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Old 08-17-2011, 12:45 PM   #41
Jul 2010
SE PA, Pennsylvania
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I am a long time bleach user, close to 20 years in all. A fellow brewer turned me on to starsan last year. It took a few batches to get past concern about the foam, but the convenience and time savings of a no rinse sanitizer is really substantial. Try it you might like it.

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Old 08-17-2011, 01:51 PM   #42
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Jan 2011
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My personal bottom line is this: If either bleach or Starsan has worked well for you in the past, and that you're happy with the products you're creating, there's really no need to change.

I've got my cleaning/sanitizing downpath using bleach and it's working fine. I'm sure I could change to Starsan and it would be fine too, but why mess with something that works without problems? Some would say "to save time", but I don't really think that using Starsan would save me that much time.

My only point of contention is this one: I'm not crazy about having sanitizing solution residue in my carboys when I'm about to put wort into it. I'd still want to rinse it out if I was using Starsan. I rinse bleach out of my carboys before use.

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Old 08-17-2011, 02:45 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by beeber View Post
I am a long time bleach user, close to 20 years in all. A fellow brewer turned me on to starsan last year. It took a few batches to get past concern about the foam, but the convenience and time savings of a no rinse sanitizer is really substantial. Try it you might like it.
I agree. But for some people, it's like trying to get your kids to try a new food.

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Old 08-17-2011, 03:24 PM   #44
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Apr 2011
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Originally Posted by RavenChief View Post
Wither a chemical is a weak vs a strong acid or base is not dependent on the concentration (dilution) molarity of the aqueous solution, but is dependent on the chemicals ability to gain or release hydrogen protons. Bleach is considered a "strong" base and acetic acid (vinegar) is considered a "weak" acid. however, it is reactive enough with bleach to release chlorine gas.

What Happens When Bleach and Vinegar Are Mixed

Chlorine bleach contains sodium hypochlorite or NaOCl. Because bleach is sodium hypochlorite in water, the sodium hypochlorite in bleach actually exists as hypochlorous acid:

NaOCl + H2O ↔ HOCl + Na+ + OH-

Hypochlorous acid is a strong oxidizer. This is what makes it so good at bleaching and disinfection. If you mix bleach with an acid, chlorine gas will be produced. For example, if you mix bleach with toilet bowl cleaner, which contains hydrochloric acid:

HOCl + HCl ↔ H2O + Cl2

Chlorine gas attacks mucous membranes, such as your eyes, throat, and lungs and can kill you, so causing that reaction isn't in your best interest. If you mix bleach with another acid, such as the acetic acid found in vinegar, you get essentially the same result:

2HOCl + 2HAc ↔ Cl2 + 2H2O + 2Ac- (Ac : CH3COO)

There is an equilibrium between the chlorine species that is influenced by pH. When the pH is lowered, as by adding toilet bowl cleaner or vinegar, the ratio of chlorine gas in increased. When the pH is raised, the ratio of hypochlorite ion is increased. Hypochlorite ion is a less efficient oxidizer than hypochlorous acid, so some people will intentionally lower the pH of bleach to increase the oxidizing power of the chemical, even though chlorine gas is produced as a result.

I don't know how dilute these chemicals would need to be in order "safely" combine these chemicals, but I think this falls into the catagory of "please don't try this at home".
I'm not a chemist, but I do pretend to be one on the internet occasionally. I'm too hung over at the moment to do any research, so I'll point you to the brew strong sanitation podcast. They have the guy from five star chemicals on there and he talks a great deal about using bleach. It's very informative!

Jon Herskovits (the creator of starsan) is a chemist and I trust what he says, especially when he is being recorded during an interview and could be sued for telling people to do something that could kill them. Also do a search for acidified bleach. You'll find a lot of warnings about mixing them directly, but they all say to dilute the bleach in water, then add vinegar to the water. You generally add 1 or 2 ounces of bleach and vinegar to a gallon of water.

I've been using it to occasionally clean my plastics as well as my bathroom for a while! It works and is not dangerous...unless you drink it.

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Old 08-17-2011, 10:04 PM   #45
Sep 2008
Posts: 7

Originally Posted by BrewinBigD View Post
any input on this method of sanitizing?
You may want to use a lower concentration of bleach. I think the recommended amount is 1 oz per 5 gallons, so if you have a 6.5 gal primary fermenter, add a little more to compensate.

I used bleach for several years before switching to iodophor. Bleach didn't cause me any problems, but some claim that it needs to be rinsed thoroughly from your equipment before using it or you could have some "band-aid" flavor from it. However, if you rinse the bleach off, you could end up adding undesired micro-organisms (bacteria, yeasts, etc.) to your equipment surface.

The commercial no-rinse sanitizers don't have the problems I mentioned above. I chose iodophor because it's cheap, quick (2 minutes contact time), and effective, and it's a no-rinse sanitizer at a concentration of 12 ppm (the directions iwll tell you how much to use). I bought a gallon of it several years ago for less than $40 and it will last me many years. It was packaged as a dairy equipment sanitizer but was the same thing as BTF iodophor, which costs more. Even the BTF brand is fairly inexpensive compared to Star San and some other commercial products.

I think it's Star San that foams and claims to be able to penetrate into cracks and crevices in your equipment. I don't personally think that the foaming would be any better than a water-iodophor liquid penetrating into those places, but there may be something to that.

One thing that is a big negative about iodophor--it stains!!! It can stain your equipment if it's plastic. The stain will not affect your brewing process one bit, but it may put you off visually. And, if you're not a careful person, it can stain clothing, floors, concrete, and other things. Some of these stains will come out with an oxygen or chlorine bleach if you need to remove them.

Products like Star San don't stain, and for that reason many choose to use it instead of the less expensive but still effective iodophor.

Chlorine (before it's diluted) can bleach out clothing pretty quickly, as you probably are aware, so it has some of the concerns that iodophor does. Chlorine bleach also can corrode stainless steel, so you don't want to leave it in any SS container very long. Iodophor, in the recommended concentration, doesn't exhibit this problem. Be sure to buy a bleach with no scent in it or you will be sorry!!! :-)

That said, many brewers have used chlorine without any issues at all and have never switched to another sanitizer. The idea someone mentioned about using vinegar with chlorine to make a no-rinse sanitizer is probably a good idea, because the chlorine works better at a lower pH (in an acid environment), if I remember correctly, and vinegar would drop the pH of a solution since it's 5% (normally) acetic acid.

Here's a link:

1 oz (white, not apple cider type) vinegar in 5 gal of water, mix, then add 1 oz chlorine bleach. (adjust for a larger volume)

The information didn't say how long to leave your equipment soak in it. I would think that at least 5 minutes would be needed but perhaps someone on this forum knows more about this.


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Old 08-18-2011, 12:29 AM   #46
Jul 2011
Suratthani, Thailand
Posts: 13

I use bleach to sanitize. I usually make a pretty strong ratio in a large bucket and dump everything in. I boil a huge pot of hot water and rinse everything with it. The hot water gets all the residue off and I have never had a problem with medicinal tastes in my beer due to chlorine.

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Old 08-18-2011, 03:07 AM   #47
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Jul 2010
Harper Woods, Michigan
Posts: 45

Never had problems with bleach in 18 years of brewing. A quick rinse and your good. Also bleach is cheap. Don't use it in stainless steal leave that for the Iodophor...
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Old 08-18-2011, 11:18 AM   #48
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Jun 2008
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I don't think anyone is saying bleach isn't a cheap or effective sanitizer.

It's just that there are alternatives out there that are much easier to use.

Soak everything in bleach and rinse real well. Or mix some no rinse in a spray bottler and spritz stuff down as you use it.
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Old 08-18-2011, 04:55 PM   #49
Apr 2008
San Diego, CA
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Originally Posted by broadbill View Post
FWIW: Papazians book gives a recipe for santizing with bleach. He said use an ounce of bleach to 5 gallons of water. Since an ounce is roughly equal to 2TBSP that is 1 TBSP to 2.5 gallons. You were supposed to rinse well after that.

You are using 1TBSP to 1 gallon and NOT rinsing.

There is a way to make no-rinse chlorine based sanitizer (as dfborn suggested, check out podcasts with Charlie Tally, maker of Star-san) which involves mixing the proper amount of bleach with vinegar.

At the dosage you are using, I think you might want to be rinsing that stuff off. My 0.02
IN SOLUTION! Don't mix bleach and chlorine directly!

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Old 08-18-2011, 05:03 PM   #50
Apr 2008
San Diego, CA
Posts: 241
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I brewed with bleach for years and it was ok. The thing is that it is just such a pain you have to bleach for 20 minutes vs 2 minutes with starsan. You have to heat a second batch of water for rinsing. Lots of extra shaking and movement to rinse everything. Starsan is just easy - if you miss some it turns to phosphoric acid at the ph of beer. Starsan took some non-brewing time out of my brew day and i like when I can do that.

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