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  1. #1

    Default bentonite clay questions

    Can treatment with bentonite clay be done at secondary, or is that too soon? Can the treatment with bentonite clay be done at the same time as stabilizing (rack the mead from primary onto mix of bentonite clay. campden tablets and pottasium sorbate?). I got this batch that is about finished fermenting, and i would like to minimize racking without messing up the brew.

  2. #2

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    I don't know for sure. But here is what came to mind. SO2 binds to stuff in the mead. It's the unbound (free) SO2 that is left to do it's work. It may be the case that the bentonite would lower your affectivness of the SO2 and might not be enough to stabilize the mead. I would wait and fine after you know the mead is stable.

    BTW. I would wait until the ferment is over before I stabilize it as well.
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

  3. #3
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    All the wine kits I've ever used put the bentonite in up front, and some meadmakers are doing this now too. If you try it this way I would suggest you stir it gently each day until it's comletely finished fermenting and is completely degassed as well, then let it settle a few days before you rack it. That way you can minimize racking by leaving most of the particles behind with your first racking, and then you can go ahead and stabilize it in the carboy.

    I think you want to make sure your must is degassed before you add the clay so that you don't get carbon dioxide using the bentonite particles as nucleation points and making the clay float.

    I typically only use bentonite if I need it, if you rack onto bentonite, you are guaranteeing that you will need to rack one more time before you bottle, but if you rack a very clear mead into secondary there's a chance you won't need to rack again before bottling.

    I tried to look up whether bentonite would bind to the SO2 and mess up your stabilization but though my google fu isn't bad, my laptop refused to load any of the documents I found... this one looked promising though...
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chevette Girl View Post
    this one looked promising though...
    url is mangled (I'm pretty sure it's not "...cals...edu/.../" - word/profanity filter on the forum?)

    I would add bentonite, leave it for a few days, rack and stabilize afterwards (bentonite will precipitate most of the yeast from solution along with other particulates, making the sorbate / sulphite presumably more effective - less stuff for SO2 do bind to).

    BTW, when I tried adding bentonite up front it didn't seem to do much for self-clearing at the end, I still needed to add bentonite afterwards (but maybe I'm too impatient and I should have left it for another few months).

  5. #5
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    Huh, I'll go hunt it down again, my browser was being an idiot and apparently so was I ... HERE it is...

    It's important to stir it up to get it to clear well... and most people don't think to give must a thorough stir a few days before racking because it feels like you're stirring up all the junk all over again and it's not going to settle back out in time, but one of the ways it works is to act as a flocculant (gods I love being able to use that word! - sorry, geeking out over words I used in university finally being applicable to life)... essentially it means that the bentonite attracts suspended particles to itself which make bigger particles, which have more attractive power to attract more particles, so the more agitation you get it so that all the suspended particles in the must can physically come into close contact with either the bentonite particles (or other particles like your gross lees) and stick to them, the better the results you'll get with bentonite because the bigger particles settle out faster than smaller particles.

    Bentonite doesn't technically precipitate the yeast, because precipitating something would suggest a chemical reaction from two aqueous solutions producing an insoluble product, and the yeast was never soluble, only suspended... although I was reading a thing from Purdue that says it mostly sticks to proteins (like yeast) but can cause some things to precipitate out due to changes in pH.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  6. #6
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    thanks for the link, added to an ever growing reading backlog...

    I meant "settle" (and likely wanted to sound smarter than I am - the actual phenomenon is called adsorbtion, it seems) - as I understand ions in the clay stick to things of opposite charge and make them heavier, so they settle much faster; some of those things could also be insoluble stuff that adds flavor/taste, which is probably what people are talking about when they say bentonite can strip some flavors from the mead.

  7. #7

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    It's true bentonite will change the flavor of things because it removes larger particulates. But it's changing mostly because the things being removed is rubbish in the mead. Think of how a mead will taste after the yeast is removed from suspensuon. Similar, as true flavaoids do not get filtered out with filtering. And very little attached to bentonite
    7 out of 4 people have a hard time using their hydrometer!

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