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When Do I Add Campden Tablets To My Homemade Wine?

Posted on November 28, 2015 by Ed Kraus There have been 60 comment(s)

Campden Tablets For WinemakingHelp!

I was wondering if you can straighten me out on something. I have heard that you should add campden tablets before you add the wine yeast. I should also add campden tablets after every time I rack the wine. Then add them before I bottle the wine. That seems like a lot to me.

Thanks
Gary
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Hi Gary,

Thanks for such an interesting question.

You do need to use Campden tablets or some other form of sulfite such as sodium metabisulfite, or the wine could eventually spoil or turn to vinegar. But how much you should add is another issue all together.

If you're making wine from fresh fruit, we recommend that you add one Campden tablet per gallon before the fermentation. This is the standard dose. If you are making wine from a packaged juice, this step is not necessary.

Be sure that you wait 24 hours before adding the wine yeast, or the Campden tablets may kill the wine yeast. Also during this 24 hour waiting period, be sure the fermenter is not sealed. Leave the fermenter open to the air. If you like, you can cover it with a very thin towel or netting to keep bugs and fallout from getting to it. The sulfur dioxide from the Campden tablets need the opportunity to dissipate into the air during this time.

Shop Campden TabletsWe also recommend that you add another dose of Campden tablets as soon as the fermentation has completed. You should confirm with a wine hydrometer that the fermentation has actually completed before adding them.

The only other dose of Campden tablets we recommend is right before bottling. This last dose is what will keep the wine from spoiling or turning to vinegar.

The reason we recommend only adding Campden tablets at these three times is because it is possible to add too much. By sticking with these three times "too much" is not possible. These three times assumes that you will keep the fermenter topped-up and that long-term bulk aging is not in the plans — 1 months or more.

This reason for this is that while sulfites from these Campden tablets do dissipate into the air during rackings, a large percentage of the sulfites bond to the wine. As you add more doses, the bonded sulfites build up in the wine. This build up of bound sulfite does nothing to protect the wine, but if built into a high enough concentration, it can eventually affect the wine's flavor.

Shop Sulfite TesterHaving said all this, it is possible to add more Campden tablets after rackings, but you shouldn't do this blindly. You need to test the sulfites that are currently in the wine before adding more. This can be done with Titrets Test Vials and the Titrettor Hand Tool. Shoot for a range of 25 PPM (Parts Per Million) for red wines to 35 PPM for whites. If you do not want to go through the testing, don't add more than what's recommended above.

I hope this answers you question and concerns about the use of Campden tablets in your homemade wine. I wanted to point out that this recommendation applies regardless of what form of sulfite you are adding, the three main ones being: Campden tablets, sodium metabisulfite and potassium metabisulfite. If you follow each one's directions for the dosage you will be adding the same amount of sulfites in each case.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.


This post was posted in Home Wine Making, Wine Making Blog, Wine Making Ingredients

60 thoughts on “When Do I Add Campden Tablets To My Homemade Wine?”

  • Mike

    Can you explain what you mean by "Before Fermentation". Does that mean after crushing the grapes. I don't add yeast so It's important for me to know.

    Reply
  • Customer Service
    Customer Service November 28, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Mike, if you do not add wine yeast to your wine musts, then you never want to add any kind of sulfite to the wine, including Campden Tablets, before fermentation. This will kill the feral yeast that you are relying on.

    Reply
  • Mike Marra

    So i'm confused. Should I use Campden Tablets when I rack the wine? Unless I'm mistaken, according to what I've read Campden Tablets should be used for each racking to avoid oxidenation to the wine. I should rack 2 to 3 times.

    Reply
  • Customer Service

    MIke, we recommend adding Campden Tablets only at the first racking you do after the fermentation has stopped. This is in addition to a dose before fermentation and another before bottling. You can add more Campden Tablets at other racking, but we recommend doing so only after you have tested the wine with a Titret test kit to confirm that more sulfites are needed.

    Reply
  • Harry Begg

    You say to add Campden tablets when you bottle the wine--how do I do this in order to get the new sulfites mixed into the wine in the carboy? I assume that it would be a final racking before the actual bottling.

    Reply
  • Customer Service

    Harry, you should always rack your wine before bottling to get rid of the sediment in the fermenter. After you do this, crush up the correct amount of Campden Tablets and dissolve them in a small amount of wine. Once dissolved, mix in with the rest of the batch. Mix thoroughly and then bottle.

    Reply
  • Bill Kagy

    It is a great service you provide, answering home wine making questions, I read them all with great anticipation and learn so much. Bill

    Reply
  • sylvia

    For people with sulfite allergies, what is recommended to use in place of Campden tablets

    Reply
  • Customer Service

    Sylvia, if you do not intend to use sulfites in your wine, it is important that you keep everything very clean. Use sanitizers when clean your equipment or anything the wine comes into contact with. After you get the wine into the bottle, shelf-life will always be in question. Your best option is to store the wine bottles under refrigeration until consumed.

    Reply
  • mocha

    i made a mistake and added waaaaay too many campden tabs to a 5 gallon batch of peach wine i made in september and was racking off the sediment, i dont plan on bottling until march or april, have i ruined this wine or will the sulphur eventually dissipate? i will not make this mistake again however i also read you should add campden with each racking but i was distracted by my toddler and added 1 campden per bottle not per gallon that the carboy holds, oops, the other smaller 1 gal carboys i added one per bottle also will be bottling in march, will my wine have an off taste or will the so2 eventually disappear? please help its a lot of wine to waste

    Reply
    • Joe The Wine Chemist
      Joe The Wine Chemist December 17, 2015 at 10:17 am

      If you added too much sulfite and need to get rid of it, use a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide. The 3% hydrogen that you buy in the pharmacy is perfect. What it does i force oxidized the sulfite. It is clean and safe since it breaks down to hydrogen (gases off) and the oxygen combines with the sulfite to form sulfate. This is the same reaction that occurs if you wait for the sulfite to oxidize by air. You should test residual sulfite to make sure that you are at 25-35ppm level.

      Reply
  • Customer Service

    Mocha, you can get all of the "free" SO2 out of the wine by splashing. You can allow the wine to splatter out of a siphon hose while transferring it to another container. You may need to do this more than once. This will only help the aroma of the wine. A portion of the sulfites have bonded with the wine. There is no practical way to get this out of the wine. This "bound" sulfites are there for good. The bound sulfites have no aroma, but they may effect the flavor of the wine. How much it will affect the flavor varies from one situation to the next. The only way to tell is to taste it and make a judgement on your own.

    Reply
  • mocha

    thanks for your quick response, i racked and splashed i guess time will tell and ill be sure to follow your suggestions and only add campden the three times i should. Should i still add the campden tabs before bottling with this batch or will all this extra sulfite action be enough at bottling time?

    Reply
  • Customer Service
    Customer Service November 28, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Mocha, unfortunately the bound sulfites will do nothing to help protect it. So yes, you do need to add a dose of sulfites before bottling.

    Reply
  • jim ferrino

    i did not add camden tablets before the fermentation process, could i add the tabs when i rack the wine.

    Reply
  • Customer Service
    Customer Service November 28, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Jim, at the earliest, you do not want to add Campden tablets until after the fermentation is done. It is important that your verify with a hydrometer that this is true before adding the tablets. You will also want to add them again right before bottling the wine.

    Reply
  • CaptMorgan

    As you explained above "The only other dose of Campden Tablets we recommend is right before bottling." a couple questios: Do I use the same measurement system of campden as you explained for each racking? When I do add the final campden tablets before bottling what is the time period I should wait before I bottle or can I wait until it dissolves and then just go ahead a bottle? Since this last add of campden tables will be in a carboy - should I leave the stop out of it or is it ok to cap it for whatever time period you answer to the second question?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  • Customer Service
    Customer Service November 28, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    CaptMorgan, when you add the final does before bottling, you want to have a reading of 45 to 55 ppm. The higher level is to allow for loss during aging. Do not wait. Bottle the wine immediately after adding the sulfites.

    Reply
  • CaptMorgan

    Thanks for getting back to me so quick!
    One more question and I wasnt sure if you all could help.

    What is the best brand for fruit and wine press to look for? I am at the point where I can be more cost effective if I start crushing my own fruit for pure juice. Of course I have to be within a budget so I am more interested in the smaller 5 gallon sized ones.

    Reply
  • Customer Service
    Customer Service November 28, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    CaptMorgan, when it comes to home winemaking you really don't have that much selection. There are just not that many producers in such a small market. You basically have presses coming from Italy, which are all equal in quality, any of them will last for generations, and then you have Chinese knock-offs that have recently started to coming into the U.S. Of the Chinese ones I've see, they are inferior to the Italian models and what I would call "toy" quality.

    Reply
  • old fat biker bloke
    old fat biker bloke November 28, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Hello - I thought a teaspoon of powdered metabisulphate was the equivalent to ONE Campden tablet - Article on Wikipedia says:

    "Campden tablets typically weigh 0.44 g each and 10 of these are equivalent to one level teaspoon of sodium metabisulfite"

    Confused now as to how much metabisulphate I should use - Can you put me straight please?!

    Thank you!!

    Reply
  • Customer Service

    Biker Bloke, sorry to say that a Campden tablet has never equaled one teaspoon of sodium metabisulfite. What you have quoted above is correct: 10 tablets = 1 teaspoon.

    Reply
  • John

    I'm making wine from my back yard concord gapes
    I've crushed the gapes added one crushed Camden tablet sprinkled on top didn't mix in. SP reading 60 @ 70 deg.
    Question 1 when do I add the sugar
    Question 2 should I stir the crushed Camden in? (its been 20 hours )

    Reply
  • Customer Service

    John, just be clear, you should be adding one Campden tablet per each gallon of crushed fruit. And yes, the Campden tablet should be crushed first. You should stir in the crushed Campden tablets right away. There should be no delay at all in the process. Crush the Campden tablets; add them to the the crushed grapes; and stir them in. Any needed sugar should be added right away as well. Be sure that it is completely dissolved into the juice. You may want to liquify it into a syrup before adding. Add all the ingredients called for right away, EXCEPT for the yeast. This you will add 24 hours later. Hope this clears things up for you.

    Reply
  • Jack

    Great article, although all the comments have left me a tad confused. If working with a wine kit, the only time I need to add Campden Tablets is: Firstly when I am racking after the original fermentation (i.e. when I am adding the included stabilizer and finings) and Secondly after the wine has cleared and I am ready to bottle?

    Thanks

    Reply
  • Customer Service

    Jack, when you are dealing with wine kits, it is important to follow the directions that are provided. The above article assumes that the wine will take 8 weeks to 6 months before bottling. With most wine ingredient kits they are done in 4 weeks — sometimes 6. This shorter amount of time requires less instances of adding sulfites.

    Reply
  • kip

    Hey. So I have a quick question. I added four campden tablets to my five gallon batch of black berry wine. I guess I made a mistake and covered the bucket with a lid/air lock for 24 hours prior to adding my yeast. Did I add too many campden tablets and will my wine be strange without leaving the container open for the gasses to escape during those first 24 hours? thanks for all the advise.

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Kip, you did not add too many campden tablets. The dosage is one per gallon of wine so 4 tablets in 5-gallons is fine. Leaving the lid on will not cause any flavor issues with the wine. However, leaving the lid on after adding the campden tablets and trapping the gasses inside probably killed the yeast and will need to add another packet. Below I have provided the link to an article that discusses this in more detail.

      Closing Up The Fermenter After Adding Sulfites
      http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-stuck-4

      Reply
  • Zapp Brannigan

    Hi there. My 5 gallons of wine is ready for bottling but I need to stabilize and sweeten to taste first. I was wondering what the best way Is to go about it. Would I thief out about a cup and dissolve 5 campdens into it and then re-add to stabilize, then after 14 hours or so add boiled dissolved sugar to taste, then bottle right off?

    When adding campden right before bottling, can I just stir the dissolved tablets into the carboy using a long stirring tool or is there a preferred method (like racking yet again to help stir it up)?

    Thanks for you time!

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Zapp, first let me clear up something that you may be confused about. Campden tablets do not stabilize against re-fermentation when you back-sweeten your wine. Campden tablets will prevent the wine from spoiling. Potassium sorbate is the the stabilizer you need to add to prevent re-fermentation. You can add the potassium sorbate at any time after fermentation is complete and the wine is clear, then bottle when you are ready. When the campden tablets are added you will bottle the wine immediately. When dissolving the sugar in warm water be sure to let it cool before adding it to the wine. To answer your original question, it is best to dissolve the campden tablets before adding to the wine so they will mix thoroughly. You can dissolve them in a little water or in a little bit of wine as you suggested. As long as the was already racked off any sediment, there is no need to rack it again. Using a long stirring spoon or paddle is fine. Just add them to the wine and bottle immediately.

      Reply
  • Meek

    Hello I have a question I added yeast nutrient to my primary fermenter eith other ingredients when it's time to add the wine yeast will it be ok the make a yeast starter with juice from my wine, yeast nutrient, water and yeast or should I just add yeast

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Meek, it is perfectly fine to make a yeast starter and add it to the juice. The link below will provide information on making a yeast starter.

      Yeast Starter
      http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-yeast-starter

      Reply
  • Juliet

    How long after bottling should the wine sit before drinking? 3 months? 6 months? There is no minimum time? How long does it take the sulfites to dissipate from the bottled wine?
    Thank you - these forums are so helpful to me.

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Juliet, if you are asking how long after adding the sulfites you need to wait before consuming the wine, the answer is that you do not need to wait. You can drink the wine right away. Because the wine is bottled and sealed after adding the last dose of sulfites, they do not dissipate like they would during racking. You want the sulfites to stay in the bottles to protect the wine. I hope this answers your questions.

      Reply
  • costie

    hi,after the fiirst ferment,then transfering for the first rack adding the tablets do you still need to leave the top off if it has a air lock

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Costie, after the primary stage of fermentation which is normally 5-7 days when you rack the wine the first time, you need to put the wine under the airlock for the remainder of the time.

      Reply
  • Todd

    How soon do I have to add camden tablets after pressing my cider? I do not have any left and have three 3 gallon carboys of cider sitting outside.
    Thanks
    Todd Graham

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Todd, you can add the campden tablets to kill off the wild yeast and bacteria anytime at least 24 hours before adding the yeast.

      Reply
  • mick darby

    hi
    i have just bottled my first batch of rhubarb wine, the recipe said use no campden tablets as this would spoil the delicate flavor of the rhubarb. the wine seems fine but will it keep ?
    fantastic forum by the way
    thanks
    mick

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Mick, how long the wine will keep is a big question. The wine could spoil in a couple of weeks, or a couple of years, or not at all. The likelihood of spoilage is not only based on whether or not you used Campden tablets. Other factors, such as: how clean are you as a winemaker; how much alcohol is in the wine... come into play as well. The best thing you can do now is to store the wine in a cool place. In the corner of a basement or cellar is nice. If you do notice a vinegar character start to come over the wine, then you may even want to store it in the refrigerator.

      Reply
  • Carol Thompson

    When I add the crushed Camden tablets at the start to kill wild yeast in (my own grapes or elderberries) Intuit seem to have trouble getting the yeast to start the fermenting after 24 hours. Sometimes after 48 hours I end up adding another yeast packet. Also have tried starting the yeast first and still have issues. What am I doing wrong?

    Reply
  • Kelly

    I am not using a wine kit, I am using Welch's Grape juice to make my first batch of wine. I understand that I do not need to use the campden tablets before fermentation, but I do use them at the first racking and before bottling. Is this correct?

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Kelly, when using Welch's Grape Juice to make wine you do not need to add campden tablets prior to fermentation. You will not add campden tablets until the fermentation is complete because they can damage the yeast and inhibit the fermentation process. Below is an article that discusses when you should use campdent tablets.

      When Do I Add Campden Tablets
      http://www.eckraus.com/blog/add-campden-tablets-to-wine

      Reply
  • Bill

    In your answer to Biker Bloke 10 campdens equal 1 teaspoon. Now I am confused, I have a 1/16 teaspoon measure that I thought was supposed to be the same as 1 campden tablet, so is it 10 per teaspoon or 16? I have been using my 1/16 measure for years as equal to a campden tablet. Thanks for all the great info

    Reply
  • Gary

    Hello - I am currently in day 5 of primary fermentation and will be adding yeast for MLF. After pressing and adding to carboy, do I still add the Campden tablets (or will this kill the MLF)? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Gary, first let me say that you do not want to introduce MLF until the yeast fermentation is complete. When it is time to introduce MLF you do not want to add sulfites. The following article will discuss the process in more detail.

      Malolactic Fermentation
      http://www.eckraus.com/wine-making-malolactic-fermentation

      Reply
  • Gary

    Thank you Ed! Just for clarification, is yeast fermentation completed once primary fermentation is complete and the juice pressed and xfr'd to carboys, or is yeast fermentation the whole process (including secondary fermentation)? If yeast fermentation is the whole process, after primary fermentation and transferring to carboys, should I still add 1 crushed campden tablet per gallon?

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Gary, the yeast fermentation is complete once the specific gravity reading on the hydrometer reads .998 or less. You do not want to add any campden tablets before adding the malolactic culture as it can damage the culture.

      Reply
  • Bill

    After adding the potassium metabolisophite when can I start to drink the wine? Right after or so I have to wait?

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Bill, it is not necessary to wait after adding the potassium metabisulfite before you consume the wine.

      Reply
      • Rick

        Hello bill.I just started making wine using the100% fruit juice.(peach).do I still need to use the tablets?

        Reply
        • Ed Kraus

          Rick, if you talking about fruit juice that you can buy at the grocery store, you do not need to add campden tablets prior to fermentation. If you were making wine from fresh juice or fresh fruit, you would need to add them.

          Reply
  • Sam

    So I'm a chemist and I also love making wine. The simplest way to kill wild yeast is when adding the fruit and sugar use boiling water, then add the tablets to the primary immediately after and leave the lid off. For multiple reasons I won't get into the SO4- gasses off very fast this way. I add yeast 2 or so hours later and the fermentation never stalls. My wine keeps for years, I'm obsessively sterile throughout.

    Reply
  • Troy

    I made a BIG mistake and added the Potassium Sorbate (stabilizer) to my wine 7 day after fermenting, when my kit instructions told me to syphon wine from the primary to the secondary glass one gallon jug. Do I have to throw it all away and start over because I jump the gun on the instructions manual? I'm trying to make a sweet blueberry wine. Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Troy, unfortunately if the fermentation is not already complete, more than likely you will not be able to get it to complete. I would recommend making a yeast starter to try to get the fermentation going again. Here is an article that will explain how to make the yeast starter.

      Yeast Starter
      http://www.eckraus.com/blog/making-a-wine-yeast-starter-to-restart-a-stuck-fermentation

      Reply
  • Cynthia

    I am making guava wine and it is a bit cloudy - I am at the second stage and straining off the fruit would campden help clear my wine it still has 21 days before bottling I was also recommended wine stabiliser (potassium sorbate) to use after campden tablets -- need help cynthia

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Cynthia, first let me say that campden tablets do nothing to help clear a wine. Your wine could be cloudy because it is still fermenting. You do not want to add campden or potassium sorbate until you verify with a hydrometer that the fermentation is complete. If the fermentation is complete and the wine is not clearing, the following article will go over other reasons the wine is cloudy.

      Cloudy Wine
      http://www.eckraus.com/blog/cloudy-wine

      Reply
  • Stephanie Lee

    I have already started my wine and never added any campton tablets. Should I just add them after the first rack? And since you said the tablets need to be exposed to air does that mean I take the wine out of the container with the bubbler, strain it, put in a bucket and add the campton?

    Then after a few days put back in bottle with bubbler?

    Reply
    • Ed Kraus

      Stephanie, if you have already started the fermentation process by adding the yeast, you do not want to add any campden tablets until the fermentation is complete. The campden tablets can destroy the yeast.

      Reply
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