View Full Version : Airlock Question

03-29-2007, 10:03 PM
Hey guys, I have just started my first batch of mead and have a question pertaining to a 3 piece airlock. Do I merely set the lid/top over it or push it down to a snug fit? I've seen gifs that show the top being pushed up when it burps itself and about 4 hours after I pitched the yeast I see it has built up pressure and the inside part is pushing up against the lid, but I have it snugly on there. Will it push off on its own or do I need to take it off then set it back on? Also, I made another batch at the same time and put it in a different container but there seems to be little/no airlock activity. I used a different strain of yeast for it, and used plenty of yeast nutrient, how long does it typically take for the yeast to start going? Thanks for your help.

03-29-2007, 11:52 PM
If I'm understanding the question rightly, you want the lid pushed firmly on. Otherwise, there's a possibility that the little diving bell piece could float itself right off the tube, thus exposing your mead directly to the outside world.

What'll happen is that the bell will rise until it hits the lid. The continual increase in pressure will force gas under the edge of thebell, which will then burp and sink back to the bottom.

4 hours isn't very long at all. If you're not seeing definite activity after 24, then it may be time to commence worrying. Until then, relax, have a homebre..


03-30-2007, 04:52 PM
Now the middle chamber is filled up with gas but I haven't seen any bubbles yet, how vigorous should fermentation be?

03-30-2007, 07:17 PM
Um, that's quite the "depends" question. It would be helpful if you'd post the recipe you used and the steps you followed in assembling the whole shebang. There are many possibilities, and such information will be helpful in narrowing down the field.

That being said, anywhere between 3 and 300 blips per minute could be interpreted as healthy fermentation.

03-31-2007, 05:59 PM
Okay, for my 5 gallon recipe, I used 2 and one half quarts of honey, and one gallon of maple syrup, the rest water. 1 teaspoon of acid blend and 5 teaspoons of yeast nutrient, using Red Star Pasteur Champagne. I cleaned everything with bleach and water before-hand, rinsing thoroughly. Now I have one blip every 6-7 seconds, I guess this is healthy enough fermentation? My SG was at 1.110 at approximately 90-100 degrees. I tried another batch using 1 quart of honey and 3 quarts of water in a one gallon carboy. I used Lalvin D-47 for this and one teaspoon of nutrient, but didn't take any readings. I've shaken it vigorously once a day thus far, and the middle chamber of the airlock will fill up and rise to the lid, but I haven't seen any burps from it, the rubber stopper is in tight, as is the airlock, so I don't know if it just isn't fermenting well or if it is somehow leaking out and the rubber stopper isn't sealed entirely. It's now at around 68 degrees. When mixing the water and honey I brought the temp up to 150 degrees.

03-31-2007, 08:57 PM
While checking on them tonight, the big batch is still fermenting at about one burp every 6 seconds, and I noticed the smaller batch burp. I had a timer and set there for 6 minutes without another burp...should I rehydrate more yeast and repitch it?

03-31-2007, 09:14 PM
Based on your recipe, I'd guess you might have a too low pH in the must (too acid). Older mead recipes recommended adding acid blends at the start of fermentation, not realizing that honey starts out at a fairly low pH to begin with. The classic result was a lot of "stuck" fermentations, and sweet meads. I'd recommend testing the pH if you can, and if it is below 3.25, then buffer it up with some potassium carbonte or bicarbonate. That might be all you need to get things going again. Most yeasts like a pH around 3.5-3.7. Certainly anything between 3.4 and 4 won't cause too many problems, but as honey ferments the pH will drop, so even if you started out OK, you may have an acid crash on your hands now. Hey, that sounds like something I would've said back in the 60's... :happy10:

04-01-2007, 12:16 AM
Thanks a lot, I'll get the stuff to test the pH, but the batch that is going slow is my 1 gallon batch that I didn't add any acid blend to, just water, yeast, and D-47. The 5 gallon batch that also had maple syrup as a sugar source was the one with a teaspoon of acid blend.

I used 1 quart of honey, and 3 quarts of water, brought them to 150 degrees, and never took an SG reading or anything, just let it cool overnight to 70 degrees then pitched the Lalvin D-47 yeast that I rehydrated about 20 minutes beforehand. I can see some gas buildup in the airlock, but very little. And like I said, I saw it burp once then waited for 6 minutes and it didn't burp again, just very very slowly built up pressure, then I turned off the light and let it be. I don't know if it's an "acid crash" haha, because I never saw much activity to begin with.

04-01-2007, 02:38 AM
Another thing to consider... did you vigorously aerate your must before or at pitching? You mention shaking it daily... are you doing that with the airlock in place?

The conventional wisdom de jour around here is that you should aerate daily or twice daily for the first 3rd of the fermentation process. While shaking it with the airlock on is good to keep the yeasties in suspension, it isn't providing them any oxygen. This may be part of why the fermentation is going slower than one might hope.

A burp every 6 seconds, or 10 bpm, isn't exactly stellar performance for the initial run, but it is a good indication that somewhere, yeast are getting busy!

04-01-2007, 12:25 PM
Large Batch: I take the lid off and stir vigorously, then put it back on and it gets blipping. Quickly at first then just once every 6 seconds.

Small Batch: I take the airlock off but not the rubber stopper, maybe it just doesn't have enough O2 then. I'll shake it with the rubber stopper off also. When I had been attempting to aerate it, I would put the airlock back on and would get 1 blip ever 3-4 seconds then it would almost stop and slow down to it's usual VERY VERY slow burping speed.

04-04-2007, 01:42 AM
Large Batch: Has sped up to one burp ever 4-5 seconds. I've stopped aerating it and am just letting it go now.

Small batch: Has finally picked up....at a measly one burp every 14 seconds...for some reason I don't think this seems to be vigorous enough? Maybe because it is only one gallon and has less sugar to eat at as opposed to the higher SG thus resulting in a less vigorous fermentation?

04-07-2007, 02:56 PM
So, they are both starting to slow down a little, but I am still worried about the smaller batch that didn't start bubbling in the airlock for nearly 4 days, then never got any faster than 1 bubble every 13 seconds.

04-08-2007, 01:58 AM
Did you ever get materials to check the pH?

Slow fermentation is still fermentation. What's the hydrometer telling you? If you haven't been, go ahead and take a reading now, then take another reading in a week. This is really the definitive answer to 2 questions:
1 - is it still doing anything?
2 - did it do enough?

I mucked up my first batch of mead because I felt that the fermentation was going too slowly. It was bubbling along, never fast but slow and steady, but I wanted to "do something" so I racked it off the lees. And more-or-less killed it. After a couple of small-scale attempts at getting it going again, I ended up repitching a much more aggressive yeast that made short work of the remaining honey.

04-08-2007, 06:32 PM
I couldn't find anywhere near that sold pH testing equipment, and the nearest homebrew shop is over an hour away. Would getting a pH kit at a pool store be sufficient? I'll go ahead and check the SG tonight, thanks for your help.