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Building a Thorough Sanitation Program

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Scientist83

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One of the pet peeves I have of my current brewing technique is the "sanitation" aspect. I realized immediately, mostly as a result of my occupation as Fermentation Scientist, of the problems with sporulation. Every time I've brought this subject up at the local Homebrewery store, I get this monologue about Star-san or using Vodka as clean-up material. Ok, so here is the problem. Typically, we are using some form of S. cerevisiae, a lot of the brewing yeast have only differed in the strain, not the organism. The exception to this are the lambics. Here is the problem with S. cerevisiae, when put under stress, the yeast creates spores. Lowering the pH, adding alcohol, and even heat will not kill the spores. However, if we can combine these factors, into one protocol, then you can successfully denature the membrane of the spores. Basically, what I started this thread for is finding some way of actually getting out equipment clean, at home (where I don't have my trust autoclave). I figured an oven is the next best thing, and I've been putting my tubing in my pressure cooker. If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear it.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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If you are that worried about sanitation, you are going to need a REALLY expensive system for your limiting factor to be this kind of cleaning. If you have ANY threads, compression fittings, barbed fittings, or other cornered points in your post boil system those are much more likely to give you an infection than anything else. Autoclaving tools and whatnot is fine, but if you have a chiller that may be gunked up on the inside sitting before your autoclaved tubing, the super clean tube isn't doing you much good.

If you are really that serious, find a sanitary welder, buy a bunch of stainless, and run a full sanitary system that can handle CIP with caustics and steam cleaning. Then you will abate your worries.

For 99.9% of us, Starsan/Iodophor/Bleach/etc. do a more than adequate job for cleaning nasties. We pitch a large enough quantity of yeast to overcome any other organisms that may be present.

You may be trying to call in the B-52 to kill a fly...
 

SumnerH

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One of the pet peeves I have of my current brewing technique is the "sanitation" aspect. I realized immediately, mostly as a result of my occupation as Fermentation Scientist, of the problems with sporulation. Every time I've brought this subject up at the local Homebrewery store, I get this monologue about Star-san or using Vodka as clean-up material...Lowering the pH, adding alcohol, and even heat will not kill the spores. However, if we can combine these factors, into one protocol, then you can successfully denature the membrane of the spores
1) Vodka's a poor choice, since it's only about 40% alchohol. For reasonable sanitation you'd want 80% alcohol (higher than that is actually worse, too).
2) StarSan can penetrate spore walls. Its primary method of killing is not simply pH, FWIW; it needs low pH to function, but that's to enable the DDBSA to do its job effectively (it's an acid anionic sanitizer). It also contains a surfactant that helps penetrate spore membranes (among other things)

Non-technical response from a chat with Charlie Talley:
ale: What exactly makes Star San more effctive than, say, Iodophore?
Charles_Talley: That is a good one. I will make is short. Iodophore and chlorine will react with anything organic. That is why they kill. They however can't not penetrate the sugar coating that protect a bactria spore (the baby bacteria). so the parent dies but the
Charles_Talley: child lives. Star San doen't work that way it has a wetting agent (foam) that softens the cell wall of bacteria and the sugar coating. Once soften the phosphoric acid will rupture the wall kill both parnt and baby.
3) You don't need to kill off all those spores, since your pitched yeast will outpopulate them and finish fermentation before they reach appreciable levels (presuming that you pitch enough yeast).
4) If you're actually banking yeast for long-term storage then you'll want to autoclave or pressure-cooker your vials (and sterilize the other tools you're working with).
 

menschmaschine

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You have the unfortunate burden of knowing too much. It's the same reason I won't eat at a Chinese buffet (former health inspector). Lots of microbes produce spores. As you know, sanitization won't kill them all. Walk by a construction site undergoing site work or a farm field being plowed and you'll probably inhale/consume a few Clostridium botulinum spores. But you won't become infected from it.

Actually that's a good analogy. Babies can become infected/ill from C. botulinum but healthy adults do not (this is not to be confused with intoxication caused by C. botulinum). Beer is analogous to a healthy adult. That's why you only need to sanitize instead of sterilize (unless culturing yeast, of course... then it's a little baby and needs sterilization:)).
 
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Scientist83

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I suppose I should have actually read the ingredients towards Star San....I still don't think there is a high enough concentration of Phosphoric Acid in it to cause membrane dessication. I suppose you're right mensch....the burden of knowing too much. My real hope here is to get a brew that is a pure (as much as one can in the comfort of his own home) fermentation.
 

ClutchDude

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Starsan didn't get where it was without being able to deliver the goods on their part. Think about it. Listen to the sanitation show in the sticky and hear about Starsan

You could build your clean lab, complete with autoclave, to brew, ferment and drink in, but really? I'm with mensch; once you've too much insight in something, it's hard to step back into a picture where you can see it as a whole, not parts.
 

SumnerH

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I suppose I should have actually read the ingredients towards Star San....I still don't think there is a high enough concentration of Phosphoric Acid in it to cause membrane dessication.
There isn't. But it's not the phosphoric acid that makes Star San work. It's an acid-anionic sanitizer. The phosphoric acid is only there to shift the pH to levels where the DDBSA can do its job.

And it's heavily reliant on adjuncts (e.g. propylene glycol) to soften spore membranes; most acid anionics aren't very effective vs. spores.
 

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