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Thread: Question about homemade airlock

  1. #1

    Default Question about homemade airlock

    Hello everyone! I'm new to the forum and also to mead making, just started fermenting my first jugs (one 5 L jug and two 2 L bottles, actually) yesterday. I have a doubt about the homemade airlock I made following instructions of various sites on the internet: I carved a little hole on the caps of the jugs and put a 20" (50cm) tube in it, then put the other extremity of the tube inside a container full of water. Did I make it right, or must I do something else? The mead is making a lot of very small bubbles and a little noise when I approach my ears to it, but I haven't seen any bubbles in the water of the container yet. I was thinking of sealing it with some duct tape tomorrow, to really prevent any air from coming in (I'm a little afraid the holes I made in the caps were too big). Oh, and just for information's sake, I used ordinary bread yeast (four 10 grams packs) with one egg's white as nutrient.

    I just took some photos and a small video of it, take a look and tell me what you think:

    http://img18.imageshack.us/img18/1897/dsc00087lpw.jpg
    http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/7154/dsc00088ndf.jpg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8papMB_1-UQ

  2. #2
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    My first airlock was a condom turned inside out and placed over the top of a gatorade bottle. Yours is a bit more involved already. The construction looks fine. I wouldn't worry about it. If there's a leak, it's coming out around the hole the hose is going through.

    If you really want to try to seal it down better, I'd go with a sandwich bag taped over the bottle with the hose run through a small hole in it. Then you can tape the bag to the hose to seal that side off as well.

    Next you'll want to get online and order yourself a couple of airlocks for future batches.

    Your setup reminds me of my first experiments back when I was still overseas playing in the big sandbox. LOL

    You said you're using bread yeast... what's your recipe for these batches?

    Oh, and Welcome to GotMead?! There's lots to learn around here and just about all of it is exceptional. Welcome to the addic... err... hobby, I meant to say hobby.
    Last edited by sandman; 04-18-2009 at 11:40 PM.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandman View Post
    If you really want to try to seal it down better, I'd go with a sandwich bag taped over the bottle with the hose run through a small hole in it. Then you can tape the bag to the hose to seal that side off as well.
    Yes, I was thinking of doing something like that, but instead of using the sandwich bag, using just the duct tape, see? Just keep rolling it until everything was covered. But I think your idea will do better. Thanks for the tip!

    Quote Originally Posted by sandman View Post
    Next you'll want to get online and order yourself a couple of airlocks for future batches.
    I was going to buy some for this time, but I ended up not being patient enough to wait for the airlocks to be shiped! lol

    Quote Originally Posted by sandman View Post
    You said you're using bread yeast... what's your recipe for these batches?
    Oh, I just mixed some things from a couple of different recipes I got over the internet. I mostly followed the steps of this one: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Mead
    But, basically, what I did was this:
    2L of honey
    6L of mineral water
    1 egg white
    40g of bread yeast

    Boiled the must for about 5 minutes, while mixed the yeast with the egg white and an extra 500mL of water, then put the must in the jugs and then put the yeast with nutrients in the jugs, proportionally to the volumes of the jugs.


    Quote Originally Posted by sandman View Post
    Oh, and Welcome to GotMead?! There's lots to learn around here and just about all of it is exceptional. Welcome to the addic... err... hobby, I meant to say hobby.
    I'm already getting addicted myself, I'm checking the jugs every 3 hours or so... lol
    Can't wait to taste my mead!
    Last edited by Cachalote; 04-19-2009 at 12:11 AM.

  4. #4
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    Welcome!

    FYI 40g is a lot of yeast. I tend to use 4-5g for batches up to about 3 gallons and maybe 8-10g for 5 gallons.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by akueck View Post
    Welcome!

    FYI 40g is a lot of yeast. I tend to use 4-5g for batches up to about 3 gallons and maybe 8-10g for 5 gallons.
    Yes, I was in doubt about the amount of yeast to be added, and just couldn't find it in the internet, so I just put what I thought was ok. Looks like I guessed wrong... lol
    But will it do any difference in the final product, or will it just speed up the process and leave more sediment in the end? Maybe a higher alcohol % ?

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    Seriously, I'd look at this first batch as an experiment more than a batch of mead to decide if you like the results. Now that this one is bubbling merrily along, gather your ingredients and start a batch of JAO. Skip the whole boiling the honey thing and set the JAO up next to your current project. Of course you can still run this out to it's end and see what you get. Sometimes playing "I wonder what'll happen if I do it this way..." works out. Good or bad it's always a learning experience.

    I hope that makes sense... I'm a little lit right now. I just bottled a Desert Blossom Blueberry and the spillage party was a beautiful thing. *hic*

  7. #7

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    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, spillage!

    I need to get a ferment going so that I can share some spillage with friends...
    Wild In Idaho
    Mead, like life, is a journey and not a destination. So stop and savor the flavors along the way!


    "Gawd, I hate drinking mead and posting in the forums."

    Nothing currently fermenting!

  8. #8
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    You might end up with a yeasty flavor in the mead, but otherwise you should be fine. A lot of the yeast will probably die due to overpopulation, and they'll just fall to the bottom.

  9. #9

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    Hello Cachalote --

    What you've made is an old fashioned blow off tube, handy things to use when there's a lot of foaming and back up. The foamy stuff travels up the tubes and into the sanitized solution. You just change the solution every so often and so long as the fermentation isn't prolonged, the tube back up won't be a contamination problem. If anything, you can change the whole tube and stopper affair if it gets too gucky.

    I'm not sure how much nutrient value the egg white will offer -- it's mostly colloidal protein stuff. Egg whites have been used as fining agents so it may be helpful there.

    Yep, all agree that 40 gm of bread yeast is a lot. Joe's Ancient Orange recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of bread yeast for a one gallon batch. I almost wonder if this is a typo that crept in after multiple transmissions of the recipe?
    Last edited by Dan McFeeley; 04-19-2009 at 12:35 PM.
    <><><><><><><><><><>
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    Dan McFeeley

    "Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
    (The people's spirit is raised through culture)

  10. #10

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    I should also add that sealed blow off tubes are easy to make using conventional air locks. Simply cut away the outer plastic housing that would be holding the sanitized solution, leaving a plastic tube embedded in the stopper. Now attach your vinyl food grade tubing and you've got a blow off tube that doesn't allow air seepage around the joint.
    <><><><><><><><><><>
    <><><><><><><><>
    Dan McFeeley

    "Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
    (The people's spirit is raised through culture)

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandman View Post
    Seriously, I'd look at this first batch as an experiment more than a batch of mead to decide if you like the results. Now that this one is bubbling merrily along, gather your ingredients and start a batch of JAO. Skip the whole boiling the honey thing and set the JAO up next to your current project. Of course you can still run this out to it's end and see what you get. Sometimes playing "I wonder what'll happen if I do it this way..." works out. Good or bad it's always a learning experience.

    I hope that makes sense... I'm a little lit right now. I just bottled a Desert Blossom Blueberry and the spillage party was a beautiful thing. *hic*
    Makes perfect sense! lol
    Just one thing, it might seem stupid, but what is JAO?

    Quote Originally Posted by McFeeley View Post
    Hello Cachalote --

    What you've made is an old fashioned blow off tube, handy things to use when there's a lot of foaming and back up. The foamy stuff travels up the tubes and into the sanitized solution. You just change the solution every so often and so long as the fermentation isn't prolonged, the tube back up won't be a contamination problem. If anything, you can change the whole tube and stopper affair if it gets too gucky.

    I'm not sure how much nutrient value the egg white will offer -- it's mostly colloidal protein stuff. Egg whites have been used as fining agents so it may be helpful there.

    Yep, all agree that 40 gm of bread yeast is a lot. Joe's Ancient Orange recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of bread yeast for a one gallon batch. I almost wonder if this is a typo that crept in after multiple transmissions of the recipe?
    I didn't understand... then this blow off tube works as an airlock or doesn't?
    Also, I added the egg whites following some recipes I found over the internet that recomended it, if I didn't have access to any industrialized yeast nutrient nor did I want to add any fruit juice to it. The egg whites offers the yeast the protein that is lacking in the honey, and the mineral water already has some minerals in it. What could be lacking would be fats and vitamins, but I guess the yeast could work around that... lol



    Another thing: I've been searching the internet and found a different sort of homemade airlock, it seems to work better than the one I'm using:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w17QI...eature=related
    What do you guys have to say about this one? How much water should I put in it, and should I seal the upper extremity of the tube (the one outside the jug)?
    Last edited by Cachalote; 04-19-2009 at 05:46 PM.

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    The answer to that would be Joe's Ancient Orange and it's the single most famous newbie recipe for a successful start into the realm of mead making. Most of us make it once in a while because it's such a quick (relative) mead and some batches take longer than others to complete. JAO lets us have something for those in between times. It also ages nicely so it's always a good one to have around.

    Hit the name and it'll take you to the thread.
    Last edited by sandman; 04-19-2009 at 06:35 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by McFeeley View Post
    I should also add that sealed blow off tubes are easy to make using conventional air locks. Simply cut away the outer plastic housing that would be holding the sanitized solution, leaving a plastic tube embedded in the stopper. Now attach your vinyl food grade tubing and you've got a blow off tube that doesn't allow air seepage around the joint.
    I sometimes just take a three piece air-lock and remove the cap and the little plastic piece inside. Then I can attach a piece of plastic hose onto the little tube in the center. When I'm done using the blow-off, I can just pull the hose off and reassemble the airlock with it still in place in the carboy - causing minimal fuss.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cachalote View Post

    I didn't understand... then this blow off tube works as an airlock or doesn't?

    Also, I added the egg whites following some recipes I found over the internet that recomended it, if I didn't have access to any industrialized yeast nutrient nor did I want to add any fruit juice to it. The egg whites offers the yeast the protein that is lacking in the honey, and the mineral water already has some minerals in it. What could be lacking would be fats and vitamins, but I guess the yeast could work around that... lol
    Yep -- the blow off tube is an airlock. It's used in instances where the foaming is so intense that it backs up into the airlock itself. With conventional airlocks this is a problem when it happens. The gunk goes up the tube and into the airlock itself. When you use a blow off tube in place of conventional airlocks, the gunk goes up and out the tube.

    Yeasts can sometimes use protein for nutrient source, but I think it would have to be a low molecular weight. Egg whites probably wouldn't work.

    Take a look here:

    http://www.vinquiry.com/pdf/LallemandNutrientAdditions.pdf

    for more information on yeastie nitrogen needs.

    This is an old document but still gives a good overview.

    Another good one, in power point, is here:

    http://www.rmavv.org/docs/coyeast.ppt.

    An HTML version is here:

    http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:...&ct=clnk&gl=us


    Hope this is helpful!
    Last edited by Dan McFeeley; 04-20-2009 at 01:18 PM.
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    Dan McFeeley

    "Meon an phobail a thogail trid an chultur"
    (The people's spirit is raised through culture)

  15. #15

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    Thanks for the info, very informative stuff!!!
    By the way, I ended up changing my airlock, made one like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w17QI...eature=related and finally it is working correctly, bubbling every 2 or 3 seconds! I also had to shake the jugs a bit to get them bubbling again.
    I just fear it remained too much time in contact with the air and ended up contaminated. How could I tell if it is contaminated or not, by the way?
    Last edited by Cachalote; 04-21-2009 at 12:25 AM.

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    Air contact during the beginning stages is actually a good thing, so no worries there. The constant outflow of CO2 gas should also help prevent nasties from landing in your mead. If something horrible has found its way in, you'll know by the smell, taste, and look of it (all of which should be ). Infections seem pretty uncommon though (sanitize, sanitize, sanitize!), so don't keep yourself up at night worrying.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by akueck View Post
    Air contact during the beginning stages is actually a good thing, so no worries there. The constant outflow of CO2 gas should also help prevent nasties from landing in your mead. If something horrible has found its way in, you'll know by the smell, taste, and look of it (all of which should be ). Infections seem pretty uncommon though (sanitize, sanitize, sanitize!), so don't keep yourself up at night worrying.
    Great to know this!
    Thanks for all the help guys! I think that this problem was solved!

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    Welcome to GotMead?!

    Concerning your airlocks: they are just about $1 each and the stopper is $1. When you've completed fermentation and leakage/seepage and possible contamination is an issue, you're going to need an air-tight set-up.
    1 gallon jugs of Paul Masson burgundy are like $5. Dump the wine in another container, sanitize and use it as your secondary. A 6-1/2 stopper will work perfectly.
    Good luck!



    DD

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by ssteufelhund View Post
    Welcome to GotMead?!

    Concerning your airlocks: they are just about $1 each and the stopper is $1. When you've completed fermentation and leakage/seepage and possible contamination is an issue, you're going to need an air-tight set-up.
    1 gallon jugs of Paul Masson burgundy are like $5. Dump the wine in another container, sanitize and use it as your secondary. A 6-1/2 stopper will work perfectly.
    Good luck!



    DD
    Yes, but as I said in the "Oak Barrels" thread, I live in Brazil and in my city there aren't any brewing shops (at least that I know of). So I have to either buy things over the internet (which end up relatively expensive) or keep going with what I have in hand.

  20. #20
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    Here are a few wineries in Brazil. Back in the good old days before the explosion of homebrew/winemaking suppliers we used to get our yeast, airlocks, etc from the local wineshops. You might try the same to greater or lesser degrees of success.


    Vinhos Marson
    http://www.vinhosmarson.com.br/

    Casa Valduga
    http://www.casavalduga.com.br/

    Vinicola Amadeu
    http://www.amadeu.com.br/

    Vinicola Aurora
    http://www.vinicolaaurora.com.br/

    Don Laurindo
    http://www.donlaurindo.com.br/

    Dom Cāndido
    http://www.domcandido.com.br/

    Vinicola Lovara
    http://www.lovara.com.br/

    Vinicola Marco Luigi
    http://www.marcoluigi.com.br/

    Miolo
    http://www.miolo.com.br/

    Hope that helps,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

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