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RightOff
05-16-2011, 04:55 PM
So I'm struggling to determinge if its the right time to bottle my first 2 gallon batch of mead. It's been fermenting for about 5 months...at this point its totally, absoloutley clear, and I can no longer see any small bubbles rising through the wine itself... however, there is still some erattic airlock activity. I have a two piece airlock on my carboy, and for a long period, the cap sits atop the little tube which rises through the sterile solution without budging. Then, out of nowhere, it clibs, climbs, climbs, untill BURP! it bubbles. Then, nothing for a long while.
The thing is, I didnt take an OG, and dont exactly have the extra scratch to run out and buy a hydrometer at this point. So, what would you do in my shoes? Im really excited to bottle, and honestly need the carboy space for beers I have planned out on a "schedule" of sorts. It LOOKS ready... its just that damn airlock... I dont want exploding bottles... what would you say, fellow mead makers?

fatbloke
05-16-2011, 05:05 PM
I'd rack it, then sulphite and sorbate it, then de-gas it.

Then bulk age it.

Medsen Fey
05-16-2011, 05:06 PM
I'd say spend the $12 on a hydrometer before you try making anything else. Whether you are making mead, beer, or wines, you need to know where it is and when it is done. Unfortunately, you can't tell just by looking at the airlock even if it isn't bubbling detectably - leaks happen and really slow fermentation occurs. If your gravity is stable that's a good sign, and if you have reached the ABV tolerance of the yeast, that's a good sign. Without a hydrometer it is hard to be certain.

When you see it still bubbling however, you have to assume it isn't done.

If you can give us the recipe details and a gravity reading, we might be able to help you figure out where things stand.

Medsen

AToE
05-16-2011, 05:09 PM
Yeah, it's not worth the risk without a hydrometer. Look at it this way - yes it might take a while to get the money for a hydrometer if you're tight on cash, BUT, that mead isn't going to go bad, it'll get better and better while you wait, so just get a jar that you can toss your spare change into and eventually it'll add up to your hydrometer money!

It's the single most important tool in meadmaking.

Loadnabox
05-16-2011, 05:39 PM
Might want to check online too then, they're only $6.95 at my LHBS (Just bought two of them when I broke one :-/ )

AToE
05-16-2011, 06:09 PM
I'm sure they can even be found for free on kijiji or craigslist.

Chevette Girl
05-17-2011, 12:03 PM
I got three of mine from batches of equipment from people who were getting out of winemaking...

And if the airlock is still gradually building up and releasing like that, it's probably not done.

RightOff
05-17-2011, 02:50 PM
Suppose I should have explained. Im really without cash or transportation due to hardships that occured since I began brewing the mean in january. I simply can't afford anything extra. I already have the bottles, and equip. for bottling... besides the airlock only gave one gradual burp all day yeasterday, and today the airlocks little internal cap is sitting flush atop the tube that leads into the carboy (that the co2 flows up). The water level outside that little mushroom cap device is very low, while the level around the tube the co2 flows through is alarmingly high-almost high enough to spill into the mead!
Im just thinking about it like a barometer.... wouldnt that be an indication that pressure outside the carboy is far higher than inside? Wouldnt that mea it would be safe to bottle?

It has been fermenting for over 5 months at this point.... and is completely clear. I'm planning on bottling in 12 oz. beer bottles, and leaving space as someone bottling beer would do.
I guess my real question to begin with was, even if the mead yeast is somehow still slightly active, even though this carboy is now littered with lees, the wine is clear enough to read through even in dim lighting, and the airlock seems to be almost totally inactive....like, maybe one burp in 48 hours...
Am I really at risk for exploding bottles?
I've read alot of bottle bomb stories, but they all seem to be from folks who bottle after two weeks or a few months of fermentation, before mead has truly cleared.

Also, Don't some folks carbonate mead, afterall?
If my mead seems totally cleared and inactive to the eye, isn't it likely that the worst thing that could happen is my still mead is a bit carbonated?

One airlock burp in 24 hrs followed by no airlock activity for another 24... could that really be enough CO2 to burst a not quite filled beer bottle?(afterall, beer is very carbed)

I dont mean to ask the same annoying questions, but could someone please give me advice based on the questions I've actually outlined, rather than just reccomend I get a hydrometer? The brewmaster at a local brewery here told me he dosent even take gravity on his homebrews anymore, and he also makes mead.... so I know there must be a good rule of thumb by which someone here could judge weather or not im at risk for explosions. There MUST be haha.

As I said, I just cant afford to buy/find a hydrometer. A free one on CL is a nice idea, but here I am on a public computer that I had to walk a few miles to wait in line to use. Rough getting around Jax FL without a car.
So please, I don't care about the hydrometer option.

It's only about 1.25 gallons of mead, and after about 5 months... im going to just bottle it in a few days, unless based on my description of the situation, someone can give me a real reason not to..... like I said.... even if it's still fermenting it must be at SUCH a slow rate... how could it ever possibly build up enough to blow a bottle? Wouldnt that amount of pressure take weeks/months? And by that time, with continued activity, would the yeast just reach its alcohol tolerance/ run out of sugar and die?? Over 5 months in.... how much sugar can even be left in 56 ounces of honey???

AToE
05-17-2011, 03:17 PM
wouldnt that be an indication that pressure outside the carboy is far higher than inside? Wouldnt that mea it would be safe to bottle?

Unfortunately no. It does mean that fermentation has stopped, but yeast can wake up again, even years later, due to the liquid being agitated, temp changes, and things I don't understand.


Am I really at risk for exploding bottles?
I've read alot of bottle bomb stories, but they all seem to be from folks who bottle after two weeks or a few months of fermentation, before mead has truly cleared.

That is indeed generally when it's dangerous, but any time you're bottling a sweet mead (that hasn't gone totally dry) even after aging there is still some amount of risk. After bottling keeping it in the fridge (always) can help prevent any refermentation. Also, you can open one to drink (or even to re-cap) every week or two and keep an eye on it. If it starts carbonating that means fermentation is alive and well - so you'd better drink them soon!


Also, Don't some folks carbonate mead, afterall?
If my mead seems totally cleared and inactive to the eye, isn't it likely that the worst thing that could happen is my still mead is a bit carbonated?

The worst that could happen is that it's too carbonated and explodes! Remember too, while stronger bottles can take more pressure, if pushed past their breaking point they will also create an even more powerful explosion.

Carbonating beer is a very controlled process. You let it ferment as fully as it possibly can (and since beer is almost always below the ABV tolerance of the yeast, it's much safer to assume it's done without a hydrometer than mead is, because mead is much higher ABV and may have just put the yeast to sleep before they were done eating) and then you add a carefully pre-planned amount of new sugar.

If your mead has more than that amount of sugar left it could potentially explode.


5 months in.... how much sugar can even be left in 56 ounces of honey???

Lots, if the yeast stalled due to low nutrients, temp problems, etc. Or if there was just too much sugar for it's normal performance even. Fermentation generally takes no longer than 2 weeks, so everything after that doesn't necessarily count. Of course, it could have completely eaten every bit of sugar, and you could have a totally dry mead - which would mean you'd be safe to bottle, but there's no way of knowing without a hydrometer.

3.5 lbs in 1 gallon is a decent amount of honey, you're likely still looking at a fair bit of sugar left. What yeast did you use?

The problem isn't always that fermentation is continuing slowly, the problem is that it can come to a dead stop, stay there for ages, then start right up again later.

----

Now, I don't recommend it, but I have bottled sweet meads without stabilizing them before. I keep them cold though, and they're in thick glass with corks, not caps, so if fermentation does start up I sort of have a pressure release on there (one that could fail easily though, corks doesn't mean it's safe).

Here's my advice if you're decided you're going ahead and bottling: if you can, rack that mead one more time to get it off the sediment (this will help prevent you from sucking up sediment when bottling later), wait at least a couple weeks then bottle.

If you have flip tops, that's the best, easy to open many times to make sure it hasn't started up fermenting. If not, then cap or cork or whatever you're planning and put them into the fridge immediately - this is where they live now. Drink them often (shouldn't be a problem!) and if there's just a tiny bit of bubbles that can just be left over from fermentation, but if theres new sediment AND a fair bit more bubbles, you'd better drink em all soon!

I would just tell you to wait and get a hydrometer, but it sounds like based on local advice you're getting that you're just going to go for it. So if you're gonna do it, I'd rather have at least minimized the risks (if you drink them all fairly soon and keep them cold, the risk is in my opinion very low).

wayneb
05-17-2011, 03:23 PM
The brewmaster at a local brewery here told me he dosent even take gravity on his homebrews anymore, and he also makes mead.... so I know there must be a good rule of thumb by which someone here could judge weather or not im at risk for explosions. There MUST be haha.



Well, I'd like to be able to simply tell you that the risks are minute, but that wouldn't be correct. Even though a mead looks from all outward signs like it is forever through and done with fermentation, if there is any residual sugar in the mead (and that is most easily determined with a hydrometer), the very act of racking the mead from your fermentation/aging vessel over to bottles might be enough to stir up enough dormant but still alive yeast cells from the top of the lees layer up into the liquid. Then, the act of racking can release just enough dissolved CO2 in the liquid to make the mead just inviting enough to rouse those dormant cells from their slumber, and get them actively fermenting again.

Does that mean you will inevitably end up with bottle bombs? No, because the degree of pressurization resulting from the renewed fermentation will be a direct function of how much sugar remains in the mix. That's only something that you can determine via testing. That's why folks were recommending you get a hydrometer.

Does that mean you absolutely must have a hydrometer and take a reading before you bottle? No, but if you don't, you are going to be assuming some risk.

If I were in your situation, would I wait until I had a hydrometer before continuing? Yes, because I've seen far too many bottle bombs during my 30 years of experimentation with mead. Thankfully, most were not mine, and also thankfully, nobody was ever seriously hurt, but hearing the explosion of bottles in a room in the basement isn't something that I ever want to experience again.

Tell you what - if you are willing to share your mailing information with me in a PM, I'll send you one of my spare hydrometers. It is that important. As far as what the brewmaster does in his spare time with his home brews, that's his approach - I wouldn't recommend that it be anyone else's.

Medsen Fey
05-17-2011, 03:37 PM
I understand money is tight, but if you have the means to brew more batches of beer (which is why you need to bottle the mead) perhaps some of those funds could be used for the hydrometer.

When you see slow bubbling, it often means a stuck fermentation not a complete one. You really may not be able to tell the difference without some numbers. There's an old winemaker's joke that says the best way to get a stuck fermentation going again is to bottle it. When you do, that sometimes stimulates the yeast, and certainly bottles are often left in places where they warm up again which can trigger the yeast start up in the bottle.

If the yeast do wake up and start perking again, it doesn't take much to create more pressure than a beer bottle can tolerate. Beer bottles aren't meant to take pressure above about 60 PSI. Yeast in a sealed container can produce 120 PSI (I've tested it personally). That only requires the gravity to drop about 12 gravity points which isn't very much. .

If that weren't enough, I've seen meads with no bubbling at all for months start fermenting again when the mood hit them. It has been described as occurring up to two YEARS later in some cases. So even though you think a mead is done it may still have a long way to go, even if you don't see any bubbling.

What's more, airlocks leak (they can have small cracks) and the stoppers leak. You can have a roaring fermentation and no visible bubbling so bubble rates are notoriously inaccurate. When you don't think any bubbling is occurring, fermentation can still be proceeding very slowly. When you do see bubbling, take it as a sign that the fermentation is not yet done.

It is not safe to bottle a mead that is still fermenting when you don't know when it will stop. I have created bottle bombs which, fortunately blew when I wasn't anywhere nearby. I hope you will believe me when I say that is something you don't want to do.

What you should consider doing is putting this mead away and let it stop bubbling completely, then make sure it sits in a warm room for a few weeks to make sure it isn't going to start again. If you then add sulfite and sorbate, you can be comfortable that it shouldn't restart and you can bottle.

As an alternative, if you bottle it and then immediately pasteurize the bottles in a pot of 160 F water, you can be sure they won't restart. The pasteurization won't help the flavor any, but it may not hurt it much. It will certainly be better than having a bottle blow in your face.

Folks here at GotMead really do care about safe mead making. There is no mead worth getting injured over and so appropriate caution is warranted.

I hope yours works out OK.

Medsen

Geez, I'm slow today....

Chevette Girl
05-17-2011, 03:50 PM
Im just thinking about it like a barometer.... wouldnt that be an indication that pressure outside the carboy is far higher than inside? Wouldnt that mea it would be safe to bottle?

Actually, what it means is that your local atmospheric pressure has dropped faster than your yeast activity is building up pressure. Pop the airlock off enough to let some air back in if you're worried about the liquid being sucked back into the mead. The fact that it bubbled yesterday worries me.



Am I really at risk for exploding bottles?
I've read alot of bottle bomb stories, but they all seem to be from folks who bottle after two weeks or a few months of fermentation, before mead has truly cleared.


Yes. And there's even one recent thread (http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17913) about activity after a year.




I dont mean to ask the same annoying questions, but could someone please give me advice based on the questions I've actually outlined, rather than just reccomend I get a hydrometer? The brewmaster at a local brewery here told me he dosent even take gravity on his homebrews anymore, and he also makes mead.... so I know there must be a good rule of thumb by which someone here could judge weather or not im at risk for explosions. There MUST be haha.


Three ways to be safe if you can't measure the specific gravity to make sure it's not changing - start with less sugar so it will fement all the way dry (yes, I realize this does not apply in this situation), leave it in secondary fermentation under airlock for a year or two to make sure, or use chemicals (campden tablets along with potassium sorbate is what's recommended) to stabilize it. I hope that's what your brewmaster is doing if he bottles anything with residual sugar or else he's taking risks. I've been resistant myself for a long time to using chemicals but I've also had at least four corks blow in my basement and I count myself lucky that the corks gave before the bottles did.




It's only about 1.25 gallons of mead, and after about 5 months... im going to just bottle it in a few days, unless based on my description of the situation, someone can give me a real reason not to..... like I said.... even if it's still fermenting it must be at SUCH a slow rate... how could it ever possibly build up enough to blow a bottle? Wouldnt that amount of pressure take weeks/months? And by that time, with continued activity, would the yeast just reach its alcohol tolerance/ run out of sugar and die?? Over 5 months in.... how much sugar can even be left in 56 ounces of honey???

You would be surprised. Seriously. A teaspoon of sugar (about 4 grams) is enough to fully carb a beer bottle. A couple low-cost options for testing - if you've got a plastic screw-top water jug, "bottle" your mead in that, or bottle some of it in a pop bottle, cap 'em tight and check for two weeks by giving a squeeze, if it gets hard, it's still fermenting and not safe to bottle unless you keep it refrigerated and drink it fast, or as AToE suggested, if your beer bottles are flip-top caps (like Grolsch bottles) so you can check now and then to see if there's a hiss, and if there is, let off the pressure in the other ones every so often.

Oh, when you bottle in glass, make sure the mead is thoroughly degased (rack it off any sediment and then stir it well without splashing, a few times a day for a few days, to make sure all the dissolved CO2 gets out), that will probably give you a little more time before things get catastrophic.

Good luck, and watch your bottles closely.

AToE
05-17-2011, 03:54 PM
Their advice is better than my advice, especially since Wayne will send you a hydrometer!

Chevette Girl
05-17-2011, 04:20 PM
Wayne, you are awesome.

Loadnabox
05-17-2011, 04:37 PM
I was going to suggest making a home hydrometer.

Got some clear plastic tubing of some kind, I think the clear casing from a ballpoint pen would do the trick. Weight the inside (One end only) of it somehow (BB's or solder would probably work)

Print a graduated scale on a piece of paper preferably with a computer to keep them consistent. Glue this on the inside of the clear tube.

This won't tell you what the real SG is, but it will give you an indication if the SG is changing.


P.S. tell me your name is Kasiorek and I'll have heart failure.

kudapucat
05-19-2011, 11:36 PM
I was going to suggest making a home hydrometer.

Got some clear plastic tubing of some kind, I think the clear casing from a ballpoint pen would do the trick. Weight the inside (One end only) of it somehow (BB's or solder would probably work)

Print a graduated scale on a piece of paper preferably with a computer to keep them consistent. Glue this on the inside of the clear tube.

This won't tell you what the real SG is, but it will give you an indication if the SG is changing.


P.S. tell me your name is Kasiorek and I'll have heart failure.

Hydrometers are an Engineer's tool (read - gets the job done, is easy to use but is not the highest accuracy)

All the chemists I know will pour an amount of liquid into container with a known volume (usually 100,500 or 100ml to aid in calculation)
then weigh the liquid (the scale should be zeroed with the empty beaker on it first)

then devide the weight(g) by the volume(ml), voilla you have your SG!
You can't get cheaper than that... everybody has scales... if your scales are crap, weigh a larger amount, it will decrease the error.

Echostatic
05-19-2011, 11:39 PM
Hydrometers are an Engineer's tool (read - gets the job done, is easy to use but is not the highest accuracy)

All the chemists I know will pour an amount of liquid into container with a known volume (usually 100,500 or 100ml to aid in calculation)
then weigh the liquid (the scale should be zeroed with the empty beaker on it first)

then devide the weight(g) by the volume(ml), voilla you have your SG!
You can't get cheaper than that... everybody has scales... if your scales are crap, weigh a larger amount, it will decrease the error.

Wait, that works too? Shoot, I have an accurate scale... Once the sample has been weighed, can it be returned to the carboy or is the risk of contamination too great?

AToE
05-19-2011, 11:50 PM
Wait, that works too? Shoot, I have an accurate scale... Once the sample has been weighed, can it be returned to the carboy or is the risk of contamination too great?

I always return my hydrometer samples back to the main batch. As long as everything has been sanitized (part of why I prefer no-rinse sanitizer, use iodophor myself, because you dunk/spray it, shake it off and go. No real worry about whether it was contaminated after being sanitized) you should be fine.

In coming up on 50 batches I've never had a problem.

wayneb
05-19-2011, 11:54 PM
I think that the risk of oxidation outweighs the risk of contamination, provided you sanitize your container first (and keep it covered with a sanitized lid if it is a wide mouthed thing), but if you are careful with handling the sample, you should suffer no damage from returning it to the main batch. NOTE: I'm a bit of a heretic with that advice, since most of the meadmaking "greybeards" will tell you to never risk potential contamination by returning a test sample to your main batch, but I have to confess that I will as often as not pour a sample back, if I know I have taken care not to introduce contamination.

OK - now you know (one of) my dirty little secret(s)! ;)

kudapucat
05-20-2011, 01:29 AM
Hmm, I didn't state it, but my idea was to weigh the fermenter, and know how much by volume was in it...

Even if you don't know the volume the weight will tell you how the batch is changing.

23+ litre carboy on a set of batroom scales works quite well. 1 gal jugs are getting a bit small for bathroom scales, and a touch big for your average kitchen scale.

Loadnabox
05-20-2011, 08:31 AM
Hydrometers are an Engineer's tool (read - gets the job done, is easy to use but is not the highest accuracy)

All the chemists I know will pour an amount of liquid into container with a known volume (usually 100,500 or 100ml to aid in calculation)
then weigh the liquid (the scale should be zeroed with the empty beaker on it first)

then devide the weight(g) by the volume(ml), voilla you have your SG!
You can't get cheaper than that... everybody has scales... if your scales are crap, weigh a larger amount, it will decrease the error.

I hadn't even thought about that and I should have known better. If I break a hydrometer again I might try it this way :-D

Chevette Girl
05-20-2011, 09:28 AM
OK - now you know (one of) my dirty little secret(s)! ;)

Guilty of same, but I still will NOT return unused reagents to their containers. Too many years of chemistry labs...

wayneb
05-20-2011, 01:10 PM
Hmm, I didn't state it, but my idea was to weigh the fermenter, and know how much by volume was in it...

Even if you don't know the volume the weight will tell you how the batch is changing.

23+ litre carboy on a set of batroom scales works quite well. 1 gal jugs are getting a bit small for bathroom scales, and a touch big for your average kitchen scale.
This idea has actually been discussed in some detail in an earlier thread (about 9 months old now, if memory serves). The difficult part comes in trying to find a scale with the capacity to weigh a carboy full of liquid, that still has the precision and accuracy to adequately show small changes in weight. A 23L carboy full of water weighs on the order of 30Kg (accounting for the glass), but the same full carboy at the start of fermentation (assuming a specific gravity of 1.100) weighs 32.3Kg. Most bath scales are only good to about a half kilogram, so it might be difficult to see the additional 300 grams using a bath scale. Further, if this liquid were to ferment to complete dryness, with a finished gravity on the order of 0.997, then the weight would be 29.931Kg. If you were really trying to resolve the difference between a liquid at 0.997 vs one at 1.000, it would be really difficult to see that change of 69 grams in a total of nearly 30Kg. That's why extracting a smaller sample, and weighing with a much more accurate (and precise) scale would probably work better. Still, unless you have access to a lab balance (or a microgram scale), this might be a difficult thing to determine with anything approaching the quantitative accuracy you can get with a simple hydrometer measurement.

Chevette Girl
05-20-2011, 01:28 PM
Still, unless you have access to a lab balance (or a microgram scale), this might be a difficult thing to determine with anything approaching the quantitative accuracy you can get with a simple hydrometer measurement.

Even that's skewed a little bit, I find I get artificially high alcohol content estimations because the amount of ethanol produced (being less dense than water) causes artificially low readings (otherwise removing all the sugar would never result in a SG reading below 1.000), so I always assume everything's only approximate anyway, that's what my spirit indication experiments so far have been suggesting, anyway.

RightOff
05-20-2011, 05:00 PM
Weighing the fermenter seems to be a smart idea. But I went ahead and bottled two "sample bottles". One I chilled, opened and drank. It was delicious, and totally flat. Very strong, dry and alcoholic. The other, Im keeing in a cooler, away from people and animals, and Im planning to pop it open in a few days, to see if there's any kind of pressure building at all. Just by looking at the bottle, I can tell there arent any bubbles or anything in the liquid... looks perfectly flat to me.

I'll probably let the rest sit in the carboy for another week or so. If my test bottle dosent blow withing that time and dosent show any other sighns of C02, then Im just going to go ahead and bottle it.

Thanks for the concerns, and thanks for the offer of sending a hydrometer! But there's no way in hell I'd ever give personal info to someone on a forum
:):)

AToE
05-20-2011, 05:16 PM
It's totally safe, especially via PM! But I can understand some caution on the internet.

Watch out because a week isn't really long enough to judge what's happening, even when bottle fermenting on purpose the process can take 2-8 weeks on avegerage, sometimes even longer. Best bet is to just keep whatever you bottle in the fridge.

The other thing is like many other explosive things, a bottle may not rupture while sitting there, it might need you to touch it to blow.

Someone suggested it earlier, but another really good idea is bottling one bottle (or heck, all of it if you want to be properly cautious) in a plastic pop bottle, just screw the lid on tight. Keep that one somewhere warmer than the rest (like just in the cupboard where you'll see it and remember to check often), and simpy keep checking it (don't open it though) by giving it a little squeeze. I'd check every 3-4 days at first and then ever week or two after that. If it starts getting hard, make sure all your mead is in the fridge and plan on drinking all of it within the week.

RightOff
05-20-2011, 05:27 PM
On, Im going to be cautious when I open the bottle. Im fairly sure it all done... I think montrachet ferments out to 12-14 percent.... and judging by my tastes, its about right on. Of course I realize that istn ver scientific.
I plan to be extremely careful when opening the bottle! And If within a week, I dont see any sort of pressure, then I imagine that it would probably take so long for an explosive amount of pressure to build up in this totally, completely flat bubleless mead.... it would have to take too long , the alco content would HAVE to be high enough to kill the yeast if its already so hihg over like a YEAR in a bottle....

I do plan to immediately refridgerate the bottles. Is it true this would stop or in esscence "stall" any activity going on?

To be honest, the mead was so delicious, Im thinking of trying to build a home mead hydrometer with materials I have on hand, so I have an excuse to safely open the other test bottle and enjoy it tonight.

And to enjoy two hydrometer samples later in the week. Haha. I'm a craft beer guy, not big on wines, cept for sake.

Never tried mead till last night. Im hooked. Right up my alley.

RightOff
05-20-2011, 05:30 PM
P.S. I thought about the soda bottle Idea but, one I dont drink soda or really use any disposable plastic containers cept like...peanutbutter jars.
Also, I dont really think I could bring myself to do this. Rather see a crown cap fly off or, out of simple curiosity, a bottle bust, quite honestly. :p;)

TheAlchemist
05-20-2011, 05:30 PM
Be careful with cold crashing. It does not completely stop yeasties. I keep my spent lees in a plastic container in the fridge, and it often blows its top...

RightOff
05-20-2011, 05:33 PM
Ok, well its not really a technique i was considering, so please no one go off on this little tangent. Any idea how to make a hydrometer without modeling clay? hah Im thinking Fishing sinker in a sealed tube.

AToE
05-20-2011, 05:38 PM
Tasting for ABV definitely scientific is not! Especially considering that for the first year of a mead's life it will often have more "alcohol hot" taste than is appropriate for it's ABV, that takes time to smooth out. So however alcoholic it tastes, it ain't that high!

We're all not giving you a hard time for the sake of it, a bottle exploding (cap won't come off, it's got a stronger hold than that) can cause permanent loss of vision, and realistically could kill you (I haven't heard of anyone dying, but I have heard of shards ripping through 2 layers of drywall, and drywall is tougher than flesh!). We honestly worry - which is why Wayne would rather ship you a hydrometer for free than have to worry about you without one. I don't normally even give advice on how to minimize risks when bottling an unstabilized mead, I just tell people not to do it at all, but I can tell when someone's just gonna do it anyways, so might as well minimize the risk.

Keeping them in the fridge isn't a guarantee to stall them, but it's definitely an excellent precaution that will if nothing else at least slow down fermentation.

If you do get your hands on a pop bottle this is probably the single best tool for keeping an eye on them to see if fermentation is occuring (bubbles you probably wouldn't see much of anyways), and it won't harm your mead. Food grade plastic does let small amounts of O2 through, but unless it's in there for a year it's not going to do any damage.

The good news is that you'll probably drink all of it faster than slower. That's the best advice I can give, drink what you've got, and then the next time you're going to start a batch get yourself a hydrometer and away you go.

RightOff
05-20-2011, 05:50 PM
Yeah... i mean by common sense I can just tell its not going to go off like a pipe bomb. At least not in a day, or a week. I definately get that yall arent trying to give me a hard time. I probably will end up building a hydrometer before I bottle the rest of it. Im honestly pretty sure its done. I havent seen any airlock activity in basically a week and a half at this point... and I mean Its not like im bottling this after 2 weeks of vigorous fermetnig, when it first slowed a bit and started bubbling like twice a day (for about 3 months) I was just pretty anxious to try it... you know to know wether or not I like the stuff that been taking up closet space for nearly half a year.

It got shifted and sloshed about plenty in the carboy (And jesus christ I know about oxidation so thanks in advanced for anything you felt compelled to write about how this was a mistake) so im hoping that if there is any co2, that little activity will have helped to "De gas " the mead.

Haha I know tasting for ABV is no real mark, Im not an idiot. But I do drink ALOT of 8-12% abv beers, regularly, and achieved a similar effect off of 12 oz of my mead drunk in a similar time frame so... cant be that far off.

Im probably going to crack that bottle open "got it chilling" build a hydrometer this weekend, test, and probably, (based on my every instinct and everything yall have helped me to learn to look for), end up bottling. Which will have made this a heuge waste of time, thought, energy and effort but hey....

When you near the end of a project, thats when you're always the most nervous about screwing it up right?

kudapucat
05-20-2011, 05:59 PM
About 10 years ago, I started experimenting without any research on making cidre.
It was enough to stop me...
I had a bottle bomb, that heard go off in my shed, when we were in the lounge watching TV. Thats 10 metres and two Walls, one soundproofed.
The bottle took out the ceiling light in the shed, broke a window and left shards 4 metres away. No wall damage ensued, but the walls were brick...
It really can be dangerous. At the very least put them in a box where they can pop without damaging anything.
Also be aware. A happy looking bottle can stay that way until disturbed. My brother used to make very low alcohol ginger beer, and these would sometimes pop. 90% popped between fetching the bottle and opening it.
Please be very careful, and dont die.

RightOff
05-20-2011, 06:53 PM
You know, some of these stories are hillarious. If theres not any airlock activity, by what principle do yall figure its just going to go off like a bomb and kill me, in like 24 hours?? I've done far more dangerous things than this, on purpose, for fun. So.
Also, it's locked inside a gun-safe, in a shed. Is that secure enough, you think?

Besides, Im just going to drink that bottle. It's the end of the world tmrw, afterall.

RightOff
05-20-2011, 06:59 PM
Has anyone ever built a high quality hydrometer? If so, what materials did you use?

AToE
05-20-2011, 07:04 PM
Caution is due, especially when you're new to the whole process and haven't seen some of the weird counter-intuitive things that yeast can do. I think everyone here figures you're only likely to follow a small amount of the advice anyways, so it's better to err on the side more caution. Nobody thinks it'll blow in 24hrs, highly unlikely (not impossible though. It was explained in an earlier post how the simple act of bottling actually can wake the yeast back up when they've previously stopped entirely, partially due to being stirred up, partially because of the fresh O2 they'll be getting. A movement of just 1% ABV is enough to generate too much pressure). People here are a good bunch, nobody wants to feel responsible for an injury - everyone's just giving you the best facts available and their own advice so you can take your pick and make your own decisions. Erring on the side of caution I believe is the phrase. ;)

And yes, gun safe in a shed is plenty good.

AToE
05-20-2011, 07:08 PM
Has anyone ever built a high quality hydrometer? If so, what materials did you use?

I haven't, I think the main problem would be calibrating the thing, though I guess you could just essentially make up a new system of measurement based on whatever markings you put on it. Knowing which line on it represents the density of water (at a given temperature) would be the main thing of importance.

I don't seem to be particularily inventive today, I'm having trouble thinking of any household items that would work well. A pen has already been suggested, has some major failings but not a terrible idea, glass would be best but I can't think of something that'd work at the moment.

Actually, if you happen to own a floating thermometre (the kid that stands straight up in a liquid rather than lying on it's back) that would be nearly perfect, and it's already got measurements on it (plus it'll tell you the temp at the time you're calibrating it to see where it floats in water, and the temp of the mead you'd be measuring for comparision).

That's the best thing I can think of.

RightOff
05-20-2011, 07:13 PM
Haha I hope so cause thats the strongest box I got. I also get the whole yall are trying to help. I've just spent alot of time on various internet forums, getting advice on various projects, and find that more often than not, people are less willing to read and think about you're questions than they are to just skim through it and then belch info about the few key words they picked up or the phrases they took out of context (which, no offense, has been all anyone in this thread but chevettegirl and ATOE have done.). So, sorry If Im a bit short. I just usually have the experience of being allright, second guessing myself, asking someone for advice, getting totally useless adivce, and taking twice as long to do something I couldve just figured out myself.

That said thanks for the info. Im going to build a hydrometer. Itll be an excuse to drink more sample bottles hahaha. Anyone ever built a nice one? How'd you do it.

kudapucat
05-20-2011, 07:45 PM
Haha I hope so cause thats the strongest box I got. I also get the whole yall are trying to help. I've just spent alot of time on various internet forums, getting advice on various projects, and find that more often than not, people are less willing to read and think about you're questions than they are to just skim through it and then belch info about the few key words they picked up or the phrases they took out of context (which, no offense, has been all anyone in this thread but chevettegirl and ATOE have done.). I'm familiar with this experience... just telling a story, hope it didn't upset.
So, sorry If Im a bit short. I just usually have the experience of being allright, second guessing myself, asking someone for advice, getting totally useless adivce, and taking twice as long to do something I couldve just figured out myself.

That said thanks for the info. Im going to build a hydrometer. Itll be an excuse to drink more sample bottles hahaha. Anyone ever built a nice one? How'd you do it.
As for a hydrometer,
they're a glass tube, with a lead(?) weight in the bottom. Specially calibrated by empirical means.

How to build a hydrometer:

1. find a test tube or other long cylindrical flask.
2. get some weights.

3. think about it a bit. an sg of 1.00 is less dense than an sg of 1.4 so the hydrometer will sink more.
4. based on 3. add weight until the hydrometer sinks a fair way into a beaker of clean water.
5. measure off 1 litre exactly of water and weigh it. It should come to 1000g if it doesn't then your water has additives.
6. insert your hydrometer into the beaker of 1 litre, and mark the level at which it floats, with the level you measured on your scales
7. Add 50 grams of sugar, mix, and ensure there is only 1 litre in your beaker.
8. repeat steps 6 and 7 until you've added 300g of sugar.
9. with a ruler measure the gaps between your markings, they should all be the same size.
10. average out the gaps, to remove any human measurement error.
11. print out a graduated scale with 4 lines between each marking you made. (don't forget to go a little to the high side, to read 0.995 and up
12. insert the scale inside your testtube and line it up with your initial marks.

Voilla you now have an hydrometer that reads from 0.990 to 1.300 in 0.002 increments.

Have fun.

**Disclaimer. I've never done this, I just invented the procedure, please have it vetted by somebody else.

RightOff
05-20-2011, 07:48 PM
I haven't, I think the main problem would be calibrating the thing, though I guess you could just essentially make up a new system of measurement based on whatever markings you put on it. Knowing which line on it represents the density of water (at a given temperature) would be the main thing of importance.

I don't seem to be particularily inventive today, I'm having trouble thinking of any household items that would work well. A pen has already been suggested, has some major failings but not a terrible idea, glass would be best but I can't think of something that'd work at the moment.

Actually, if you happen to own a floating thermometre (the kid that stands straight up in a liquid rather than lying on it's back) that would be nearly perfect, and it's already got measurements on it (plus it'll tell you the temp at the time you're calibrating it to see where it floats in water, and the temp of the mead you'd be measuring for comparision).

That's the best thing I can think of.

Im thinking of the pen idea, could work if i seal up one end of it somehow and use some lead sinkers inside of it. Suppose ill just put it in some water, mark it at that level, then make marks based on that measure.
If I can find a glass tube of some sort, or maybe a lighter piece of plastic than a BIC pen tube, that would be good!

Thanks for the advice bro. Bout to log off, and uncap that other test bottle!
Hope yall ride out the appocalypse in style, as I plan to>.>

kudapucat
05-20-2011, 08:14 PM
Pens are thermoplastic, gently heat the tip over a naked flame, then squeeze it together. Beware of the airhole half way up the thing... not so easy to plug that one...

Florists also use a transparent plastic testtube often to stick the flowers in... perhas you could check there' I'm sure they wouldn't charge you a dollar.

the other thing you could try would be a section of TV aerial. you don't actually need to see through the thing, you could mark the gradations on the outside.

AToE
05-21-2011, 01:52 AM
Haha I hope so cause thats the strongest box I got. I also get the whole yall are trying to help. I've just spent alot of time on various internet forums, getting advice on various projects, and find that more often than not, people are less willing to read and think about you're questions than they are to just skim through it and then belch info about the few key words they picked up or the phrases they took out of context (which, no offense, has been all anyone in this thread but chevettegirl and ATOE have done.). So, sorry If Im a bit short. I just usually have the experience of being allright, second guessing myself, asking someone for advice, getting totally useless adivce, and taking twice as long to do something I couldve just figured out myself.

That said thanks for the info. Im going to build a hydrometer. Itll be an excuse to drink more sample bottles hahaha. Anyone ever built a nice one? How'd you do it.

I'd go back and re-read, lots of people gave your posts a good read and gave good responses, they just weren't necessarily the responses you wanted. You wanted to know how to proceed without a hydrometer, and most of the advice (including mine) was the proper advice, simply do not proceed until you have one. I only switched to giving you damage control advice when I was pretty sure you were just going to go for it.

Of all the forums on the net, the people here really take time to read newb's questions and give the best answers possible.