How To Use An Auto Siphon

I remember when I first entered the home brewing realm. I was so excited yet clueless, and it seemed like an impossible task. 

I soon learned of the siphoning process, which was admittedly challenging. And, thankfully, I soon found out about an auto-siphon that eased the entire process. Hopefully, it will help you out as much as it did me.

Read on to learn how to use an auto-siphon, the various components of this device, and the merits of using one. 

Components of an Auto Siphon

An auto-siphon comprises four components, each of which plays a vital role in the device’s efficiency. 

Although some of the components are similar to a regular siphon, their mechanism has helped completely revolutionize the siphoning process. It consists of the following components:

PVC Tube

The PVC tube is a large tube with a smaller racking cane at the tip (I’ll talk more about this later). 

The tube has a cork at the end with a valve attached at the bottom. The valve is mostly a one-way path for the liquid. It helps create a vacuum that’s essential for the siphoning process to occur.

Racking Cane

The racking cane is probably the most vital part of an auto-siphon.  It’s a smaller tube made of plastic, bent on one end and paired with a plunger on the other end. 

The straighter end with a plunger is the side that’s fitted into the PVC tube for siphoning. The plunger side is tightly sealed to ensure minimal airflow, creating a vacuum that enables liquid flow through the pipe.

Sediment Blocking Tip

The sediment blocking tip is a black cap placed at the end of the racking cane. 

It prevents sediment flow as the liquid moves the fermenter to the vessel. However, it’s not always efficient in blocking sediment flow in some cases, especially when it’s submerged in your fermenter.

Siphon Tubing

The siphon tubing is not always included in the initial purchase of the auto-siphon but can be purchased separately at various stores. 

It’s small flexible tubing attached to the bent end of the racking cane to enable the proper flow of liquid through to the racking cane. It also allows the siphon to run automatically.

How to Use an Auto Siphon

If you have used a siphon before, then using it should be a breeze for you. But if you have never used one before, there’s no need to worry because it’s relatively easy to use. 

Below are the steps you must follow to ensure proper use of your auto-siphon.

1. Properly Position the Vessel

Before starting the siphoning process, you need to ensure that the vessel from which you’re siphoning is higher than the container in which you’re about to store your beer. 

If the vessel from which the liquid is leaving is lower than the desired storage point, then the liquid won’t flow through. 

Also, if the vessels are at the same level, the liquid will flow slowly. Therefore, to ensure proper and maximum liquid flow, always ensure the fermenter is higher than the storage vessel.

2. Sanitize the auto siphon

Before placing any parts of the auto-siphon into the liquid, ensure you properly sanitize all the siphon parts. 

Doing so ensures that no accidental bacterial contamination from the siphon occurs, which would tarnish the entire process.

3. Lower the tube into the liquid  

Place the racking tube into the liquid to be transferred and the PVC tube into the desired storage vessel. 

Gently lower the tube into the liquid to avoid disturbing the sediment at the bottom of the fermenter. 

Disturbing the sediment might result in it also being transferred into the new storage vessel.

4. Lift the Racking Cane

While lowering the tube into the liquid, ensure that you lift the racking cane, carefully and firmly pressing the racking cane into the line for the process to commence properly. Continue by forcing the racking cane back down to create a suction that results in the liquid flow from the fermenter to the storage vessel.

5. Wait for Complete Transfer of the Liquid

Once the flow starts, your work is done. All you have to do is wait for the liquid to get transferred via gravity.

If you follow the steps above exactly, you’re sure to achieve the best results possible. However, should the flow of liquid stop, you only have to pump the siphon a few times to restart the entire process. Otherwise, the process should flow smoothly.

Benefits of Using an Auto Siphon

For newbie homebrewers, I recommend getting an auto-siphon to improve your brewing process and help you make the tastiest product possible. 

An auto-siphon offers the following benefits:

Reduced Chances of Oxygen Intake

Minimizing the amount of oxygen exposure is an essential factor in the brewing process. Exposing your product to even the slightest hint of oxygen may diminish its quality. 

By using an auto-siphon, you minimize the chances of oxygen intake. To avoid any oxygen infusion, all you need to do is completely submerge the end of the hose in the liquid.

Easy to Use

An auto-siphon is simple in design and use. 

Compared to an ordinary siphon tube which you have to pre-fill or, in some cases, suck the hose (which, mind you, is sometimes a real challenge), the auto-siphon helps you jump right past that process and straight to brewing. You don’t have to start the siphon, a feature that newbies can appreciate.

Easy to clean

If you’re familiar with the brewing process, you’re probably familiar with the mess it makes and the work needed afterward to clean up everything. 

With the auto-siphon, cleaning couldn’t be easier because it comes in four easily detachable parts for easier cleaning. Plus, it’s made of easy-to-clean standard plastic tubing.

FAQs

If you’re new to homebrewing, you probably have several questions. I know I did. Below are some frequently asked questions by newbie homebrewers:

How Can I Manage a Consistent Flow While Siphoning?

Maintaining a proper liquid flow from the fermenter to the storage vessel is the main challenge when siphoning. 

I noticed that placing the fermenter at a higher level than the receiving container helped me maintain a continuous flow.

How Do I Prevent an Overflow When Starting a Siphon With a Full Carboy?

If you’re siphoning into a small container and anticipate overflow, lift the tube out of the liquid to prevent the overflow. 

Although this exposes the liquid to some oxygen, your stored fluid is bound to be safe. 

If you’re siphoning directly into a bottle, it’s essential to have a bottling wand. It allows you to slow down the flow of liquid without altogether terminating it.

How Can I Prevent Oxygen Seeping Into My Brew While Siphoning?

Most newbies are unaware that introducing any oxygen to the liquid reduces its overall quality. It exposes it to various infections. 

Therefore, there’s a need for caution here as it would be heartbreaking to throw away your brew because it got exposed to oxygen.

It’s unfortunate that siphoning relies on gravity and atmospheric pressure, two forces that are out of your control. Therefore, while siphoning, you need to be very vigilant and careful. Some very minor mistakes could lead to catastrophic results.

Before diving straight into siphoning your brew, it’s best first to practice siphoning with water to ensure you can confidently execute the process. Do this several times before you siphon your brew, and in time you’ll get a handle on this fundamental step.  

How Should I Sanitize my Auto Siphon?

I recommend cleaning your auto-siphon while you clean your carboy. You want to fill the carboy with a cleaning solution and dip your auto-siphon into the solution. 

To clean the inside thoroughly, place one end of the auto-siphon in the solution and then pump repeatedly.

Can I Fix Any Broken Parts On My Auto Siphon, Or Do I Have To Buy Another?

The most common cause of faulty parts on an auto-siphon is when the little flapper valve at the bottom pops out. However, you need not worry because this does not mean that you have to buy a new auto-siphon. All you need to do is replace the defective part or manually fix it.

In some cases where homebrewers mess with the racking cane, they end up having to buy a new auto-siphon because continuing to use it is likely to tamper with the quality of their product. It tends to allow the intake of air. 

If you notice your racking cane and tube have a few air bubbles, it’s best first to replace your auto-siphon just to maintain the quality to which you’re accustomed.