View Full Version : Rinse Star San from primary with water?

12-10-2012, 12:01 PM
I understand the need to have things cleaned and sanitized but I've got a question.

When starting a fermentation in a primary vessel I sanitized it with Star San and let it drain. The instructions say not to rinse. Folks say not to rinse. Ok, so for my 1-gallon (glass jug) JAOM and my 3-gallon traditional (plastic bucket) I didn't rinse. :)

For both of these meads I used bottled "spring water". What I ran into, more so with the JAOM, was an over abundance of FOAM. Yes, I've heard the "don't fear the FOAM". But the FOAM made it kind of tough for me to get a good OG measurement in the case of the tradtitional (I didn't measure the JAOM).

What I'm curious about is this: Since we add the water (the spring water in my case) to the honey and other ingredients to begin with, would there a significant danger if the Star San was rinsed from the primary vessel with the same water immediately before pouring/mixing the must in it? It seems this would reduce the amount of foaming but would only introduce a small amount something into the vessel of which it would receive a much larger quantity of in a few minutes.

A possible problem that I can think of is the surface exposed in the head space of the fermenter that isn't in contact with the must. :confused:

Thoughts anybody?

12-10-2012, 12:19 PM
My personal experience with Star San is limited, but I do know it tends to foam like crazy if it is agitated while being mixed into solution. My friend, who uses it exclusively for sanitizing, recommends filling the vessel with water first, then adding the Star San and gently swirling to mix it together. That tends to reduce the amount of foam.

As for rinsing after sanitizing, that is your choice. Personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable doing so. When you say you let the carboy and bucket drain, how long was that for? Until all bubbles and liquid were gone?

You could also switch to a different no-rinse sanitizer like Iodophor. Or you could, as Oskaar is fond of saying, take a chance...Custer did. :)

Edit: Did you degas the traditional before pulling a hydrometer sample? That also tends to help with minimizing foam for measurements.

12-10-2012, 06:16 PM
If your water is sterile (or at least as clean as "sanitized" would be), then sure go ahead and rinse the foam out if you like. I wouldn't use straight tap water though. Usually you can consider bottled water to be bug-free.

Not shaking is the best way to minimize the foam. Like Yogi said, just a swirl to mix it is enough. You can also get the no-foam formulation of StarSan (which I don't remember the name of...) if you like to shake or spray your sanitizer.

12-10-2012, 11:18 PM
Yogi, I can understand what your friend is doing by being gentle with the must. If you whip up Star San like you would a fresh must you would have quiet a head of foam on your hands! A gentle mixing is definitely needed with it.

Star San makes some wonderful bubbles. I'm not sure how long it would take to drain all the bubbles out...beside the foam-sized bubbles it creates larger, even tennis ball size bubbles in the jugs/buckets. If left to drain I'm not sure how much of the Star San dries on the surface and is maybe reactivated upon wetting...?

Yelp, in one of those movies showing Custer getting bushwacked I always thought it would be neat to see a ghostly Elvis walking through the prairie grass in the background as the massacre takes place while singing "My Way". :eek:

My problem was with getting the initial OG reading before I pitched the yeast, I don't think degassing is applicable there but I could be wrong??? Definitely a big bubbly, foamy mess after whipping the must pretty good. I guess some of the foam could have come from protein in the honey, too. I'll remember to degas hence forth when I take samples...thanks for that tip!

I'll stick with the Star San for now. It is regarded highly by much more experienced people than I am, I figure they know what they're doing (whether I do or not!). :) I like using it also (other that the FOAM when trying to get a OG). ...and it's paid for. ;)

akueck, when I mixed my must I poured ~2.5 gallons of bottled water into my sanitized fermentor followed by the honey and then I stirred like crazy. If I had rinsed the Star San with the same bottled water that I immediately poured 2.5 gallons of into the fermenter...how would've the rinsing cause a higher chance of contamination? The rinse water and the initial water would be the same....same water poured onto surfaces wet with the same water. We're on a rural water system here...I'll be using bottled water for all my meads. Sanitizing water will have to be tap water, though,....I hope the Star San's up to the battle!

Thanks for ya'll's feedback. I'm not trying to be difficult, just trying to get my head wrapped around the sanitary aspect of this.

I'm probably just thinking to hard about it.


12-11-2012, 01:12 AM
My problem was with getting the initial OG reading before I pitched the yeast, I don't think degassing is applicable there but I could be wrong???

Oh dang, I misunderstood. Yeah, akueck's suggestion would probably be the best bet then. :)

12-11-2012, 03:27 AM
I must admit I have rinsed in cold tap water. I don't see there's any additional issue as to using to same non treated tap water in the must. Or adding non-sanitary fruit to primary for that matter. But I am new to mead making. I would never do it when brewing though. But in that case I have a "sanitized" wort and it is much more vulnerable. However, when making mead the must is more acidic (particularly when fermentation gets going), alcohol is going up pretty fast and a lot of the yeast strains are competitive which would seem to reduce risks.

On the other hand I don't see any real reason to rinse. But there are days where I find it difficult to add must (or wort for that matter) to the stuff I use to kill bugs.

Anyway, I am new to this hobby and very open to process improvement.

12-11-2012, 10:39 AM
No problem, Yogi. I appreciate your feedback on the situation. The tip on degassing before testing will be a procedure I'll use from now on! It's those morsels of wisdom coming from more knowledgeable folks like yourself that help us newbees. Newbees, myself included, can read all the books out there, surf the net for hours, etc., and get a good idea of the basics but experience shared from others on the detail is the glue that puts it all together. Thanks for sharing!!!

Well, I'm going to follow yours and akueck's lead and keep using the Star San. I figure as time goes by I'll get accustomed to working with the foam...I don't fear the foam, it's just a bit aggravating. ;)

MadsH, I'm taking it that you don't sanitize your must when you add the fruit and tap water. Seems that would be a bit risky in regards to the fruit. I really wouldn't want to use my tap water...seems the water company sent out a note a year or so ago to give young children bottled water being as the aquifer the public water comes from is exceptionally high in flouride and could damage young developing teeth. Besides, at times it smells a little "off". We're on a rural system that crooks and weaves all over the countryside. For myself, I think I'll stick with bringing home bottled water....of course I read labels and leave the one's marked "...bottled from the muncipal water supply of Tampa, FL" on the shelf. Of course, you really can't be to sure of the ones marked "spring water", either, but at least I *feel* better using it. ;)

To rest easy I won't be rinsing my vessels, but I still wonder what the difference is between rinsing with water that you will be putting in there in a few minutes anyhow and not rinsing... If you rinse, the water will be in vessel. If you don't rinse, the water will be in the vessel. One of the mysteries of life...and probably one that Custer dwelled on extensively while listening to Elvis sing.

Thanks for all the feedback, ya'll...now to go figure out what to do next with my batch of traditional. :)