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You can choose to purchase unlabelled bottles for your home-brewed beer. However, why would you opt to buy new beer bottles when you can recycle old ones? Recycling old beer bottles only requires removing the existing brand labels and sanitizing the bottles.
How to Remove Beer Bottle Labels
There are several ways to remove beer bottle labels; using chemicals and without using chemicals. Choosing between the two depends on the resilience of the label or the glue and your budget. You’ll not need to use chemicals if the label can come off quickly with soaked water.
If you are reusing beer bottles and you need to remove beer bottle labels, you’ll need the supplies listed below.
- Stainless steel wool
- Metal scrubbing brush
- Baking soda
- A clean sponge
- Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW)
- Paper towel or dish towel
Removing beer bottle labels involves a lot of heat and chemicals (in some methods). Therefore, you’ll need some protective gear. I recommend you to have the following gears for your safety.
- Safety gear- gloves (latex gloves)
- Barbeque gloves or Oven mitts
Removing Beer Bottle Labels Without Chemicals
This method of removing beer bottle labels does not involve any chemicals. The best ways to do so are by:
Steam is a viable option when removing beer bottle labels from a few bottles. However, you might need to consider other options if you have many beer bottles.
Use the steps listed below to remove your beer bottle labels using steam.
- Set up a large pot full of water on a heat source and give the water time to boil.
- Put a steamer basket over the pot with boiling water.
- Fit lids on your beer bottles.
- Steam the beer bottles for at least 30 minutes to melt the glue off the bottle surface.
- Gently scrub the bottles to remove the labels.
- Using warm water, rinse the beer bottles.
Soaking is the simplest way to remove beer bottle labels which peel off easily. To remove the labels using this method, follow the steps listed below.
- Fill hot water in a large container (the container should be large enough to accommodate all bottles).
- Fully submerge the beer bottles in the pool of water. Ensure you have your protective gloves on.
- Leave the beer bottles in hot water for at least 20 minutes. You can even leave them overnight if you don’t need them urgently.
The beer bottle labels should float on the water after the stipulated time.
Tip: Scrub off the labels from the beer bottles as soon as you remove them from the pool of hot water. If left to dry out, you might find it harder to remove the labels.
Removing Beer Bottle Labels Using Chemicals
This method involves using the following agents;
- Using Baking Soda
- Using Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW)
Using baking soda is an effective way of removing beer bottle labels if you have many bottles. To do so, follow the guidelines given below.
- Put enough water on a large container (the container size and water level depends on the number of bottles).
- Add baking soda to the water using the ratio of 16:1 ( tablespoons of baking soda: water gallons).
- Fully submerge the beer bottles in the water and leave them for 30 minutes. Water and baking soda react to loosen the glue holding the labels in place.
- At this time, the bottle labels should easily peel off the bottles. If not, gently scrub the labels with a scrubbing brush to remove them.
- Rinse the bottles in clean water.
Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW)
Powdered brewery wash, the alkali cleaner, is widely used to clean glass bottles. It is the suited agent to clean your screen-printed beer bottle labels.
Use the steps listed below to remove beer bottle labels using PBW.
- Fill water in a large water container.
- Add one or two ounces of PBW to the water using the ratio of 1:1 or 2:1.
- Submerge your beer bottles in the solution.
- Leave the bottles overnight to soak.
- The bottle labels should peel off and float on the water.
- Gently scrub the beer bottles to remove any residual label.
- Rinse your beer bottles.
Oxiclean should be your ideal agent if the labels are firmly glued to the bottles. This agent is popular due to its ability to remove stains, grease, and firm adhesives.
Follow the steps below to remove beer bottle labels using Oxiclean.
- Fill a large container or bucket with warm water.
- Add OxiClean (a tablespoon full is enough).
- Stir the solution to dissolve the Oxiclean powder.
- Submerge your beer bottles in the OxiClean solution.
- Leave the beer bottles to soak for at least one hour.
- The labels should easily peel off at this stage. If not, gently scrub the labels off using a scrubbing brush or steel wool.
- Rinse the bottles in a pool of warm water.
- Wipe the bottles to dry off.
Ammonia is the ultimate solution to remove beer bottle labels if all other methods have proven ineffective. However, you need to handle ammonia with extra care as it is highly reactive with some agents like bleach.
Ensure you work in a well-ventilated room and put on the correct protective gear. Always have a facemask, goggles, and gloves on when performing the procedure.
Use the steps listed below to remove beer bottle labels using Ammonia.
- Fill a large bucket with water.
- Add Ammonia to the water (half a cup is enough).
- Fully submerge your beer bottles in the solution.
- Cover the bucket with a lid and leave the bottles in the solution for thirty to sixty minutes.
- Take off the lid. The labels should have dissolved by this time.
- Thoroughly clean the beer bottles to remove the ammonia smell.
The advantage of using Ammonia is that the labels dissolve completely, and you’ll not need to scrub them off.
While removing beer bottle labels using non-chemical means is the number one choice, some steady labels won’t come off easily. Therefore, you’ll need to use chemicals to remove the labels. However, you need to take precautions when using chemicals as they are highly reactive. Take extra care when using ammonia; you might gas yourself when mixing it with bleach.