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I know that some people say that PVC is fine for racking tubes, but I have someone who is looking for an alternative--HDPE or PP would be acceptable but not preferred. Since PVC is the only type of plastic tube our local hardware store sells, are there some DIY alternatives that have worked well for people? (Caoutchouc? Sheep's intestine? What'd we use for this before plastic came along?)

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2 Answers 2

A lot of brewers use silicone tubing for hot liquids, but there's no reason aside from cost not to use it for racking as well. That will take if the tubing part but you've still got to deal with the racking cane which is rigid. Copper or stainless tubing could be bent into the correct shape.

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If it's leeching from plastic that's a concern, silicone is the way to go. –  mdma Jun 20 '13 at 0:43
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If vinyl isn’t the gold standard for homebrewer’s tubing, I don’t know what is. It’s good to ~170° F max.

As Tobias mentioned, silicone tubing is used for higher temp transfers.

Purchase anything anywhere “Food Grade” and you’re good-to-go for low-temp homebrew, but I wouldn’t get too creative with random hardware store DIY bric-a-brac without the “Food Grade” claim. There are some hearty anti-fungal additives to many compounds. (Case in point – when sinking a ball valve into a mash tun, make sure and purchase your silicone sealant from your local tropical fish store vs. the first thing you see at Home Depot.)

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Vinyl/PVC is a plastic, and despite being so-called "food-grade", is not the same as HDPE or PP. I don't trust "food grade" by the FDA's definition while they continue to approve of water bottles with BPA in them... –  Kev Jun 20 '13 at 10:07
    
First world problems can be so tedious. Get a ss conical so you don’t have to ever transfer. [Mocking comments removed.] –  ipso Jun 20 '13 at 14:39
    
You may think it's foolish to introduce caution at this point in history, but you needn't mock my preferences. Maybe you're not aware of how the US chooses to accept the 2 industry-sponsored BPA studies that say it's safe, and ignore the 1,000+ international, independent studies that say otherwise? And how fast it can enter our bodies even from touch? And how our bodies could get rid of it also very quickly, but never get a chance too, because BPA-containing plastic is so pervasive in our daily lives? –  Kev Jun 20 '13 at 15:25
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