29 Apr
2010
Posted in: Home Brewing
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Home Brewing: Which Airlock is Better? One-Piece, Two-Piece, or Three-Piece Airlock

Which airlock is the best to use when home brewing? I wondered about this, so I decided to do a little research to see if one worked better than another, and what the pro’s and con’s were for the one, two and tree piece airlocks.

What is an Airlock?
An airlock is nothing more than a little plastic device that is used in making fermented beverages, like beer, wine, cider, etc. The airlock works by allowing carbon dioxide to escape from the fermenter without letting any new air into it.  Since the airlock does not allow any air into the fermenter, this helps cut down on any possible bacteria contamination getting into your beer, or wine, or whatever it is that you might be fermenting.

The airlocks come in a variety of different styles and shapes, but all use the same basic principal, of having a liquid chamber that acts as a contamination barrier and also allows the carbon dioxide gasses to escape through it.

Which Airlock is the Best?
After trying all of these different types of airlocks, it was pretty easy to come to the conclusion that they all work pretty much the same. Although the look of the airlocks varies, they all do the same thing, and one didn’t seem to work any better or worse than any of the others.

So on a performance level, all airlocks perform completely equal.

However, I did notice a few Pro’s and Con’s for the different airlocks that might help sway your decision when buying your next airlock.

The one piece airlock is very convenient because you don’t have to worry about losing any extra parts that go with it. Its just one piece that you fill up with water and put a cap on. Very easy to use, but cleaning it is a bit of a pain. Because of the S shaped design, it is very difficult to clean out the middle chamber. All that you can really do is slosh some cleaning solution around inside of it and run water through it until it seems clean.

The two and tree-piece airlock come apart, and do not have any weird shapes to them which make them much easier to clean out.

So in the end, all the airlocks perform exactly the same, and they all cost pretty much the same ($1).  The one-piece airlocks are easy because they are just one piece and you don’t have to worry about losing any other extra parts. But they are a pain to clean out. And the two and three-piece airlocks you have to worry about a couple more pieces, but they are much easier to clean out. Most home brewers are more worried about cleanliness, and not getting any bacteria into the beer, so I would recommend the two or three-piece airlock. I personally prefer the three-piece because all the piece come apart easily and you can get to all surfaces of the airlock to make sure that it is thoroughly cleaned before using again.

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So, what do you think?