I just came across a plastic five gallon water cooler type bottle. It is basically brand new. Can anyone tell me why this could not be used for a secondary fermenter. Is there a difference between this and the “better bottle” fermenters?
Volume may be less? It could be exactly 5 gallons leaving you no extra room. if you like it and it’s food grade then use it.
The material that it is made of is different making it more permeable. Better bottles are made from PET plastic recycle code 1 and most water cooler jugs have a recycle code of 7.
On top of the permeability question, I’d be leery of doing it without knowing more about how the plastic in the water jug might react. Beer’s pretty corrosive stuff compared to water.
[quote=“bunderbunder”]I’d be leery of doing it without knowing more about how the plastic in the water jug might react.[/quote]Not really any way to know if the bottle has a 7 code. You would probably ingest more chemicals eating something cooked in a non-stick skillet than you get in a pint of beer that was secondaried in a not-really-food-safe carboy, but is it worth the risk?
Yeah, I’m probably just being paranoid. Big picture, I personally doubt there’s anything in there that’s as toxic as the stuff that yeast makes. But buckets and carboys aren’t too expensive, so it’s a paranoia I’m more than happy to indulge.
I think that in food applications #7 is usually polycarbonate, isn’t it? Which would make BPA the official chemical to be afraid of. But there’s BPA in the stuff they use to line aluminum cans and that hasn’t stopped me from drinking canned beer.
Worst case, my wife and I will be able to share more clothes. :cheers:
[quote=“bunderbunder”]I think that in food applications #7 is usually polycarbonate, isn’t it? Which would make BPA the official chemical to be afraid of.[/quote]If it’s clear it’s likely PC, but I’ve seen a whole range of plastics with 7s - we have one that’s opaque black for instance (part of my job is to find recycling options for waste streams so I look at a lot of different stuff some days).
Well, clarification on a couple things:
They ARE all food grade. Poland Springs type water jugs are for drinking/potable water.
The older ones from PS are type"7".
The Newer ones from PS with the separate handle are type “1” plastic.
Identical to Better Bottle.
The capacity is 5 gallons up to a point near the outside curve-in. Leaving some ullage. I would guess the ullage to be less than a qt, and more than a pint.
I use tons of these in my brewery. But not for fermenters. I like to ferment in glass.
My personal opinion to the OP is this: if you believe in Better bottle technology for secondary, then for sure the newer type 1 bottles will be great. I also personally think the older type 7’s would be fine too. I will primary in plastic all day long, but that’s not your question. Besides, volume would be small… about a 4 - 4.5 gal batch max.
There is no right or wrong answer here, it’s just a matter of how much risk (o2 exposure, potential risks of ingesting chemicals, potential plastic off-flavors, etc.) you are willing to accept for yourself. Based on my own research, I’m comfortable using #1 and #2 food-grade plastic as fermentors, but stay away from #7.
I would check the code on the jug. Many companies used to use code 1, but everything that I have been seeing lately is a code 7.
Bottom line, there must be a reason they aren’t commonly used. Beer would ferment in used toilets just fine too, it’s the taste that’s a concern!!
Beer ferments fine in a toilet, especially if pitched with a piece of moldy bread tied up in a dirty gym sock and dry-gummi’ed post-fermentation.
Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful responses. Lots to think about. Much appreciated. Cheers.
On the O2 thing - wooden barrels let quite a lot of oxygen through, don’t they?
Using a more permeable type of plastic might be a good opportunity to experiment with sour beer.
[quote=“bunderbunder”]On the O2 thing - wooden barrels let quite a lot of oxygen through, don’t they?
Using a more permeable type of plastic might be a good opportunity to experiment with sour beer.[/quote]
Sour and oxydized are two very different things. Oxydizing comes from post ferment exposure to oxygen and is usually described as a wet cardboard type flavor. Sour can be an off flavor, but is often sought after using lactic acid or lacto-bacylis (forgive spelling!) bacteria in certain beer styles. I’ve never heard of a beer being oxydized on purpose for a flavor benefit…
Don’t mean to offend ST, but you’ve done some time, right?