5 gallon Water Bottles

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Senior Member
Nov 26, 2008
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Are the 5 gallon plastic water bottles used in office coolers of any use as primaries or secondaries
I found some for $10 ea
I've been using them as secondary fermenters for years with no adverse effects.
This is one of the most asked questions (about carboys anyway) on the various forums.

Many use them. Many won't. Some use for short term, others have used for longer term.

I won't use them. That's "Won't" not "DON'T". Plastics are known to leach chemicals. Water bottles are designed to hold water and presumably don't leach into water. Will they leach into alcohol? I won't take the chance.

I have used plastic carboys, but those are designed for making wine and/or beer. The commonest brand these days is Better Bottle.

BTW, I primarily make kits, so need either 3 US gallon or 6 gallon carboys. These are 5 US gallons.

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Now this is the kind of information I am looking for
Honest and heart felt opinions :D

As I stand now I have 1 for and 1 against :cool:

So What is your opinion??
Like Steve said, a very discussed question. I asked iit myself. I am only a 2 batch rookie and I made both using a plastic (cooler carboy) as my primary. But, I made both batches with frozen juice concentrate, if you were to use fresh fruit, you would need to be able to access the "cap" to press under the liquid each day, pretty hard in a carboy. Most seem to feel a pail type container is better for the primary. I will however respect the opinion of the senior members on here and try to stick with glass or use a type of plastic specifically designed for beer/wine making. One of the first instructions I ever came across about wine making suggested if you are going to use plastic, look for the # 1 or 2 in the triangle(the recycle code) on the container, and specifically said DO NOT use plastic with the 7 designation, and that is exactly what my water cooler carboy is. I'm still pretty new also and don't feel my opinion on this weighs in too heavy, but I would suggest searching this forum on this subject there is actually several discussions/opinions regarding using plastic.
The ones I am looking at are tinted blue and have a "1" in the triangle
Ive heard about the chemicals leaching and cant say they do or dont. I myself dont like them for 3nt reasons.
1) you ca vacuum degas.
2) try and pick up a full 1, the bottle squishes in and wine shoots up through the airlock, then when you release pressure(and it dont take much at all) the airlock sucks back in everything that was in there!
3) they leech flavor, my friend had used 1 for 2 months with the extra from a 6 gallon kit in a 1 gallon Carlo Rossi bottle and there was abig difference, both of us tasted the plastic in the wine. Maybe that would go back away over time I dont know as he has moved to North Carolina 4 months ago and hasnt contacted me as Id really like to know the answer to this as Ive seen this question on all forums at least once a month! #2 and 3 are the #'s you want to see in thetriangle of any plastic vessel you use to make wine
The ones I am looking at are tinted blue and have a "1" in the triangle
Doesn't matter to me, still a water bottle not a wine bottle.

#2 and 3 are the #'s you want to see in thetriangle of any plastic vessel you use to make wine
Better Bottles are #1.

And this message will probbaly be asked every month, with no definitive answr, for the rest of my life.

Doesn't matter to me, still a water bottle not a wine bottle.

Better Bottles are #1.

And this message will probbaly be asked every month, with no definitive answr, for the rest of my life.


Oops! Sorry to bother

I withdraw the question and Thank You
I use the water bottle.. Mainly because "my lesser half" can get then FREE!!!!
I believe it's all a lot of B.S.! To my knowlege there has never been any proof of adverse effects from using the plastic water bottles verified by chemical analysis. I challenge those that continue to downplay their use to produce scientific studies that discredit their use.
I've heard the same about the air permeability. I think they're fine for very short term storage, and have even fermented small quantities of experimental wines in food grade plastic containers with no adverse effects, but I use them as a last resort and only for short periods. I would personally rather not risk losing a batch for something so preventable. Glass carboys aren't that expensive and if you have difficulty moving them when full, you can do some pre-planning as to where you will need them to be when you rack and fill them in place. Or you could invest in a small, relatively inexpensive winch lift.
We you've got the yes's and the no's. now here is a great reason for yes. You have them available to you right now. they are cheap to you, it allows you to save for the more expensive glass carboys, and when you do get the glass you will have the plastic as a backup. even if you prefer not to us them, I think it is still a good idea to have them, because you never know. But that is just my opinion
This entire discussions still worries me, I'd hate to get sick or adversley screw up my wine. But my first 2 batches I used a plastic jug for the primary, and they both went into the secondary (glass containers within 2 week) so only time will tell. I at this point am willing to take my chances witrh the water cooler jug, only for juice, something with whole fruit simply wouldn't work, couldn't push down the cap. For right now all I have is 2 cooler jugs to use as my primaries, at least until someone proves to me they have grown a third ear because they used plastic.
I would go as far as saying the 99% of the good people here use plastic primary. I do. Primary is not the worry. What they are advising is the use of plastic carboys for long term and bulk aging. if you are really worried, the best thing would be to call the people that make the bottles and ask them what the effect long term exposure of alcohol up to 15% ABV (20% on the safe side) would do;)
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I have a 3 gallon water bottle that I am using for the first time:confused:, so I will find out in another 6 months if it works. The owner of the store I bought it from said he has sold many of these without any problems. I did have to buy a different bung from him so it would fit (He called it a universal bung). Another reason I went with this (besides cost) is that it is food grade plastic (so your wine shouldn't absorb any off flavors). Unfortunaltly I will have to see in 3 to 6 months:D
I'll be waiting with you Moose, just mixed a new batch tonight in my blue "#7" water cooler jug. Still apprehensive on anything long term in one, but feel pretty safe for the primary. This will be a topic for discussion for years to come, well at least for the next 6 mos or so.LOL
take Care