View Full Version : Sanitizing Equipment

11-04-2004, 09:52 PM
What's the best methoud to do this? Soap and water, or just boiling water? As well, when pasturizing the must, how much water am I supposed to use? It seems like half (2.5 gallons for 5 gallon batch), but is this too much?

David Baldwin
11-05-2004, 05:00 AM
Welcome to our forum and the hobby!

As to pasteurization, I can't be much help. I pasteurized the first time, and not since then. When I did pasteurize, I did the whole batch. I had a brew kettle that would handle the entire 3 gallon batch.

As to sterilization, I can at least tell you what I do.

When I clean my equipment, I first wash and rinse it all with dish soap with the hottest water I can tolerate. I then rinse it all in a solution of sodium metabisulphite, and then rinse that off with boiling water.

It's really not as labor intensive as it seems.

Get set up ahead of time. If you are working in the kitchen, take the time to do a good thorough cleaning and sterilize with a light bleach water solution 10% will work nicely.

Make up your sodium or potassium metabisulphite solution ahead of time. The directions should be on the package. I keep a 1 gallon jug of the solution ready for use.

I start a large kettle of water to boiling while I'm cleaning the kitchen and washing the equipment. It all goes quickly when you've got your system down.

One thing I do as a precaution is to move all the vinegar in the kitchen well away from the area I'm going to be working in, and double check the caps. In our kitchen the most probable source of contamination would come from Acetobacter aceti, the bacteria that produces vinegar. Don't try to use an old McDonalds pickle bucket as a primary. You'll be very likely to make a nice batch of honey vinegar. :o

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

11-05-2004, 10:14 AM
i use a diluted solution of regular unscented household bleach for all my sanitization needs. i then make sure to rinse the bleach off well with cool tap water. for very sensitive things like containers used for yeast culturing i sometimes rinse with boiled water, but this is not necessary for everyday tasks like washing carboys or bottles for bottling. i do not pasturize anymore either, but half the batch volume would be fine, you could probably get away with even less, maybe like 2 gallons for a 5 gallon batch.

11-07-2004, 10:54 PM
Thanks for your advice guys!(I'm assuming!)

What I did was I took the garbage can That I'm using and scrubed it with about half a cup of bleach, then made sure to rinse it three or four times. I think that should have been clean enough to killany thing. Either way, my mead off and doing it's thing; one of my roomates said that it smelled like bread. Is that a good thing?

11-08-2004, 05:59 AM
Starting off with the initial fermentation, yes it can smell like bread. But there are also other odors coming through. Put your nose to the airlock and take a sniff and see what you smell and let us know what you do smell and if there's any 'off' odors.

11-08-2004, 06:18 AM
What material is your Garbage can made of and are you even using an airlock?

11-10-2004, 07:55 PM
As to what material, I don't know. The label doesn't say. And, no, I'm not using an airlock system. The only buckets that I could find had been used prevously and this garbage can was cheap. I checked it today. It's bubbling nicely, although some of the bubbles are starting to foam, ie, that they have a sort of spongey texture to them. I don't know what this means, but can I assume that everything is going ok?

11-10-2004, 08:44 PM
Two things:

First the material is important as it should be stainless steel or glass so as not to impart any metals or off-flavors. It could ruin your mead.

Second, from your post, I take it you are using an open garbage can for fermentation. What are you doing to keep oxygen out of the must after the first few days? It should be airlocked to keep out oxygen and any airborne contaminants from infecting your mead. It may turn out drinkable but you are working outside the spectrum of modern mead making methods and your outcome is in doubt.

Have you done this before?


11-12-2004, 09:32 PM

No, actually, I haven't. I have a carboy for when I rack my mead in a week or two, but using the garbage was just a cheaper alternative. I'm a student can't afford new carboys and equipment. Both it and my rackingtube and hose were borrowed from a friend of mine. As well, from what I read on this website, it is ok to do your primary frementation open, but after racking it should be closed. If you have any suggstions, I'm all ears.

11-12-2004, 11:38 PM
do you have some sort of cover on that garbage can? or is it completely open to the environment?

11-13-2004, 12:09 AM
A garbage can??? where did you get that idea? For a couple more dollars you could have bought a proper brewing bucket.
I usually sanitize my equipment with 1 step. And like everyone else i gave up sanitizing my must. I feel it is an extra step that really isn't needed. I almost always make a starter and don't worry about it. My biggest concern would be about the material the garbage can is made of. Food grade plastic is much less porous.

11-13-2004, 08:02 AM
As well, from what I read on this website, it is ok to do your primary frementation open, but after racking it should be closed. If you have any suggstions, I'm all ears.Varangian,
Not so, The garbage can should be either food grade plastic or stainless steel or glass. Otherwise, the mead will react with the metal somewhat.
Second, many do use buckets for the primary here but they do put a COVER on it both to keep out outside and airborne contaminents and limit the oxygen after the first few days.
They open it daily to stir and reoxygenate but only the first week at the most. Otherwise you will get an oxidized taste.
With it open you could get vinegar. :(
Good Luck,

11-21-2004, 07:36 PM
Yes, I do have a cover over top; I live in a dusty house and would never think of leaving it open. Besides, I heard from a friend who's made mead in the past that having a cover that allows air to excape will stop the mead from becoming carbonated and, according to him, tasting bad. I chose the can because the only buckets that I could find had been used before. It is turning out, though, and I should be racking it by this friday.

Which brings me to another question: what's a good way of syphoning the must from my garbage can to the carboy? I don't want to suck on it, but I can't think of any other way...

Thank you all for your help, and any more help and advice would be apricited.

11-22-2004, 12:01 PM
There are a couple fo different options.

option 1.
put a container and your secondary next to your primary
submerge your racking cane/tube in water until the tube is full.
remove the cane/tube from the water keeping the two ends level and pointed upwards.
close the end away from the cane (use your finger to "cap" it)
keep the capped end outside of the primary, but lower it until it is below the level of the must in the primary
insert the cane into the primary keeping the capped end of the tube lower than the end of the cane
remove your finger from the end of the tube and allow the water to drain into the extra container (it will mix somewhat with the mead, don't stop it until it's mostly mead).
cap the end again and transfer the tube to the secondary.

Option 2.
buy one of these and play with it until you get the hang of it

Option 3.
This one isn't really applicable to your situation, but if you find yourself racking from a carboy to something else, you could use one of these

option 4.
whatever else you can find that works.

12-01-2004, 12:09 AM

Thanks for the tips! I racked my mead last staurday; it's in the secondary now bubbling away!

My mead now has a sort of a golden colour to it, almost like amber. Is this normal? I bought two pound squeze bottles of honey instead of raw honey, so I'm not sure what the finished product is going to look like. Any thoughts?

12-01-2004, 07:32 AM
Yes, That's normal.