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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Oxyclean & Aluminum kettle
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Old 03-08-2008, 12:29 AM   #1
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Default Oxyclean & Aluminum kettle

Ok..so i just recently started using oxyclean on my brewing equipment. I did not realize that it is not safe to use on aluminum.
I think i have soaked my kettle 2 or 3 times now in oxyclean over the past few weeks. Is my kettle now unsafe to use?
And is there anything else you should not use oxyclean on? Hoses..and such?

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Old 03-08-2008, 12:40 AM   #2
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Kettle is unsafe, you should probably send it to me

joke on prior post today.

I think it exposes the raw aluminum and other metals in there to your beer. I do not think it causes a toxic reaction. I do not see how it could. No big deal, probably won't get althzeimers, but I guess Al does not cause that. I have been cooking professionally for 25 years in Al. Most restaurants use it, and run the pots through the dish machine to be sanitized by the chemicals.

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Old 03-08-2008, 12:44 AM   #3
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Well it's an oxygen based cleaner so it will accelerate oxidation process. But I'm surprised you would even have an issue with alluminum. At worst shouldn't it just thicken the aluminum oxide coating on your kettle? (which would be a good thing).

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Old 03-08-2008, 12:45 AM   #4
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If you lost your oxidation coat just boil some water for a while and it will be like new. As long as it is dark grey inside your golden.

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Old 03-08-2008, 01:19 AM   #5
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My keggle and wort chiller are probably the only things in my brewery that don't get sanitized. I give them a good spray down with hot water, but since they're both involved in the boil I use sanitizer on them at all.

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Old 03-08-2008, 01:28 AM   #6
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wouldn't oxyclean build up the oxide?

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Old 03-08-2008, 01:53 AM   #7
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Short answer: Oxyclean is probably ok if you use it sparingly in your aluminum equipment. It will not build up the oxidized layer, but can dissolve it. Get stainless if you can afford it.

Long answer:

Warning: chemistry ahead.

Aluminum reacts readily with oxygen to form a thin layer of alumina (Al2O3), which is hard and sticks tenaciously to the surface of the metal. This process is called passivation. Once a passivated layer is formed, it doesn't get any thicker because it protects the base unoxidized metal from reacting further...although you *can* make a tremendous fire out of powdered aluminum. They use such material along with iron oxide to make thermite, which burns hot enough to generate molten iron...it is used to weld train rails together.

Certain materials will react with the alumina and aluminum, namely strong alkalis. As someone who once heard of a dude whose cousin's friend made drano bombs as a teenager, I can attest to the fact that sodium hydroxide (lye) will rapidly dissolve alumina and aluminum (generating heat and hydrogen gas on the way).

One-step or Oxyclean are made primarily of sodium peroxycarbonate. When it decomposes, it releases oxygen just like hydrogen peroxide does...this is what gives you the sanitizing activity. After the peroxide is gone, you are left with sodium carbonate, which is also known as washing soda. It is a moderately strong base...stronger than sodium bicarbonate, but much weaker than sodium hydroxide. If you notice your hands feel a little slippery after washing up with One-step/oxyclean, it's because the sodium carbonate reacts with the oils (which are weak acids) on your skin and turns them to soap. This is a classic test for whether you just got lye on yourself...if your skin is slippery, keep rinsing until it's gone or you will be treated to a chemical burn.

I have not done any tests, but the percarbonate sanitizers will probably not wreck your aluminum equipment if you take it easy. Don't let the oxyclean sit in your keggle for hours, don't boil it, and rinse it off when you're done. Searching the tubes for peroxycarbonate and aluminum brings up a variety of information that does not condemn using them together, but does give some warnings.

If it's an option stainless steel is a lot less trouble because you can use just about anything you want on it. Barkeeper's Friend is oxalic acid, which may eat up your aluminum. Bleach is not great for stainless (it's a long-term cracking problem) but will corrode aluminum (bleach = sodium hydroxide + chlorine gas). Abrasive cleaners (soft scrub, etc.) will scuff the aluminum but probably not the stainless.

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Old 03-08-2008, 04:14 AM   #8
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Default Raw Aluminum Pot

I soaked my bottles to get the labels off in a 5 gallon plain raw aluminum stock pot. It turned black inside. I haven't used it to cook anything since, but will see if I can dissolve it out when I do with some vinegar & acids.

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Old 03-08-2008, 06:58 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies. It didn't turn black at least. Guess i will keep using it then.

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Old 03-08-2008, 07:05 AM   #10
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If it darkens inside, that is a good thing. That dark layer is the protective oxide layer that you WANT inside your brew pot.

I am an aluminum convert. Personally (flame away) I think that aluminum pots are fantastic in the home brewery. They are cheap, lightweight, heat up quickly, and cool down quickly. Stainless steel is nice, but only if they are really high quality and have a well made bottom on them (i.e. usually a sandwich of copper or aluminum).

The one big downside of aluminum pots is that you can't use oxygen-based cleaners on them (as our OP found out). But for a boil kettle, who cares? After brewing, give them a rinse and a good wipe and they are ready to go again.

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