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Sanitizing new bottles prior to bottling - current recommendations?

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MooDaddy

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Planning to bottle tomorrow. I have 2 cases of new 12 oz bottles still in the shipping boxes. What is the current recommended protocol for sanitizing these new bottles prior to bottling?

Thank you
 

Vip8888

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I’ve been cleaning with PBW and ensured there is no residue in the bottles, but rather than use StarSan in each bottle I’ve been sanitising in the oven (150C for 15 minutes and then let cool). I am a newbie to beer brewing though, but this has worked fine for me.
 

RM-MN

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The biggest factor in sanitizing is making sure the bottles are clean. Soap and water kills bacteria but make sure to rinse well as any residue of soap will kill all heading. I follow the soap and water with a double rinse, then use a vinator just prior to filling the bottles. Starsan is my choice for the final sanitizing but it only work when wet so I sanitize a dozen bottles at a time, fill and cap them, then do another dozen.
 

3 Dawg Night

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Starsan is my choice for the final sanitizing but it only work when wet so I sanitize a dozen bottles at a time, fill and cap them, then do another dozen.
As long as you let them drain inverted (e.g., in a FastRack), you should be good, in my experience. At the beginning of my bottling session, I sanitize 54 bottles (enough for a batch) by "gurgling" them full in a bucket of StarSan, "gurgling" the StarSan back out, and then leaving the bottles inverted on my FastRack. Dust/yeast/bacteria/etc. generally drift down with gravity, so the inversion is key. There's still plenty of StarSan foam (don't fear the foam!) left in my bottles by the time I fill them with beer. Once I fill a bottle, I set a cap loosely on top (make sure you sanitize the caps, too). Once I have six bottles filled, I secure the caps with my bench capper. This has worked great for me so far.
 

Birrofilo

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New bottles, I would only rinse them, and then sanitize.

I sanitize with the oven method, as described in the Braumeister instruction manual.

Put the bottles in the cold oven. I let some water in each of them, because humid heat sanitizes better than dry heat;
Make the oven reach 150 °C;
Keep the oven for five minutes at 150 °C;
Turn the heat off and let the oven cool down with the door closed.
When the inside of the oven reaches some 30-35°C, take the bottles out, empty them from the water inside, and cap them with sanitized plastic caps, or some aluminium foil.
Use them within a few days.

With two oven batches I sanitize bottles for an usual 21 litres beer batch. My oven is inside a standard 60cm x 60cm gas stove.

This might be not as practical as chemical sanitization, but I like the fact that no chemical disinfectant is used inside the bottle (a tiny amount is on the inside surface of the cap, which in theory should not even come in touch with the beer).

If I had to use a chemical sanitizer such as StarSan for the bottles, I would let it work for 5 minutes and then rinse the bottles with tap water. That's me, and YMMV.
 

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New bottles, I would only rinse them, and then sanitize.

I sanitize with the oven method, as described in the Braumeister instruction manual.

Put the bottles in the cold oven. I let some water in each of them, because humid heat sanitizes better than dry heat;
Make the oven reach 150 °C;
Keep the oven for five minutes at 150 °C;
Turn the heat off and let the oven cool down with the door closed.
When the inside of the oven reaches some 30-35°C, take the bottles out, empty them from the water inside, and cap them with sanitized plastic caps, or some aluminium foil.
Use them within a few days.

With two oven batches I sanitize bottles for an usual 21 litres beer batch. My oven is inside a standard 60cm x 60cm gas stove.

This might be not as practical as chemical sanitization, but I like the fact that no chemical disinfectant is used inside the bottle (a tiny amount is on the inside surface of the cap, which in theory should not even come in touch with the beer).

If I had to use a chemical sanitizer such as StarSan for the bottles, I would let it work for 5 minutes and then rinse the bottles with tap water. That's me, and YMMV.
If you rinse the bottle with tap water after sanitising them, you could basically skip the whole sanitation procedure. Unboiled tap water is as microorganism free as the outlet in your sink.
 

Birrofilo

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If you rinse the bottle with tap water after sanitising them, you could basically skip the whole sanitation procedure. Unboiled tap water is as microorganism free as the outlet in your sink.
I disagree.
When you clean a bottle, you are removing the thin layer of dirt which accumulated in maybe months or years. Then you sanitize it for added precaution. Now that you have sanitized, your bottle is free of previous biological contaminants, but it's not free of chemical contaminants.
You rinse it now with tap water, which is not really sterile, but it's pretty decent microbiologically speaking and the contact between water and bottle is "fast and thin", you take the water out, the bottle is perfectly clean.

The result is a bottle with no chemical, and a tiny amount of microbes.

This tiny amount of microbes is less than you had before the sanitizing procedure, and is not sufficient to spoil your beer.

I see many in Italian fora who use chemicals to sanitize bottles and then rinse them, without any adverse consequence. This is also, for what I know, the standard procedure in wine bottling (but wine has a higher alcohol content, I know).

We don't need perfect sanitization, but good enough "for Government work". A glass bottle will retain only a few drops of water after you turn it upside down and empty it.

With the same logic, I sanitize the fermenter with a chemical agent (I cannot put that in the oven) but I do absolutely always rinse it with water, without adverse effects.
 
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Miraculix

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I disagree.
When you clean and sanitize a bottle, you are removing the thin layer of dirt which accumulated in maybe months or years. Then you sanitize it for added precaution. Now that you have sanitized, your bottle is free of previous biological contaminants, but it's not free of chemical contaminants.
You rinse it now with tap water, which is not really sterile, but it's pretty decent microbiologically speaking and the contact between water and bottle is "fast and thin", you take the water out, the bottle is perfectly clean.

The result is a bottle with no chemical, and a tiny amount of microbes.

This tiny amount of microbes is less than you had before the sanitizing procedure, and is not sufficient to spoil your beer.

I see many in Italian fora who use chemicals to sanitize bottles and then rinse them, without any adverse consequence. This is also, for what I know, the standard procedure in wine bottling (but wine has a higher alcohol content, I know).

We don't need perfect sanitization, but good enough "for Government work". A glass bottle will retain only a few drops of water after you turn it upside down and empty it.
Pretty bad practice though. And pelase don't throw cleaning and ssanitizing into the same bucket here. We are talking about sanitising. Sanitising is supposed to be the last step, when every dirt has been already removed. If you rinse it with tap water, you basically remove the "sanitisation", if such a word exists.

The water might be pretty clean, but not clean enough, especially bacause it has to pass through an opening which is in contact with all sorts of stuff in the sink.

The whole point of a "no rinse" sanitizer is that you do not have to rinse it afterwards. If you are scared of that, just use your oven method, that sounds legit. But do not suggest bad practices here, people from all stages of expreriences are reading here.

I started completely without sanitation and made really good beer. Till I had my first infection, from then on, it was a long Journey up until now. What I want to say with this, just because people make good beer with a method, does not prove anything. You ahve to think logically here, and you really want to eliminate causes that might turn your bottles into bombs or your beer bad. And rinsing with tap water is just such a factor which can be easily eliminated.

It might be that your tap water is heavily chlorinated in italy, but here in Germany it is not. So while your Italian water might still kill everything it touches, here in Germany this is not the case and in India in some areas, the water is so alive it might start to have a conversation with you when comming out of the tap. This water does not want to be in touch with your bottles and the bottles also certainly do not want to touch it!

So really, long storry short, rinsing with tap water is really bad practice! Do not do this!
 

Birrofilo

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Pretty bad practice though. And pelase don't throw cleaning and ssanitizing into the same bucket here. We are talking about sanitising. Sanitising is supposed to be the last step, when every dirt has been already removed. If you rinse it with tap water, you basically remove the "sanitisation", if such a word exists.
Yes I know, you clean first, you sanitize after. But sanitizing is a step which is completed once the sanitizer did the job. If you rinse with tap water the "sanitization", after the sanitizer has had the time to sanitize, the bottle remains sanitized. You don't "remove the sanitization" because the sanitization already happened, and now the sanitizer is not required any more.

I don't know about your tap water quality where you live. In case, you can rinse your bottle, optionally that is, with some water from a supermarket bottle. You just rinse it with a little water and discard the water.

The water in the sealed bottle is "micriobiologically pure" so that's safer than chlorinated water.

"No-rinse" sanitizers are practical in the way that Camden tablets are practical. It's something some people, myself included, do not want in their bottle.

YMMV and I know that some people think that rinsing is a risk. It's a trade off. In my perception, the risk is negligible. In your perception, the reward is negligible.

Water in Rome is chlorinated at 0,14 mg/L.

This is a report with some bacteriological data

I agree that if you are in India probably tap water is not good enough, though.

Spoiling a beer with an infection requires some wrong manoevre, contact with some non-cleaned surface. A drop of tap water here and there is not at all dangerous IMHO but again YMMV.
 
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3 Dawg Night

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Yes I know, you clean first, you sanitize after. But sanitizing is a step which is completed once the sanitizer did the job. If you rinse with tap water the "sanitization", after the sanitizer has had the time to sanitize, the bottle remains sanitized. You don't "remove the sanitization" because the sanitization already happened, and now the sanitizer is not required any more.
By this logic, you should be able to give your bottles a swish in the toilet, because "the sanitization already happened."

If you really want to rinse off the no-rinse sanitizer, use distilled water instead of tap water.

Or, just don't rinse the no-rinse sanitizer.
 

Birrofilo

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By this logic, you should be able to give your bottles a swish in the toilet, because "the sanitization already happened."

If you really want to rinse off the no-rinse sanitizer, use distilled water instead of tap water.

Or, just don't rinse the no-rinse sanitizer.
I am confident my bottles are cleaned better than my toilet, and are not that dirty in the first place. I don't put excrements in my bottles, only very good homemade healthy beer, which is very liquid and has no adhesivity, no bacterial charge etc.

But yes, you can rinse with distilled water, bottled water, whatever you see fit and clean enough. But the "no-rinse" logic is faulted in this, that you are actually drinking that sanitizer, and a sanitizer is not food, and also in small quantities is something that I like to avoid.

(Besides, if I had to have recourse to a reductio ad absurdum like you did in the toilet example, I could say "by this logic, you should be able to drink a glass of StarSan without consequences", which we know wouldn't help my point).
 
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3 Dawg Night

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@Birrofilo I'm just trying to understand where you're coming from. Are you claiming that once the bottle is sanitized, the microbes in all tap water will not adhere to the surface of the bottle? Or, is it your claim that the small amount of microbes that do adhere to the bottle are not enough to cause any sort of infection in the finished beer?
 

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I am confident my bottles are cleaned better than my toilet, and are not that dirty in the first place. I don't put excrements in my bottles, only very good homemade healthy beer, which is very liquid and has no adhesivity, no bacterial charge etc.

But yes, you can rinse with distilled water, bottled water, whatever you see fit and clean enough. But the "no-rinse" logic is faulted in this, that you are actually drinking that sanitizer, and a sanitizer is not food, and also in small quantities is something that I like to avoid.

(Besides, if I had to have recourse to a reductio ad absurdum like you did in the toilet example, I could say "by this logic, you should be able to drink a glass of StarSan without consequences", which we know wouldn't help my point).
Actually, I am pretty sure that a glas of Star san, in the propper no rinse concentration, would not give you problems when drinking, although I would not recommend it.

The problem in your country might not be the water, but the tap itself. It certainly is full of nasties that you do not want to multiply in your beer and your water passes through it.
 

Birrofilo

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Actually, I am pretty sure that a glas of Star san, in the propper no rinse concentration, would not give you problems when drinking, although I would not recommend it.

The problem in your country might not be the water, but the tap itself. It certainly is full of nasties that you do not want to multiply in your beer and your water passes through it.
Yes but you would maybe drink a glas of diluted Star San, not of a concentrated Star San. You could also drink a sanitizing dilution of sulfites etc. If you do it every day, I think you will have consequences. This stuff is toxic. It's the dose that makes the poison, I know, I know, but if you can rinse, rinse. Diluted poison ain't good for you.

Yes I would not use my tap water for brewing after boiling (e.g. in topping up the wort after the boiling) for various reasons. But my point is that, when you rinse and drain your bottles (or your fermenter) the amount of water remaining in there is measured in drops, and again it's the dose that makes the infection.

My personal opinion is that sanitization is somehow even not properly performed by those who think they sanitize. E.g. Star San requires 2 minutes contact when sprayed, but I have seen YouTube videos of people just spraying Star San over paddles and using them. Which probably doesn't make much trouble because, in general, and that's my non-verifiable opinion, people make of sanitization a much bigger fuss than it needs to be. It's anectodal, but I did brew some beers without sanitizing my fermenters at all (only a good clean) and no problem, which doesn't mean you should not sanitize, do sanitize, but don't think the beer is going to spoil if you don't. It's an added precaution, and I don't want to ingest chemical for an "added precaution".

The biggest danger for homebrewers who spoil their beer is the fermenter tap, the racking cane, the hoses IMHO. If and when a fermentation goes bad, the culprit is probably a mistake in the cleaning procedure (all the crevices inside taps especially) or some little bastard fly who commit suicide in your wort.

I see it as very extremely near-impossible that a few drops of tap water can spoil my beer in the bottle. I worry much more about this accessory: Asta da travaso. I also consider very dangerous the fermenter tap: any time I take a sample I wash it carefully with water and then I put some sanitizer in it, but that's a possible source of infection when I bottle. I think many homebrewer's infection have their origin in taps and hoses, where you can't really go and pass a sponge.

[EDIT] I got rid of the "aerator" at the tap years ago. Yes I agree it is not something to have in your tap.
 
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Birrofilo

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@Birrofilo I'm just trying to understand where you're coming from. Are you claiming that once the bottle is sanitized, the microbes in all tap water will not adhere to the surface of the bottle? Or, is it your claim that the small amount of microbes that do adhere to the bottle are not enough to cause any sort of infection in the finished beer?
I think it's both, that is adhesion of bacteria is also a function of adhesion of water. A "stickier" liquid would entail greater risks. Some bacteria will stick to the glass in any case, and they will stick to the glass in any case also with StarSan, nothing is absolute.

[The same happens inside your body. If you rinse your nasal mucosae with a nasal wash, you will make adhesion of bacteria more difficult. Mucus is used by bacteria as a terrain of culture and by sticking to your mucosa it will help bacteria infiltrating your mucosa. If you rinse, you eliminate the infected mucus and you lower the bacterial charge and you reduce the risk of infection because the bacteria must begin again trying to adhere to your mucosa, which is non-sticky for that reason. I know it's different, a bacterium will not "infiltrate" glass, but in general slick surfaces are harder for bacteria to thrive on]

Besides, my "adhesion" comment came from your comparison with a toilet, and as you know excrement are adhesive much more than beer!

When you sanitize, your bottle is not sterilized, there are still some bacteria present there, but you say "they are just a few" and it's OK, you know they will not jeopardize your brew. When you rinse, and you throw out the water, there will still be bacteria there, a bit more than before, but they will still be "just a few", and in my constant experience they will not jeopardize your brew.

To take the same example, you rinse your nose without "sanitizing" it, and that's clean enough to make the risk of a cold much lower. Lowering the bacterial charge is paramount. Sanitizing is useful. Overthinking the process can be counterproductive.

I also have fermentations for the distilling sides of my hobby, I never bother to sanitize a fermenter that I use for distilling, and it all goes very well. Sanitization is an OK precaution but should not be overestimated.

(One might repeat here the concept that people brew wine, beer, mead etc. without sanitizing agents for millennia, and they certainly spoiled a batch now and then! but they did not spoil all batches. They mashed wine with feet since ever and wine never gets boiled! They used well water or river water with plenty of microbes inside to clean every instrument. "Clean" goes a long way! Longer than homebrewers think! Infections are the result of lack of proper cleaning more than lack of proper sanitization. Don't ask me to provide a scientific paper as another user would do. It's centuries of experience talking for that. Groll did not know what "sanitizing" meant when he created modern Pilsner).

The entire goal is never getting totally rid of microbes, but keeping them at an inoffensive amount.

I also ferment yoghurt, Sauerkraut and kefir, and I never sanitized anything, and it all worked well. They end up acids but when they start they are less acid, I think, than beer.
"Clean" goes a long way.
 
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bu_gee

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There is much ado about rinsing after sanitizing, but those who don't use Star San more or less have to rinse since those alternative chemicals are known to be harmful or are known to affect the quality of the beer.

Before I started using Star San I rinsed the bottles and all my equipment with chlorinated municipal tap water after sanitization and not once did I have an infection and, no, I don't consider the sanitization to be an unnecessary step. If I was using well-sourced water, I probably wouldn't have been so lucky.

As @Birrofilo said, we're never going to be at zero. Rinsing a 5 log10 sanitized container with 6 or 7 log10 water is hardly a problem. You could introduce microorganisms, yes, but it is at a rate between 1/10 and 1/100 of the existing colonization in the bottle. If your water was untreated then I'd be concerned.

From what I remember of looking at the MSDS for Star San, its primary and active ingredient is phosphoric acid. This is an additive in Coke (whether you consider Coke to be a poison is beyond the scope here) and falls in the generally recognized as safe category in the US and is assigned E338 in the EU.
 

Birrofilo

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From what I remember of looking at the MSDS for Star San, its primary and active ingredient is phosphoric acid. This is an additive in Coke (whether you consider Coke to be a poison is beyond the scope here) and falls in the generally recognized as safe category in the US and is assigned E338 in the EU.
Very interesting post, @bu_gee.

I have always shun the idea of using phosphoric acid to acidify my wort, because I could not find it at non-dangerous concentrations. I was always afraid by warnings about "saponification" of my hands or eyes! Why should I handle something dangerous?

I use Saniclean instead of Starsan, I just took a look now to it to read the ingredients.
It says: Phosphoric acid 20-30%

Very Interesting!

Phosphoric acid is the most taste-neutral acid agent in wort, because it is already present in the wort in any case, for what I get from this thread: Why Phosphoric Acid is Flavor Neutral

So I already had a phosphoric acid in manageable dilution in my house!

I have a problem with this "20-30%" indication. 20 or 30? But then, I could buy 30% phosphoric acid without more recklessness than I had in buying Saniclean! :)

Maybe we can ask Martin Brungard to insert "Star San" as acidifyng agent in Bru'n water :)

Well, then, if your sanitizing agent is Saniclean, you can actually not rinse it in proper dilutions, without worries. That's "beer".
 

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Very interesting post, @bu_gee.
I have a problem with this "20-30%" indication. 20 or 30? But then, I could buy 30% phosphoric acid without more recklessness than I had in buying Saniclean! :)

Maybe we can ask Martin Brungard to insert "Star San" as acidifyng agent in Bru'n water :)

Well, then, if your sanitizing agent is Saniclean, you can actually not rinse it in proper dilutions, without worries. That's "beer".
Yeah, I presume that is the whole reasoning behind all the no-rinse recommendations. Not only are you opening up new opportunities for microorganisms, as low as it is, you're making work for yourself removing something that is already in beer. The latter is why I don't rinse Star San.

Different acids have different ability to counteract water hardness and it is likely that Star San also contains buffering agents which could have effects in larger quantities within the beer when the yeast are trying to do their thing.

It can get surprisingly complex and I'm sure I've been involved in a "use Star San to acidify my wort" convo on this site before. Furthermore, even if it was a good idea to use phosphoric acid to acidify the wort/mash water, I would still want to use as close to 100% phosphoric acid as I could get.

Also, for me, 88% lactic acid is about half the price per volume as Star San. It just makes economic sense, especially if you need to use it in appreciable quantities.
 

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I have opened a new thread related to phosphoric acid.

I could have asked my question here but I felt it was not strictly within the thread scope.

 

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I personally must make sure all.my bottles are rinsed clean after use then stick them in my dish washer, perfectly sanitised with heat.
 

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I don’t alway rinse after using a no-rinse sanitizer like Star San. But when I do it’s with premium bottled water from the mountain springs of Italy
 

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I get that Star San and Saniclean are OK not to be rinsed off because they will not contribute a chemical substance to the beer which is not already in the beer.

But then, what should do those that use paracetic acid or bleach to sanitize their bottles? Shouldn't they rinse them?
And in that case, should they rinse them with bottled water?

For what I read, rinsing after sanitizing with bleach or paracetic acid is a quite common practice here in Italy. I have a friend who is allergic to sulphites and most other things and he homebrews without any of the chemical sanitizers, he only "cleans", I never heard from him of a bad batch (but maybe he was reticent on this point... :) I don't think so).

Although I do sanitize bottles (in the oven) and beer fermenters, I think it's important to stress that some people don't sanitize at all and they say "it's useless". Some other people sanitize and rinse. Sanitization might be some kind of "peace of mind" practice.

Many winemakers (and some beermakers) use some sulphite to "sanitize" the bottles, but sulphite is not a sanitizer...

Other just rinse the clean bottles with wine prior to filling them. The rinsing accessory is called "avvinatore" ("wineator") because this was the ancient practice: rinse the bottle with wine, throw the wine, fill the bottle with wine. This has been the standard "sanitization" procedure for ages.

 
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Qhrumphf

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Bleach has to be rinsed, absolutely. Using bleach to nuke an infection I get, when it can be used strong and then heavily rinsed and allowed to evaporate after that. Other than that I would never use bleach as a standard sanitizer. Too many potentials for problems.

PAA should be used at non-rinse concentrations. I also wouldn't recommend it for home use since it's NASTY stuff when concentrated. But if you're able to use it safely and properly it's really effective.

It's not the phosphoric acid in Star-San that's the active ingredient. It's dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid. IIRC the phos keeps the pH low enough for the active ingredient to be an effective anionic sanitizer. I can't speak for Saniclean.

I use a vinator or bottle rinser, iodophor at no rinse concentration, do not rinse and immediately fill.
 

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@Qhrumphf

Yes bleach has to be rinsed with hot water (cold water is not enough) and that is typically hot water from a tap.

I see now that you also call "vinator" that rinsing contraction. That shows how ancient is the practice of rinsing bottles with wine before bottling (wine is generally more alcoholic and therefore more resistent to infections in any case).
 

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You're way more likely to infect your bottle from your hand by touching the top lip of your bottle than you are to from properly treated tap water.

There is a lot of "somebody might experience this so nobody should do it" going on in these forums. For general advice, particularly to a beginner brewer, this is not a bad thing and it helps highlight the source of problems people can have. Anecdotes are nice, but data is better.

But, as Oprah says, "when you know better you do better." Your situation is different than everybody else's, and framing your process based on your situation is not only okay, but it is pretty much how all the different variety of beers were born.

Some people may practice partial sanitization during their cleaning process, either by accident, by ritual, or completely knowingly. People who use chlorinated water with a heavily alkaline cleaner are already pretty close to the 5 log10 standard of "sanitized." Is 4.5 enough? Is 4? Is 5? Nobody really can say because, to a degree, it is up to chance. We just stack it as high as we can to improve our odds.
 

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@Qhrumphf

Yes bleach has to be rinsed with hot water (cold water is not enough) and that is typically hot water from a tap.

I see now that you also call "vinator" that rinsing contraction. That shows how ancient is the practice of rinsing bottles with wine before bottling (wine is generally more alcoholic and therefore more resistent to infections in any case).
A vinator/sulfiter is meant to be used with wine where they add sufates and use that to coat the inside of the bottles as a sanitizer. It is effective, but it isn't generally used in beer making I'm guessing because the sulfates taste bad and beer can't cover it up like wine can.

I use a sulfiter full of Star San to sanitize my bottles and it appears to be effective and it is requires a lot less focus than trying to pour sanitizer into the bottles.
 

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I know that some people use it to coat with a sulphite-wine mixture, but considering that sulphites are not sanitizers, they are not reeally sanitizing the bottles and that reinforces the idea that sanitizing is "overrated".
 

bu_gee

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I know that some people use it to coat with a sulphite-wine mixture, but considering that sulphites are not sanitizers, they are not reeally sanitizing the bottles and that reinforces the idea that sanitizing is "overrated".
True. In my opinion, without any data to back it up, I think it was more a way to help preserve the natural wood cork than it was to sanitize the bottle.

That being said, wine is particularly susceptible to a specific group of microbes that turn the alcohol into vinegar. In my reading about production techniques, I recall reading that the sulfites are particularly good at stopping either the microbes themselves or interrupting the process chemically.

Maybe it is both.

I should note that wine isn't something I've ever made so the process would be better described by somebody who actually know more about it.
 

bu_gee

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True. In my opinion, without any data to back it up, I think it was more a way to help preserve the natural wood cork than it was to sanitize the bottle.

That being said, wine is particularly susceptible to a specific group of microbes that turn the alcohol into vinegar. In my reading about production techniques, I recall reading that the sulfites are particularly good at stopping either the microbes themselves or interrupting the process chemically.

Maybe it is both.

I should note that wine isn't something I've ever made so the process would be better described by somebody who actually know more about it.
It could also be sulfates and I'm telling people to poison themselves with sulfites. Don't use any of this as advice. :no:
 

Birrofilo

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That being said, wine is particularly susceptible to a specific group of microbes that turn the alcohol into vinegar. In my reading about production techniques, I recall reading that the sulfites are particularly good at stopping either the microbes themselves or interrupting the process chemically.
Absolutely yes, sulfites are often used as "antifermenative" and "antioxydants" in the bottling stage, added to the wine as an additive. They are often perceptible and they are used in a wide range of dilutions: 12 mg/litre can be oK, 100 is stinky. Besides, they do give headache and they do hurt your liver in the long run (according to some sources, the real damage to the liver of drunkards is not due to alcohol but to the sulphites, which are always used massively in cheap wine, up to 200 mg/litre which is the law limit for white dry wine). They are used in a number of food preparations and some people think that they are much worse than what official literature suggests, and I agree with them, you cannot tell me something gives you headache, but it's not bad for you ;-)

"Biologic" ("Organic") wines can use up to 50% of the allowance and still be termed "bio". Wine with less than 10 ppm of sulfites are easily detectable because they do not contain the writing "contains sulfites" which is otherwise compulsory. A wine can be "bio" and still show the writing "contain sulphite", but sometimes one can see bottles without the writing. The natural content of sulfites in the wine (produced by the fermentation) is typically less than 10 ppm.

Wine which is refermented in the bottle (such as Champagne and any sparkling wine produced with the "classic method") don't contain any added sulfite. Wine which is used to celebrate the Catholic mass also cannot contain any added sulfite and priests buy wine which is specifically produced for the mass (or champagne, seriously).
 
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ncbrewer

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Charlie Talley, inventor of Star San and president of the company (I think retired now), stated that cleaning theoretically eliminates the need for sanitizing. Sanitizing is insurance. Obviously, he advocates sanitizing. But cleaning generally involves rinsing with tap water. This seems to imply that lack of sanitizing is ok most of the time, and probably rinsing with chlorinated tap water is ok most of the time. Each brewer makes the decision for his/her circumstances.
 

Birrofilo

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It's not the phosphoric acid in Star-San that's the active ingredient. It's dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid. IIRC the phos keeps the pH low enough for the active ingredient to be an effective anionic sanitizer. I can't speak for Saniclean.
I report here the ingredients of Star San and Saniclean as I read them from the safety sheet. This is for the products which are sold in Europe, which might differ from the products sold in the US.

Star San
Acido fosforico 40-55%
Acido benzensolfonico, derivati di 4-C10-13-alchile 10-20% (Numero CAS 85536-14-7)
1,2-propandiolo 5-15%

Saniclean
Acido fosforico 20-30%
Acido (9Z)-octadecenoico, solfonato, sali di sodio 5-10% (Numero CAS 68443-05-0)
1,2-propandiolo 1-5%

Maybe somebody with some chemical expertise can explain the pros and cons of each product.

I use saniclean and I can only say it's not foaming, while Star San is.
 

mashpaddled

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Charlie Talley, inventor of Star San and president of the company (I think retired now), stated that cleaning theoretically eliminates the need for sanitizing. Sanitizing is insurance. Obviously, he advocates sanitizing. But cleaning generally involves rinsing with tap water. This seems to imply that lack of sanitizing is ok most of the time, and probably rinsing with chlorinated tap water is ok most of the time. Each brewer makes the decision for his/her circumstances.
Sure, if you had high power, high heat water jets that were regularly cleaned and demineralized being used to clean brand new bottles then there would be no real need for chemical sanitizers. Most of us don't have that option at home and most of us are reusing bottles and equipment. If your dishwasher has a high heat cycle and you keep the filter really clean or you bake the bottles and immediately cover the opening as they cool, then sure, you can keep bottles sanitary without any chemical help.

If you're cleaning and then rinsing with tap water you're getting whatever is in the water or pipes but most of all the spout is the biggest source of contaminants. It's exposed to air, it gets splashed from dishes going in the sink, backsplash from water, etc. If you pull the filter on your faucet it probably looks less than ideal, especially if there is mineral buildup.
 

ncbrewer

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Sure, if you had high power, high heat water jets that were regularly cleaned and demineralized being used to clean brand new bottles then there would be no real need for chemical sanitizers. Most of us don't have that option at home and most of us are reusing bottles and equipment.
I apologize if it sounded like I'm anti-sanitizing. Personally, I wouldn't brew without it. The key is "most of the time". I use Star San and don't rinse it, and would recommend that to anyone who asked. I like the "insurance" aspect. But Charlie Talley's statement has always stuck with me. Cleaning and sanitizing is all about improving your chances of a good outcome - not guarantying it.
 

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I think that's where I'm falling out on this discussion. You might be fine rinsing with tap water with no infection 99 times out of 100*. But the no-rinse StarSan is relatively cheap insurance, bumping it up to 9,999 out of 10,000*.

*These numbers are completely made up. Please don't quote them!
 
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