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I'd heard (3rd-hand information, don't know how reliable it is) that aspirin (Bayer's original brand) can be used as a suitable substitute for campden tablets. Does anyone know how well this works? I ask because I need some campden tablets and the brewing supply store near me is closed for renovations, and won't open for a while. Are there other easy-to-get alternatives to campden?

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Don't put asprin in your beer. Even if it does work then you're dosing yourself and others with asprin as you drink the beer. –  brewchez Sep 27 '11 at 11:41
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I'm HIGHLY suspicious of substituing aspirin for metasulfate (the active compound in Campden tablets). Different chemicals and I've never heard of aspirin being effective against yeasts at normal concentrations. Certainly not a single tablet or two (or more). Aspirin is not an effective antimicrobial in the concentrations that you would want to drink. It appears that you would need a concentration of 400 micrograms per milliliter to see an effect and that translates to 3.5 lbs of pure aspirin in a 5 gal batch (see http://gut.bmj.com/content/52/4/490).

You could burn sulfur and bubble the gas through your solution, but this really wouldn't be very effective and it really stinks.

The easiest way to remove the potentially problematic yeasts is to pasteurize. This is accomplished by bringing your solution to 145F for at least 30 minutes (or 165F for 1 minute, AKA HTST pasteurization - see http://www.dairyeng.com/applejuice.asp). This is what was done historically to kill bacteria and yeast. People who are potentially allergic to sulfites use this method instead of metasulfate. And I do this when I don't have Campden handy. Cheers.

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Ok, pasteurization makes sense as the best alternative. If I wanted to halt fermentation early using pasteurization instead of campden (a friend specifically requested a sweeter-than-normal mead, so halting fermentation when the taste was "just right" seemed the easiest way), would pasteurization boil off the alcohol that's already there? –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Oct 3 '11 at 16:26
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Ethanol and water have very close boiling points and when they are mixed, the boiling point is much higher than what would be typically used for pasteurizing. Boiling your solution could cause some of the desirable flavors to break down, so pasteurizing at the lower/longer method would help prevent loss of the alcohol and still kill the fermentation. You'd have negligible alcohol loss @ temps of 145F. –  drj Oct 3 '11 at 20:49
    
Thanks, I'll give it a shot! –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Oct 3 '11 at 20:51
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