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Glass carboy breaks?

So how common are they with NB glass carboys? I understand if I drop the carboy it will shatter, but as I join more home brewer online groups, I’m reading stories (many of them) of them just randomly “exploding” on people with pretty gruesome injuries.

It’s making me seriously consider trading in for plastic carboys…just hesitant on the possible taste difference (if any?) or other downsides.

Thoughts?

glass is glass. you have to be very careful. if you get even a small hair crack in the carboy it is no longer safe to use. inspect then every time you wash them. now they are easier to keep sanitary than plastic because plastic scratches, but plastic is cheap. I would and do use plastic or glass. if you use glass. I don’t recommend the bottle lifters that attach at the neck. that is a lot of pressure on that small area. I use the carboy sling that wraps around the bottom and sides of the carboy. have not had a problem. but inspect it and throw out if it gets any frays.

I agree. I’ve used the same glass carboys for years. My first broke from adding hot water to cold glass, the second was dropped, full of wine.

No injuries, but a big mess.

If you choose to use one, treat it like glass. Don’t drop it, bump it, shake it full, and don’t put hot water in a cold carboy. :oops:

I’ve never had one randomly explode.

They are very fragile on the outer sides about half way up. Just a small bump into a hard table edge will make it fail. I’ve got eight and have never broke one yet but I am careful. I also use my six 15 gallon plastic fermenters more than the glass.

If you can, post a link to the discussion where a carboy randomly exploded. I’d be interested in whether someone has actually had this happen or if they are playing the part of the alarmist in the never-ending carboy vs. bucket vs. Better Bottle debate. It’s tiresome.

But Mrv and Pash are right you know, glass is glass, and it does break. I’m careful, and have still broken some. Usually people report back of dropping them or banging them which causes the breaking, but randomly exploding? meh…

Agreed! A carboy won’t just explode for no reason. A rack in the glass and then the weigh of it being filled or lifted, sure. Bumping it or dropping it, sure. Pouring hot liquid in while it’s cold or vice versa, sure. But there has to be a cause for the reaction to happen.

And about plastic and scratches… I don’t believe a plastic container with a scratch will automatically get an infection and must be trashed. I use glass carboys, plastic buckets, and better bottles and can point out advantages and disadvantages to each. My buckets are about 4 years old and have scratches. It’s plastic and pretty much unavoidable over time. I even stack them one inside another… GASP!!! Guess what, none have ever produced and infection… not once. I’m about to brew batch 100 soon and have only had one infection which was due to a bung blowing out of a better bottle while in my fermentation fridge. It sat open for anywhere from 1 to 4 days before I noticed. My buckets, which definitely have scratches get washed well with oxyclean and sanitized well on brew day. I’ve yet to have an infection from either of my 3 buckets. I’m not saying it can’t happen. I just don’t think it’s as easy or common as people would lead you to believe.

I agree. I’ve used the same glass carboys for years. My first broke from adding hot water to cold glass, the second was dropped, full of wine.

No injuries, but a big mess.

If you choose to use one, treat it like glass. Don’t drop it, bump it, shake it full, and don’t put hot water in a cold carboy. :oops:

I’ve never had one randomly explode.[/quote]

I can attest to this. I’ve had a brew day ruined by a trip to the ER when a sanitizer-filled carboy slipped out of my hand and shattered on the stone counter top. Eight stitches later and I’m much more vigilant about safety!

I never move a full carboy without a brew-hauler-type system, and I’ll use a racking cane to empty carboys of sanitizer. Even though it takes longer, it beats sitting through a full screening of Legally Blonde 2: Armed and Fabulous as a bored resident stitches your thumb.

I broke 3, then switched to buckets. I have no desire to switch back. I’ve made several hundred batches using buckets at this point and I haven’t found a downside.

I’ve “retired” my glass carboy because as careful as I am the thing is very difficult to hold on to or even clean at times when it gets wet. I would rather if I have to pay 40 bucks a year to get new buckets (If I feel the need to replace one that is…) than any possible loss of function/medical costs. I’ve already been damaged by my service in the Army so I’m pretty vigilant about some avoidable risks.

Now glass carboys do not exactly “Explode” but they do fail for mechanical reasons. Bottle Bombs anyone? Carboys may not shatter like that but they can and will catastrophically fail for reasons that at the time are invisible. Have any of you ever had a windshield crack? Sometimes a little chip or tiny crack when stressed by seemingly nothing will crack across the entire windshield. Many of the sudden failures of carboys that happen I would guess to be something similar. As others have pointed out the tiny hair line fracture you don’t even see could be the weak point if there is a slight knock on the glass. I know scratches can be hard to see in a carboy when it is clean and dry and empty, let alone if it’s filled with beer or foam. People have also reported they crack inside a ice chest fermentation chamber with out having been touched. Again I would think that something caused a hairline fracture to let go, either the pressure of CO2 Release from fermentation or the weight of the beer in the vessel itself.

I’m not saying glass is bad, but I would prefer to use the smaller sided or more easily manageable glass items myself. I’m a rather unlucky sort with odd things happening so I don’t want to tempt fate. :smiley: What others do is great too.

I use buckets 99% of the time now as well. I will use a glass carboy when I have larger gravity brews that I want to ferment longer; but I know there really is no need for that. Sometimes I just like to see the “action” during fermentation.

I also always keep in a plastic milk style crate. But I honestly worry about the strength of that plastic when a full carboy is in it.

The whole spontaneous carboy death happened to me last week on bottling day. Thankfully I transferred everything to the bucket first and no glass got in the beer!

The carboy was just sitting on the counter and I heard a giant pop. The carboy didn’t explode, so it took me a little bit to realize it was the glass popping. It looked like I hit it with a baseball bat, showing spider webs of cracks all over it. I lightly picked it up and it basically exploded when I placed it in the trash.

I went out and got those plastic Bubbler carboys to get away from glass. Plastic will be safer than glass moving forward and it can handle temp changes much smoother than glass, too.

Once I went to buckets, I realized there are flaws in the whole carboy shape. I much prefer the larger opening of the buckets…it makes cleaning easier (notice I said “easier” before you tell how easy carboys are to clean) and you can stack them for storage so they take up less room. When I abandoned glass, I abandoned the whole carboy form factor,too.

Fermenting in a bucket eliminates most of those “Does this look right?” posts. :wink:
I do however still have two carboys to use on the occasion that I want to cold condition or lager, or maybe rack after 2 weeks because I really need that yeast. 1 glass, 1 better bottle.
And yes, I have had a glass carboy break on me- filled with sanitizer, not beer thankfully, and no injuries. It slipped…

[quote=“James Rausch”]Fermenting in a bucket eliminates most of those “Does this look right?” posts. :wink:
I do however still have two carboys to use on the occasion that I want to cold condition or lager, or maybe rack after 2 weeks because I really need that yeast. 1 glass, 1 better bottle.
And yes, I have had a glass carboy break on me- filled with sanitizer, not beer thankfully, and no injuries. It slipped…[/quote]

I’ve gone to using cornies for lagering, etc.

I see these posts now and then about the fear of glass carboys breaking and always feel the need to chime in. I know it’s been mentioned once already in this thread, but I must emphasize the importance to invest in at least one Brew-Hauler (preferably more if you have multiple glass carboys).

I was paranoid about handling my carboys at first until I got Brew-Haulers. Having a harness to safely lift and move the carboy without touching the glass is much more reassuring. I know the glass can still break, but at least my hands/arms won’t get sliced open. Worst case, I’d lose a carboy and a batch of beer, and spend a long time cleaning up the mess.

FWIW, I have since moved on to buckets simply for the ease of cleaning my fermentors. Now I only use my glass carboys for bulk aging or lagering beers, or as a secondary for 6-gallon wine batches.

I like the buckets but i can’t stand the fact that i can never seem to get the one i have to be air tight. I like knowing that gasses can move in only one direction in a carboy…through the airlock. Other than this, buckets are awesome. So much lighter and easier to move around.

After the first time I carried a full carboy around I began to realize the danger. I still use one (and plan to get at least one more for aging purposes) but the carboy stays put when it’s full. I have a small room in the basement that all my fermenting and aging is done and the carboy gets filled and emptied right there. Since I don’t have a basement sink yet, I’ll still carry the empty carboy up to the garage for washing and sanitizing, but it gets dried off good before I haul it back down to the fermenting room. I’ve found I like buckets for the ease of cleaning like so many others have mentioned.

Although I’ve heard rumors of a plastic big mouth bubbler coming to market… if they make it I’ll definitely be interested.

Really I’d love a stainless conical but that’s not in the budget yet, lol.

I have a 6.5 and a 5 gallon glass carboy and a 5 gallon better bottle carboy. I started brewing on the stovetop and chilling in the laundry tub with an icebath and I would pour into the carboy in the laundry room then carry it down the stairs full. When I was bottling I would carry the full carboy from my basement up to my kitchen. I was always rather nervous about carrying 5 gallons up and down stairs. Now I brew in the garage so I have to carry a full carboy about 15 feet to my basement and no stairs are involved. I also now do all my transferring right by where I ferment so the most lifting I have to do once it’s in place is about 2 1/2 feet up to the table to get some assistance from gravity on my siphon. I do need to look into one of those carriers for additional safety factor though at some point.

I love my glass carboys and have been very happy with them but I did change my process to minimize the distance I need to transport them full. When I do use a secondary because of needing the 6.5 gallon carboy for a new batch, I prefer the better bottle when I am dry hopping because of the larger mouth opening. Mark’s Keg washer has definitely helped with the cleanup because I can multi-task while the carboys are being washed and they typically are left to dry overnight before putting them back into storage.

:cheers:
Rad

Thanks for all of the input guys! It is on a FB group called the Home Brew Network. Great page with discussions. One of them included a thread with “battle wounds” of carboys.

Which glass carboy holder do people here use? I see a couple options here at NB…
I’ve been bad and handle my carboys without one and feel like I’m pressing my luck.

Those big mouth bubblers are catching my eye! I love the idea of glass but might pull the trigger on one. Although if I invest in something to help me handle the glass I assume I should have less to worry about.

[quote=“ObsidianJester”]I’ve “retired” my glass carboy because as careful as I am the thing is very difficult to hold on to or even clean at times when it gets wet. I would rather if I have to pay 40 bucks a year to get new buckets (If I feel the need to replace one that is…) than any possible loss of function/medical costs. I’ve already been damaged by my service in the Army so I’m pretty vigilant about some avoidable risks.

Now glass carboys do not exactly “Explode” but they do fail for mechanical reasons. Bottle Bombs anyone? Carboys may not shatter like that but they can and will catastrophically fail for reasons that at the time are invisible. Have any of you ever had a windshield crack? Sometimes a little chip or tiny crack when stressed by seemingly nothing will crack across the entire windshield. Many of the sudden failures of carboys that happen I would guess to be something similar. As others have pointed out the tiny hair line fracture you don’t even see could be the weak point if there is a slight knock on the glass. I know scratches can be hard to see in a carboy when it is clean and dry and empty, let alone if it’s filled with beer or foam. People have also reported they crack inside a ice chest fermentation chamber with out having been touched. Again I would think that something caused a hairline fracture to let go, either the pressure of CO2 Release from fermentation or the weight of the beer in the vessel itself.

I’m not saying glass is bad, but I would prefer to use the smaller sided or more easily manageable glass items myself. I’m a rather unlucky sort with odd things happening so I don’t want to tempt fate. :smiley: What others do is great too.[/quote]
This is exactly right. Back in the 1960s, one of the big soft drink companies spent a lot of money trying to figure out how to prevent their returnable bottles from breaking in customer hands. Turns out there wasn’t a solution: glass is glass, and small imperfections in the surface just naturally propagate over time. Micro-cracks become stress-concentrators and seemingly small forces can result in massive sudden failure. The chance of it happening on any given day is very small, but not zero. That’s why soft drinks come in cans or plastic bottles now.

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