Update on Plastic Carboys

November 3, 2010

Back in September, I took a gamble and purchased some plastic carboys. Now that I have been using them for a few months, this is what I have observed.

First off, the winemaker I bought them from was spot on when he said they were lighter in weight. These plastic carboys also have a handle, which has made me a little spoiled now when I carry them. The other day, I grabbed a smaller 3 gallon glass carboy, and it was much heavier even though it was smaller, and I felt like I was going to drop it as it didn’t have a handle and I didn’t have a good grip on it.

However, the flexible plastic flexes when I carry it, causing it to initially exhale when I pick it up, but then it inhales as I set it back down. This inhaling action causes it to suck on the contents of my airlock. Because the airlocks sometimes get some foam in them from the carboys, or even zealous fruit flies, I’ve learned to take the airlocks off when I transport the carboys. Admittedly, this is not exactly ideal as the inhale draws in air, but I feel that the small amount of air is better than the contents of the airlock. I will then clean the airlock and set on a new one, but the act of pushing it down and on also leads to an exhale and inhale. Therefore, I always use filtered water or vodka to fill a new airlock in case it is sucked in.

Another tricky thing has been cleaning these plastic carboys. The handle area gives an extra area for lees to deposit on, making a mess. Because plastic scratches, I cannot use a bristle brush to clean them. I’ve thought about making sponge on a stick to clean them, but I haven’t gotten to it yet, and I know that I would not be able to reach everywhere to clean. As a result, I’ve been using Five Star Powdered Brew Wash (PBW), which works by creating bubbles that then “scrub” the container, much like how denture tablets might. This gets all the grim off without me scrubbing the container. Thing is, despite everything that says this is 100% safe, I’ve managed to crack the bottom of the carboys when I use this stuff. I have since found that if I use a combination of hot water and PWB, it will crack the bottom of the carboy, but if I use cold water and PWB, it won’t. I now don’t use the PWB to its full strength, which for normal build up has still gotten them clean while saving me some money on PWB.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my plastic carboys and I’m learning how to work with them. I’ve also been meeting other people , such as my local home brew supply store owner, who use plastic carboys. I think, at least for awhile, I’ll stick with plastic.


4 Responses to “Update on Plastic Carboys”

  1. David Skrabal Says:

    Have you heard of Better Bottles? I was doing some research on glass vs. plastic carboys for making cider and found these. They are different from other plastic carboys and cheaper/lighter that glass ones. Not sure if they have the same inhale/exhale issue.


  2. Yes, I have, and that is what my local home brew store owner uses. I’ll probably switch to those eventually, but the price on these water bottles very good.

  3. Carboys Says:

    These bottles are very durable and clean. In our area this is the most used bottles by water retailers.

  4. […] and press out this weekend as the Golden Delicious are finally on. Thing is, I was running out of carboys at this time last year, and had to stop, and this year, I’m just getting started. I think I will […]

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