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5 gallon fermenters

Scott Ickes

Grandmaster Brewer
Aug 3, 2013
Reaction score
Vancouver, WA
Is there any reason that a person can't use a 5 gallon water bottle from a water cooler as a plastic carboy?  They're $11.99 at Lowe's with water in them.  At my home brew store a 5 gallon plastic carboy is $22.99.  Seems like a no brainer to me, unless I'm missing something.
I thought I read somewhere that they may be the wrong kind of plastic, and may contribute to moobs.  If you google that number stamp on plastic containers it will tell you if its food safe.  Either way it may net you a smaller batch size .
I never even considered food safe, because they come with drinking water in them.  I would think that they have to be food safe.
Yes you would think so.  Its just what I heard, not what I know.  I used them for mead primarys a while back and I am still here, sometimes.  I think theres something too about oxygen permeability, short term not really any issue I would guess.
Scott, I checked my work bottles this morning.  They are a Delta 7. and found this.

•All of the plastic resins that don’t fit into the other categories are placed in the number 7 category. It’s a mix bag of plastics that includes polycarbonate, which contains the toxic bisphenol-A (BPA). These plastics should be avoided due to possibly containing hormone disruptors like BPA, which has been linked to infertility, hyperactivity, reproductive problems, and other health issues.
•Plastic #7 is found in sunglasses, iPod cases, computer cases, nylon, 3- and 5-gallon water bottles, and bullet-proof materials.
•It is recycled into plastic lumber and other custom-made products.

The Bottom Line: Which Recycling Numbers to Avoid, Which are ‘Safest’

In the end, it’s really best to avoid using all plastics if you’re able. But at the very least:
•Avoid recycling symbols 3, 6, and 7. While Number 1 is considered safe, it is also best to avoid this plastic.
•Look for symbols 2, 4, and 5, as these plastics are considered to be safest. These are the plastics to look for in terms of human and animal consumption.