Brewing sanitizers like StarSan, BTF Iodophor are imported and therefore very expensive for home brewing. So today we will discuss how to make them in an inexpensive way at home.
Low cost Hydrogen Peroxide
Improper sanitization is the number one mistake that most home brewers do. Today, so many sanitizers are now commercially available. Yet improper technique leads to contamination & infection in brews. In this section we are going to talk about the wonders of peracetic-acid
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On their own, both are mild food-grade disinfectant. We liberally spread vinegar over salads, paneer making, chinese food. So, it is definitely food grade. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is famous for cleaning wounds. It breaks down into free oxygen molecules and water (harmless). Making it a perfect low-cost sanitizer for home-brewers on a budget. Just fill two spray bottles one with peroxide and second with the vinegar. Please, spray each equipment one after another for the best results. Doesn’t matter which order it is. The best part is that you don’t need to wash off the surface after spraying (just allow it to evaporate and use the equipment) making it the perfect no-rinse sanitizer.
However, please note that together they form a highly corrosive peracetic acid. Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide actually make a very potent sanitizer. So potent, that it may result in permanent scarring of the skin! Studies have shown that peracetic acid irritates the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Greater exposure can cause pulmonary oedema and affect the kidney and liver. So, please excise necessary caution when handling these potent chemicals.
Iodophor Vs StarSan
|Iodophor or Halogen sanitizer||StarSan or Anphossan|
|Pros||1. It is inexpensive. (but more expensive than hydrogen peroxide).|
2. Easily Available. You can buy povidone and betadine iodine tinctures from the local chemist shop. 3. It is also called iodine detergent and germicide. It is the chemical that gives the hospital its unique smell.
4. It is easier to measure efficacy. As long as the solution is brown, it is active.
5. Contact time is 60 seconds. It can be used to treat wounds, mouth ulcers, for burn dressings.
|1. Very Short Contact Time 30-90 seconds. You can apply easily using a spray gun as well.|
2. You can reuse the diluted liquid again and again. This really makes the sanitizer cost effective. Just maintain the pH below 3.
3. 5ml in 3.3Liters is easy to measure.
4. It has a healthy foam that aids in cleaning. (removal of oily sticky layer)
5. No odor and tasteless
6. Can be used in spray bottles. That makes it very easy and convenient to apply.
7. It is completely bio-degradable and USFDA approved formulae for dairy, milk, restaurant and brewing industry.
|Cons||1. It stains Plastic. After a couple of uses, the whole equipment will turn yellowish and look old. Not what you expect from a cleaning agent. It can stain your apron and clothes as well|
2. Produces Iodine fumes which are bad for health. As a result, it is not available in the UK and some countries.
3. Very short shelf life. As iodine is unstable after 24 hours.
4. Unstable to Heat, light, and Indian kitchen conditions.
5. Residual iodine will taste like medicine. That is why iodine like bleached needs to be aired after use.
6. Iodine can crack rubber gaskets and fitting after prolonged contact.
|1. Slightly more expensive|
2. Cannot be used over copper and soft metals.
3. Cannot be used on marble kitchen tops.
4. You will have to use RO water if your tap water is too alkaline or hard. (pH balance)
Are Brewing Sanitizer flammable?
Most alcohol-based sanitizer have 70%+ alcohol. These sanitizers are flammable and should be kept away from the flame. Also, the alcohol in them can evaporate over time.
Starsan and Iodophor are not flammable as they are not alcohol-based. However that being said, iodophor when heated can cause toxic fumes of iodine. It can burn the eyes, throat, and skin.
Other Brewing Sanitizers
- Campden tablets or powder form of Potassium/sodium metabisulfite is used widely in wine/cider making. All equipment, bottles, and cork are cleaned with SO2 solution. The traditional method of sanitizing wooden barrels is by burning sulfur candles which produces SO2.
- Caustic soda (lye) and bleach are also effective sanitizers but they are dangerous chemicals to deal with. Also, their residue can interact with food and make it toxic. Please rinse them and air them properly after use otherwise you will end up with off-flavors.
- PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) or Oxiclean is also an effective sanitizer. It is made from 30% Sodium Metasilicate and sodium oxychloride. However, when exposed to heat or sunlight this loses its efficacy very fast.
- Liquid Bleach: You can get liquid bleach at detergent supply stores. 4ml per liter of chlorine-based bleach is good to sanitize any equipment. However, these bleach give off chlorine residue that like iodophor can alter the taste of the beer. Hence it is not widely used, even though it is the cheapest.
- Potassium permanganate: The black crystals that become pink when dissolved in water. It is an effective sanitizer low-cost sanitizer. WHO recommends it for killing cholera in drinking water. However, permanganate gives a terrible metallic flavor. This is why it is not used.
How do you make iodine tincture?
You can make pharma grade iodophor, betadine or povidone sanitizer at home at a fraction of the cost of substitutes from the chemist. Here is how.
- bottle to store
- weighing scale and measurement flask
- 20 gm Iodine crystals purple blackish crystals
- 24 gm Sodium Iodide salt white powder
- 1 L ethyl alcohol.
- Iodine is not soluble in water. However when we add some iodine salt and alcohol its solubility increases. Dissolve the iodine salt in some distilled water and then add it in ethyalcohol.
- Crush iodine crystals and dissolve it in this mixture
- Top up the solution to make 1 Liter of tincture. The resulting solution will be deep brown can be used on wounds, mouth ulcers and sanitization purposes.
- Seal it in an airtight brown liquid. Remember it stains the plastic so glass containers is preferred.
How to Sanitize you fermenter
- Clean all your equipments before and after every use. Malt, Sugar, and organic residue attracts molds and microbes of all sorts. Once the infection sets it is 5 times harder to sanitize and clean.
- Get rid of dead zones and blind spots. One of the problems with glass carboy and fancy equipment is that there will be hard to reach corners and area. If we don’t scrub and disinfect the surfaces properly it will harbor infection. Try disassembling equipment before cleaning.
- Wash the grime. Srub off the deposits (without scratching the fermenter surface). The deposits and sticky residue is the favorite hiding place for microbes. You can use Lye, Undiluted Brewing Sanitizer (phosphoric acid-based), or detergent to clean this grime.
- Use a Rinse-Free sanitizer to kill all microbes.
- Invert to drain the excess sanitizer and then air dry.
- For sanitizing other surfaces and equipment you can use spray as well. Remember, we can not spray iodophor and bleach. Only Starsan and anphossan can be sprayed. If you are planning to spray hydrogen peroxide, then you need 2 sprayers.
Can I clean using Hot Water
While autoclave is an effective way to sanitize, hot water (even if it is boiling hot) does not kill bacteria, microbes, and infection.
- Water will be cold by the time you take it out of the flame and pour it on the vessel.
- Scalding hot water is not good for plastic, rubber, and non-steel equipment.
- The cheaper sanitizer like iodophor and bleach loses its iodine/chlorine when diluted in hot water.
- Bacteria and microbes need 20 minutes of exposure to boiling hot water to be effective. a couple of minutes in 80-90 degrees Celsius water will at best remove oil deposits from your vessels.
That being said, boiling hot water is a great solution to rinse off any non-rinse-free sanitizer. It is able to dissolve the chemicals and off-flavors from the cheaper sanitizers.
Brewing sanitizers like Starsan and iodophor on the other hand are rinse-free. That means you don’t have to wash off the residual chemicals after the use. Also, it means that the plain water that you use afterward will not again contaminate your equipment.