Airlock Tips & Tricks

During fermentation airlocks typically remain sanitary due to the volume of CO2 passing through the device.  However, once fermentation declines or stops, contamination of the liquid is possible.  Additionally, temperature changes within a carboy (or human-error) can cause your airlock liquid to be sucked into the carboy and contaminate your wine.  Here’s some solutions:

1.         Potassium Metabisulfite

Pros: inexpensive, effective, will release SO2 into the water and keep the solution sanitary for several weeks, has many winemaking uses, if sucked through airlock only potassium enters wine (harmless, flavorless)

Cons: will eventually lose effectiveness as SO2 diminishes, water evaporates leaving airlock dry

2.         Glycerin

Pros: inexpensive, practically inert and sanitary, will not evaporate like water or alcohol nor lose effectiveness over time like sulfites, thickness makes it difficult to suck through airlock, neutral sweet taste if it touches wine

Cons: very thick consistency makes it difficult to work with

3.         Vodka

Pros: inexpensive, readily available, keeps airlock sanitized, typically not an issue if sucked into carboy

Cons: evaporates the most quickly of the three, can be difficult to keep supply on hand (!), could be hard on your airlock

4.         Sodium Metabisulfite

Pros: similar in effectiveness to Potassium Metabisulfite

Cons: if sucked into wine the sodium will remain - which will impact the flavor of your wine

We recommend Potassium Metabsulfite, which has multiple winemaking uses beyond your airlock.  It can be used in solution to sterilize equipment safely or added to wine as a stabilizer/antioxidant.

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