Can You Make Wine In A Plastic Carboy?

Plastic Carboy 2Hi, I ran out of glass carboys. Can you make wine in a plastic carboy? Like a water bottle? Will it change the taste of the wine?

Name: Curtis K.
State: MS
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Hello Curtis,

Yes, it is perfectly fine to use plastic carboys to make wine, just as long as you are talking about carboys that are used for holding drinking water. If you are referring to some other type of plastic container, you will want to check to see that it indicates food-grade on it somewhere, or that it was previously used for a product meant for human consumption.

The 5 gallon plastic water bottles – like you see at the grocery store – are made of food-grade plastic. And, as an additional step of assuring that no plastic taste will transfer into your drinking water – or wine – the manufactures blow in a thick layer of Saran to the inside of the plastic carboye as a last step. This is done to create a protective barrier.

Saran is an oxygen barrier plastic. This means that unlike some other plastics, it lets little-to-no air go past it, so you shouldn’t have any concerns about your wine oxidizing. Saran is also a very clean form of plastic, so there is virtually no chance of it putting a plastic taste in your wine.

I also wanted to point out that we have specially produced 3 gallon, 5 gallon and 6 gallon plastic carboys. These plastic carboys are manufactured specifically for home winemakers and beermakers. They are completely made of PET plastic and are BPA free. This is the same exact material used to make 2 liter soda bottles, only thicker. It is the ultimate plastic when it comes to being food-grade and durable. Shop Carboys

As an additional note, you may want to take a look at a previous blog post, There’s A Plastic Taste And Smell In My Wine. It goes a little bit over the different recycle symbols you will find on containers and what they actually mean. These are the little triangle arrows with the numbers in the middle.

So, can you make wine in a plastic carboy? Absolutely. Just know what kind of plastic you are dealing with and have an idea of what was in the container before, if anything.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

9 thoughts on “Can You Make Wine In A Plastic Carboy?

  1. If it"s OK to use Plastic Carboys, what about using 20 liter well cleaned Paint Buckets, since we do not have Plastic carboys in our markets?
    William, Accra.

  2. What about a 5 gallon water bottle labeled plastic number 7. Would that be better or worse than the ones labeled number 1 ?

    • Jim, I would recommend staying with plastic marked with 1,2,4 or 5. The plastics that are marked with a 7 are considered other and do not fall into any of the 1-6 categories. That means you may not know what kind of plastic the bottle is made of.

  3. Any plastic with a recycle number from 1-6 is food grade. But be careful of what it has previously contained. I have successfully(with much work) cleaned up a 5 gallon bucket that had soy sauce in it. Used lots of Oxyclean Green!
    Also, some plastic bottles are thinner and have many ridges and bumps in them for strength. Use them only for white wine. The red wines (chokecherry,etc) leave deposits that are hard to get out.

  4. There is no plastic called saran. I believe you are referring to polyvinylidene chloride (PVCD) made by Dow and tradenamed Saran, the same plastic in the consumer product Saran Wrap.

  5. I was just curious if anybody else has tried using 5 gallon igloo sports coolers? I drill a hole in the top to insert my cork and airlock, then hot glue around it. There’s a pea size whole on the lip of the lid that needs hot glued too. It makes bottling very easy also because of the pour spout or just pour a tad in a cup for tasting.

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