From the HBD Archive
From: Darryl Richman <>
Subject: RE: Evil water jugs (Homebrew Digest #899, June 10, 1992)
Date: 1992-06-10 16:49:47 GMT (Tim P McNerney) writes:
> I have had a number of replies to my posting yesterday warning of the
> danger of using the plastic water jugs for fermentation. I had heard
> these also (which is why I asked about it), but I haven't received
> any information more specific than that it was bad.

Although I can't tell you specifically about the 2 gallon water bottles
you are buying, I can tell you that there is a strongly held prejudice
against any form of plastic in the homebrewing world.

The things to be aware of:
* Many plastics are much more permeable to oxygen than glass
* Non-food grade plastics may be made with plasticizers that can be
leached out by ethanol, and besides what these may do to you after
years of imbibing, they can taste pretty bad.
* Plastic scratches easily, and those scratches can harbor infectious
organisms. It may therefore, be difficult to santize with contact
sanitizers like iodophor, b-brite and bleach.

Ignore the AHA statistic that indicates that glass is over represented
and plastic is under represented in the winners circle. Although true,
this does not necessarily mean anything about the qualities of glass
and plastic.

I use a food grade trash can for my primary and 5 gallon plastic water
bottles (made from polycarbonate, which is safe from attack by ethanol,
although it is somewhat oxygen permeable) for secondaries. I sanitize
with boiling water, which doesn't need direct contact to work (the heat
will get the little suckers), and doesn't need any kind of a rinse
afterwards, either.

Glass is a good way to go, and I do use it for starters (although I
just acquired a plastic baby bottle that I can pour boiling wort into
and allow to cool). But it can be dangerous to handle in wet and
slippery environments, and the chemicals used to sanitize can be
difficult to remove without compromising the sanitization.

My advice is to choose a method that fits in with what you want to do
and then work to eliminate any problems that occur in your environment.
Good luck, and good brewing,

--Darryl Richman

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