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When to use the airlock

Airlock or not during primary fermentation for at least the first few days. I have read so many thoughts on this that it is easy as a novice brewer to be swayed in any direction. Got my first batch up and running at around 4 p.m. yesterday est. time. So I decided to throw a clean sanitized cloth over the top of the jug. Maybe it was a good idea as this thing is going like gang busters in that carboy. So am I on the right track here with the airlock thing?

For me, always use an airlock or blow-off tube.

I would consider ALWAYS using an airlock due to contamination concerns. Although the CO2 gassing off should protect your beer/cider/wine, the airlock gives you insurance. In addition, it protects the product from oxidation once fermentation slows.
If you are concerned about too active of a fermentation, use a blowoff tube as an airlock. This is a 1in diameter tube that fits in the neck of a carboy and you place the other end in a bucket of water.

Just for starters thanks for the replies. As a beginner I am expecting some growing pains and maybe a loss of my first batch who knows. Some things are learned the hard way for a reason so you never forget, you don’t make the same mistake and you can pass on your failures to other people like myself. For one I should have kept my newly made batch in the 6.5 bucket instead of moving it over to my 5 gal carboy. Lesson learned, I have ordered a 6.5 carboy a few caps and also a 1 inch hose for my future brewing endeavors. I will allow this batch to run its course, and if it turns out bad then I am in the hole about $30. I feel that the $30 will be most valuable as far as experience which I won’t get any where else. And while I am here what becomes of the yeast in the bottom of the bottle? Do I toss it or is it reusable?

Yeast from the bottle you can throw away. UNLESS of course you are trying to propagate a commercial yeast. Yeast from the carboy can be saved in a sanitized mason jar. Research yeast washing.

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