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Primaries

Posted by Ron Goodhew, February 7th, 2011 | 0 Comments

Ask the Vintner about Primaries  

With all the news about the toxins in plastic it is good to be informed.  We have had a lot of customers asking about our primaries.   Plastics 2, 4, 5 are safer; 1, 3, 6, 7 should be avoided.  If your primary has no code it should be avoided. 

Recent plastic tests reveal that garbage pails and standard food grade (grade 1) plastic primaries may leach chemicals when fermenting wine and beer.  These toxic chemicals become even more soluble in alcohol. 

When fermenting wine and beer the pigments, UV protectants, plasticisers (chemical used to keep the plastic from becoming brittle) and polymers may leach into your wine / beer and could affect your health.  During primary fermentation the use of the wrong primary can leach bisphenol-A otherwise known as BPA which is widely recognized as a carcinogen (endocrine disruptor causing cancer).  Wine, beer and mead are fairly acidic liquids and they tend to leach out materials (such as BPA) from plastic.  Using an old ungraded primary or saving a few dollars by using suspect equipment is not worth it! 

The older and more reused plastics will leach more chemicals out over time.  At home, "the more a plastic is put through the dishwasher the more chemicals that will leach out" (quoted from CBC).  If you are starting to develop scratches in your primary, then it's time to think about replacing it.  Even microscopic scratches can harbor bacteria that will ruin your wine.  Scratched primaries are hard to sterilize, and poor sterilization compromises your wine. 

We carry the highest caliber primaries available on the market (grade 5).  Our primaries are state of the art; at 30 litres they allow just the right amount of space for the best circulation and aromatics during primary fermentation.  The lid clicks on sealing the wine or beer protecting it from those nasty fruit flies (just one fruit fly can ruin a batch of wine/beer).  On the outside of the primary is a scale from 0 – 30 litres plus an external thermometer.  With the use of a bung and water filled air lock the product is sealed and the CO2 is allowed to escape.  

From the studies that we have seen we recommend a separate primary for beer and for wine making as the taste of the wine and beer can remain in the plastic.  Always use Italian glass carboys for both wine and beer.

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