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PET buckets

Anybody know why there are no fermentation buckets made from PET? I ferment in the plastic buckets with a lid that snaps on and I love them. they’re easy to clean, easy to move, and I have never had any issue with them yet. But, the drawback is that I cannot see inside. That sort of burned me this weekend. I made a chocolate stout and needed to top off to make 5 gallons. I use a paint mixer for my power drill to aerate and that causes a thick layer of foam on top of the wort so I like to aerate when there is not the full 5 gallons in the bucket. Makes it easier to not have any mess overflow the bucket. But then when I topped off I was looking at what I thought was the liquid line in the bucket and tried to watch that move to the 5 gallon mark. It turned out that the line I was looking at was really a perfectly placed shadow on the bucket and so by the time i realized that I had filled the bucket about a half gallon too high.

So I began to wonder, why do they not make a PET, clear plastic version of that bucket? I have looked at the big mouth bubbler plastic version but I am shying away because I have heard of sealing issues and also that they are very thin. I thought about the glass bubbler but hear that they are prone to breakage. A PET bucket would be awesome. Anyone know of a reason that is not made? Are there technical reasons?

I’m not sure why they aren’t made. Perhaps cost or the structural integrity of a bucket design geometry versus that of a carboy. What you can do is make your own liquid level indicator. Use two bulkhead fittings with 90 degree hose barb fittings, one near the bottom of your bucket and one near the top, and a length of clear tubing fitted between them.

Here is an example of such fittings used for aquarium applications:

They can be ordered from this page:

http://www.jehmco.com/html/bulkhead_fittings.html#MiniBulkheadBarbs

Yeah, I suppose I could make a level indicator. But a PET bucket would be awesome!

I just shine a flashlight to find the level on the outside of the bucket. Have you checked the markings on your bucket? I’ve found the marks on both of my NB buckets are off. I need a new bucket before my next brew and might try an “ale pail” since my LHBS carries them.

Would’t the new Big Mouth Bubbler solve your problem as well. And as I was looking for the link I saw this on NB homepage, it looks like they just launched version 2.0 http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/big- … e&ici=EVO2 although glass I’m sure a plastic version is around the corner.

You can get clear polycarbonate food storage containers
http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/cambro/rfscw22135/p9954.aspx
but the largest I’ve seen are 22 qt. You’d need to use fermcap or brew smaller batches.

OK, so the more i think about it the more i like the idea of the level indicator. I wonder if the fermentation would take place in there and if I could make a level indicator with a hydrometer inside so that I could monitor gravity as the ferment progresses?

I hope that a v2 of the plastic big mouth comes along soon. I would be interested in that.

In the meantime I will probably use the flashlight idea.

That polycarbonate bucket sounds cool but I think that 22 quart is just a bit too small. I think that would end up being more trouble than it alleviates.

Oddly enough I just did a quick image search and found some almost transparent buckets but I think they are more common in the UK and AUS;

[quote=“wmwadeii”]Oddly enough I just did a quick image search and found some almost transparent buckets but I think they are more common in the UK and AUS;
[/quote]

I’ve got one of those (ordered it from the UK0, but it is only 2 gallons. Perfect for small batches.

I’m guessing that PET isn’t used because it is more expensive than PE, and manufacturers think that no one would pay the extra $1 for clarity. And there are certainly times when you want what you have in the bucket to be protected from light, which PET wouldn’t do.

I do what mhall said above, with the flashlight. It works for purposes of finding your liquid level. You just miss out on being a fermentation voyeur, which I do like, but oh well…

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