How to Clean an Oak Barrel (Do this before sanitizing)
It is advisable to avoid using barrels that have developed mold inside. When opting for barrels, investing in a new French or American oak barrel is a wise choice. Alternatively, if a used barrel is to be used, it should be thoroughly cleaned beforehand.
To clean the barrel, prepare a solution by dissolving 2 oz. of Soda Ash, Sal Soda, or Sodium Carbonate in 3 gallons of hot water. Fill the barrel halfway with the hottest water available and add the previously dissolved Soda Ash mixture. Shake or roll the barrel to ensure thorough mixing, and then proceed to fill the barrel with more hot water. Seal the barrel tightly and roll it around to agitate the solution. Repeat this rolling process several times within a 24-hour period. Finally, empty the barrel and rinse it multiple times until all traces of the solution have been washed out.
During the cleaning process, it can be beneficial to place a length of chain inside the barrel from the beginning. This will assist in effectively cleaning the barrel. Remember to tie the ends of the chain together to prevent tangling.
Prior to cleaning the inside of the barrel and before each use, it is essential to wash the exterior using a stiff brush and a solution of soda ash. This step is particularly important if the barrel has been stored for an extended period. Additionally, applying a coat of linseed oil to the barrel at least once a year is recommended.
Once the cleaning process is complete, your barrel should be ready for use. However, if the barrel will not be utilized for a few days or is intended for long-term storage, it is advisable to keep it filled with the Citric Acid/Sodium Bisulfite sanitizing mixture mentioned below.
How to Sanitize a Barrel
- Fill the Oak Barrel about 1/2 full of water.
- Dissolve the proper amount of Sodium Bisulfite in a little water and pour it in the barrel.
- Dissolve the proper amount of Citric Acid in a little water and pour it into the barrel.
- Bung up the barrel and mix well by shaking or rolling the barrel.
- Finish filling the barrel with water and bung tightly.
If you are not using the barrel in the near future, check water in barrel from time to time, completely filling each time. When ready to use, rinse out, then fill again with fresh water and leave filled overnight. Then rinse out again and it is ready to use.
Amounts of Additives to Use
Use 1/2 lb. Citric Acid and 1 lb. Sodium Bisulfite for each 50 gallons of barrel capacity. Measurements do not have to be exact. Do not use less than the stated amounts though. The following info may be used when measuring our products.
Table of measurements
- 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
- 4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup
1 Gallon Of Barrel Capacity
- Citric Acid: 1 teaspoon
- Sodium Bisulfite: 1-1/2 teaspoon
5 Gallons Of Barrel Capacity
- Citric Acid: 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons
- Sodium Bisulfite: 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
10 Gallons Of Barrel Capacity
- Citric Acid: 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
- Sodium Bisulfite:1/4 Cup + 1 tablespoon
15 Gallons Of Barrel Capacity
- Citric Acid: 1/4 Cup + 1 tablespoon
- Sodium Bisulfite: 1/4 Cup + 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
20 Gallons Of Barrel Capacity
- Citric Acid: 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
- Sodium Bisulfite: 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons
30 Gallons Of Barrel Capacity
- Citric Acid: 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon
- Sodium Bisulfite: 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
Additional Barrel Information
If you are preparing a used barrel for new wine, it should be cleaned before going through the above sanitizing process as well.
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