Storing Barrels with Tap Water

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Sep 3, 2020
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Hi all,

TL;DR, what do you think about storing barrels with the citric acid and K-meta but using municipal tap water. Any experiences?

Long version:

I just got ahold of some nice 59G neutral oak. They look like they are in good condition, I **believe** they were gassed and I didn't notice anything funky about them. However, we won't be making wine until harvest in Sept/Oct. I know there are two basic barrel storage techniques, dry and wet. I would really prefer wet storage because then I wouldn't have to swell them again come October. However, I can only store them using municipal water (Western NY, Buffalo area). Through a funky logistical constraint, if I do dry store them, I can swell them with water that has gone through a water softener* but I can't use that water if I am going to store them wet. My main concern of course is TCA from chlorine in the water. Does anyone have experience wet-storing barrels with municipal tap water?

* The water-softener model is Kenmore Ultra Soft 800. I thought that water softeners removed chlorine but now I see that they don't necessarily and I cannot find any info on this model. I did clean and swell barrels last year with the water that went through the softener with no problems at all.

Also I am now reading that Chlorine evaporates and since barrels are not air tight, maybe there's a chance that by the time the barrels are ready for use, the chlorine would have evaporated.

Probably overthinking this one but interested in thoughts and opinions.
I had to look up TCA since I was not aware of it before reading your post. I’m not sure if this will help but you can quickly decholrinate water by exposing to sunlight. From what I’ve read the rate that this happens is proportional to the surface area so water in a narrow neck bottle for instance would take much more time than water in a bucket. Ambient temperature also plays a role, the warmer the quicker it happens.
I reconstitute all my kits with municipal water that I dechlorinate in the sunlight for what it’s worth.
You could also get an RO/DI system for your house. They aren’t too expensive to buy and if you have any plumbing skills fairly easy to install.
Thank you. This is indeed helpful. I'm not sure I'll be able to expose 240 gallons to sunlight, but the fact that "not using municipal water" is not so set in stone is helpful to know.

Since I'll be draining all of the municipal water before it touches wine, the amount of remaining chlorine must be trace, and I can't imagine it being more than the trace amount in sunlight dechlorinated water... but ya never know.
I wanted to point out when I mentioned "an RO/DI system for your house" I poorly worded that. I was referring to a unit that is marketed to salt water aquarium owners not a whole house unit. Some, perhaps many home brewers use them to strip their water then add minerals to recreate a specific water profile for a specific beer. You could fill a barrel a day up with something like this
Thanks for the reference. Those look just like the ones for my espresso machine!

I'll look into this. Would be great if there was a high volume one but beggars can't be choosers at this point.
Thanks for the reference. Those look just like the ones for my espresso machine!

I'll look into this. Would be great if there was a high volume one but beggars can't be choosers at this point.

Waterdrop RO systems are super compact and make 800 gallons per day. My brother has one and it's legit. I've used these small systems for years and most are 25 to 50 gpd max. 800 is crazy and it actually does it. They are more expensive than most systems but the output is unreal.
You can decholrinate water by adding 1 tsp of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to 1 gallon of water. One tsp of ascorbic acid weighs 4 grams.


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@mikewatkins727 To further showcase my lack of knowledge of chemistry, do you know if the same holds true for citric acid? Since the holding solution has citric acid, if it does indeed neutralize, I think I found my answer.
I used muni water to to sanitize my 4 Vadai barrels for a month without any issues. If you really want to add an extra safety step just fill enough 5G buckets with muni water and let them sit overnight. The chlorine (gas) will off gas/evaporate overnight then mix up your sanitizing solution as per directions.
Thanks everyone for your replies. I'm getting the notion that between evaporation, acid, k meta, and more importantly, everyone's experience, I think muni water with a holding solution will be the way to go.
Ascorbic acid is a very sharp acid, it will affect the flavor unless enough of it binds with the chlorine.
My approach to this was you wanted to store the barrels wet and not make wine with the water. In my research on this subject I found varying amounts of ascorbic acid used to dechlorinate. In my particular situation I was filltering chlorinated water (8 drops per gallon) and then treating it (each gallon) with 50 mg of ascorbic acid. The end result was water with no taste of chlorine or ascorbic acid.

FYI: Trying to measure 50 mg you will either go blind or bald. Maybe both.
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