Here's the skinny.
Plastic can contribute an off taste to your brew. That's the biggest reason why not to use it. I do know people who start their cider in the carton, but it's just not the best idea.
A far better alternative is to use a 1g glass jug of apple juice, Whole Foods sells them for like 8$. You'll need an airlock and a drilled stopper, but you can improvise with a baloon carefully strapped to the top of the container with a hole poked in the tip ;D basically you need to let co2 out, and keep fresh air and germs outside.
Keep in mind that cider generally needs to age for a year, so it's better (and really, not much more expensive) to do it right.
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I suggest using plastic bottles called BetterBottles that can be purchased fairly cheaply ($25-$35) in 6.5 gal, 5 gal and I believe smaller varieties from Homebrew Beer stores. I got my 5 gallon one from Northern Brewer. The advantage is that they are lighter than glass (which makes shipping cheap when you buy) and don't shatter easily like a 5 gallon carboy I had.
The milk/water gallon jugs I have heard are more permeable to air which can cause bacterial infection which can A) make apple cider vinegar if you're lucky B) grow all kinds of different colored stuff on the top of your cider which you don't want to drink.
Depends what sort of plastic it is, do you know?
I've been told be (beer) brewers that plastic isn't as good as glass. But they never exactly said why.Wikipedia has this to say about big jugs for fermentation.A wine making site much preferes glass, as do I. The biggest concern is bacteria.With an official brewing glass carboy (jug), it is VERY easy to see if there is any residue on the inside surface. Plastic is much easier to scratch, which means that germs now have a nice cozy little home that's difficult to clean.As far as water jug is concerned, I would say don't use them. Most comercially available ones have a textured surface and are made from very thin plastic. This means more places for germs to live and there is a much worse sealing surface at the top.Bacteria is a brewers enemy. You can put a lot of hard work into a batch, and if you aren't meticulous about bacteria you can waste weeks (months) on a spoiled batch.I think the plastic water jug would "do" as a nice experiment, but would be very risky. Your call :DOh, and don't forget to make an I'ble on how to make hard cider.