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November 9th, 2010 // By // The Brewery // View Comments

So what is sanitation? Sanitation means you have a log 3 reduction (99.9%) in microorganisms on your equipment. Sterilization is killing off 100% of microorganisms and is unrealistic and unnecessary for our purposes.

Sanitation is a three step process whether you make beer or wine: clean, rinse, sanitize. Cleaning is essential because you just can’t sanitize dirt. You must remove the soil from the surface of equipment in order for the sanitizer to do its job completely. At Great Fermentations we use PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) to clean equipment. PBW is an alkali cleaner that was originally developed for Coors. Our cleaning procedure entails soaking equipment for at least 20 minutes in a solution of one tablespoon of PBW in 5 gallons of 122 F water. We then use a little strong arm action and a brush on non-plastic surfaces. Because PBW is an alkaline cleaner we rinse with warm tap water so that residual cleaner doesn’t buffer the sanitizer.

BTF Iodophor and Star San are our preferred sanitizers with beer and can also be used with wine. BTF is an iodine-based sanitizer that is used at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons which is a concentration of 12.5 ppm. The only drawback to using BTF is that it does discolor plastic but that is only a cosmetic problem. Star San is an acid-based broad spectrum sanitizer that is a blend of phosphoric acid and dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid. Star San has an acid  surfactant that creates quite a bit of foam. Please, DON’T FEAR THE FOAM! The foam has as much sanitizing strength as the liquid and when dry they leave the surface in a sanitized acid condition. The foam also breaks the surface tension of the water to get in the nooks and crannies of the vessel being sanitized.

These are both no rinse sanitizers meaning that once you use them to sanitize you should not rinse the equipment with non-sterile tap water.  Rinsing with tap water just serves to re-contaminate the equipment with whatever is in the water. In order for BTF or Star San to sanitize, they must be in contact with the surface for at least 2 minutes. That means soaking the surface, not just sloshing the sanitizer over the surface. Using more than the recommended dosage of sanitizer  is not a good thing. Not only do you waste product but at higher levels of usage a flavor or aroma of the sanitizer may be apparent in your finished beer. You can find all three of these products on our website, http://www.greatfermentations.com/Sanitizing-and-Cleaning/products/1032/

The traditional sanitizer for wine is a sulfite solution made of water, potassium or sodium metabisulfite and citric acid. To make the solution,

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