Marbles, Are these OK?

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montanarick

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Has anyone actually had their wine tested for trace heavy metals after topping up carboys with marbles? After reading some of the threads here about marbles from China, I've developed a little concern. Couple of years back I purchased some clear (and not so clear) glass marbles from the Dollar Store and used them to top off a carboy of Zinfandel. Totally forgot about the marbles until after two years of bulk aging - now I'm concerned. Anyone have any additional thoughts on this?
 

sour_grapes

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Lead testing kits for, for example, drinking water are not expensive.
 

montanarick

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Yeah, I've been doing a search. These are basically colorametric kits and I've already had one manufacturer tell me that they would not be appropriate with red wine. Do you have a specific one that you've used successfully?
 

sour_grapes

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Yeah, I've been doing a search. These are basically colorametric kits and I've already had one manufacturer tell me that they would not be appropriate with red wine. Do you have a specific one that you've used successfully?
As it turns out, no. I bought a Pb test kit for my water, but have not used it yet. I didn't realize they were colorametric. I just looked at the instructions, and cannot hazard a guess whether it would work or not because the instructions are kinda like a cartoon.
 

montanarick

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As it turns out, no. I bought a Pb test kit for my water, but have not used it yet. I didn't realize they were colorametric. I just looked at the instructions, and cannot hazard a guess whether it would work or not because the instructions are kinda like a cartoon.
Gotcha - thanks. BTW I just heard back from Chemsee.com that their GHM-01 test kit can be used with red wine - sample should be diluted in half first because of color interference.
 

stickman

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Although time consuming, another option might be to run a trial using a model wine solution. Mix vodka and water to 13% ABV then add citric acid to 3.5 pH, add the marbles and store for several months, then run the Pb test on the solution.
 

sremick

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After using marbles once and hearing them hit the bottom of the glass carboy, I've never used them again. Made me too nervous.

Especially since a couple nights ago I had my first carboy spontaneously fail (not the one I used marbles on, this one was new out of the box). Luckily the crack only caused a little seepage so the batch wasn't lost, but the bottom completely popped off when I then went to rinse it out.
 

stickman

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I've heard something similar from a few other people. Was this a locally purchased carboy? MFG country of origin?
 

mainshipfred

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After using marbles once and hearing them hit the bottom of the glass carboy, I've never used them again. Made me too nervous.

Especially since a couple nights ago I had my first carboy spontaneously fail (not the one I used marbles on, this one was new out of the box). Luckily the crack only caused a little seepage so the batch wasn't lost, but the bottom completely popped off when I then went to rinse it out.
I once finished racking a wine and was putting the canes and tubes in the sink to wash when I heard a noise of some kind. After I cleaned the tubes and canes I grabbed the carboy by the neck to wash it and there was no bottom. The only one that broke on me so far.
 

stickman

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If the bottom falls out it has to be defective, I'm assuming these are not the carboys from Mexico or Italy. I have quite a few rather old carboys and many of these have visible defects, dimples, bubbles, and sand, but never has a bottom fallen out, haven't broken a carboy during the 30yrs I've been making wine.......OK now that I said that I'm sure I'll break one soon.
 

sremick

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I've heard something similar from a few other people. Was this a locally purchased carboy? MFG country of origin?
Yeah it was bought local, but apparently nobody offers warranties on their carboys. I checked a couple places.

These apparently are from China. I think I'm going to cycle them all out and replace them with Italian. Too much at stake.
 

mainshipfred

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Hard to tell where mine came from, the vast majority of mine are bought used.
 

cuz

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I have used glass marbles in the past and have 6 carboys sitting with glass marbles in them. I never really thought about lead but my thinking is even if there is lead in the glass marbles they aren't going to decompose or chemically break down in the wine. However, after reading this post now I am a little freaked out. Are there any chemist out there that can tell all of us either not to worry or ditch the marbles idea.
 

montanarick

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I have used glass marbles in the past and have 6 carboys sitting with glass marbles in them. I never really thought about lead but my thinking is even if there is lead in the glass marbles they aren't going to decompose or chemically break down in the wine. However, after reading this post now I am a little freaked out. Are there any chemist out there that can tell all of us either not to worry or ditch the marbles idea.
I had the same concern after leaving a batch of Zin bulk ageing for 26 months on marbles i had purchased from the Dollar Store. So i sent a sample to a test lab for analysis of lead, cadmium and antimony. The results were as follows: Antimony 0.002 mg/l (0.006); Cadmium not detected and Lead 0.013 mg/l (0.015). the numbers in () are limits for drinking water. So while there is some lead in the wine, which may be from natural sources as opposed to the marbles and since all the numbers are below safe drinking water standards (as provided by the lab to me) i feel pretty confident the the wine is okay to drink. I have subsequently purchased more marbles from morewinemaking.com even though the Dollar Store ones are probably okay - your call.
 

cuz

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Rick,

Thanks for the feedback. I would be curious as to what a controlled specimen of the wine would show, in other words a wine with no marbles. In my area of NY (Long Island) we typically don't trust safe drinking water standards. Most of us either drink bottled water or have a water filtering system.
 

montanarick

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Rick,

Thanks for the feedback. I would be curious as to what a controlled specimen of the wine would show, in other words a wine with no marbles. In my area of NY (Long Island) we typically don't trust safe drinking water standards. Most of us either drink bottled water or have a water filtering system.
Unfortunately I have no control to test and this wasn't done as a scientific experiment. Only reason that I tested at all was because my wine had been bulk aging for over two years and I had completely forgotten about the marbles in the carboy until I did the final racking to bottle.
 
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