Glass vs. Plastic Carboys

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Rocky

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I know that this debate has gone on for many years and people have strong opinions on which is best for carboys, glass or plastic. The pros and cons of the two choices seem to reduce to:

Glass: Heavier and harder to manipulate in use, easier to clean and assure good sanitation, more expensive than plastic, more readily breakable, shatters rather than leaks when they fail.

Plastic: lighter in weight and easier to manipulate, less expensive, less breakable but softer surface and more porous therefore more subject to contamination.

To me, this last point (more porous, softer surface => spoiled wine) trumps all the advantages of plastic. I do have a number of plastic carboys, some I purchased new, and some used. My point in this thread is, firstly, to be very careful when buying used plastic carboys which may be scratched on the inside, and possibly harboring substances that could ruin your wine and secondly, to take extreme care when cleaning plastic carboys that you buy new.

I have been burned twice by contamination on the inside of used plastic carboys, which I chose to trash rather than use. Just a thought.
 
I have been burned twice by contamination on the inside of used plastic carboys, which I chose to trash rather than use. Just a thought.
That is the key point for me. There are methods of handling glass (pumps and lifts come to mind) and losing even a gallon of wine to contamination is too much for me.
 
Rocky said:
I have been burned twice by contamination on the inside of used plastic carboys, which I chose to trash rather than use. Just a thought.

To be clear, I did not lose any wine. I saw the problem on the inside of the carboys and could not clean it, so I trashed the carboys.

I am wondering, though, if I made up a solution of Star San and sloshed it around in the carboys, would that take care of any contamination?

My point is, I will no longer buy used plastic carboys and I advise my friends on the Forum not to buy them either.
 
Rocky said:
I have been burned twice by contamination on the inside of used plastic carboys, which I chose to trash rather than use. Just a thought.

To be clear, I did not lose any wine. I saw the problem on the inside of the carboys and could not clean it, so I trashed the carboys.

I am wondering, though, if I made up a solution of Star San and sloshed it around in the carboys, would that take care of any contamination?

My point is, I will no longer buy used plastic carboys and I advise my friends on the Forum not to buy them either.
I've been using plastic carboys for 10 years with no issues at all. I wash them right sifter they're emptied.
 
I've been using plastic carboys for 10 years with no issues at all. I wash them right sifter they're emptied.
I agree Brian. When I buy them new and care for them myself, I have no issues. Frankly, I don't understand how some of the used ones I have seen got so scratched up on the inside. I rinse mine out immediately with hot water, add a detergent (like "Dawn Dish Soap"), insert a small wash rag into the carboy which has about a gallon of liquid in it and then agitate it by shaking it for about a minute. I rinse with hot water and put it on the drying rack. Never had an issue with ones I have owned from the start. It is the used ones that have given be issues.
 
Has anyone used the plastic water bottles that Wally World sells? I saw they have 1, 3, 5 gallon, etc. Price is really good.
What is the food grade marking?

Many moons ago a customer brought in a sample that he had bulk aged in some type of plastic container. The wine tasted just like plastic smells, and there's no fixing it. For that reason I'm very cautious of using any plastic not designed for wine (acidic, alcoholic), unless someone can report long experience with an item.

I know people do it successfully, but I'm just not comfortable with the idea of aging wine for 3-12 months in plastic.
 
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I had a 3- or 4-gallon water bottle and I know I got it at Sam's Club years ago. They are food safe, but the problem is outgassing. This dissipates over time, so I left the bottle in my wine are for about 6 months, uncovered and empty. At that point, the outgassing was complete and there was no issue. Still, I only used the bottle for very short-term, interim storage, never for long term aging.
 
I know that this debate has gone on for many years and people have strong opinions on which is best for carboys, glass or plastic. The pros and cons of the two choices seem to reduce to:

Glass: Heavier and harder to manipulate in use, easier to clean and assure good sanitation, more expensive than plastic, more readily breakable, shatters rather than leaks when they fail.

Plastic: lighter in weight and easier to manipulate, less expensive, less breakable but softer surface and more porous therefore more subject to contamination.

To me, this last point (more porous, softer surface => spoiled wine) trumps all the advantages of plastic. I do have a number of plastic carboys, some I purchased new, and some used. My point in this thread is, firstly, to be very careful when buying used plastic carboys which may be scratched on the inside, and possibly harboring substances that could ruin your wine and secondly, to take extreme care when cleaning plastic carboys that you buy new.

I have been burned twice by contamination on the inside of used plastic carboys, which I chose to trash rather than use. Just a thought.
There is a history and detailed content of glass: everything need to know.
 
OK, just my take on this,

I use a speidel fermenter, they are plastic. The must is usually fermented and out of there in 2 weeks and transfered to a plastic carboy. I buy my plastics new and care for them myself, clean them normally within an I our of them being emptied. A second racking goes into plastic, usually 2 weeks to a month after first rack to leave behind natural settling. The third rack is into glass, but before that rack I use finnings. I try to never be in single plastic for over one month. The bulk aging is always in glass and that can be 6 months to a year.
I am a bit anal about cleaning right away and then sanitizing, I also will throw out any plastic with scratches. Aging in glass has never bit me but I have had problems aging in plastic with a plastic taste. Using plastics to ferment has never bit me if I am up on my cleaning and sanitizing. That said, the reason for using plastics is for weight savings. In the end it probably cost more as it seems I toss quite a few plastics carboys each year. As temperatures are raising, I was just looking over supplies as I like to be making quite a few batches of 🍷 in the spring. Once again I am debating the plastic VS glass question.
 
I use Better Bottles for bulk aging, but I only bulk age in plastic for 3 -4 months. You can't get new BB anymore and the other carboy shaped ones don't seem sturdy. I have not owned a Fermonster so I don't know how they are, but the price is good. I started using BB on advice from George at Fine Vine Wines, but he told me they were only good for 3 - 4 months, so that became my basis. I have glass 6.5gal for my kill jugs, so no worries about scratching for the agitator. Secondary settling is in 6 gal glass as that was what I had, then added BB for bulk.
 
I use Speidels -- 30L for fermenting and 20L for bulk aging. Love em!

Cheers!
 
Has anyone used the plastic water bottles that Wally World sells? I saw they have 1, 3, 5 gallon, etc. Price is really good.

View attachment 90815
I have used similar ones from Culligan. My only caveat is to not grab the bottle by the neck with one hand and the other hand underneath. I lost a batch of skeeterpee when the Bottle broke about 1/3 of the way down. Messy! Use one hand underneath and the other around the body. Not as handy but much safer.
 
I have used similar ones from Culligan. My only caveat is to not grab the bottle by the neck with one hand and the other hand underneath. I lost a batch of skeeterpee when the Bottle broke about 1/3 of the way down. Messy! Use one hand underneath and the other around the body. Not as handy but much safer.
Good point, and it also applies to glass carboys. I know of a couple of people who snapped the neck of a 19 liter carboy off when using a "carboy handle". When picking up a carboy, I do exactly what you do -- one arm beneath to lift and the other cradles it to my chest, although I mostly use a pump so I'm not lifting full ones.

For everyone -- never lift with your back, use your legs. Mrs. WM81 is a physical therapist assistant, and if she caught me lifting with my back, she'd ream me out. And rightfully so -- she treats far too many people who used bad mechanics and messed up their bodies.

This concludes today's public service message! ;)
 
Good point, and it also applies to glass carboys. I know of a couple of people who snapped the neck of a 19 liter carboy off when using a "carboy handle". When picking up a carboy, I do exactly what you do -- one arm beneath to lift and the other cradles it to my chest, although I mostly use a pump so I'm not lifting full ones.

For everyone -- never lift with your back, use your legs. Mrs. WM81 is a physical therapist assistant, and if she caught me lifting with my back, she'd ream me out. And rightfully so -- she treats far too many people who used bad mechanics and messed up their bodies.

This concludes today's public service message! ;)

I'm afraid of lifting full glass carboys, so I place them in milk crates and lift the with handles. Haven't dropped one yet, but am prepared to just let go and jump away from it if they start to fall.

Would rather clean up 6 gallons of wine than 6 pints of my blood.
 
I'm afraid of lifting full glass carboys, so I place them in milk crates and lift the with handles.
I use demijohns, up to 30 L, which come with their own basket. Which have handles. Completely understand your issues and fear of breakage and handling issues. 😀

Would rather clean up 6 gallons of wine than 6 pints of my blood.
Well said. 😀😎😍
 
I use demijohns, up to 30 L, which come with their own basket. Which have handles. Completely understand your issues and fear of breakage and handling issues. 😀
I have a 25 and 54 liter, both with baskets. I don't trust the plastic baskets, so I use a pump.

A few years ago my son and I picked up the 54 liter when full. It's not too heavy for 2 of use, but it's slippery and we nearly dropped it. In hindsight that was the most boneheaded move I've made in 4 decades of winemaking.

As I'm fond of saying, Good judgment comes from Experience, and Experience comes from Bad judgment. I'm happy that situation wasn't Really Bad judgment. Learning from the mistakes of others is a lot less painful than doing it yourself .... ;)
 
Due to physical space constraints (I should have designed the house around the hobby I hadn't started yet darnit!), I will need to move carboys from storage to where I can work, thankfully on the same floor. I will either need to get a carboy carrying strap to lift them into a cart, or come up with some other method. Maybe in a few years I can build a shop/winery.
 

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