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View Full Version : Using Star San with Hard Water for Sanitization



lorendt
07-26-2014, 04:13 PM
Newbee Alert!!!

When using StarSan sanitizer my mixture immediately turned cloudy. I thought nothing of it and proceeded to make my first couple of batches of mead... Later I stumbled upon a site that suggested the use of this product with hard water will cause this effect and essentially render the product useless for sanitizing... I've known that my water is really hard but didn't think of this when purchasing a sanitizer... Is this accurate? If so, could anyone recommend an alternative product I could/should use? Also, should I have any concerns about the mead I prepared with equipment I sanitized in this manner?

In advance, Thanks!

Honeyhog
07-26-2014, 04:44 PM
If your water is that hard I would suggest getting Reverse Osmosis water from the store. At a few bucks for 5 gallons you can use it to sanitize and make your mead as well.

Chevette Girl
07-26-2014, 06:04 PM
Mead's pretty tolerant, I wouldn't worry too much if I were you. When you hear the stories of what they've fished out of the grape presses, incompletely sanitized equipment seems pretty clean by comparison.

If you've decided to be worried anyway, get yourself some campden tablets and add one per gallon to each finished mead, that oughtta kill off most things with any interest in damaging your mead. But by and large, if you don't see anything weird (blobs at the bottom, a skin at the top, obvious mold spots) and it smells and tastes good, you're fine. Fermentation's pretty hard for most nasties to survive anyway.

I was going to suggest getting a jug of distilled water from the store... but RO water would work too. Or if you have a friend with a water softener, ask them if you can fill a jug or pail up next time you visit. And if StarSan is of the no-rinse persuasion, then definitely don't rinse it with your hard water or it'll defeat the whole purpose and probably also wind up with a small amount of soap scum on/in your equipment.

If switching cleansers/sanitizers is easier than switching water, well, I use the pink chlorinated cleaner (it's great for getting stains and smells out of plastic containers) to clean stuff and the Potassium Metabisulphite (same thing as Campden tablets) sanitizer to sanitize everything before it touches must. The sulphites apparently work even better if you add some acid blend to the solution, I don't typically add any to my main jar of sanitizer because most things get a good long soak anyway, but I do add some to the spray bottle because anything I spray is likely to have a shorter contact time and will need the help.

lorendt
07-26-2014, 07:10 PM
Mead's pretty tolerant, I wouldn't worry too much if I were you. When you hear the stories of what they've fished out of the grape presses, incompletely sanitized equipment seems pretty clean by comparison.

If you've decided to be worried anyway, get yourself some campden tablets and add one per gallon to each finished mead, that oughtta kill off most things with any interest in damaging your mead. But by and large, if you don't see anything weird (blobs at the bottom, a skin at the top, obvious mold spots) and it smells and tastes good, you're fine. Fermentation's pretty hard for most nasties to survive anyway.

Thanks! I feel better now... No obvious defects and it smells and tastes good so far so I'm guessing I'm in the clear. I wasn't sure if something might come along later as a result... I would hate to waste 6 months of waiting to produce a problem batch...


I was going to suggest getting a jug of distilled water from the store... but RO water would work too. Or if you have a friend with a water softener, ask them if you can fill a jug or pail up next time you visit. And if StarSan is of the no-rinse persuasion, then definitely don't rinse it with your hard water or it'll defeat the whole purpose and probably also wind up with a small amount of soap scum on/in your equipment.

If switching cleansers/sanitizers is easier than switching water, well, I use the pink chlorinated cleaner (it's great for getting stains and smells out of plastic containers) to clean stuff and the Potassium Metabisulphite (same thing as Campden tablets) sanitizer to sanitize everything before it touches must. The sulphites apparently work even better if you add some acid blend to the solution, I don't typically add any to my main jar of sanitizer because most things get a good long soak anyway, but I do add some to the spray bottle because anything I spray is likely to have a shorter contact time and will need the help.

Thanks. I've thought about just using some non-scented Clorox bleach going forward but maybe I'll look into the pink chlorinated cleaner or campden tablets. But as you said, maybe switching the water might be easier....

Thanks Honeyhog & Chevette Girl!

lorendt
07-26-2014, 07:13 PM
Quick follow up question, is there any benefits to using Reverse osmosis water over distilled or vice versa (Flavor, sanitization, etc)? I'm guessing not but just thought I would ask... Thanks!

ostensibly
07-26-2014, 08:50 PM
RO stays clear longer? Functionally, I don't know.

Honeyhog
07-26-2014, 09:48 PM
I think RO is cheaper than distilled but other than that I can't see that it would make much, if any, difference.

Chevette Girl
07-26-2014, 11:47 PM
I think whether RO water is cheaper may depend on your location, I don't think I've ever seen RO water at the store. Spring water, distilled water, but not RO water.

I wouldn't recommend the nonscented clorox bleach, it takes a LONG time and a lot of rinsing to get the bleach smell out of plastic and that CAN damage your mead. Or at least I know my plastic travel mug took two weeks soaking in changes of black tea after a bleach soaking before anything I made in it tasted like anything at all (my husband was read the riot act for putting garlic in my plastic tea mug in the first place, which necessitated the bleaching).

Honeyhog
07-27-2014, 12:13 AM
Most of our large grocery stores have a couple of RO machines where you bring your own jug and fill it right there. Costs me $3.50 or so for 18 liters (5 US gal.)

fatbloke
07-27-2014, 04:35 AM
RO often supplied at the nearest aquarium store, just get it with no minerals.....

BBBF
07-28-2014, 01:53 PM
From what I've read, Star San is good as long as the pH stays below 3.0. Cloudiness is a good indicator that your sanitizer is still good, unless you have hard water and it immediately goes cloudy. That doesn't mean it doesn't work. You just do not have a visual confirmation. I've kept cloudy Star San around for months and tested it with a pH meter and it's still below 3, so I've continued to use it and have not had a problem, but I usually toss it after a few weeks.

If you buy distilled or RO water, you can go the clear Star San route. Or you can be more stingy on how much you make. You don't need 5 whole gallons. You don't even need a gallon. I've started filling a small spray bottle and just spraying all my equipment down.

Chevette Girl
08-04-2014, 11:47 PM
Two possibilities I can think of - the cloudiness is the equivalent to soap scum, or your hard water's alkaline enough to react with the acidity and start precipitating out the calcium... Star san's the one where they say don't fear the bubbles right? If it still makes suds and the pH is below 3 you might be OK. Or it might be Iodophor I'm thinking of. I'm a font of half-remembered information :p

lorendt
08-19-2014, 10:12 PM
Thanks Ostensibly.

mannye
08-20-2014, 01:08 AM
StAr San is the bubble one. I usually use iodophor but recently ordered some star San. It's like the new holy grail of sanitizers. If beer guys like it then it has to be good! If you got in the wayback machine you would find me using metabisulfite to sanitize everything and indeed is what I used until I switched to iodine based sanitizer.
If you are worried about water quality interfering maybe iodine based sanitizers are a better choice? I dunno.



Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now. G

Medsen Fey
08-21-2014, 05:40 AM
StarSan will work with hard water. You can check the pH to reassure yourself.