Thursday, 31 May 2007

Care of Cooperage

A rule of thumb for wet cooperage is: once wet always wet. You may store your vessel filled with water indefinitely. Simply change the water monthly, and add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water to ensure the wood remains sweet. We highly advise people to refrain from using chlorine bleach, as we have recently discovered bleach causes the cells of the wood to corrode, rendering the wood porous.
If you do not have facility for keeping your cooperage wet, at least keep it damp by storing it in a cool, damp place (basements or showers are great) and fill with water weekly, allow to sit for the day, and then dump the water.
Do not store your cooperage outside in freezing temperatures, as the wood will expand and may crack.
If storing a vessel outside during warm weather, do not allow to remain on the ground for a long period of time, else this will encourage wood lice and other critters to feast on your cooperage.
If your vessel has stood empty and dry the staves and pieced bottoms may be loose and the vessel more like a colander than a watertight vessel. One way to season it is to simply place the vessel in a large, heavy-duty garbage bag, fill both the vessel and the bag with water in full sun, close up the bag and allow to sit for 24 hours. This will create an atmosphere in which the wood can again absorb water and ensure the vessel is watertight. However, this method will only work so many times, because every time your cooperage dries out the wood shrinks more and more. Eventually you'll end up sending your cooperage back to us for some much needed hospitalization and repair. Moral: keep your cooperage wet or at least damp.
Wood is porous, so to ensure a food vessel does not become contaminated with detergents, we recommend you use one vessel for detergent wash water, and one for potable water.
Steel hoops will naturally rust. If you wish to maintain some preventative measures, use any food safe oil on the hoops, such as tung oil or vegetable oil.The rope we use is #1 grade manila. Rope hooping is odd in that when it becomes wet it appears to shrink (in fact it swells and takes up more room, thereby binding the vessel tighter); when dry it appears to expand, in that it becomes slack. All our rope hooping is woven securely in place using time-honoured traditions, as well as tacked to ensure the hoops won't fall off when your vessel is out of use for a long period of time.
Do not paraffin or in any manner attempt to seal the wood of your cooperage. This will destroy the wood's natural ability to absorb moisture and thereby keep the cooperage tight. If the cooperage is made right there's no need to seal it. It's already watertight.
If you own wood-hooped cooperage, you must always keep the vessel wet or damp, else the hoops, over time, will burst.

Comments and News

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