View Full Version : Contaminated water in home made airlock?

06-16-2008, 06:47 PM
I recently put together my first batch of mead in my basement. I put the mead in a gallon jug with a blow off tube airlock leading to a container of water. Now unfortunately about three days into fermentation I left for a vacation which lasted about two and a half weeks - and totally forgot about the mead.

I came back and decided to change the water in the airlock container. It was a bit cloudy, and I also noticed that the mead had bubbled a bit into the water, through the hose. It got really weird when I stirred the water a bit. It looks as if some sort of amoeba slime or something was living right outside the hose pumping out CO2. :icon_puke_r:

The mead is still fermenting and looks fine, but the enormous booger-monster living in the container of water kinda scared me. Is it likely that this totally hosed my mead, and are these kinds of airlocks feasible for something that has to ferment a long time?

Maybe I should put something in the water to keep it sanitary?

Medsen Fey
06-16-2008, 07:10 PM
Welcome to the forums IMead!

I don't think you have anything to worry about, especially if your mead still looks, smells, and tastes okay. If you use a blow-off tube, the grungy stuff that gets blown off can provide a home for bacteria and mold to grow, but the positive pressure from the active fermentation keeps it from coming up and into your batch. Still, it would be a good idea to take the tube off and clean/sanitize it before reattaching. You can use sanitizer in the container that you run the blow-off tube to, but I don't bother with it. I just change the water every so often when it starts to look nasty.

Yo momma
06-16-2008, 07:39 PM
Yeah you can use them for long duration. The only draw back is the way everything evaporates out of the device. You have to keep changing the water or adding some vodka to it while bulk aging. I would suggest investing into a S-bubbler or other type of commercial airlock. Just my .02

09-13-2010, 02:57 PM
Just to extend. I made a chocolate mead, (recipe here: http://www.ladybridget.com/m/chocmead.html) and racked it to secondary and let it sit on the lees. I then became very busy and never really looked at the mead at all. When I happened to look, the water in the airlock was low (still a seal though) and a greenish black slimy mold was in the airlock. I quickly changed the airlock with new one, and gave the mead a quick sniff. It smelt like regular old mead. So I am thinking, when I get a chance, rack, watch and hope it's okay?

Should it be okay? Or do I have 5 gallons of mead on the trash express?


09-13-2010, 03:48 PM
You're probably fine, I'd keep a nose/eye on it and if you get worried dose it with sulphites, but I've had mold grow in my airlocks before and been ok.

I'd wait until someone more experienced than me backs that statement up though before considering it good advice!

Chevette Girl
09-13-2010, 05:51 PM
I've had a couple airlocks over the years go fuzzy, slimy and otherwise icky... but as long as the mead didn't backwash into the airlock and then suck some back out (ie, overfull carboy and a major temperature change), it's not a problem... I put sulphite solution in my airlocks but they still sometimes go icky or collect fruit flies.

09-14-2010, 01:17 AM
I've been putting cheap vodka in the airlock when I plan on leaving it there for awhile. It does evaporate a lot faster than water, but if a little sucks back it's 40% abv and probably rather clean. I'm considering coating the vodka with mineral oil to slow down the vapor loss, but haven't tried it yet. Is mineral oil soluble in alcohol? Perhaps we'll find out...

09-14-2010, 09:55 AM
Thanks for the comments! It's always nice to have reassurance. I'll keep an eye on it, and post if anything but the usual occurs.


Medsen Fey
09-14-2010, 10:00 AM
. Is mineral oil soluble in alcohol?

Mineral oil is minimally soluble (http://www.fao.org/ag/agn/jecfa-additives/specs/Monograph1/Additive-283.pdf) in ethanol.