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BeeGuy
12-31-2008, 11:13 PM
Hello there my fellow honey people.

I have kept bees all of my life and now that I'm retired I've decided to do the mead making thing. I've started my first batch already and I'm about ready to go from the bucket to the glass jug.

In regards to sanitizing, I've read to use a diluted solution of bleach, 2T/gal, and then rinse until you can't smell the bleach any more and that's what I've been doing. I also have read things like "top off with good water" when referring to topping off a carboy.

Here's the question: Is it OK to use my well water? I guess I'll find out soon enough but I'd like to hear what you guys have to say about it. The water comes from a good deep well and is kept in a cistern before it's pumped to the house. My wife says it's "good water". LOL

fatbloke
01-01-2009, 07:57 AM
Hello there my fellow honey people.

I have kept bees all of my life and now that I'm retired I've decided to do the mead making thing. I've started my first batch already and I'm about ready to go from the bucket to the glass jug.

In regards to sanitizing, I've read to use a diluted solution of bleach, 2T/gal, and then rinse until you can't smell the bleach any more and that's what I've been doing. I also have read things like "top off with good water" when referring to topping off a carboy.

Here's the question: Is it OK to use my well water? I guess I'll find out soon enough but I'd like to hear what you guys have to say about it. The water comes from a good deep well and is kept in a cistern before it's pumped to the house. My wife says it's "good water". LOL
If the water is drinkable, then it should be Ok. If you wanted to guarantee it a bit further then you could always boil it and cool it before use.

Is there any noticeable taste to it ? If there is, then you might need to think about bottled water of some sort.

As for the sanitiser, well I just do the 6 x campden tablets + 1 tsp of citric acid in a pint of water thing. It's kept in a spray. Unless I need to do in depth cleaning, then I use a proprietary bleach based cleaner and rinse "it" to death to try and completely eradicate the possibility of any taint.

With the campden/citric spray, if it's a carbouy/demi-john I just spray a good amount of it in and then rotate it so all of the surface has been covered a couple of times, leave it for 5 minutes or so and then rotate again.

Any residual liquid it tipped out.

Other kit, funnels, jugs, hydrometer etc, it just sprayed and left for 5 minute and then sprayed again and left for a few minutes more, any residual liquid shaken off.

You don't need to rinse if you use the campden/citric spray.

I've yet to make a "gallon of vinegar", so like it's suggested in a couple of my books, it must work ok.

regards

fatbloke

Leonora
01-01-2009, 02:23 PM
There is a great chapter on Sanitation in the Newbees Guide. Click on it in the upper left hand yellow box.

I love love love StarSan in a spray bottle. No taste, quick to use, cheap. I've never lost a batch or a bottle to infection or bad taste. Spray to wet the entire surface, let sit for 1 minute, drain off extra, DO NOT RINSE, and use.

I have to tell you, an alarm bell is going off in my head about the concept of "topping off". What do you mean by that? When are you doing this?

Have you ever had your well water tested?

Leonora

BeeGuy
01-02-2009, 12:32 AM
There is a great chapter on Sanitation in the Newbees Guide. Click on it in the upper left hand yellow box.Leonora

I've read and read and read about sanitation. Here, and everywhere else it seems, says the most common sanitizer is a diluted bleach solution and the method is to use it and then rinse well.


I have to tell you, an alarm bell is going off in my head about the concept of "topping off". What do you mean by that? When are you doing this?

Have you ever had your well water tested?Leonora

By topping off I mean adding to a carboy after racking to make up for the empty space.

I have never had my water tested but the guy who drilled the well said it was good water so it must be huh? I've been drinking it for years and I'm not dead yet so... It's clear and has no detectable odor. It does have some mineral content. You can't detect it except that in time a residue will build up on the shower stall if it's not cleaned regularly.

akueck
01-02-2009, 12:54 AM
Bleach solutions are very common, but that is mostly (entirely?) because bleach is readily available without visiting a "specialty" store. Bleach needs to be rinsed thoroughly to avoid tainting the mead. If you rinse with straight tap water, you could be adding back microbes that you just bleached to death, thus negating the sanitization. To be extra super-duper clean, use pre-boiled, bottled, or otherwise "clean" water to rinse off the bleach.

That being said, some people can get away with "sanitizing" their equipment using hot water from the tap. But, some people can't. YMMV.

The easiest way to avoid the worry about the cleanliness of your rinse water is to use a no-rinse sanitizer. Leonora mentioned StarSan (which I also really like), another common one is Iodophor. These are harmless when diluted and will not leave a taste, so you just dump out the excess liquid and go. Both will keep for some amount of time (which varies based on the water you use and the conditions in which you store it), so having a spray bottle handy for odd-job sanitizing is common. I think Iodophor is good for up to a couple of days and StarSan can keep for much longer if you mix it with distilled water.

As for topping-up, I will admit I've used straight tap water to top up a couple of batches of beer. Worked fine & the sprayer on the sink works well for aeration. ;) So as to not anger the brewing gods, I now top up only with water that has been boiled & cooled (while covered) or bottled water. Same ideas apply here--the water you add could contain bugs if you don't take precautions to kill them. Obviously you can't use sanitizing solutions here, so you're stuck with heat. You can use straight tap water, but your chances of an infection are higher.

bordeaaj
01-02-2009, 01:16 AM
In his 3/29/07 interview on Basic Brewing Radio, chemist and sanitation expert to the brewing industry and the head of Five Star Chemical, the makers of StarSan, Charlie Talley said bleach gets an undeserved bad rap in the homebrewing community because people don't know how to use it properly. He emphasized that bleach alone in water is not considered to be an effective sanitizer by any regulating body. Apparently, it's critical for the water to be at the proper acidic pH level for bleach (or StarSan for that matter) to be effective sanitizers.

In order to easily create an extremely low-cost, extremely effective sanitizer that is both no rinse and far, far below the chlorine taste threshold, Talley recommends the addition of 1 tablespoon (or 1oz) of vinegar to 5gal water in order to lower the pH level to the point which will put a subsequent addition of 1 tablespoon (or 1oz) of bleach at its maximum germ killing power.

He stressed the point that although you should never mix the bleach and vinegar directly with each other (or you will create a deadly chlorine gas), it is perfectly safe to add them to larger amounts of water in two separate additions.

StarSan is far more expensive than the acid/water/bleach combination but convenient for the brewing and food service industry in that, among other things, it requires no mixing of multiple chemicals, is no rinse and tasteless (but only when mixed with water in proper amounts), is formulated to be more stable than bleach, and contains its own acid so it self-adjusts to the proper pH unless the water is very hard (possibly the case with well water). In extremely hard water StarSan will turn the water cloudy. If this happens you can add additional acid such as vinegar in the same way as above or simply add more StarSan until the cloudiness disappears.

Here is a link to the interview .mp3

http://tinyurl.com/89ywn7

osluder
01-02-2009, 01:20 AM
I like Iodophor myself. -- Olen

Medsen Fey
01-02-2009, 01:19 PM
I'm also a big fan of iodophor, and I've got the stains to prove it! ;)

BeeGuy, if you are drinking your well water, you might as well brew with it. If it tastes good, it is good for brewing. The extra mineral content can actually be beneficial for the yeast. They especially like zinc and magnesium. This is one of the reasons using distilled water is usually discouraged as you lose those essential minerals.

As for topping up, I don't like to use water or anything that will dilute the mead, but that is just my particular preference. If you use hot water that has been sitting in you water heater, very few organisms can survive. Even using cold tap water, the chances of some nasty spoilage organism taking over is quite small since you'll likely be adding it to a 10+% alcohol solution that you are protecting from air exposure.

So you can take comfort that your sanitation approach is good, and you can concentrate on making good recipes.

By the way, what kind of honey are you producing?

Medsen

BeeGuy
01-02-2009, 03:59 PM
Thanks for the reassurance. I really have no idea what kind of honey I have except to say that I live in southern Oregon about 3000 ft up in the fir-madrone woods. I've been having a difficult time keeping the bees alive these last 4 or 5 years but I think I have it figured out now and expect a bumper crop this year.

Last years honey was gathered and harvested late, August-September, and is very dark and rich; looks like 90 weight oil with a brown tint. I don't eat that much honey except at extraction time (lots of finger licking) but everyone says it's the best. Of course I give most of my honey away so that critique may be a function of the price.

bordeaaj
01-02-2009, 04:16 PM
Also, one more point according to Talley, StarSan acts differently as a sanitizer than iodine and bleach, because both of those contain halogens which are termed “blind sanitizers.” Halogen-based sanitizers are very effective but will not kill in the presence of organics, most notably sugars, and due to their higher affinity for sugar molecules they will actually become bound up with them leaving you without enough sanitizer left in solution to kill off bacteria. With any sanitizer, and especially with both iodine and bleach (and because they are so commonly used in the homebrewing community), he says it is very important to clean thoroughly of organics prior sanitizing...he says cleaning is at least 90% of sanitizing. That's where a good, long soak in PBW or Oxy-clean comes in.

osluder
01-02-2009, 06:37 PM
That's where a good, long soak in PBW or Oxy-clean comes in.

Yup, I go through a lot of PBW especially for carboys. Makes them all crystal clear and shiny. :) -- Olen

BeeGuy
01-02-2009, 07:07 PM
Yup, I go through a lot of PBW especially for carboys. Makes them all crystal clear and shiny. :) -- Olen

Previously Boiled Water?
Pure Bottled Water?
Poor Boy Whiskey?

I give up.

I racked the bucket to the jug this afternoon using soap and water to clean everything first and then sterilized with water and bleach with a little vinegar added. (1 gal-1/4t+-1/4t+) Didn't have any white vinegar so I used apple cider vinegar. I rinsed using hot tap water just because I didn't like the vinegar smell. The jug was way short of full; about 25% short. I was supposed to add more water than I did in the beginning but I didn't take the time to figure out I didn't have a whole gallon plus a little. I'll do it differently next time. I topped off the jug with hot tap water and wrapped it all up in a towel. No action at first but after an hour or two it was fizzing nicely.

akueck
01-02-2009, 08:30 PM
Powdered Brewery Wash

It's the same chemical as oxyclean--percarbonate. Releases oxygen radicals in water, which will break up, dissolve, and/or kill stuff on the surface of your equipment. If it didn't need to be rinsed (it leaves a salty residue), it would work as a sanitizer too.

osluder
01-03-2009, 12:55 AM
Powdered Brewery Wash

Thanks, akueck.


Previously Boiled Water?
Pure Bottled Water?
Poor Boy Whiskey?

I give up.

Sorry about that, BeeGuy: I just regurgitated the acronym without thinking. I come from a beermaking background and Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW) is near ubiquitous there. PBW makes quick work of cleaning especially glassware, but as mentioned requires thorough rinsing and then sanitizing.

Vino
01-03-2009, 01:22 AM
I'm sure there will be many that disagree with me...but my chemical of choice is OneStep...and I never rinse...;D

bordeaaj
01-03-2009, 02:24 AM
I'm sure there will be many that disagree with me...but my chemical of choice is OneStep...and I never rinse...;D

OneStep is supposed to be great for reasonably clean equipment and the no-rinse is a definite plus. I remember Talley saying PBW (heavy duty plus minerals), Straight A (heavy duty), OneStep (light duty), and OxyClean (?) are all percarbonates with their own blends of surfactants and emulsifiers that clean by producing oxygen in solution that lifts soils from the surface and keeping it from resettling. OxyClean is formulated for fabrics and not rinsability in food and beverage industry use but works well for short term use. PBW is apparently the only one to also have a chelating agent that helps remove inorganic minerals that can build up (beerstone). Its blend of surfactants, wetting agents, oxygen, and chelation properties that attack the oils, organics, and inorganics specific to brewing make it a favorite in the brewing industry. He was complimentary of all of them saying they all work very well for the use they were intended and it usually comes down to a matter of personal preference based on familiarity and comfort level.

Corcis
01-03-2009, 03:32 AM
I use water, a brush and then Iodophor sanitizer. Invert and dry.

akueck
01-03-2009, 08:09 PM
OneStep is supposed to be great for reasonably clean equipment and the no-rinse is a definite plus. I remember Talley saying PBW (heavy duty plus minerals), Straight A (heavy duty), OneStep (light duty), and OxyClean (?) are all percarbonates with their own blends of surfactants and emulsifiers that clean by producing oxygen in solution that lifts soils from the surface and keeping it from resettling.

I've heard the same, all are more or less equivalent in style and similar in formulation. From personal experience, the residue from oxyclean is slicker and harder to remove than Straight-A. Right now I'm getting a non-branded "percarbonate" from the LHBS, which I'm told is the same as Straight-A for all practical purposes.

I also read a great article about cleansers. I'll have to find it and post it up here.

Vino
01-03-2009, 09:42 PM
OneStep is supposed to be great for reasonably clean equipment and the no-rinse is a definite plus.

Cleaning is a habit I developed early for brewing...As soon as I transfer to secondary or for bottling/kegging, I immediately soak the soiled carboy with OneStep and clean well...then I soak again with OneStep before each use.