wort when I rack into fermenter to introduce oxygen.
Has the air in the room where you rack been certified as approved for human consumption?
 

wstumper

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Try the BernzOmatic Oxygen Safety Data Sheet:

https://worthingtonindustries.com/Resources/For-Customers/Safety-Data-Sheets

Scroll down about 2/3rds of the page (or filter with "Oxygen") and download the spec sheet. Page 4 has the toxicological information.

Under Ingestion and Inhalation it says "No adverse effects due to xxxxx are expected." (Whatever "expected" means!)

Potential frostbite can occur if skin is exposed to "rapidly expanding gas" or "vaporizing liquid." So, don't stick the hose in your mouth. It's not like canned whipped cream!
 

skarz

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Dang why is there so much hostility in this thread, especially when someone is just looking for answers?!
 
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Brewmegoodbeer

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Because people get offended when you challenge their method they have been using for years. The truth is those little red cans at your hardware store are not approved for human consumption. If an actual licensed brewery went and used something not rated or approved for human consumption and an inspector got ahold of that, they’d get in trouble. People can do whatever they want, they can put whatever they want in their body. Id just prefer to use things that are approved “food safe” in my brewing process even if it costs more. All stainless, food grade silicone, beverage grade co2 and beverage grade/food purpose oxygen is what I have. Everyone can make their own judgement on that.
 

gunhaus

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Hmmm. What I DO know, is that at my local gas supplies (both of them are well known brand names used by many here) the O2, and CO2, are filled from ONE BULK TANK EACH. I have stood there waiting for my truck to be loaded while they filled the empties I just brought it. They fill bulk CO2 for paint guns and shop use, side by side with the pretty silver food grade 20 lb units. Same with the O2; small personal units, right up to large 100 lb shop tanks side by side all at the same time. I have been in the yard dozens upon dozens of time getting tanks filled and loaded and neither place has multiple or special bulk tanks for food grade vs industrial. I bet your chain gas suppliers are exactly the same. I also bet they will tell you the same lies, and company sales lines gas they tell everyone else. There my be places where the yard has "food grade only" or " Human consumption only" bulk tanks but I have never seen them. And lastly, I KNOW, that the semi that delivers the bulk O2 stops FIRST at the local hospital and fills their three large bulk O2 tanks, THEN drives five miles over to the Purity and fills their bulk tanks, then on and on and on. . . .

Much of life is like this, and branding and labeling is just so much marketing nonsense. As a kid my dad managed a large well know archery products manufacturing company. Us kids all worked there part time filling tubes of fletching adhesive, arrow paints, hot melt glue, etc. They produced product for the WHOLE industry, and you would fill tubes that said Bohning, Bear, Jennings, Darton, etc side by side all day. Same glue, different tube. In a later life I drove semi on and off first working through school and later to make ends meet when needs be. I have delivered water from a local Ice Mountain (Nestle) with at least a dozen different brand names on it. SAME well, different label. I have delivered Store brand oil, and brand name oil, side by side on the same pallets from the packaging plants. Inside you can watch the lines feeding store brand quarts into the rotary filling machines and when a run ends the packages switch over from a cheap ass store brand, to a brand name costing YOU 3-4 times more money, without ever stopping or slowing down a hitch.

Bottom line is the gas supplier can make more money selling you the perception you are purchasing something different or better
 

SEndorf

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As explained to me by my gas supplier (a well known large company) medical grade / food grade comes out of the same bulk gas tanks as gunhaus described.
The difference is in the tanks that are being filled. My "food grade" CO2 comes from the same bulk tank they are using to fill paint ball canisters, however my "food grade" tank is marked and registered/certified that 1 - no other gases/contaminants have ever entered that tank and 2 - they completely purge before filling.
Same for my 5# oxygen I purchased to save money over those tiny burnzomatics.
 
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skarz

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One thing that we can surely agree on, is that those little red Bernzomatic tanks are not economical in the slightest. I've read that you can get maybe 4 uses out of them. I think it would be way more cost-efficient to go the aquarium pump route...
 

mongoose33

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One thing that we can surely agree on, is that those little red Bernzomatic tanks are not economical in the slightest. I've read that you can get maybe 4 uses out of them. I think it would be way more cost-efficient to go the aquarium pump route...
I generally get about 10 uses out of them, BUT I'm controlling them using the device below (available on Amazon for about 10 bucks). And since an aquarium pump cannot do as well as pure O2, that's a nonstarter for me. YMMV.

oxygen1.jpg
oxygen2.jpg
 

mongoose33

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<snip>

Then of course you have panel tests over an extended period of time to measure and validate any health impact that your measurements may have indicated a potential for.

Call me when you’re doing the panel tests....I love free beer.
Do you want to be in the experimental or control group? :)
 

DarrellQ

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How long are you aerating the wort for, and at what PSI?
I place the wand at the bottom of the fermenter, crank up the Bernzomatic oxygen until I see slow bubbles, and let it go 60 seconds. I'm not sure if this is a great method? and is not very scientific, but I have had very happy yeast so far.
 

chipmunk

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I'm controlling them using the device below (available on Amazon for about 10 bucks).
I might have to steal this idea... I think it is very easy to have a lack of consistency with the oxygen without a regulator. For example, last week I brewed a beer up and split it into 2 identical fermenters, pitched the exact dry yeast sprinkled on top 50/50. I was confused when one of the fermenters started bubbling several hours earlier, and when I tested the gravity, several days later, they were 4 points apart. One fermenter was drier than predicted by BS. My thinking is that this was caused primarily by differences in oxygen. I’ve been thinking of ways to be more consistent. Thanks for the idea!
 

mongoose33

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I might have to steal this idea... I think it is very easy to have a lack of consistency with the oxygen without a regulator. For example, last week I brewed a beer up and split it into 2 identical fermenters, pitched the exact dry yeast sprinkled on top 50/50. I was confused when one of the fermenters started bubbling several hours earlier, and when I tested the gravity, several days later, they were 4 points apart. One fermenter was drier than predicted by BS. My thinking is that this was caused primarily by differences in oxygen. I’ve been thinking of ways to be more consistent. Thanks for the idea!
I've done a lot of stuff with oxygen, and with yeast, and I kind of doubt that oxygen had anything to do with the differences. It may have had more to do with one fermenter's dry yeast being mixed in faster, or something else different between the two.

You don't have to oxygenate with dry yeast, and in fact, if my memory serves, the manufacturers say not to. The yeast is packed with sterols which are what the yeast uses oxygen to create. That allows for cell walls to be built and for daughter cells to be produced.

In fact, I think oxygenating with dry yeast can be detrimental. The yeast won't consume that oxygen right away, leaving it time to oxidize the wort and mute flavors.

BTW, here's the flow meter I'm using:


I typically use that flow meter to control the rate without being overly concerned about exactly what that rate is. I want the o2 bubbles to just break the surface of the wort, and I use a wand which I swirl around while doing that. Typically I'll do that for two minutes.

And just so you know I'm so far around the bend you can no longer see me, I also oxygenate my starter wort when using liquid yeast. Whereas it doesn't matter one whit with dry yeast, I believe it gives the starter yeast a good head start. Further, I typically pitch that starter after about 15 hours on the stir plate, dumping the whole liter right into the wort. If I do it right, the yeast is going to town in the starter, and just keeps it up in the fermenter.
 

chipmunk

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It may have had more to do with one fermenter's dry yeast being mixed in faster, or something else different between the two.
That is possible. I just sprinkled the dry yeast on top of the foam. I may also have had differences in the amount of break as well - so maybe differences in hop sediment may have been a factor? I was making a hopped up IPA.

I did read (somewhere?) that one of the consequences of over-oxygenation is lower total ethanol production. I understood that the higher oxygen availability allows the yeast to build more cells - diverting energy and sugars to building cells rather than ethanol.

I can’t really think of anything else. Identical fermenters, same location and temperature...

Your point about the oxygen being possibly detrimental due to the dry yeast taking longer to use the oxygen makes sense - I’ll have to reconsider my process. Thanks for the link!
 

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Recently picked up food grade CO2 and O2 from my local Airgas supplier to make switch from industrial grade.

I see a lot of posts stating that it all comes from the same bulk tank and that there is no difference. I heard the same from my local Airgas as well regarding coming from the same bulk tank. However, when I asked what happens when a particular gas is pulled from a bulk tank, tested and does not meet certain standards. They explained it would be marked for its appropriate use. For example, if gas is pulled from a bulk tank and meets the food grade standard, it's marked as such. If it fails food grade standard but meets industrial grade standards it is marked as industrial grade. If there were no test to substantiate medical, food, industrial, etc. What would be the purpose of the test? Also, at my Airgas one of the employees was a commercial brewer for 10 years and suggested I use food grade. Just my two cents.
 

DarrellQ

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Recently picked up food grade CO2 and O2 from my local Airgas supplier to make switch from industrial grade.

I see a lot of posts stating that it all comes from the same bulk tank and that there is no difference. I heard the same from my local Airgas as well regarding coming from the same bulk tank. However, when I asked what happens when a particular gas is pulled from a bulk tank, tested and does not meet certain standards. They explained it would be marked for its appropriate use. For example, if gas is pulled from a bulk tank and meets the food grade standard, it's marked as such. If it fails food grade standard but meets industrial grade standards it is marked as industrial grade. If there were no test to substantiate medical, food, industrial, etc. What would be the purpose of the test? Also, at my Airgas one of the employees was a commercial brewer for 10 years and suggested I use food grade. Just my two cents.
Any idea where you buy food grade, or as I've read recommended elsewhere, aviation grade, oxygen?
 

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Any idea where you buy food grade, or as I've read recommended elsewhere, aviation grade, oxygen?
Airgas ordered food grade oxygen for me and it came in two days later. Also got food grade carbon dioxide from them as well. I believe they have locations nationwide so should be able to find one in your area I assume.
 
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