Educate me on oyster shell use.

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Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby Full_moon » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:27 am

Can someone enlighten me on the use of oyster shells for ph control? What are the general guidelines for quantity, when to add etc. This is in an AG mash. Thanks

Found some info in Mashing and fermenting. Very interesting and educational.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby fizzix » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:11 am

For a 5-gallon wash/mash, I put a handful of crushed shells in a brew sock (for easy retrieval)
and toss it in the ferment --it's the last thing I do before putting on the lid.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby shadylane » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:59 am

For a 20 gallon wash just before pitching the yeast , I put a cotton shock with around 2 cups of crushed oyster shells in it.
An AG mash should have enough buffering without adding crushed shells
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby Hoosier Shine9 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:08 am

I took an old pair of "Managements" tights wash them & cut the legs off.
Put oyster shells in one leg, tie an overhand knot & drop in my ferment.
The knot will float & is easy to get out. also keeps shells from going to the bottom. Especially in UJSSM.

I put shells in all my ferments.
Saw someone post a while back that they "don't work in sugar washes" but I put them in that too. Worst thing that can happen is....they don't do anything & I have wasted about $0.25.......
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby fizzix » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:36 am

Hoosier Shine9 wrote:Saw someone post a while back that they "don't work in sugar washes" but I put them in that too. Worst thing that can happen is....they don't do anything & I have wasted about $0.25.......

I do the same and call it cheap insurance... or economy of ignorance. :P …I've never had a crash, and I bet you haven't either, Hoosier Shine9.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby MtRainier » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:01 am

I buy this stuff:

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/produ ... shell-5-lb

and rinse it until it runs clean (it's powdery), then I put it in a bowl in the microwave with some water to boil it a bit to kill germs (probably overkill), then I do what others here do: put it in a mesh brewing sock and toss it in.

Edit to say: I put it in the ferment, not in the mash.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby Expat » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:04 pm

Rinse dust as above, but when heating them up I didn't like the smell so I soaked the bag in feints. Quick rinse in clean water and ready to use.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby Full_moon » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:14 pm

Thanks everyone
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby Bushman » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:17 pm

This is interesting as I have never used oyster shells but have a beach full so much so that part of it we sell to commercial vendors.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby DAD300 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:23 pm

I used oyster shells when they were free off the beach.

I've moved on to marble garden stone.

170 gallon ferment will eat about a half pound in a week and keep the ferment at approx 4.7Ph.

Put the washed stones in a ventilated plastic soda bottle and hang in ferment.

$3usd for a 25-30lb bag.

The chicken oyster shell always had a funk to it.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby shadylane » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:38 pm

I haven't tried marble garden stone.
Is this the crushed marble used for landscaping
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby MtRainier » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:41 pm

DAD300 wrote:Put the washed stones in a ventilated plastic soda bottle and hang in ferment.


This is brilliant. Great way to hang on to them in there and also let them react.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby GCB3 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 4:53 pm

I had several pH crashes with BW’s sugar wash before I came across the oyster shell thread. Now, like Fizzix and Hoosier, I add them to everything and haven’t had a crash since. I usually put 6 half shells in a 15 gal ferment. They are good for about 3-4 washes before they are too thin and brittle.

Anytime I’m at the beach, I pick up a bag full of the sun bleached shells, bring them home and boil them all. Then I just hit them with One-Step and add right before the yeast. Then just fish them out of the beer after racking. Good and cheap insuramce. Give it a try!
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby Truckinbutch » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:38 pm

30 gallon AG or a 30 gallon sugarhead I put 3/4 quart of oyster shells in the ferment . No ph crashes .
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby Swedish Pride » Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:39 am

I never use it, no PH crashes.
use 10% backset if doing UJ and you'll have no issues
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby rubelstrudel » Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:20 am

I really had problem with pH crashes. Exactly why is unknown. Maybe it is the water, maybe I hav a latent infection of aggressive lacto in my fermenters? Maybe I just a sour guy? Who knows? But after I started using Calcium Carbonate to buffer the acidity, no problem. I tried everything, marble gravel, oyster shells and powdered calcium carbonate from the brewshop. In the end I have ended up using calcium carbonate... for no other reason than that I can get big bags of it at the brew shop and my local garden center does not sell oyster shells or marble rocks.

The nice thing about Calcium carbonate is that if the acidity is lower (pH is higher) than about 4.7, it is for all practical terms inert and does nothing. But when the acidity goes above that (pH is lower) then they start dissolving and neutralize the acid. And since I am shooting for a pH of about 4.7 anyway, that suits me fine.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby Saltbush Bill » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:23 am

Like you SP I have never had a wash stall from PH crash.....nor have I ever needed to adjust ph. I wonder how the old timers got along without PH meters, oyster shells n such?
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby kimbodious » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:39 pm

I toss in 1/4 cup of shell grit (crushed oyster shell) with every wash since I had washes stall. My ferments now start out less violently but finish sooner. I guess my domestic water supply has a lower pH than some. There is hardly any grit left in the fermenter at the end.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby NZChris » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:28 pm

Calcium carbonate is only needed if you are having pH problems and the likelyhood of that may have a lot to do with the hardness of your water, or the type of ferment.

When I do use it, I use whole shells, weigh them wet, record the weight, then at the finish, weigh them and calculate the weight loss and record it for future reference. I've had them almost disappear and I've had them gain weight because nothing dissolved and something crystallized on them.

My advice is to keep good records of everything you do, then they will become a better guide than what you read on the web.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby shadylane » Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:16 pm

Saltbush Bill wrote:Like you SP I have never had a wash stall from PH crash.....nor have I ever needed to adjust ph. I wonder how the old timers got along without PH meters, oyster shells n such?


I've heard a couple old timers say one of their secret ingredients, was wood ash from the fire. :wink:
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby Swedish Pride » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:36 pm

shadylane wrote:
Saltbush Bill wrote:Like you SP I have never had a wash stall from PH crash.....nor have I ever needed to adjust ph. I wonder how the old timers got along without PH meters, oyster shells n such?


I've heard a couple old timers say one of their secret ingredients, was wood ash from the fire. :wink:


interesting.
quick googling of wood ash an got an article on it being used in gardening to raise ph, never knew that. :thumbup:
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby NZChris » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:49 pm

You can use wood ash to make sodium hydroxide, so it's not surprising that old timers would use it for adjusting pH.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby The Baker » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:41 pm

NZChris wrote:You can use wood ash to make sodium hydroxide, so it's not surprising that old timers would use it for adjusting pH.


I believe the liquid from dripping water through the wood ash is commonly called lye, and was used by the pioneers for washing clothes (heavily diluted I would think!)

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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby Saltbush Bill » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:05 pm

Lye was used for many purposes including soap making.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby MtRainier » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:17 pm

Saltbush Bill wrote:Lye was used for many purposes including soap making.


Also pretzels.

I'm going to try marble chips from the garden store for my next sugar wash.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby fizzix » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:07 pm

I bought these oyster shells from Amazon over a year ago, and I can see 5-lbs. are gonna last me a long time.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby bluefish_dist » Tue Apr 16, 2019 6:59 pm

As I have previously posted, once I went to bigger fermentations, I found oyster shells would not dissolve fast enough to correct the ph. I had much better luck with calcium carbonate and even started adding it with acid at the start to increase buffering capacity.
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby The Baker » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:08 pm

MtRainier wrote:
Saltbush Bill wrote:Lye was used for many purposes including soap making.


Also pretzels.

I'm going to try marble chips from the garden store for my next sugar wash.


Yeah I have done those pretzels.

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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby Yummyrum » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:58 pm

bluefish_dist wrote:As I have previously posted, once I went to bigger fermentations, I found oyster shells would not dissolve fast enough to correct the ph. I had much better luck with calcium carbonate and even started adding it with acid at the start to increase buffering capacity.

Is that a typo Bluefish ?
I thought shells were Calcium Carbonate .... did you mean Calcium Hydroxide ? .... thats known as pickling lime or brickie’s ( Brick layers ) lime ?
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Re: Educate me on oyster shell use.

Postby NZChris » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:58 pm

bluefish_dist wrote:As I have previously posted, once I went to bigger fermentations, I found oyster shells would not dissolve fast enough to correct the ph. I had much better luck with calcium carbonate and even started adding it with acid at the start to increase buffering capacity.

How large a ferment are you talking about? I haven't had a pH stall since using whole shells in any sized wash up to 50 gallons. I've always used whole shells from the beach, which have much less surface area than the oyster chicken grit that has been popularized on forums, and never had a problem.
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