Bentonite - hydrating, the easy way

Postby Steenbok » Tue May 27, 2014 05:18

I use bentonite as a routine additive in white and rosé, to kill off "protein haze", also known as chill haze because it shows up when you cool the wine.

This stuff is a clay, a grey powder. If you attempt to hydrate it by dumping it in cold water, it goes into clumps. It's not much better in warm water, frustrating stuff, and that's a pity, because this is a key thing to know about, to get any wine (except maybe a red) clear.

Anyway, what you need to do is:

- boil about an inch of water in a pan, and turn it down so it's just simmering.

- measure what you need to use. Here in the heartland of whisky, the water is so soft that a lean ½ tsp is fine for a gallon. If you have hard water, you'll need more.

- put the bentonite in a used chemical tub, and sprinkle it gently into the boiling pan. And that's it. No clumping.

When it cools, you'll have to swirl it before adding to your brew. The black stuff that's a sediment is biotite mica (I think); absolutely harmless, and inert, but easier to discard now than to clean out of a DJ.

This stuff has a "best before" date, which will make fellow geology fans smile.

Last edited by Steenbok on Wed May 28, 2014 00:59, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bentonite - hydrating, the easy way

Postby robwalker » Tue May 27, 2014 22:17

Could I use this in beer to prevent chill haze? It's the only thing affecting my clarity these days...
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Re: Bentonite - hydrating, the easy way

Postby Steenbok » Wed May 28, 2014 00:57

robwalker wrote:Could I use this in beer to prevent chill haze? It's the only thing affecting my clarity these days...


I don't know whether it is used in beer -- I mostly make wine these days. It works by having a massive surface area (finely divided particles), and adsorbing the charged protein molecules.

It might take out something that's part of the flavour. It needs to be used cautiously in red wine, because it can strip some of the colour.

Does "Irish moss" (carrageenan) work, to take out protein in beer wort?
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Re: Bentonite - hydrating, the easy way

Postby EvansTheSteam » Wed May 28, 2014 03:05

I've found a liquidiser works very well, even with cold water.

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