View Full Version : 5 Gal Water Jugs

06-20-2004, 07:49 AM
What is everyones opinions of using 3 and 5 gal water jugs for making mead?

I have 3 glass carboys but also have plastic ones I have been thinking of pressing into service.

06-21-2004, 04:52 AM
I use PET plastic fruit juice bottles for small batches (3 Litre - just less than a gallon).

PET is the clear plastic stuff, but the plastic fermenters from the Home Brew shop are usually the white plastic variety - but still food grade.

I would trust the clear PET more than the white plastic, but for primary fermentation vessels (used the first couple of weeks) the white plastic might be OK.

For aging, I make sure the PET bottles are filled right to the top, minimising oxygen exposure. They seem good for at least a year.

Supposedly the plastics let a small amount of oxygen through,
but I haven't noticed appreciable "browning" due to oxidation.

Sanitising can be an issue, because they retain aromas (especially if you do a chilli mead :P).

Letting some super strong metabisulfite sit in it for day or two usually helps.


Another option someone on the Mead Lovers Digest mentioned a year or two ago, was that they use food-grade plastic liners (from the medical industry ??), and then it doesn't matter what sort of container you use.

The liner was cheap and was thrown away after use, IIRC.

06-21-2004, 05:09 AM
I asked this question a couple months ago. The response was that you can use these jugs, but they don't recommend it. "Something about bacteria sticking to the plastic" was what someone said.

06-26-2004, 01:19 AM
I use 3 litre soda bottles to make my mead. I was thinking of moving up to a larger size, but 5 gal. just seems too big. I never thought 'bout using 3 gal. I use plastic also, I've been sanatizing with bleach-solution, and haven't had a problem (yet). But I also only use the bottle a couple times, maybe three, then trash it. My kids keep me with a constant supply.

I make my own air locks by drilling a hole in the lid and putting in 1/4 tubing, then I epoxy it for leaks, then epoxy half a 20 oz bottle upside down to the lid. Bend the tube back on itself and add water.

So far this has worked good for me.

06-26-2004, 11:18 AM
Is that 3 (three) liter or 2 (two) liter soda bottles. I'm in California, and I haven't seen any three liter bottles out here.

A three liter bottle would be groovy!



06-27-2004, 02:14 AM
Just a quick 2 cent input. Its great to improvise when you have to. But airlocks are now less than $1.00 at most places as are rubber stoppers. Also Glass jugs , whether they be 1 gal, 3gal, or 5 gal are relatively inexpensive when you consider other expenses like honey and a lost batch. Glass is so much more sanitary and less suseptical to scratches where bateria likes to hide. I don't think the average meadmaker will ever wear out the glass and it is so much easier to clean thourougly. When making straight meads, If you use a fast yeast and suffientient nutrients it will all be over in 6 weeks anyway and you will find very little need for plastic primary fermentors at all. I only use mine to sanitize my bottles now though I am NOT advocating disuse of primary plastic fermentors.

06-27-2004, 05:07 AM
Luckiy for me, my Dad is an avid garage sale afficionado. I haven't yet bought carbuoys at retail price. . .which is nice. I asked him about three weeks ago to get me about ten when he could. He called me a week later and told me to come and get them because they were taking up room in his workshop! I owed him $10 for the whole deal. Seems he found someone who's late father was a delivery man for a local bottled water vendor, and he had a bunch of them. He bought them for a buck a piece. Nice deal Dad!!

To me the biggest risk with glass is breakage, so you mitigate that with proper handling and storage. That means diligence and planning, as well as a rotation, sanitation, storage and transportation (moving the bottles around) procedure that you follow every time. I normally ferment in my corney kegs. I've made beer and fermented in glass carbuoys, and have decided that I'll do the same with my mead.

I use 1.5 litre PET mineral water bottles from Croatia for short term storage in my refrigerator and daily drinking pleasure. I don't know if the plastic is actually PET, but I have yet to smell any residual aromas, odors or anything else. I have reused them several times, and had them in the refrigerator for several weeks at a time with mead in them. I'm sure someone can make an argument that there is an odor, after all at the molecular level plastic is permeable. But if I can't smell it, and it doesn't produce any off-flavors or taint my mead in any way, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

I use these plastic containers to take my mead to parties for mass consumption so I don't have to lug a bunch of bottles with me. I dispense into them from my kegs. I have a separate converted refrigerator where I keep my kegs in my meadworx house outside.

I'm pretty stingy with my glass champagne bottles (750 ml) and rarely take them to parties, or over to friends houses because I don't like lugging empties around in my truck. Sometimes they also sprout legs and walk off, or get thrown away. My bottles are generally reserved for my own use, sometimes gifts (with a promise of more if they return the bottles) dates, special evenings, family gatherings, etc.

I'm looking forward to using the glass carbuoys as primary and secondary. I haven't used plastic for fermentation yet, so I'll have to do some homework and decide if I want to or not.

Sorry for the verbose post, but Jmattioli got me thinking about the subject, so I decided to ramble on a bit. Hope it was at least entertaining.



06-27-2004, 09:53 PM
Glass bottles are really easy to get. I went into a Carrows resteraunt and asked someone for used wine bottles. A few minutes later he came back with about 7 bottles. I don't mind where these bottles end up since they were free to begin with.

So far I've only done 1 gallon batches. A brew shop near my house sells 1 gallon glass jugs for $5 each (not as good as $1 for a 5 gallon carboy!) but that isn't too bad. They also sell 5 gallon glass carboys and 5 gallon plastic fermenters for $20 I believe. Not cheap but worth it in my opinion.

If you want glass jugs, and you are a wine drinker, I've noticed they sell 1 gallon jugs of wine at stores like Walmart for $7. I havn't tried this wine, but if you were a wine drinker and you liked this wine it would be a deal to get a glass jug and a gallon of wine for $2 more.

06-28-2004, 02:47 AM
The going price should be more like $2.95 for a colored gal jug and $3.95 for clear. $5 is too high. If you can't find them for less, try buying Indian Summer Apple juice in 1 gallon jugs and you'll get the juice for free!

06-28-2004, 03:40 AM
The going price should be more like $2.95 for a colored gal jug and $3.95 for clear. $5 is too high. If you can't find them for less, try buying Indian Summer Apple juice in 1 gallon jugs and you'll get the juice for free!

I remember seeing these someplace, and when I went looking for them awile back, I couldn't find them anywhere! How sweet it would be to get a glass jug with the apple juice to go with the cyser! Where are you buying these? Do they have them at wherehouse stores like Costco and Sams Club? I'm thinking that's where I saw them.

06-29-2004, 03:07 PM
I am new to mead making, but glass seems the way to go for me, it's cheap, available and from what I hear more sanitary.

I use 10 litre ( approx 2.64 gallon ) bottles, they cost about 6 euro a piece, and are made of thick glass. Of course, that's in Holland, might not be so readily available elsewhere.

07-14-2004, 05:36 AM
Oskaar, you asked bout 3 litre bottles. They're at "dollar tree" and like evrything else at dollar tree, they're a buck and they fill them with Shasta rootbeer. I live east of Yuma and it borders California.

But Yuma lacks a wine supplies store, my putter is down, so I'm at the library and I'm not putting my credcard # in this machine. But I shall overcome, and I'm gonna be sucking down some apple cinn cyser tonight. ;D

cheers all

07-15-2004, 03:53 AM
Thanks for the tip stem! I'll be in Yuma for the Dove opener so I'll check out the Dollar Tree when I'm there.