Hi. I have a quick question. I made a Barley Wine that I let condition in an new Toasted Oak Barrel for 6 months then another 4 in bottles. It is fantastic stuff. Love it. I wanted to know how long I can leave Campden tablets dissolved in water to clean the oak barrel. Can I leave it in there until I use it again…what are your thoughts? Thanks
Name: Fernando Durand
If I’m understanding you correctly, you want to know how long you can leave a sulfite solution in the oak barrel without having to replace the solution between batches of Barley Wine. This is a great question that I’d love to answer.
First it is important to point out that when using Campden tablets, sodium metabisulfite, or any other kind of sulfite with water, you also need to add an acid of some type or the sulfite will not be an effective sanitizer — preferably citric acid. The acid is what causes the sulfite in the liquid to be free and not become bound to the water, making it innocuous.
If you are using using a sulfite in a crystal powder form such as sodium metabisulfite or potassium metabisulfite, you will want to add two teaspoons of it for each gallon of solution. You want to use enough solution to fill the oak barrel completely. Along with the sodium metabisulfite you will add 1 teaspoon of citric acid per gallon, or half the amount of the sodium metabisulfite.
It you are using Campden tablets, the you will want to use 16 tablets for each gallon. You still will want to add the 1 teaspoon per gallon of citric acid as well to the oak barrel. Be sure to crush the Campden tablets thoroughly before attempting to dissolve it into the water.
Now going back to you original question, how long is this solution good for? The short answer is 6 month. For any time longer than this, you will need to replenish the sulfite in the solution. The citric acid will still be fine. No more needs to be added. But every 6 months a full dose of either Campden tablets, sodium metabisulfite or potassium metabisulfite needs to be added to the solution in the oak barrel.
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.