Primary fermentation no airlock

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Aug 24, 2009
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I have read a bit and it seems some people like to loosely cover the primary fermentation(~4-7 days) instead of covering the buckets and applying an airlock.

What would you all suggest? Is there enough oxygen in the covered method to let the yeast work?

I think a compromise could work as well. Go a day without the cover and use a cloth then put the cover on there with airlock.

either way is fine its actually up to your preference

either just cover it with a cloth or loose fit the top
airlock it and stir it up good once a day

i keep mine sealed up and stir it everyday and havent had any problems so far
The kit wines I make (and concentrate wines) go under an airlock right away, and I don't open it until the 4th or 5th day to check the SG. The fruit wines I make are loosely covered, and I stir them everyday.

As long as you have active fermentation, you'll be OK keeping it loosely covered, when that slows down, you want to rack it and put it under an airlock, to keep it's exposure to air to a minimum.

The idea of a loose lid on the primary is to let more oxygen in. In the early stages the yeasties need more air to multiply. Alot of us do it that way. But under airlock is OK, just make sure your yeast is active by making a starter.
The idea of a loose lid on the primary is to let more oxygen in. In the early stages the yeasties need more air to multiply. Alot of us do it that way.

x2. i like to leave it open and let it percilate some. i think it might be helpful in extraction of flavor. i like more full bodied wines.
I use my drill and Mix Stir device to mix up my juice when I make a kit. That add plenty of O2 so I just snap down the lid. If I do an all juice kit I normally pour it in the bucket and splash it some. That adds plenty of O2 as well. Sometimes I just sit the lid on the bucket with an air lock in the hole to keep critters out. It really doesn't matter which way you do it.
Most kits are concentrated juice that you add some water to. They contain 7 to 16 liters of juice that you add water to 23 liters total volume. All Juice kits are 100% juice that you add no water to. It is 23 liters of pure juice. Other than that, you basically make them the same way. Each brand seems to have different direction steps though. They all work pretty well though. I prefer the Mosti Modiale all juice kits myself. I have made many fine WIne Expert concentrate kits though.
I always use the lid and an airlock but also get pretty involved with my wines by punching down the cap at least 2 times a day and I do open and break the surface even when there is no fruit. I dont stir but bring the sppon to the bottom and pull back up about every other day to get better complexity.
Most times I cover my primary with a cheesecloth.
My worst fear is a must that foams excessively.

A foaming must can clog up the airlock and make a mess.

So when covering with a lid and airlock use a primary with LOTS of airspace above it.

Besides that there is no real advantage in both methods.

You will mostly have splashed your must around a lot when preparing it so it will contain a lot of oxygen anyway.
Juices are splash poured into a primary, sulphite is stirred in, pectic enzymes are stirred in, sugar is dissolved by stirring etc etc etc all these actions introduce oxygen into the must.

At this moment I actually am doing a few test batches for my web-log in which one batch is fermented open (in a bucket) and another is fermented from the start in a closed (with airlock) environment. There is a lot to be learned from this......
I will let you know the results in a few weeks.

I'm with you Luc,
I would rather be safe than sorry when I get a blow off. I hate to clean the mess out of a rug.
Luc is correct in my opinion also
but if like me you have a 5 gallon primary and a 3 gallon secondary with all that head space in the primary if it ever foamed that much id wonder what was up LOL

looking forward to reading that experiment on your blog also Luc