bleach as sanitizer?

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bleach as sanitizer?

Postby beerthirty » Wed May 14, 2008 11:10 pm

New to brewing, less than dozen batches. I have been reading the forums and books. Some of the books say that a very dilute solution of bleach (1.5 teaspoons per 5 gall of water) works well as a sanitizer as long as it is rinsed out well with hot water is fine. But everything I have read online says to use commercially prepared sanitizers. I'm trying to keep equipment costs down so the expense can go to quality ingredients. Whats the story on sanitizers?
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Postby brewmeisterintng » Thu May 15, 2008 7:21 am

I used bleach for quite some time to save money and switched to Star San about two years ago. The only notable problems I had with bleach are that I have spots on a few pair of pants where I have splashed. The other issue is that bleach will eat stainless. So, if you are using glass and plastic there is no problem. Like you said... must do a good rinse. If you decide to switch to Star San later, there is no rinsing involved and you can buy the large bottles which seem to last a long time. Oh, it is reusable for a couple of batches.
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Bleach

Postby slothrob » Thu May 15, 2008 10:47 am

Bleach requires rinsing as it will add bad flavors to beer. If you're not rinsing with boiled water you're adding bugs back to your sanitized equipment. Once you've rinsed away the bleach your equipment can become contaminated again. Bleach can damage some materials (like stainless steel), it's a health hazard, it ruins your clothes, etc.

StarSan doesn't require rinsing and it leaves a film that will help protect you even after it's been drained away. It can be reused for an extended time, which makes it very inexpensive in the long run. StarSan can damage some materials when concentrated, but at the working dilution it is harmless to most materials and to your health. It will severely dry out your skin if you don't wear gloves, though.

I've never used Iodophore, but that has many, but not all, the advantages of StarSan.
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A little extreme

Postby brewmeisterintng » Fri May 16, 2008 7:29 am

There are quite a few folks out there that still use bleach with success. I think that Slothrub may have never used bleach as a sanitizer or has had a bad experience with it. It's a tool that can be used successfully in brewing but you just have to know its capabilities (proper mixture, what metal it affects, must rinse, and contact time). I didn't stop using it due to flavor in my beer, bacteria invasion during the rinse or because it ruined a few pair of black pants. I switched because Star San is a no rinse/ no worry product... except for the foam - that took time getting use to.
I think where a lot of people fail is in not have an abundance of healthy yeast ready for action. Yeast starters are essential. There will be wild yeast and bacteria ready to destroy your beer. Don't let them get a strong hold before your yeast.
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bleach

Postby slothrob » Fri May 16, 2008 8:55 am

I didn't mean to imply that you couldn't use bleach as a sanitizer, a lot of people do, successfully. I would especially recommend it as a sanitizer to fight persistent infections as it will kill everything, at high enough concentration. I was just trying to give Beerthirty the rationale for using a no-rinse sanitizer, chosen for it's suitability for brewing, instead of bleach.

Everyone needs to decide how much the cost affects them personally, but a bottle of StarSan will last a long time if the working dilution is stored and reused. I usually get a couple months out of every ounce I dilute, which makes my StarSan expense somewhere around $0.25-0.50/brewing month.
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No harm no foul

Postby brewmeisterintng » Fri May 16, 2008 5:27 pm

Just want new brewers to get the facts. Too many times we brewers tend to believe that our way of brewing a quality beer is the only way. In fact we take offence to anyone who jabs at "the way". Brewing is much an art as it is a science. There are only a few standards that everyone has to follow. Sanitization is one of them. However there are quite a few ways to sanitize your equipment which even includes baking it in the oven so keep an open mind and enjoy the hobby.
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Re: bleach as sanitizer?

Postby cronix » Sat May 17, 2008 3:30 pm

beerthirty wrote:New to brewing, less than dozen batches. I have been reading the forums and books. Some of the books say that a very dilute solution of bleach (1.5 teaspoons per 5 gall of water) works well as a sanitizer as long as it is rinsed out well with hot water is fine. But everything I have read online says to use commercially prepared sanitizers. I'm trying to keep equipment costs down so the expense can go to quality ingredients. Whats the story on sanitizers?


According to the book "The complete joy of homebrewing" this is quite a polemic issue, specially regarding the need to rinse your equipment after sanitizing...

I have found myself asking questions about bleach too many times enough to do a lot of google search about this.

Well, there was a podcast (I think from byo) containing an interview of a staff member from star san. He said that using bleach is OK, as long as you know how to use it in order to success sanitize your equipment.

I think he was the one that came up with a no-rinse way of using bleach. Using like 1 tablespoon of bleach+1tablespoon of vinegar for every 10 liters (i think 10 liters = 2.5 gallons).

The thing about the vinegar was that it would make the bleach way more potent agains bacteria...

I used that formula on my last batch, and didnt detect any off flavor as neither had any bacterial problem.

Laters...
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