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Food Grade vs. Industrial Grade CO2

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  • Food Grade vs. Industrial Grade CO2

    Hi, all I am new to the forum and this is my first post. Glad to see there is a great resource for dedicated beer lovers. Sorry for the long post in advance.

    I have been searching the forum and the net to find the answer to the question of what type of C02 do I need to put in my tank "Food Grade vs. Industrial Grade" and how does it affect my beer and my health. The answers I have found have run the gamut. So I don't know what to believe here is a sample:

    1. Some say CO2 is CO2, it's all the same thing so get the cheapest stuff you can get your hands on and start drinking instead of worrying.

    2. Some say Food Grade CO2 is more pure than Industrial Grade and even go so far as to say that the Industrial Grade CO2 is so contaminated that it can cause serious irreversible heath problems like cancer and respiratory failure.

    3. Some say the CO2 is the same purity but the only difference is that Food Grade has a different tank lined with glass. (Sounds logical but then why do most of the Kegerators come with Aluminum Tanks w/ no glass lining vs steel ones welders tend to use. All Kegerators would need food grade stuff right?)

    4. Some say the CO2 is the same but the Food Grade CO2 must be refilled with extra steps that include cleaning and sterilizing the inside of the tank so most of the time you can only get it with a swap out instead of a fill-up and it cost more.

    5. Some say Industrial Grade is more pure and thus costs more.

    I finally just when out to the first place I could find (AirGas near LA, CA) and had my 5 LB Aluminum Tank Filled with CO2. The receipt says Carbon Dioxide, 2.2 UN1013, (Carbon Dioxide 5LBS CGA 320 - Item Number CD 5). I though I was all good but when I got home I was browsing the net and found my item number on their web site and noticed under the heading Caution it said "Caution: For industrial use only. Not for human consumption or for use in foods or beverages" see link they also had this which is the real food grade stuff but it only comes in 50 LB tanks enough to dispense a boat load of beer.

    I quickly called them and they said the CO2 they fill with is great for everything from Kegerators to Welders to Fire Extinguishers and their customers use it for everything. That made me feel a little better but maybe he was just telling me what I wanted to hear. Anyway, I want to start the beer flowing but does anybody have a definitive answer on what to use (I love beer but would prefer to avoid lung cancer and/or respiratory failure.) Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    There is a big misnomer when it comes to the word "industrial". It conjures images of dirty, greasy assembly lines and that has little to do with the grade of gas they put in the bottle.

    What you're wanting to know is your purity. In my job I deal with scientific grade gasses (%99.99999). Industrial gasses and food gasses are both %99.97 in purity, they're literally the same gas. The difference from the distributor (and why you need a 50# food bottle) is the container itself. Approved "food gas" containers are glass lined, industrial containers are unlined steel. This is because in the unlikely event of a backflow there's the posibility of rust contaminating the inside of the bottle and making its way into the product causing a variety of health problems. This is why the cost is more in refilling food grade containers, by law they must be washed and then refilled.

    Short version... the gas is no more dirty than your food grade stuff, and you won't suffer any health problems from using it other than some slight weight gain depending on your grade of beer.

    That being said... I believe micromatic sells a CO2 filter system that removes any possible particulate contamination from the gas, just depends on how much you want to spend on peace of mind.

    Hope that clears it up for you.
    Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.

    Ernest Hemingway


    • #3
      Originally posted by jumper View Post
      I deal with scientific grade gasses (%99.99999). Industrial gasses and food gasses are both %99.97 in purity, they're literally the same gas.
      Hi I know this post is ancient but I am interested in this topic. I recently got a copy of a certificate of performance from Air gas and the numbers differ from what you posted here.

      For industrial the gas is "assay" 99.8% or greater.

      For beverage the "purity" is 99.5% or greater and they list a bunch of other allowable contaminents.

      Not being in the the gas business I don't know what the difference between the term "assay" means versus the term "purity. I can't attach the certificate becuase the two page pdf exceeds the file size for some reason.


      • #4
        Yeah but one molecule here or there. 99. is pure for all reason. you want to split 3/10ths of a %?

        Only thing you need to known is air gun Co2 has oil infused, Don't buy that.