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I have several glass carboys which I would like to permanently mark with gradations to measure liters and gallons. I've tried using permanent marker as well as heavy-duty tape, but inevitably both come off.

Any ideas for what I can do to permanently mark the glass?

10 Answers 10

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Craft stores sell creams for glass etching. That will give you permanent markings. Maybe not a lot of contrast but should still be visible.

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  • +1 for the burninator's answer. There's a good thread over on that big homebrew forum with lots of pictures of how people etched their carboys.
    – JackSmith
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 19:43
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The product you are looking for is called Armour Etch. Everything you need to know can be found here: http://www.capandhare.com/forums/showthread.php?t=726

Dead simple and produces very nice results.

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For something north of electrical tape and south of glass-etching, I've used nail polish. Cheap and easy; even comes with it's own little brush. It won't come off in most circumstances, but it will if you take some acetone to it.

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The problem with using anything that etches is that you're removing material from the unit. This can in turn affect the structural integrity in the long run. This is somewhat counter to why people prefer glass fermenters; they will resist scratching better than plastic. Etching is essentially controlled scratching.

A few years ago I took a bumper sticker and cut small strips and used them as gallon markers. I took my time and made sure there were no bubbles and got the corners flat. Its been like that for a few years without issue.

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I'm impressed that permanent marker is being removed. I'm going to dip into art supply territory and suggest either screenprinting and/or pastel board adhesive.

  1. Screenprinting ink is available at any craft store, but you'll need to make a stencil or freehand the numbers.
  2. Pastel board adhesive is usually sold as an aerosol can -- it's used for coating pastel boards to keep the pastels in place (usually for chalk pastels). This should be usable on the outside of your carboy to protect any particular ink marking.

Good luck!

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  • Permanent marker doesn't stain glass, it just sorta sticks. It comes off, with varying degrees of work and solvents. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 20:06
  • Wow, didn't know. Thanks for the tip. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 20:57
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Have you tried Paint Markers yet? They're better suited to permanently marking glass, though for the best results, you usually have to bake it on. Enamels like nail polish can work well depending on the grade of it, and there are the Paint Stains that Martha Stewart puts out. DecoArt and Martha Stewart are the two brands I've used teh most, DecoArt being the better if I want translucent, and Martha Stewart's got some pretty nice opaque glass paints/stains.

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I've had decent luck with black electrical tape.

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  • OP said "permanently" mark.
    – Bill Craun
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 1:53
  • The same strips of tape have been on my carboy for 3+ years. No solution is truly permanent, because even if that carboy lasts another 5 million years, the sun is going to consume it along with the rest of the planet. The tape is permanent enough for me.
    – baka
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 3:30
  • @baka We digress but the Sun's main-sequence lifetime is a lot longer than this. It'll go red giant (and expand to the reach the Earth's orbit) in about 6 billion years which gives us some more time for brewing ;-)
    – Poshpaws
    Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 18:58
  • OH, and electrical tape is pretty permanent.
    – Poshpaws
    Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 18:58
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Odd, I marked both of my carbons with permanent marking and have used/cleaned both of them without the marker coming off yet.

I'm not sure really why it would come off easily unless your cleaning the outside of the glass?

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  • yep, the outside gets cleaned too--there's usually dust and some dried on wort
    – STW
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 12:41
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    When I clean the outside of my carboys, it means i had a blow off and am cursing the hyperactive yeasties.
    – GHP
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 16:23
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I wrote an article on this at my homebrew blog. You can buy reusable stencils and etching cream to put permanent marks on your carboys. For more information, check it out here:

how to measure and permanently mark the volume mark in a glass carboy

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I know it's not permanent but have you tried duct tape? The silver stuff. It is pretty much a forever thing and much less hassle then etching etc. especially of you make a mistake.

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