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About Safety

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Miriam

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To depart from the photos section, where a thread on safety developed:

The carboys I get come with plastic wicker baskets that have handles built in. I keep the carboys in them at all times, even in the sink when I'm washing/sanitizing. Like Oskaar, I always work wearing rubber gloves for better grip. I confess I hadn't thought of safety, but have been avoiding expensive breakage (they can slip right through my carpal-tunnely hands).

Every manual job has safety issues. To make soap, I just about put on armor: vapor-proof white mask covers nose and mouth, either safety goggles or full, clear mask to protect eyes, gloves, big PVC apron, closed shoes. Not fun to wear all that when it's hot, and soapmaking is energetic, hot work anyway - but there are enough true stories of lye burns among soapers that I won't take risks. And I only soap when no-one else is around except my trained assistant. God forbid that anyone ignorant should get into the lye or new, caustic soap. Let everyone enjoy the soap when it's cured and mild; that's good enough.

The obvious thing to me was to avoid inhaling sulfite fumes. When I mix up a new batch of pot meta solution, I usually wear one of my vapor-proof masks. The other reason I wear gloves when sanitizing is to protect my skin. That stuff is fierce. Those things come naturally to me after years of making soap. But I had not thought of dangers involved in shattered carboys.

What other safety issues are there in brewing? For example, we've had threads on the possible toxicity of herbal ingredients. That sets up a question in my mind: is it possible to make, by neglect or mistake, a truly toxic wine/mead? I'm thinking of bacterial infection here.

It might be useful to set up brewing safety guidelines. I've never seen much mentioned in books (except about sulfite fumes), nor online. In contrast, every soapmaking book, manual, or online site has clear explanations about safety.

If people contribute ideas, I'd be willing to edit the material and post it here - or maybe Vicky, in her abundant spare time ::) could keep it as a separate page?

Miriam
 

JamesP

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Boiling water causing scolding & burns - if brewing/cooking/sanitising something.

The possibility of Alcohol fires/ burns if using Vodka near a gas flame (for mulled wine, or ?? - this is stretching it a bit)
 

Miriam

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No, that's not a stretch, James. It can't hurt to be reminded of sensible precautions. Sometimes people forget them, especially if doing things in a hurry.

Miriam
 

Dan McFeeley

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Miriam said:
. . . . What other safety issues are there in brewing? For example, we've had threads on the possible toxicity of herbal ingredients. That sets up a question in my mind: is it possible to make, by neglect or mistake, a truly toxic wine/mead? I'm thinking of bacterial infection here.
There is a version of the PDR (Physician's Desk Reference) for herbs. I think there is a Mosby nursing text as well.

Just took a quick google look -- here's a URL for the PDR for herbal medicene:

http://www.worldimage.com/books/pdrforherbalmedicines.html

Mosby's Handbook of Herbs and Natural Supplements is at:

http://www.intl.elsevierhealth.com/catalogue/title.cfm?ISBN=0323025358

The advantage of the Mosby's over the PDR is cost, simplicity and more emphasis on clinical application. The PDR is more expensive, but should have much more detail.
 

Miriam

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I have to take back some of what I said: Ken Schramm's book has safety cautions alongside the instructions.

All the same, a concise set of safety guidelines would be a useful thing.

Dan's post reminds me of the best online herb site: Henriette Kress's Herbal Homepage. This link will take you to discussion on most commonly used herbs:
http://www.ibiblio.org/herbmed/faqs/medi-cont.html

Miriam
 

Dan McFeeley

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Thanks for the link Miriam -- gotta go walk the dogs but I'll check it later when I get back.

Just remembered, Cindy Renfrow's book, "A Sip Through Time" has some warnings about various herbs used in old recipes. A caveat lector, Cindy isn't a medical professional, but, none the less, it's good to give her warnings a good look over.

This is a great book, a compilation of over 400 old recipes for various fermented brews. It's also got all the Digby recipes for mead. Check it out here:

http://www.thousandeggs.com/sip.html

Amazon.com link is here:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0962859834/002-6698570-7070427?v=glance
 

Lagerman64

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Thanks Dan, I'm going to buy them. Sacred Herbal and Healing Beers is also a great book, I found it quite inspirational. Like ancient mead making, I gotta find a wild hive to throw into the brew pot ;)
 

jab

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Miriam said:
It might be useful to set up brewing safety guidelines. I've never seen much mentioned in books (except about sulfite fumes), nor online. In contrast, every soapmaking book, manual, or online site has clear explanations about safety.

If people contribute ideas, I'd be willing to edit the material and post it here - or maybe Vicky, in her abundant spare time ::) could keep it as a separate page?
Or better yet, you could send the material to Oskaar or myself for the much anticipated IMA Homebrewers newsletter.
 

Miriam

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I'm happy to do that, but would like to first get more suggestions and responses here (can't think of everything ;)). The main concerns so far have been:

1. Glass breakage
2. Inhaling sulfites
3. Moving pots full of hot water and hot must
4. Alcohol fires (by the way, there is a system for making liquid soap at home which calls for alcohol, and cautions about this danger abound in the soaping literature)
5. Plant toxicity

Anything else, people?

Miriam
 

JamesP

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A general category of "working with knives, blenders, etc" (ie the common sense stuff to avoid reducing your finger count :eek:)

Extend "glass breakage" to include dealing with "bottle bombs".
 

Miriam

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James,

Yes, good contribution. I'll start writing in the next few days - only waiting to hear if anyone else suggests something which has been overlooked.

Miriam
 

pain

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You write it, Miriam, and I will surely post it. I think this is a great topic. I'm thinking a page (or pages) in the 'making mead' section.

Thanks for the topic, and for taking the time to write it, dear.

Vicky
 

Miriam

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*blush*...you're very welcome, Vicky. Now I really do have to sit down and write it. :)

Last call for suggestions! I'll wait till July 6th for any new suggestions, then submit to Vicky on the 7th - Lord willing and the creek don't rise sort of thing.

Miriam
 

Dmntd

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Safe handling of carboy's & demi-john's, empty / full. The friend who got my started making mead warned that the carboy handles are fine for carrying empty caboy's, but he has had a couple of them break picking up a carboy full of must or mead.

Anthony
 

Miriam

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Anthony,

Are you thinking of those red handles that are put on separately? My carboy covers must be old-fashioned, but they're very strong. I haven't seen many photos of them posted around the lists I'm on. Let's see if I can find a photo on the Net. OK, here:

http://www.ambrosiasw.com/~andrew/carboy.jpg

They are strong enough for any amount of shlepping around, at least at the weights I can deal with. Now I don't use carboys over 2 gallons as it's too hard for me physically, so I don't have experience moving really heavy carboys. I should think though that in brewing larger quantities, it's best to pitch the yeast into carboys that are set in place for the first racking, to minimize moving them around too much when they're full. As for washing and sanitizing, I don't even guess. In he bathtb?

Miriam
 

lostnbronx

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Miriam,

Great idea for a topic (I've been out of town for the last few days, so I'm just catching up now)!

One thing that people must always guard against is the possibility of "bottle bombs", that is, an uncontrolled carbonation forming in the mead after bottling. Flying glass is no joke.

Another thought is a mention about safe use of beer belts and other small heating pads, which require electricity. The same goes for any other electrical appliance people often use (pumps, filters, etc.).

-David
 

Mynx

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One I run into alot.

Cats (or babies or dogs or budgies or ferrets ...well, you get the idea) being underfoot while your moving stuff. I try to lock my cats in the bedroom now, before I shift things around, as I tend to trip on them anyhow, let alone when I have 5 gallons of mead or beer in my arms.
 

Miriam

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David,

The only time brew on which I've used electric heating things was a batch of hard lemonade. So what are the hazards? Not letting heaters get wet while plugged in...anything else? My imagination isn't stretching very far today.

Mynx,

that's a good point. Nothing worse than finding your feet mixed up with a pet (or toddler) that snuck up to you unnoticed. Unless it's doing a sudden garden-hose tango. ;D

Now I'd like to know how the less-than-muscular or people with back problems deal with heavy carboys. (Mynx, your trolley idea is admirable - I have a simple trolley for moving heavy soap molds around myself, but had never thought of wheeling a carboy around on it. I will now.)

I look forward to brewing all the years remaining to me, and would hate to have to say that I can't do it anymore because it's too hard to lift the carboys. So I have a vested interest in your answers, folks :D.

Miriam
 

lostnbronx

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Miriam said:
David,

The only time brew on which I've used electric heating things was a batch of hard lemonade. So what are the hazards? Not letting heaters get wet while plugged in...anything else? My imagination isn't stretching very far today.
Miriam,

The water/electrical issue is the one I was thinking of, though lots of fires have gotten started from faulty heating pads, or people plugging them in to already-overloaded circuits. Just common sense stuff, I guess -- nothing specific to mead making.

-David
 
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