So I've been brewing since January. 12 batches now and have been using sanitizers for my equipment, but using bleach to sanitize bottles. I have a system with a bottle rinser for getting the bleach out of the bottles, but many at the local brewshop cringe when they hear I'm using bleach. I soak my bottles in a utility sink and bleach seems to be the most affordable solution to use. What other methods are there for sanitizing bottles in an economical way?
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Bleach works well. A tiny amount of residual bleach can affect the taste of a whole batch of beer. Keep the concentration as low as possible and rinse well. Pay particular attention to plastic and rubber parts when rinsing and avoid long soaks to those parts.
Or just buy one of the recommended sanitizers.
B-bright or Oxyclean (before they added perfume and surfactants) is sodium percarbonate. I bought my last batch on line, goggle around. I used
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they had the best price a year ago.
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I use Oxiclean for cleaning everything in my brewry (the blue crystal don't matter a bit), but it's not a sanitizeer. I use iodophor or StarSan for that.
Life begins at 60 - 1.060, that is.

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Reply to
Denny Conn

I still use bleach, but never stronger than 50 ppm (10 to 25 ppm is enough as long as your bottles are clean). If you use hot water in your bottle rinser, all traces of chlorine should be gone once the bottles dry. Tom
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Tom Lampman

I've done to batches of beer since the first of the year, one was an absolute dud. One of the problems was probably that I used bleach to sanitize and didn't rinse out the equipment thoroughly enough. The second batch, an Irish stout being served at pot luck supper tomorrow came out much better. One of the reasons was (I believe) that I used idophor to sanitize.
I'm convinced that it is worth the extra expense.
- Scott
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Scott Lothrop

If you have (or know someone who has) a dishwasher, I'd use the dry cycle to sterilize the bottles. There's also sanitizing agents that work well. In my opinion, Star-San is fairly inexpensive - due to the small amount necessary for treatment (1 ounce per 5 gallons of water). A 32 oz supply is approximately $12.00.
- stone-ok
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Well, sodium percarbonate disassociates into hydrogen peroxide which I would consider a sanitizer. Look at the MSDS for it if you doubt . . . "they" consider the toxicity of the hydrogen peroxide when coming up with the toxic limit values.
Oxyclean is fine for a sanitizer, I just didn't like the perfume and slimy feel - made handling bottles harder.
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For cripes sake...
{Getting on Soapbox}
You aren't "sterilizing" ANYTHING in a dishwasher. In fact, the chance of sterilizing in your home oven is even really low.
The word you are searching for is SANITIZING. What is sanitary is usually NOT sterile, although sterile is sanitary. The two words are rarely interchangeable. I wish folks would quit talking about sterilizing their brewing equipment as THEY AREN'T DOING THAT!!!!!
{Getting of soapbox}
OK, I feel better now.
Personally, I'd never use a dishwasher to SANITIZE bottles. It's difficult for the water to get up inside the bottles, and it's not really that hot, during the drying cycle, at the sanitization process.
I know people do it, and I know many get it to work, but they are taking a chance every time.
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RELAX, everything's okay. I apologize for my word usage. Sanitize / sterilize ..... Asshole / Holeass.
I guess I was mis-informed in Palmer's book. I'm glad that I now feel more smarter.
Thank you,
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In all this discussion, I'm wondering why no one has mentioned ordinary household ammonia. I just bought several used bottles that needed cleaning. I mixed ammonia at about 1/4 cup/gal. warm water, let the solution sit in the bottles a few minutes which loosened much of the slime, then used a bottle brush to get the rest. I then thoroughly rinsed with hot water using a jet bottle washer. They looked so sparkly clean, I went ahead and let them drain, then used them to bottle a batch. I see no reason why one couldn't use ammonia in this way (minus the bottle brush) to sanitize already clean bottles. Ammonia is easier to rinse than bleach. (Obviously never mix the two as poisonous gas would form.) Ammonia also works well for removing labels. Anyone with knowledge of ammonia's anti-bacterial properties?
BTW, I'll share my simple method for draining rinsed bottles: I use two ordinary square plastic crates with a plain crisscross mesh, turned upside down over newspaper. Each one has enough little square openings to hold about a case.
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I also do the same. Clean in Oxyclean and sanitize with Iodophor.
I use to use bleach but think about it.. you then go baack and rinse in plain tap water. Just felt like I was wasting my time.
Besides a 30 second rinse in iodophor is all it takes. Let the bottles drain 10-20 minutes upside down.
Frank ATF Home Breq Club New Bern NC
Reply to
Frank J. Russo

Other than the horrific smell, I think ammonia is great stuff for cleaning in kitchens, bathrooms, brewhouses, whatever. Based on my understanding of chemistry principles, I'd guess that since ammonia is alkaline in nature, it works by breaking down organic matter into alcohols and ammonium salts, effectively melting away cell walls and causing the biomatter to become soluble in water, thus killing the creatures and allowing us humans to wipe it all up like it's no big deal (except for that lovely odor of ammonia). If I'm not mistaken, chlorine bleach works in similar fashion by converting anything and everything into chloride salts. So to answer your question, I'm pretty sure ammonia kills bacteria, as does bleach. I'm uncertain what strength it needs to be in water to be officially considered "anti-bacterial", but given the proper strength, it should prove deadly to the little bugs. And just look at that shine!! :)
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David M. Taylor

Maybe this technique will work for you. the day after the party, i put about 24 empty botles(maybe22) in the bottom rack of my dishwasher. glasses, cups, ashtrays, and salad plates tend to be happy on the top shelf. Sanitize cycle works okay, and real dishwasher soap. (not really here to debate the value of cheaper than cheap detergents.) Always check to make sure no buddy shoved a cigarette butt into the bottle, and the bottom is clean. Looking at a light bulb is the fast check. dry and clean til i want to load them. Surprising how easy all this is.
just remember to tell a buddy who shoves cig butts in the bottle, you will make sure he gets that bottle next time. The threat seems to induce compliance.
day before bottling. the bottles go back into the dishwasher. Regular econo cycle, then i unload them and store them in the oven. A good hour before bedtime, turn the oven on to 300 degrees. PLEASE set the timer. Actually it will inspire you to clean the oven, which will probably make your partner, really acceptable to your idea. Next morning the brew is ready to bottle and so are the bottles, and they are handy and easy to get thru.
Not that I disagree, with better living through chemistry. I just happen to be really lazy.
Eventually, your partner will be almost gleefull and happy when you decide to make beer, and even helps ya out. Surprising how just cleaning the oven will help out your love life.
Do I add bleach? NOPE, I don't need it. try it you will like it.
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Been brewing for over 5 years. Have only used bleach. Other than being careful to use proper concentration and rinse well, it is as good as any. Never had a problem and it's cheap, as you say. Bleach is fine, just rinse well.
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Bleach is fine. Swimming pool "liquid chlorine" is the cheapest source. Use common sense though: Splashed accidentally in the eyes & you have a potentially serious situation. Dilute to a safe working strength & be sure to thoroughly rinse afterwards with filtered cold tapwater or hot tapwater. Without doubt the best all round sanitiser & one I have used without failure or accident (beyond a few unwanted bleach marks in my old clothes) for many years.
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I would think twice about using any chlorine designed for use in swimming pools to sanitize my equipment. It contains stabilizers and other additives to make it last longer against the harsh UV that destroys chlorine in short order.
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No, I used to own a swimming pool and learned tons about water chemistry and using chlorinated systems to keep the pool sanitary.
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