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Barrel steaming protocol

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NCWC

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Does anyone have a Barrel steaming protocol?

I own a dry cleaner and have plenty of steam to clean my barrels.

What I have been doing is rinsing with a spray ball, then 40psi (250F) for 30 min drain, put in the bung for a while, then pull the bung woosh! Rinse again, drain dry, then sulfur stick.

Does anyone know if there is hope for barrels that smell like vinegar?
 

jgmillr1

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Does anyone know if there is hope for barrels that smell like vinegar?
I think the short answer to your question is 'no'.

Your barrel steaming procedure is pretty close to autoclaving it! Good job.

I see two issues that are difficult to manage. First is the likely presence of acetobacter and other spoilage organisms deep in the wood grain. These are impossible to remove but potentially could be killed it the entire barrel is heated sufficiently and for long enough. Your steaming may work but it would need to thoroughly penetrate the wood with heat.

The second issue is the removal of the acetic acid soaked into the wood. Perhaps a caustic cleaner such as sodium carbonate (soda ash) as a mild cleaner or sodium hydroxide as a stronger cleaner. Again, sufficient time is needed to penetrate the wood.

Or, you could recondition the barrel by disassembling it and planing down the inside wood. You'd have to retoast it though. This is what gives many barrels new life for use in the sub-premium wine market.

Or you could just buy a new barrel. :h
 

NCWC

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Yes I thought this but I'd hate to put some great wine in it and worry about it
Thanks
But moving forward the barrels we did with the steam came out great. Now just looking for a way to clean the outside with out using a power washer right now
 

jgmillr1

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I clean the outside of my barrels with a sodium hydroxide solution and a scrub brush. I rinse and spritz it with a citric/meta solution to neutralize the caustic. They clean up nicely
 

Ignoble Grape

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I'd love to use barrels. A couple of issues for me: 1) I don't make enough of 1 wine, 2) no way to clean effectively with my average garden variety garden hose, 3) termites in the garage. Sigh... for now it's cubes and chips.
 
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