Does the type of airlock really matter?

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skyfire322

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The beginners kit that I bought came with two of the 'S' shaped air locks. While I was browsing the local brew store, I found the three-piece ones for $.35 a piece, so I picked up a few.

Obviously they both do the same job, and one is easier to clean than the other, but besides that are there any huge differences? The three-piece does have a larger cap and holds more water so I assume that might be better for primary but I could be completely wrong.
 

Ron0126

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I asked the same question at my LHBS and was told that the 3 piece was better suited to for primary fermentation with beer since it allows a lot more CO2 to escape without blowing everything out. Since I don't airlock my primaries (I use a dish towel), I just use the S type. I was told that the S type doesn't handle massive bubbling as well so it's better for use in a secondary.

But I'm new so take everything I say with a grain of salt!:a
 

sour_grapes

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Yeah, you don't really need an airlock on primary. Most of us just put a lid loosely on top of the bucket, or cover with a dishtowel, just to keep bugs and dirt out.

I think you are correct: there is not a lot of functional difference between them.
 

Rocky

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I have seen advantages and disadvantages to both designs. The s-type is harder to clean but holds its solution longer due to less surface exposure to air. The 3-piece seems to lose its solution faster but is much easier to clean and dry. That being said, I prefer the s-type but this is only a personal preference.
 

drainsurgeon

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I like the S traps because you can really tell if the ferment is done or still active. It's almost like a manometer with the pressure pushing the liquid up and down in the trap. When the water level equalizes on both sides and the water seek's a level mark, the ferment is done. You simply can't do that with the 3 piece traps.
 

gratus_fermentatio

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They perform the same function & it's mostly personal preference, BUT; if you have significant temperature and/or barometric pressure fluctuations, there can be pressure differences in the carbouy, resulting in "suckback" with the 3 piece airlock. This is when the liquid in the airlock gets sucked into the carbouy. With the S shaped airlock, this cannot happen, as it simply allows the pressure to equalize.
I use S locks exclusively, just to avoid suckback.
Regards, GF.
 

Redbird1

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Yes, the 3 piece can be fitted with tubing and used as a giant blowoff tube for hot and heavy beer fermentation. I prefer the "S" locks for winemaking since the solution doesn't evaporate out nearly as quickly and I don't airlock the primary.
 

BigSell

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Come on experienced Wine Makres, nobody producing quality Wines use airlocks except for the very last stages of primary fermrntation. Loose cover over the primarty until your SG drops to around 1.20, then air lock it, any style. When you go to secondary it's Venting Siilcone bungs, nothing else. If you ever go to Sonoma or Napa that is all you will see even on Barrels.

Get real!

Clark
 

NorCal

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Come on experienced Wine Makres, nobody producing quality Wines use airlocks except for the very last stages of primary fermrntation. Loose cover over the primarty until your SG drops to around 1.20, then air lock it, any style. When you go to secondary it's Venting Siilcone bungs, nothing else. If you ever go to Sonoma or Napa that is all you will see even on Barrels.

Get real!

Clark
I ferment whites cold and under airlock, as do other commercial wineries I know. Reds I open ferment, then silicon, breathable bung on barrels, through mlf.
 

Ambugaton

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In addition to what was already said... S type is easier for cleaning, sanitizing, filling, and seeing bubbles. I don't airlock during primary. Just a loose lid.
 

balatonwine

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Come on experienced Wine Makres, nobody producing quality Wines use airlocks except for the very last stages of primary fermrntation.
Actually, some wine makers, including commercial ones, do airlock early, used closed top containers, or otherwise try to avoid oxygen on the wine during most or all stages of fermentation. It is one part of reductive wine making, a wine making style often used for fresh fruity white wines. This is not to be confused with a reduced wine, which refers to a wine fault.

When you go to secondary it's Venting Siilcone bungs, nothing else. If you ever go to Sonoma or Napa that is all you will see even on Barrels.
I've been to both places (many times). And you will often also see the red wine stains on the barrels. ;)

Most red wines benefit from a more oxidative wine making style. And Napa mostly produced reds and chardonnay (which is a white which also is typically fermented oxidative) for barrel aging. But ask around at the wineries how they ferment their Pinot Gris/Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, and you may get a range of different fermenting styles, and are wines that may never even be placed in barrels to age.
 
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