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When Do I Add Campden Tablets To My Homemade Wine?

Posted on November 12, 2012 by Ed Kraus There have been 25 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.


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 will 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.

We also recommend that you add another dose of Campden Tablets as soon as the fermentation has completed. You should confirm with a gravity hydrometer that the fermentation has actually completed and not stuck 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 up until the time it is consumed.

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.

Having 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 anymore. 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're not will to test, don't add more than what's recommended above.

I hope this answers you question and concerns about the use of sulfites in your homemade wine. I wanted to point out that this line of thinking 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 you will be adding the same amount of sulfites in each case.

Happy Wine Making,
Customer Service at E. C. Kraus
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 Q&A, Wine Making Blog

25 Responses to When Do I Add Campden Tablets To My Homemade Wine?

  • Mike
    Mike says:

    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.

    Posted on November 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service says:

    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.

    Posted on November 21, 2012 at 3:33 pm

  • Mike Marra
    Mike Marra says:

    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.

    Posted on November 30, 2012 at 7:53 am

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service says:

    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.

    Posted on November 30, 2012 at 9:28 am

  • Harry Begg
    Harry Begg says:

    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.

    Posted on December 21, 2012 at 6:11 am

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service says:

    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.

    Posted on December 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm

  • Bill Kagy
    Bill Kagy says:

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

    Posted on December 24, 2012 at 4:31 am

  • sylvia
    sylvia says:

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

    Posted on December 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service says:

    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.

    Posted on December 28, 2012 at 6:20 am

  • mocha
    mocha says:

    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

    Posted on January 9, 2013 at 7:16 am

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service says:

    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.

    Posted on January 9, 2013 at 7:28 am

  • mocha
    mocha says:

    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?

    Posted on January 9, 2013 at 11:28 am

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service says:

    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.

    Posted on January 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm

  • jim ferrino
    jim ferrino says:

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

    Posted on January 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service says:

    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.

    Posted on January 17, 2013 at 6:03 am

  • CaptMorgan
    CaptMorgan says:

    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!

    Posted on June 7, 2013 at 8:11 am

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service says:

    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.

    Posted on June 7, 2013 at 8:25 am

  • CaptMorgan
    CaptMorgan says:

    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.

    Posted on June 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service says:

    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.

    Posted on June 8, 2013 at 7:00 am

  • old fat biker bloke
    old fat biker bloke says:

    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!!

    Posted on September 26, 2013 at 12:29 pm

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service says:

    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.

    Posted on September 27, 2013 at 6:40 am

  • John
    John says:

    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 )

    Posted on November 3, 2013 at 1:23 pm

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service says:

    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.

    Posted on November 4, 2013 at 6:49 am

  • Jack
    Jack says:

    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?


    Posted on December 1, 2013 at 11:33 am

  • Customer Service
    Customer Service says:

    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.

    Posted on December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm