Glass Carboy Injury Poll

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by VikeMan, Nov 21, 2013.


Describe your personal experience with glass carboys in brewing

Poll closed Nov 28, 2013.
  1. I have never used a glass carboy

  2. I have used one or more glass carboys, but have never been cut by one

  3. I have been cut by a broken glass carboy, with at least one injury requiring stitches

    0 vote(s)
  4. I have been cut by a broken glass carboy, but the injury(s) did not require stitches

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  1. VikeMan

    VikeMan Pooh-Bah (2,901) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Let's do a bit of statistical sampling. I think there are hundreds of lurkers on this forum. Please read the choices carefully and chime in.
    Eriktheipaman likes this.
  2. BumpkinBrewer

    BumpkinBrewer Pundit (981) Jan 6, 2010 Massachusetts

    Why do I feel like something bad is going to happen when I transfer a Tripel later this week.
  3. cwehr13

    cwehr13 Initiate (0) Aug 4, 2011 Illinois

    Never been injured by a carboy, needles to say I will now on my next batch.
    SFACRKnight, dunix and PapaGoose03 like this.
  4. MADhombrewer

    MADhombrewer Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2008 Oregon

    I voted for northern brewer hops. Thanks.

    Wait, wrong poll. Damn.
  5. VikeMan

    VikeMan Pooh-Bah (2,901) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    FTW. For some reason, that response, coming from your avatar, made me spew my Mountain Dew.
    jmw, jbakajust1 and MADhombrewer like this.
  6. cmmcdonn

    cmmcdonn Initiate (0) Jun 21, 2009 Virginia

    Out of convenience I mostly use buckets unless I need the extra room during multiple brew days, or if I'm aging something for a few months.

    Having read some horror stories on hbt I still clean my glass carboy by filling it half way with oxiclean solution and shaking the hell out of it while cradling it in my arms. I figure it's only dangerous if I drop it. However, if it ever broke and I survived I probably wouldn't buy another one.
  7. alanforbeer

    alanforbeer Crusader (419) Jan 29, 2011 South Carolina

    Never had any issues with glass carboys. I use brew haulers, and I try to wear gloves when moving carboys around.

    I did have a growler mysteriously explode on me once, but the only injury was to my soul...the growler was full of Hill Farmstead Society and Solitude #7.
    PortLargo likes this.
  8. psnydez86

    psnydez86 Initiate (0) Jan 4, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I've yet to use glass as a fermentation vessel but plan on getting some big mouth carboys this holiday season. I've done 30+ batches pretty much all in buckets. Are buckets easy to clean? Yes. Am I making micro scratches as I clean them after every batch begging wild yeast and bacteria to take residence ? Probably. Is using buckets over and over again starting to worry me from a sanitation standpoint? Yes. I understand the risks that go along with these large glass jugs and can't wait to clean the krausen off one of these bad boys with something real abrasive that I could never use on a plastic bucket.
  9. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia

    Downside of "traditional" carboys is they suck ass at trying to clean them. I have some brushes, and a keg cleaner that pumps cleaner in them and it's pretty much easy as hell now. If you wait around and get dried on krausen that is what sucks.
    psnydez86 likes this.
  10. sjverla

    sjverla Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    I have one glass carboy. I do use it sometimes, but I'm terrified when I do. I'm currently working on expanding my collection of buckets.
    inchrisin likes this.
  11. bgjohnston

    bgjohnston Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2009 Connecticut

    My only criticism, and it is a small one, is that you are not going to reach anybody who got hurt badly, who then sold off the rest of his equipment and found another hobby.

    As a long time motorcyclist, I know people who have gotten hurt badly and with only one exception, they got out of motorcycling and found another hobby. And I only see them outside of motorcycle related events now.

    The one exception was a former racer, who still rides, only exclusively on the street now.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  12. Pegli

    Pegli Initiate (0) Aug 30, 2006 Rhode Island

    I've been cut by glass beer bottles quite a few times...
  13. VikeMan

    VikeMan Pooh-Bah (2,901) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Me too. Well, once. I once had a case of LHBS bought bottles where an alarmingly high percentage of them decided to break the second time they were used (while removing caps).
  14. pweis909

    pweis909 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,114) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    Really? A poll? Seems like you are taking this farther than it needs to go. Can't we vote about stouts instead?
  15. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Initiate (0) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota

    This whole glass carboy discussion is going off the rails. The fact is that if a glass carboy breaks, the potential to cause serious injury is great. In fact, I'd wager that shards are created nearly 100% of the time when they do break. How often they break isn't particularly quantifiable, in a useful way, especially with a small sampling from this site.

    Anyway, it's a simple issue. Either you believe the risk of injury is too great, or not.

    I still use glass, but sparingly. I am concerned about injury, so I am very careful with them.
    Grohnke and billandsuz like this.
  16. Marshall_ofmcap

    Marshall_ofmcap Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2013 Colorado

    I would use glass if i had it, maybe a petition to northern brewer to start making a safety glass fermentor if it is that big of an issue. i have done far more dangerous things then use glass carboys; like go outside in my neighborhood after dark. and drive on the snow
  17. Marshall_ofmcap

    Marshall_ofmcap Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2013 Colorado

    every time you vote, you vote for AMERICA, USA USA USA
    jsullivan02130 likes this.
  18. Brewski

    Brewski Initiate (0) Jul 22, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I have never been cut by a glass carboy. However, the liquid fermented in them has caused quite a few injuries.:stuck_out_tongue:
    AlCaponeJunior and telejunkie like this.
  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    “The fact is that if a glass carboy breaks, the potential to cause serious injury is great.”

    In Systems Engineering a ‘tool’ called a Risk Matrix is used the qualify risk. If the severity of an event is significant (great injury requiring a trip to the emergency room) then even if the probability of occurrence is low there is a high risk. Below is an example of this Risk Matrix. For the combination of the probability of a carboy breaking being unlikely but the severity being significant then the risk is considered to be high. If you chose to assess that the probability of a carboy breaking is possible then the risk is extreme.


  20. pweis909

    pweis909 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,114) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I just google searched images using "Broken Carboy Injury." Some fairly grisly looking cut hands and feet and one guy with his leg immobilized showed up in the search. Of course, all the people who were killed by broken carboys were unavailable for a selfie.

    Worth noting: there was one broken Better Bottle. And... a Vikeman avatar!
  21. DubbelMan

    DubbelMan Initiate (0) Mar 17, 2009 New York

    I used glass carboys for about a year. But I got tired of the weight hauling them around and the potential for injury of course. So I have switched to better bottles. I've been using them for several years now. No issues with them at all.

  22. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Pooh-Bah (2,549) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    There was an article in Zymurgy a few years back that included the story about/from the guy who almost lost his arm/hand. At a big brew a guy bumped his as he was sanitizing, and was left holding the neck. He had a small nick that bled, and was lucky.

    It is a real risk. I have milk crates to move the carboys with, and protect the sides. There is a SS conical and plastic buckets that get the most use as primaries. Some wrap some packing tape around their carboys to minimize shrapnel.

    Edit - I think the article was the "Stupid Homebrewing Tricks" by Chris Frey, July/August 2008.
    #22 hopfenunmaltz, Nov 21, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  23. pweis909

    pweis909 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,114) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    You're talking to the wrong guy. I voted for Russian Imperial Stout in the former poll, and my three favorite types of IPA are, in order of preference, English, Belgian, and Scottish, which is like English, but with a touch of peated malt and almost no hops.
  24. Marshall_ofmcap

    Marshall_ofmcap Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2013 Colorado

    I voted RIS too. USA USA USA
  25. VikeMan

    VikeMan Pooh-Bah (2,901) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Why not? Instead of gathering opinions about the risk (with Culture of Fear vs Reckless Bravado, with a whole lot in between), gather data. Looking for some rational perspective that's not based on a feeling, wherever the data may lead.
  26. Marshall_ofmcap

    Marshall_ofmcap Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2013 Colorado

    sounds like a new poll: culture of fear= sanitize everything 3-4 times, timer... reckless bravado= every beer is wild yeast and you dont even wash your hands, mold in the bottle, yeah why not rack on it
  27. pweis909

    pweis909 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,114) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    Because I don't think it is necessary to demonstrate that glass is fragile and fragments are sharp. Anyone whose ever been to a playground learned this. And because I wish I never butted into the age-old debate of glass vs. plastic. It's like a bad drug. It does no good for me, but I have problems saying "no."
  28. billandsuz

    billandsuz Pooh-Bah (1,951) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    you hit the nail on the head.
    the world of health and safety, the most dangerous act is typically carried out by the guy who has never experienced the negatives.
    as in...
    I never wear safety glasses when I use power tools and I still have my eyes, so it must be safe.
    I always stand on the top step of the ladder, haven't fallen off yet.
    I never wear my seat belt and I never get in an accident.
    etc. Not experiencing a sliced artery does not mean a glass carboy will not slice your artery.

    there is a safer method to carry a carboy than just picking it up by the neck. I would be interested to know the data from a larger pool than our community.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  29. billandsuz

    billandsuz Pooh-Bah (1,951) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    we have all done more risky things than carry a glass carboy. drinking too much beer for instance. sharing needles with a prostitute. what?

    staying indoors all the time is not practical. handling glass safely is not a burden.
  30. Naugled

    Naugled Pooh-Bah (1,820) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    You missed one choice.

    I have used glass carboys, and I broke one, but luckily was not cut by it.

    So I picked the closed one to that. Used them but never cut by one.

    How about burn poll? I have a few scars for that question.
    cfrobrew likes this.
  31. cfrobrew

    cfrobrew Initiate (0) Oct 9, 2012 Texas

    I agree, I broke one of my glass carboys with a very minimal bump. I felt it was terrifying since my children were around and its ridiculous anything happened but thankfully no one got hurt. I have since used PET and enjoy tossing them around all willy nilly and storing them on top of hard things on their side :slight_smile:
  32. VikeMan

    VikeMan Pooh-Bah (2,901) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    So that would be "I have used one or more glass carboys, but have never been cut by one" Trying to figure out what portion of carboy users have actually been injured, and how severely.
  33. VikeMan

    VikeMan Pooh-Bah (2,901) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    The google machine works very quickly. I actually fear that more than any brewing equipment.
    pweis909 likes this.
  34. Ilanko

    Ilanko Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2012 New York

    Gladly I have used glass carboys before 1 gallon , but never broke one. Quickly I switch to 6G plastic carboy and finally to 6.5 G buckets and I love it.
  35. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia

    Welcome to the land of Fear Mongering!
    warchez and inchrisin like this.
  36. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    I do not think Rich will respond to the poll but:

    wanted to share a recent mishap with my fellow homebrewers. This isn't meant to be an argument against glass or for plastic it's merely a story To remind people to take an extra measure of caution when dealing with glass.

    I started brewing in 1992 and Brewed pretty consistently until about 2003 when I moved out of town to a much smaller place. With the lack of space and time I pretty much stopped brewing at that point.

    A few weeks ago I decided I need to start brewing again so I rebuilt my system and brewed my first batch in almost 10 years. Yesterday was time to rack my first batch. I unpacked my 5 gallon carboys and began washing them in the sink. While giving it a final rinse with Sanitizer it slipped from my hands and smashed. A large fragment sliced open my arm. While compressing my wound I had the wherewithal to make it out of the house and to neighbors house where she called 911.

    The glass fragment caused two lacerations in my arm, one severing a tendon and cutting into the muscle. A handful of stitches were required to reattach the muscle and 12 stitches to seal up the external lacerations.

    The first thing I did when I got home last night was to go online and order plastic replacements for all my glass.

    Although I still feel that glass is better for fermentation, after last night's incident I don't feel comfortable using it anymore.

    On a brighter note my beer was unaffected although racking it in the next week or so will present a challenge.

    So if you're going to stick with glass please please be careful.


  38. Grohnke

    Grohnke Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2009 Illinois

    this with a little dose of game theory, is why the decision to use BB is panstakingly obvious (to me, of course).
    JackHorzempa likes this.

    GUNSLINGER Initiate (0) Nov 18, 2013 Colorado

    I went to a local chemical supply/safety supply company and bought a pair of extremely strong/durable chemical/heat/cut resistant gloves to use for brewing and cleaning. I'll try to find a link to the exact pari and post it back here...

    The outside texture and material is VERY well suited to gripping glass and other surfaces, even when wet/slicked with water or sanitizer. Not to mention they are VERY thick and resistant to cuts/sharp edges. They are also full sleaved gloves- so they protect me all the way up to my shoulders.

    They were $20.00 bucks and constructed to last a lifetime; I've used them for about 6 years and they are just as they were the day I bought them.

    I would recommend buying a pair; (Even if you don't use glass fermenters- they have many uses in brewing and outside of brewing), $20.00 bucks in prevention/safety is priceless IMO. Always better to be safe than sorry.

    I mainly use cylindroconical fermenters these days, but when I brew a lot or have a lot aging for extended periods of time- I still roll out the glass carboys.

    A good pair of gloves and proper brew clothing is wise for many, many reasons!
  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    I made mention of better bottle in my post on the other thread:

    I have read too many horror stories about homebrewers getting nasty gashes from glass carboys breaking. I would strongly recommend that a plastic bucket be used for primary fermentation. If long term storage (a.k.a. secondary fermentation) is absolutely needed, then a better bottle is a safer option.

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