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Sir_Lancelot
12-05-2005, 10:15 PM
I was wondering if anyone had suggestions on Makeshift Airlocks, a friend of mines dads friend brews beer and I was told he uses a cheesecloth, I was wondering if streaching a cheesecloth over the opening of the jug and putting a rubberband around it to hold it would work as a makeshift airlock of a bottle of fermenting mead?

WRATHWILDE
12-05-2005, 11:20 PM
Short term... probably, my uncle (from what I understand) does open ferments of wine... believing that the CO2 generated is an effective barrier. I personally wouldn't chance it myself. I will say he brought an EXCELLENT plum wine (1992) to share over Thanksgiving dinner.. He also doesn't use yeast... he just lets the juice ferment naturally. The Horror of it all. ;)

Wrathwilde

Norskersword
12-05-2005, 11:32 PM
An airlock is designed to let gasses out without letting air back in, a one way street. A cheeze cloth wouldn't work because air could just as easily get in as it could out.

Some people use cheese cloth in the first few days of fermentation because yeast actually benefits from oxygen in the first 72 hours. Then they use an airlock, otherwise you will end up with vinegar.

An old fashion way to make your own airlock is to get a balloon (not inflated) and stick it on the mouth of the carboy. Then poke a hole at the tip of the balloon with a needle. Air gets out but not in.

Sir_Lancelot
12-05-2005, 11:36 PM
a ballon you say good idea

WRATHWILDE
12-06-2005, 12:10 AM
A cheeze cloth wouldn't work because air could just as easily get in as it could out.


Not quite... CO2 is heavier than air so as long as there isn't active air movement the CO2 won't escape without other forces acting upon it... wild temperature variations or a draft siphoning the CO2 out. Also as long as fermentation continues CO2 is being constantly generated, providing a constant expulsion of gasses, again protecting the must from contamination. Like I said though... I wouldn't, but yes the cheese cloth will provide you with a level of protection, just not as great as an actual airlock.

Wrathwilde

Sir_Lancelot
12-06-2005, 12:16 AM
thanks for the input I might just go with the cheesecloth, im brewing a test batch in a 20oz bottle with no airlock, so ive been manually releasing the presure going on the same theory as co2 gases leaving the bottle will keep air from entering when i open the cap just a bit to release the pressure, remembering to do this 3-4 times a day can be a hassle

Oskaar
12-06-2005, 01:00 AM
Wrath and Lancelot,

I'm pretty sure Norsk was referring to cheesecloth after the first several days. Once Aerobic Fermentation has subsided and anaerobic fermentation begins if you just leave cheesecloth, or a bottlecap on your mead you'll end up having to toss it due to infection or oxydation.

Take a chance . . . Custer did.

Oskaar

metmeister
12-06-2005, 02:09 AM
http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=103&topic=2926.0

that should help you somewhat.

Pewter_of_Deodar
12-06-2005, 11:23 AM
Food for thought:

A roll of cheesecloth is as expensive as a bubble trap...

Dan McFeeley
12-06-2005, 12:56 PM
This could also work -- get a rubber glove, use maybe the
thumb and stretch one end over the mouth of the carboy.
Cut the other end off, then rubber band it to a length
of vinyl hose. Run the other end of the vinyl hose
into a bottle of sanitizer, something like cheap vodka.

You know, with that kind for ambience for a makeshift
air lock, might be just the thing to use for Ancient
Orange recipes. ;D

byathread
12-06-2005, 01:11 PM
Indeed, a 3 piece airlock and drilled rubber stopper cost a combined $2 at my LHBS. Well, worth the cost especially considering they last indefinitely.

You can use pure (unscented) bleach as a sanitizer as its cheap and widely available (just be sure to rinse very well after sanitizing).

Also, be on the lookout for 1 gallon jugs. You may be able to find these at yard sales, recycling centers, or from friends. They can be bought from hombrew stores for about $3-4 or filled with apple juice ($5) or cheap wine ($9?).

You'll want some food-grade plastic tubing (maybe 3-4') to siphon the finished mead into bottles. You should be able to find this for really cheap at a hardware store. Later you can purchase a racking cane.

If you decide to purchase some advanced ingredients that you can't get locally, you can probably find a Homebrew shop on the web from your state. You can make mulitple purchases at once to save on shipping. And if you want to obtain some quality wine yeasts (about $1/packet) you can stock up, they should keep for a year in the fridge.

I definitely recommend previous posters' suggestion to try Joe's Ancient Orange recipe. It requires only a gallon fermenter with airlock, some bakers yeast, 3.5 lbs honey, and orange, some raisins and some spices. You might also try a cyser (or apple mead). Simply use 3/4 gallon of apple juice and 1-3 lbs of honey (depending on level of desired dryness/sweetness).


Best of luck!

WRATHWILDE
12-06-2005, 02:07 PM
thanks for the input I might just go with the cheesecloth, im brewing a test batch in a 20oz bottle with no airlock, so ive been manually releasing the presure going on the same theory as co2 gases leaving the bottle will keep air from entering when i open the cap just a bit to release the pressure, remembering to do this 3-4 times a day can be a hassle


I've had to do that with a batch I bottled too soon. In order not to have to release the pressure several times a day... if it's a screw on cap, wait until it's built up some pressure, then very very slowly start to undo the cap, at the point you first start to hear some gasses escape... stop turning the cap and leave it in that position until the fermentation stops... it worked for me.

Wrathwilde

Dan McFeeley
12-06-2005, 02:35 PM
Another old time air lock is weighting down a plate with dried beans and putting that over the top of the crock pot.

lostnbronx
12-06-2005, 03:23 PM
Something I read in an oldtime recipe book, and which I used on my first-ever fermentations, is simply to put a wet cork in the top of the jug loosely, so that internal pressure can bubble the CO2 out around it, but then it closes up again when the pressure has released. You have to keep it wet, obviously, requiring diligent checking morning and night, but a cork dipped in (but not dripping from!) vegetable oil will last much longer in this regard. This system works pretty well, actually, when you're a newbie, and shamelessly obsess over your creations. I'm over all that now, though. (Shaddup!)

-David

Archie Zietman
12-11-2005, 10:39 PM
balloon with 1 or 2 holes poked in it is what i've used for the past few batches.

Tyred
12-14-2005, 07:53 AM
From memory, balloons sometimes have talc or some other sort of absorbant powder in them so that they stay drier inside when blown up. In that case, it might be safer to turn the balloon inside out before using it.

thethorn3
01-17-2006, 07:19 PM
Hi i'm also a newbee here, when i made my first batch of mead i used a 5 gal plastic waterjug and cut a small hole into the top of the plastic cap that came with it, i then inserted a small hose (like from a fishtank pump) into the hole and sealed it up good with a hotglue gun and put the other end in a cup of water. This costs much more than a real airlock but is decent as long as you make sure everything is sealed up tight.

Goodluck

SteveT
01-17-2006, 07:54 PM
Hi i'm also a newbee here, when i made my first batch of mead i used a 5 gal plastic waterjug and cut a small hole into the top of the plastic cap that came with it, i then inserted a small hose (like from a fishtank pump) into the hole and sealed it up good with a hotglue gun and put the other end in a cup of water. This costs much more than a real airlock but is decent as long as you make sure everything is sealed up tight.



Welcome to the forum! You made an airlock... nothing wrong with that! :) I might be concerned about longer term aging in a plastic waterjug... consider purchasing a few glass carboys for longer term aging.

Steve

danB
01-30-2006, 04:27 PM
I used to use ceran wrap (with alot of slack) and a rubber band

teucer
01-30-2006, 09:43 PM
When I first got started brewing mead, I used a layer of olive oil floating on top of the mead. I also didn't bother sterilizing anything; I just cleaned the buckets.

I've switched to a more conventional technique because a) airlocks don't flavor the mead at all, b) the oil makes your fingers feel funny after you've been messing with the mead at all, c) I lost a non-sterilized batch for no good reason, while the only thing I've lost since it turns out I wasn't giving the yeast the conditions it wants for fighting off an infection. But if you don't have access to any fancy equipment, a stainless steel bucket, honey, water, yeast, and oil is plenty. (Make sure the bucket's stainless - I used aluminum once by accident and the mead tasted metallic and had to be thrown out.)

mouko_yamamoto
01-30-2006, 10:01 PM
You know, I was gonna mention something about oil. We didn't have the right stoppers today for the test tubes in my enviormental science class, so we used vegetable oil. Ironically, we are studying the different effects of yeast and bacteria... Wish I would've known, becuase I would have snuck in some nutrient. ;D

gryphon
02-07-2006, 11:50 AM
a ballon you say good idea


A balloon works great but to share a story...

This was during my college days and my roommate and I were experimenting with brewing. We both settled on ciders as we liked them and it was fairly easy to do. We were using ballons, big ones and we set all this up and went to sleep, each of our respective brews in our rooms (trying to outbrew each other of course.) In the wee hours of the morning there came a great bang and a string of explicitives from his room. I investigated and discovered that he'd failed to poke a hole in the balloon resulting in a not so quiet reminder of his mistake. I had a hard time breathing I was laughing so hard. He learned his lesson, poke a pinhole in the @%#! balloon!