Airlocks work as one-way valves. The devices help to catch and dispose of the gasses that occur when fermenting homemade wine. They also prevent outside air from entering and contaminating the wine. They are essential yet simple tools, although determining exactly when to plug one into a fermentation bottle is part of the trial and error challenge of home wine making. Airlocks come in two basic shapes. Each design was retailing from 75 cents to about £1.30 in 2011.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Hot water
Cover your brew with a clean towel during the initial fermentation process. Wait at least 48 hours after putting the wine into the fermenting vessel to insert an airlock. During the first phase of fermentation, known as primary fermentation, your juice is better exposed partially to the air because there is more gas being produced than an airlock can process.
Choose your airlock. There are two basic shapes, the Senior Air Lock and the Triple Bubbler, which accomplish the same basic goal to vent gasses and block outside air. The Senior Air Lock has a cylinder shape and the Triple Bubbler looks more like a coiled tube.
Clean the airlock by soaking it in hot water. Take it apart and soak everything individually if it disassembles. The same temperature you usually use to do dishes is adequate, but beware of using detergents as they may affect the taste of your wine.
Reassemble the components, if necessary, and fill the airlock halfway with sterile or filtered water.
Place a rubber washer or a bung (a rubber cork specifically designed to hold an airlock in place) at the top of the fermenting container. Bungs can be found for about 50 cents apiece at wine making supply stores.
Insert the airlock so that the narrow end fits tightly in the bung. The idea is to catch the fermentation gasses and lead them out, not for them to just simply escape.
Let the wine ferment. Check periodically to see whether the water has evaporated. Fill as needed.
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