View Full Version : runaway foaming! what do I do?

08-28-2006, 12:04 AM
I started two separate 1 gallon batches yesterday. I used
Wyeast Rudeshiemer yeast for both. I didn't incubate this yeast so I thought it might help to add a little Fermax. I added well under the recommended dosage.

There was no activity at all for at least 12 hours. Now the fermentation has arrived with an explosive vengeance. I have seen a little bubbling go up into the airlock, but nothing this bad. The foam is literally pushing all the way through the airlock and out the vent holes in the cap.

I don't have a blow off tube. What should I do? Should I add a little Campden's to slow the fermentation a little, or let it tun its course? Should I add something to prevent bacteria, now that bubbling is coming through the vent holes in airlock cap?


08-28-2006, 12:57 AM
This happened to me too. I went a bought a 1/2" tube and attached it to the airlock (3-piece kind). ;D In the meantime, you can put a sanitized cloth over the top. Hold it down with a rubber band. Hopefully the pressure will release faster through the cloth and you won't have too much of a mess.

I've been leaving about 3-4 cups of headspace in my one gallon batches lately until the major foaming stops (2-3 days usually). Then top up.

I wouldn't add any campden tablets though. If you're really careful, you could add just enough to slow them down. Too much, and all your yeast is dead.

08-28-2006, 03:13 AM
Don't add Campden tablets to an active fermentation. As suggested attach a blow off tube 1/2" to 1" to your carboy and let things progress from there. Adding sulfites to your mead just to slow down vigorous and healthy fermentation is asking for trouble in my opinion.



08-28-2006, 11:01 AM
Thanks for your input Oskaar and Ackueck. The over-foaming subsided last night. I covered the the airlock caps with gauze soaked in iodophor. It's all I had. So I don't need a tube right now. As soon as I get home from work, I'll clean and santize everything with fresh vodka in the airlocks.

This will count as 24 hours with overfoaming and mixture in the airlocks. Do you think bacteria got into the mixture?


08-28-2006, 11:30 AM

To answer that one, post the recipe and prep description. It is possible for an eruption like that to occur from just the amount of honey used, or the airspace in the jug. As long as you followed good sanitation procedures, you probably do not have a bacterial infection.


Dan McFeeley
08-28-2006, 12:48 PM
It's impossible to prevent bacterial invasions in the making of a fermented beverage. Absolute sterility is impossible but with good practices, the presence of bacteria in the honey must is more than managable. So yes, more than likely the airlock erruption allowed bacteria to re-enter the must. But it may not be too serious a problem.

It's best not to worry about it. With adequate cleaning and sanitation, the factor that will figure the strongest in preventing bacterial infection is a strong and healthy yeast fermentation. Yeasties secrete organic acids, lowering the pH below levels preferred by bacteria. It allows them to crowd out germs and hog all the fermentable sugars to themselves. Good sanitation, good recovery measures, and a strong vigorous fermentation are among the best preventative measures against bacteria spoilage.

At least, that's how it's worked with me. As long as I catch the overflow quickly, clean up the fermentation area quickly (can't leave dried sugar residue on the carboy!) and keep the fermentation going, there haven't been serious problems with the meads.

08-28-2006, 01:25 PM
One of you asked me for the recipe so as to best monitor the foam eruption. This is actually a hard cider. But I used this site before for mead, and I decided to consult with you guys because this is the best website forum I have seen for home brewing.

Recipe started afternoon of 8-26 Saturday:

two separate 1 gallon fermenters
meticulous attention to cleaning and sanitation through out process
using B-brite and iodophor, also used rubbing alcohol with hands
2 gallons pasteurized Tree Top apple juice(no sorbate, preservatives, etc.)
1 smack pack of Wyeast Rudeshimer divided equally between 2 gallon glass jugs
pre-heated cider and pure brown sugar mixture (3.5 cups per jug)
allowed heated mixture to cool to proper temperature before adding
1/4 teaspoon fermax per jug, did not incubate yeast
12 drops pectic enzyme per jug
vigorously shook jugs and aerated mixtures
took hydrometer readings: 1.094 and 1.100 O.G. readings
potential alcohol 12% amd 13.4%
probably filled too high in jug filler neck
used vodka in both airlocks
using wet towel and fan to maintain 68-74F temperature

Fermentation did not start till early Sunday 8-27 morning. Overfoaming not till Sunday afternnon. Overfoaming stopped early
hours of Monday morning.

What about adding vodka to kill off any bacteria? Bad idea?


08-29-2006, 12:22 AM
If you filled your 1 gallon jug with 1 gallon of liquid, that's your overflow problem. Leave out at least a few cups at first. Add it back a few days later after the large foaming is over. To be safe, I heat up the juice to 150F for a few minutes first. Let cool, then add. I usually add some more yeast nutrient at the same time.

Some yeasts foam more than others, so you'll have to take that into consideration too when leaving headspace.

Are you saying you want to add vodka to the airlock or the cider? In the airlock I would think is fine. I usually just use water. I wouldn't get too worried about killing off any bacteria in your cider. Your yeast sounds healthy, so they'll take care of themselves. If you want to add vodka to the cider to crank up the alcohol, I'd wait until the yeast is done fermenting.

08-29-2006, 01:34 AM
you guys are right. I definitely over-filled both jugs. No question about it. It looks like I am successfully managing this problem.


08-30-2006, 08:31 PM
If you have a vigorous (which it seems like you do) and heathly fermentation your yeast will outcompete the bacteria present in your mead. Once the ABV rises to lethal levels for the bacteria, poof, no more beasties to worry about.

Getting that ABV up is a direct result of a good strong ferment. So that's what to shoot for every time. Obviously you don't want to slack off on sanitizing everyting either!



02-09-2012, 08:43 PM
Resurrecting an old thread, lol. Great info. I also over-filled my second ever one gallon batch (of JAO) didn't discover it was dribbling out the air lock cap until about 5 or so hours after I started it. What I did was replace the air lock which of course was full of must and was getting clogged with fruit pulp, replaced it twice over the next couple hours until the foaming had subsided and then it was/has been ok ever since.