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Labels can be difficult to remove from bottles. Not only do labels tend to leave adhesive behind, but they can be hard and time-consuming to peel off. Thankfully, there are a few quick and easy ways to remove the label no matter the shape of your bottle or its label.
There are three main types of bottle labels. Plastic bottle labels are the easiest to remove and clean. Glass bottle labels can be difficult to remove. Cork bottle labels are the most difficult to remove.
For our purposes we’re going to go over getting labels off of glass beer bottles.
But before we start the process of getting labels off of bottles, a few tips for reusing beer bottles when homebrewing.
Types of Beer or Wine Bottles to Reuse
Use brown or amber color bottles since they offer good UV protection against light which can give it a skunked tase.
Wine bottles are usually more clear when compared to beer bottles, so this rule of thumb is more for beer bottles.
When it comes to bottle beer caps, use bottles with caps that you have to use a bottle opener for. Bottles with easy twist off bottle caps aren’t as good when you want to bottle your homebrewed beer.
Now that you have the right beer bottles to use let’s get into removing the labels.
Boiling Method Using Hot Water
With this method we’ll talk about boiling water in a tea kettle which will be easier to pour into the bottle.
Let the bottle fill with some warm water and let it soak for about 10 minutes while the boiling water in your kettle heats up. That way, both of them will reach a higher temperature since hotter glass with warm water is less likely to crack than having a cold liquid immersed in boiling water.
When your water has boiled, and you have poured warm to hot water in your bottle, now you’ll want to pour out the hot water. The bottle is now warmed, making it less likely to crack with boiling water.
Peeling the Label Off
Preferably, put on some mitts and get the tea kettle to start pouring the boiling water into the bottle. This boiling water should help to make the adhesive less sticky, making it easier to peel the label back.
You may notice some adhesive is left behind, or you start to not get most of the label. If this happens, try other corners and get a good pull of the label to make as much off as you can to make the next step easier.
Get the Adhesive Off
To get the remaining adhesive off you’ll want to get baking soda or a cooking oil, paper towels or rags, and a bowl.
Put some oil and baking soda in a bowl with a 2 to 1 ratio of oil to baking soda. You don’t need a lot, just enough to make a paste and let it sit for a couple of minutes or longer if there is a lot of label and residue left. Apply the mix to any sticky residue left on the bottle using your finger.
Take your paper towels or rags and rub against the remaining adhesive, which should remove the rest of the sticky mess.
Clean the Bottle to Reuse
Now that the residue has been removed, you’ll want to clean the bottle by soaking and pouring water along with liquid soap to get anything left on the bottle.
Once you have the outside bottle cleaned and plan to re-use the bottle, you can simply put it in the dishwasher to thoroughly clean anything you missed while soaking, as well as the high temperature steam will help to kill bacteria.
Reusing bottles is a great way to reduce waste and save money when homebrewing. It’s important to make sure you are cleaning and sterilizing them in between uses.
Most homebrewers choose to keep their bottles label free after removing a commercial label, but sometimes you want to give them as gifts or even sell your beer. Now that you have a clean glass beer bottle you can use a bottle labeler to place a label of your own on there.
Labels are often difficult to remove, but hopefully this boiling water method makes it much easier for you when you want to make beer at home and reuse beer bottles!