If, like most home brewers, you collect your brewing bottles by reusing empties, you probably know how hard it can be to cleanly remove the paper labels that most commercial breweries use. My favourite bottles are Coopers longnecks, because they use nice thick dark brown glass to minimise light, and the mouth is just the right size for my bottle capper to form a good seal without getting stuck like it can with screw-off bottles. Plus Coopers make some pretty damn good beer. But they must use some kind of superglue on the labels, they stick like turd to a blanket.
Of course once you have a clean set of bottles and are using Beerskins labels, you won't have this problem as Beerskins labels are specially designed to peel off cleanly without ripping or leaving gum crud.
Here are my 7 top tips for removing stubborn bottles labels.
1 - Start by soaking in warm water with a small amount of stain remover. Pink stain remover is cheap and works fine, I usually add about 4-5 tablespoons into 50 litres of warm water (a large rubbish bin usually has about 60lt capacity). After a couple of hours, in most cases you'll be able to easily peel off at least the label although some gum will often be left behind. A pot scrubber will help remove much of what remains.
2 - Vegetable oil works great for dissolving leftover gum and glue. Sounds kind of weird I know, but give it a go. Use a cloth or paper towel to rub lots of vegetable oil onto the gum or glue and it will pretty quickly come right off. It won't work if there's too much paper left on top, so make sure you've peeled off as much label as as possible first. Try to not get any oil inside the bottles and be sure to thoroughly clean with hot soapy water afterwards, as nothing kills head quicker than leftover oil residue.
3 - Eucalyptus oil is a magic muck remover, plus it smells good. Its a little harder to get hold of than vegetable oil, but its worth tracking down. Unlike vegetable oil, a little bit will go a long way. Peel off as much label as possible first.
4 - Methylated spirits is another good crud remover, although it doesn't smell so good.
5 - Soaking in warm water with plenty of baking soda added is very effective, but it does take quite a lot of baking soda. About 2 cups in 50 litres of water should do the job nicely. Soak for an hour or so and labels should peel off with ease, or even just float off themselves.
6 - A paint scraper can be a helpful tool for removing stubborn labels, but unless you are very patient and willing to invest plenty of elbow grease then only use it to finish off the job after using another method.
7 - Of course you could always just buy bottles from your local home brew shop. They're not that expensive and it will most likely save you a couple of hours.
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