When I began making hot sauce it was in small batches of one or two bottles at a time because I was always experimenting with different recipes. Now I have perfected the hot sauce recipe, increased the quantity of each ingredient and make enough sauce to fill several bottles from one batch. I need to increase the capacity of my operations. Dumping hot sauce from a pan or blender and into a bottle using a funnel can be time consuming and cumbersome but easy for the beginner or hobbyist. Consider bottle filling machines to speed up production and make filling 5 oz or 10 oz woozy bottles much easier.
Hot sauce woozy bottles can be filled using gravity fed machines or pneumatic, piston driven pumps. Both styles of machines can regulate the amount of sauce to be put in each bottle. Gravity fed machines can be purchased for under $200, are semi-automated and can fill up to 20 bottles a minute depending on the bottle size. A bottle filling piston driven pump can cost more than $600 and has the capacity to fill over 10 fluid ounces at a time. Fully functional automated machines can cost over $2,500 and can fill over 60 bottles a minute.
Don’t confuse a bottle filling machine with a dispenser. A dispenser is a device that is placed on a larger container and pumped manually into bottles, bowls or dishes at uneven intervals such as a ketchup dispenser in a restaurant. This may work for a hot sauce with the consistency of a condiment such as ketchup but is difficult to regulate the amount of sauce.
However, there are many versions of these devises and they are usually much less expensive than other more complex bottle filling machines. If you work in a kitchen or restaurant there is probably one available for use. I would not rule out using a dispenser to fill hot sauce bottles, but I wouldn’t use them for mass production either.
Best method of filling hot sauce bottles for beginners?
Assuming you have a shelf stable hot sauce with a pH of about 3.4, using a funnel to fill a 5 oz or 10 oz woozy bottle is the simplest method and least expensive way to fill a hot sauce bottle. Funnels come in many shapes and sizes and can be much less money than some bottle filling machines. However, it is very time consuming, can get messy and it can be difficult to get the same amount in each bottle.
Plastic funnels can cost just a few dollars, but I prefer stainless steel utensils in my kitchen space. Even these types of funnels can be purchased for under $10.00 for a set of three so this is what I would recommend for the hot sauce hobbyist or beginner. Get a Set of 3 Plastic Funnels or a Set of 3 Metal Funnels by Norpro from Amazon.
There isn’t much science in the type of funnel you need to use…it just needs to fit into the bottle. I prefer a funnel with the widest mouth possible so the sauce will drain faster into the bottle. Also, if your sauce is thick, has a texture or contains any seeds you will need a funnel with a wide mouth so debris will not get stuck in the end. You don’t want to have to jam a skewer through the end to force sauce into the bottle…trust me I have done it. This same factor about consistency will affect the bottle filling machine selected.
Use measuring cup and funnel
There are ways to speed up production if all you intend to use are funnels. If your sauce is a thicker consistency than ketchup or if it is the texture of salsa than you may want to use another bottle type with a wide mouth, and another means of filling such as a piston driven machine.
Use a wide mouth funnel and a measuring cup to fill bottles faster and more precisely. Using some type of measuring cup will allow the hot sauce bottle to be filled with the same amount every time. This gives a professional appearance to your sauce and you will want the same appearance when mass producing. This Pyrex measuring cup belonged to my Mother and I have had it for years. Follow this link to get a Set of 3 Pyrex Glass Measuring Cups from Amazon or a 10 Piece Stainless Steel Set here.
You can also mark each bottle with a wipe away marker or piece of tape that gives an exact amount that each bottle will have and use your eye to gauge the amount of sauce in each bottle. This will also be very time consuming but is an easy and accurate method of getting the same amount of sauce in each bottle.
What to look for in a bottle filling machine
If you are entering the hot sauce market than your budget will most likely be very limited so the cost of the machine will make a difference. However, generally speaking a more expensive machine will have a higher capacity of output and a greater range per bottle.
Also keep in mind when purchasing the importance of the function of the machine and the capacity to expand in the future. If you purchase a machine in which you need to pull a lever three times to fill a single 5 oz bottle…imagine what it would take to fill several cases.
High quality craftsmanship
Chances are the machine you purchase is going to breakdown at one point but that does not necessarily mean that it is low quality. Price can also have a direct correlation with high or low quality of many products.
Functions for you needs
You will want a machine that can fill the size of hot sauce bottles that you intend to use. Most machines advertise the amount in milliliters because it is an international unit of measure so you will need to know the conversion into ounces otherwise each bottle will need multiple fills.
For example: If you have a 5 oz woozy bottle but your machine only has the capacity to fill 50 ml (1.69 oz) at one time you would need trigger the filling mechanism 3 times. Reference the table below to convert ounces to milliliters.
|OUNCE TO MILLILITER CONVERSION|
|Common Hot Sauce Bottle Sizes||Milliliter Conversion|
|2 ounces||59.14 ml|
|5 ounces||147.86 ml|
|10 ounces||295.73 ml|
|12 ounces||354.88 ml|
The milliliter measurements are some common units for machines available at the entry level. To ensure less effort on the person filling bottle and decreased wear and tear on the machine choose a machine that has the filling capacity of at least 300 ml.
|MILLILITER TO OUNCE CONVERSION|
|Common Bottle Machine Capacities||Ounce Conversion|
|50 ml||1.69 oz|
|100 ml||3.38 oz|
|300 ml||10.14 oz|
|1,000 ml||33.81 oz|
Types of bottle filling machines
Manual gravity fed machines, machine pumps or piston driven pneumatic machines are the three different types of bottle filling machines that can be used to fill hot sauce bottles on a beginner or commercial level. All of them may not work for your hot sauce because consistency of the hot sauce has a lot to do with the machine selected. Thinker sauces, salsa or chutney will need to be filled or forced with a piston driven pneumatic machine. Whereas a sauce with a traditional liquid consistency closer to water can use gravity fed machines. However, a pump will only work for a substance the consistency of water.
Difference between, gravity, pump, pneumatic and piston?
Gravity or Manual
This type of machine uses the weight of the sauce to feed it into a bottle. Also called paste filling machines they can be used with thicker and heavier sauces. The sauce is triggered by a hand operated lever and gives a precise adjustable amount to fill varying bottle sizes.
These are the best machines for individuals, hobbyist or professionals who have a low start up budget, small staff and want a simplified system. They are portable enough to be brought into rented kitchen space and also very easy to clean.
This type of machine uses an internal pump to suck the product from a larger source and into smaller containers. These type of tabletop machines are designed for a low viscosity liquid without any particles. There are many variations and sizes of this type of machine and the costs vary as well but they won’t work with a chunky sauce.
Pneumatic means that the machine is operated by air pressure. This type of machine uses a piston inside a hollow cylinder where the air is forced to create the pressure used to force a thicker sauce into bottles. Lower costing machines in the $500 to $600 range will require the use of an air compressor that does not come with the machine. Larger more expensive machines on the commercial level will have compressors built in and can cost between $5,000 and $10,000.
What is the best bottle filling machine for beginners?
Most types of machines were invented to help make production easier and more efficient and so were bottle filling machines. There are two styles that this article looks at specifically and that is the gravity fed manual machine and the piston driven pneumatic pump fed machine.
These are the best machines for individuals, hobbyist or professionals who have a low start up budget, limited kitchen space and small operations staff. They are portable enough to be brought into a rented kitchen space and easy to clean.
There are variations of this style of machine in which they can be manually operated with a hand lever or operated with a foot pedal attached to a compressor.
The Pros and Cons of a manual liquid or paste filling machine
This is the least expensive and easiest bottle filling machine for someone entering the hot sauce business. There are many versions of this same machine available and they all work relatively the same way.
Sumeve produces this machine that includes several variations and they also manufacturer pneumatic machines on the commercial level. The A03 5-50ml model is available direct from Sumeve or this link through Amazon.
Hot sauce is poured into the top, a lever with an adjusted amount is pulled and that is it! These machines are very mobile and do not require the use of electricity. However, there is some physical labor involved and the amount of sauce it is able to fill at one time is very limited.
The pros of a manual bottle filling machine
There are many variations and brands of this type of machine and many can be purchased for under $200.00. That is a great deal for a machine that can fill at the capacity or speed that an individual can achieve.
These machines are very portable and very easy to operate. At under 25 lbs they can be moved to different locations of the kitchen. The placement of the machine on a standard counter puts the lever at a comfortable chest level.
Does not need electricity
A gravity fed bottle filling machine does not need electricity (unless you choose a model that requires a compressor) because it uses the weight of the sauce to feed it into the bottle. As mentioned above, a thicker sauce may have some difficulty with this method. These machines are often classified as paste filling machines because a sauce with this consistency can also be used.
The cons of a manual bottle filling machine
Most of the machines of this type have a limited capacity which means you would need to use several motions to fill a 5 oz or 10 oz woozy bottle. The A03 model from Sumeve only has a capacity to fill 50 ml (1.69 oz) at one time.
It is difficult to not have any labor involvement in any type of production but pulling a lever to fill 1,000 bottles of hot sauce in one day may get laborious. It will get more laborious if you need to pull it several times to fill one bottle.
Have to hold the bottle
You may be able to set up an elevated and secure resting place for your bottle to securely rest in place but someone will still have to handle each bottle. This is not uncommon for many types of entry level machines.
Cannot be used on chunky sauces like salsa or chutney
Chunky sauces or even a hot sauce with seeds can clog the nozzle. Machines for these type of sauces are bigger and more expensive because they require the use of forced air with pistons. Don’t change the consistency of your sauce to fit the machine type.
Doesn’t mount on a counter top
The base of the machine doesn’t have an option to mount it to a counter top, work bench or table. Although it is very stable without mounting it, larger machines or machines that use forced air will need to be mounted to a work table.
The Pros and cons of an automatic pump
There are small tabletop pumps available but these are generally for a substance that is liquid such as juice or the consistency of water. These pumps are not designed to suck a thicker substance and they typically have a filter at the end of the tube to catch any debris or particles. The GFK – 160 Automatic Bottle Filler from DPL is a foot pedal operated machine capable of filling up to 3,500 ml (118 oz) at a time. Check pricing here through Amazon. Vevor (pictured) makes a similar machine purchased here from Vevor or through this link to Amazon.
The pros of an automatic pump
Small and compact
These machines are very small, compact and portable enough to be moved within your kitchen or from location to location. They are very lightweight and will not take up a lot of counter or kitchen space.
Machines of this type can be purchased well under $100. If you are on a budget and produce a liquid sauce than this machine would be a great option.
The cons of an automatic pump
This machine can only pump a substance with the consistency of water and will not work with a thick sauce or a sauce that has particles. This is true for many machines that are similar in size and pricing.
Table top piston filling hot sauce machine
While a machine of this size may be very precise and efficient there is still a lot of manual labor involved with filling each bottle. However, efficiency is greatly increase and they are usually powerful enough for thick sauces or sauces with particles. Machines from Vevor can fill up to 1000 ml in one press of the foot pedal and have less expensive machines for 500 ml, 300 ml or 100 ml capacities. Check pricing here at Amazon.
The pros and cons of a pneumatic bottle filling machine
These machines are often referred to as paste filling machines and because of the content is forced they can bottle thicker sauces that include particles, chucks or seeds. A set up of cleared off tables or counters with two or more people may be needed.
The pros of a pneumatic machine
They can fill a lot of bottles
These machines are on the professional end of the spectrum of bottle filling machines. A machine of this caliber is capable of filling 50 – 60 bottles a minute. This will increase production immensely especially if you intend to fill cases at a time.
Expensive products do not always mean higher quality but the more that you spend on a bottle filling machine the closer you will get to a commercial quality machine. Because machines are manufactured to produce a larger quantity, they need to be made with a higher quality standard.
The cons of a pneumatic machine
Need air compressors to operate
Pneumatic piston driven machines in this price range will need an external air compressor for the machine to work. These can cost between $200 – $300 in addition to the bottle filling machine and may require hoses and adapters.
Require a lot of table top or counter top space
A machine of this size will require a lot of table top or counter top space and may need to be permanently installed. Some more expensive machines have the option of a stand designed and manufactured specifically for the type of machine.
Because of the size of a pneumatic machine these machines are intended to be set up in one place and are not designed to be portable. Decide on a location before you select the machine that you need.
Top Hot Sauce Bottle Filling Machines
|No||Link||1.69 oz||Needs |
10 – 300 ml
|Semi Auto||Link||Up to |
|Semi Auto||Link||Up to|
|Huge line |
100 – 1,000 ml
|Link||Up to |
|Foot pedal |
|Semi||Link||Up to |
|Needs air compressor|
|Under $1,000||Semi||Link||3.4 oz|| Filling |
| Web Site|
Fill bottles before labeling
Always fill your bottles and cap them for storage or sale before you apply any labels. There is always the chance that some of the hot sauce will drip down the side and ruin the label.
If you hot sauce making hobby has expanded into mass production than you may want to consider using a machine to fill your bottles. It will increase efficiency and fill each bottle with a precise amount to give a professional appearance.