Author Topic: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?  (Read 1058 times)

Offline beerdoodle

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total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« on: April 27, 2016, 11:41:40 PM »
So, I'm a first time home-brewer. About to brew for the first time here in a couple weeks. Getting stuff ready.

That being said, I bought some of my equipment off of Craigslist. I got a deal. A steal really. Everything I bought seems like it is in awesome condition, with the exception of the primary fermentation 6 gallon bucket.

I recently heard on a podcast, that it's only good to keep a plastic bucket for anywhere from 10 to 20 fermentations, and then it should be replaced. Not like glass carboys where they can be used potentially forever, but replaced after extended use. This was new to me, but it makes sense.

So... about my used craigslist bucket....

It is stained, it does have a smell. Not necessarily a bad smell, but it is not odor free. I was going to use it because when I bought it, I figured it was probably fine. But the more I learn, the more I expect from my equipment.

Is it normal for buckets to get stained, or was this neglect on the previous owner's part? Is it normal for buckets to retain a beer/wort smell? Should I be concerned? Should I think nothing of it? Should I replace it?

Thanks.
Seth

Offline pete b

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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2016, 12:41:23 AM »
Fermentation buckets are pretty cheap, so in doubt buy a new one and use the old one for the countless uses that a Brewer can use a bucket for.
If you have a time crunch or otherwise can't get a new one it's probably OK to clean thoroughly and sanitize as long as it's not scratched up. Using anything abrasive on plastic fermenter is a big no no.
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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2016, 12:45:56 AM »
Buckets will have an alcohol/beer smell to them after fermentation.  This smell will degrade over time provided the lid is kept off and the bucket kept in a well ventilated area.

Buckets will become stained/discolored with use.  This has no adverse effects on future beers.

As long you clean the bucket by soaking it with brewery wash (PBW) and sanitizing it (Starsan or Iodophor) the bucket will be fine for many years to come.

It's best not to use harsh scrubbing pads or anything that will leave scratches in the plastic.  A soft sponge or towel should be all that's necessary to wipe clean the bucket after soaking with brewery wash.

Offline 69franx

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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2016, 12:46:38 AM »
+1k to everything Pete just said
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Offline leejoreilly

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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2016, 12:51:19 PM »
Buckets will have an alcohol/beer smell to them after fermentation.  This smell will degrade over time provided the lid is kept off and the bucket kept in a well ventilated area.

Buckets will become stained/discolored with use.  This has no adverse effects on future beers.

As long you clean the bucket by soaking it with brewery wash (PBW) and sanitizing it (Starsan or Iodophor) the bucket will be fine for many years to come.

It's best not to use harsh scrubbing pads or anything that will leave scratches in the plastic.  A soft sponge or towel should be all that's necessary to wipe clean the bucket after soaking with brewery wash.

I agree with Trent. I also use Mark C's process of putting an ounce of bleach and and ounce of vinegar into a fermenter full of warm water (always put the water in first) and allowing it to soak overnight the evening before brew day. That removes any remaining smell and apparently does a fine job of sanitizing.

Offline theDarkSide

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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2016, 01:01:08 PM »
I still have my original bottling bucket from the beginning over 10 years ago.  I have since re-purposed my original fermenters for equipment storage and a star san bucket.

I do have a bucket still for meads (too hard and too dangerous to degas a mead in a Better Bottle ).  And as long as there are no scratches on it, I will continue to use it.
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Offline pete b

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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2016, 01:58:53 PM »
I still have my original bottling bucket from the beginning over 10 years ago.  I have since re-purposed my original fermenters for equipment storage and a star san bucket.

I do have a bucket still for meads (too hard and too dangerous to degas a mead in a Better Bottle ).  And as long as there are no scratches on it, I will continue to use it.
+1 some of mine are decades old because the most abrasive thing they have encountered are terry cloths. That being said if I got one from a stranger that was stained and smelly, I don't know.
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Offline brewinhard

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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2016, 02:09:26 PM »
If it were me, I would most definitely purchase a new bucket with a lid and feel more confident about my first batch. The whole shebang will cost you less than 15 bucks for peace of mind.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2016, 04:06:18 PM »
I still have and use the first brew bucket I got. I got it in 2009 and it's seen plenty of fermentations. I do regularly clean it and occasionally soak with oxyclean when the color or aroma is particularly strong. No problems with continued use.

That said, I would be less confident using a bucket with a history I didn't know. You don't know what kind of cleaners were used or how scratched the plastic may be. Getting out cleaner residues or thoroughly sanitizing small scratches and risking a batch of beer to find out if you did the trick is not in my opinion worth the $15 to buy a new one. The old bucket can always be put to use for storage or hauling equipment.
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Offline denny

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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2016, 05:13:39 PM »
I've had buckets for so long that I can't remember when I got them....of course, sometimes I don't remember my name, either!  ;)  Seriously, if you take care of them they can last along time.
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Offline brewinhard

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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2016, 06:41:27 PM »
I've had buckets for so long that I can't remember when I got them....of course, sometimes I don't remember my name, either!  ;)  Seriously, if you take care of them they can last along time.

Thank you for your honesty, Roger.  ;)

Offline denny

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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2016, 06:48:11 PM »
I've had buckets for so long that I can't remember when I got them....of course, sometimes I don't remember my name, either!  ;)  Seriously, if you take care of them they can last along time.

Thank you for your honesty, Roger.  ;)

 ;D
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Offline beerdoodle

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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2016, 09:08:48 AM »
Thanks for all the advice. I'll probably keep it for other non fermentation uses. I found a local brew supply shop that I didn't know existed that carries them for about 13 bucks.

Should I replace the lid too? It is not stained and doesn't have an odor, and seems like it's in good shape.

Offline pete b

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Re: total noob question. how long to keep a bucket?
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2016, 01:55:50 PM »
Thanks for all the advice. I'll probably keep it for other non fermentation uses. I found a local brew supply shop that I didn't know existed that carries them for about 13 bucks.

Should I replace the lid too? It is not stained and doesn't have an odor, and seems like it's in good shape.
Unless its the same exact bucket I would get a lid that goes with the new bucket or it likely won't be a snug fit.
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.