View Full Version : Sanitation Question

12-03-2012, 10:56 AM
Wasn't sure where to post this and figured others may have the same questions.

So, I recently racked my metheglin into a new container and I set about washing the old 5 gallon glass carboy out. Being completely OCD about making certain the carboy is completely cleaned and sanitized before I start my next batch I have opted for a many stage process.

First, I rinsed all the lees and other large particles out...then I took a carboy "brush", which is probably not a good idea. The brush's metal tip may have scratched the inside glass, I was a bit too aggressive with the cleaning.

I then decided to use a multiple soak of Star San to get the rest of it and thus my question. On the first soak of Star San I fully expected it to remove stuff I couldn't and then I would dump it and start over. I am now on soak two and it started out completely clear so I thought I was doing well. My concern comes in that I let it sit in the solution for a day and when I checked it agian it had a decent amount of "stuff" in suspension and it was now cloudy. The "stuff" kinda reminds me of suspended egg whites (no eggs were used in the mead), but I really don't know. There are no off smells in the water, it smells like normal water + Star San.

Any thoughts, is this normal? How many more times should I soak it or is there a better way?

Thanks so much for the help!

12-03-2012, 11:27 AM
You're on the right track here, but you've missed a crucial step. Sanitization and cleaning are not the same thing. You rinsed out the vast majority of the gunk, which is good. This step should be followed by a cleaning step. I personally use Powdered Brewer's Wash, otherwise known as PBW. In the past I've used Dawn dish soap. Just as effective, but had me rinsing way more than I like.

Cleaning is important because you cannot rely on sanitizer to clean. It'll sanitize all exposed surfaces, sure. But what about that miniscule bit of lees that got caught in that itty bitty bubble in the glass? Scrubbing is good, but scrubbing with a surfactant is 10x better. Soap/PBW/etc contain surfactants, which will break up the surface tension of water and allow it to get into every little pore, pock, and scrape.

Once you've cleaned and rinsed thoroughly, then apply the starsan. One application of starsan is enough. Personally, when I finish cleaning a carboy, if I'm going to store it for awhile, I'll run enough starsan into it to cover the bottom of the carboy completely. Shake it, cork it, then set it aside. When I need the carboy again, I give it a shake to coat all inner surfaces with the starsan still in it. If it foams up, great! The starsan is still being highly effective at sanitizing. If not, I dump it and clean the carboy thoroughly, then apply fresh starsan.

I have never had a noticable infection of any sort while using this cleaning/sanitizing process.

Chevette Girl
12-03-2012, 09:51 PM
I use a pink chlorinated cleanser, it dissolves a lot of junk with a good soak, although I'm surprised you managed to scratch your glass carboy even with the metal bit on a carboy brush. I'm pretty vicious with mine and I've never managed that :)

You want something that doesn't foam much, like dishwasher detergent, if you don't find a specific brewing cleanser.

I use a potassium metabisulphite sanitizer and I've taken to storing clean carboys corked or airlocked after having been rinsed out with the sanitizer... if it's a decent seal, it still smells potent months later, although left long enough to dry out, it will make a bit of white sediment on the bottom (dissolves easily though so no worry). I still rinse it with fresh sanitizer before use but at least I know nothing got in there in the meantime (basement has spiders!)

12-04-2012, 11:42 AM
Thanks very much for the replies!

I will have to work on the "washing" step. I didn't put cleanser per se in it, but I did scrub it with the star san solution the first time. I will look for a cleanser instead and star san as the sanitizer.

I am not really sure whether I scratched the glass or not, it kinda looks like I did, but at the same time it could have just been a film on the inside that was disturbed by the brush and not actual scratches.