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What Is a Campden Tablet?

If you are learning how to make your own wine at home, you may be wondering about a few terms that you keep coming across in your research. Campden tablets, for example, can help you make and preserve professional-grade wine at home. Before using these tablets, you will first need to understand their purpose.

Uses of Campden Tablets in Winemaking

You may have perfected racking your wine — or transferring your wine from vessel to vessel during the fermentation process — but did you know that by exposing your wine to oxygen, you also risk the introduction of microorganisms to the liquid? Campden tablets are dissolving sulfur-based compounds. When added to a liquid, this sodium metabisulfite in the tablets kills harmful bacteria and sterilizes the wine you are working hard to make. These tablets are necessary for the following reasons.

1. Adding Sulfites to Sterilize

Though you have introduced yeast to your wine during the fermentation process, you do not want bacteria, or wild yeast to be present. The sulfites in Campden tablets kill bacteria that could give your wine off-flavors

2. Preventing Oxidation

When your wine is moved around between vessels or barrels, oxygen enters the liquid. This isn’t good because the oxidation process affects how the resulting wine tastes as well as its color. Adding a Campden tablet allows the compounds in the tablet to combine with any entering oxygen and stop the oxidation process before it starts.

3. Removing Chlorine From Water

Campden tablets can also be used to remove residual chlorine from tap water. Even filtered tap water, unfortunately, contains traces of chlorine. Campden tablets do not “erase” chlorine from your water, but they break the compound down into chloride, sulfate, and ammonia and effectively neutralize it and allow it to dissipate.