Homebrewing sanitizers are a crucial ingredient to brewing great beer. But with so many on the market, which one do you buy? I’ve done the research for you and will explain the pros and cons of each, and give my recommendation for the best sanitizer.
Very common household chemical and super cheap. Only a small amount will make a strong sanitizing solution.
- Easy to find
- Must rinse it out thoroughly. While rinsing you risk contaminating the equipment if your rinse water is not sterile. Rinsing also takes a lot of time and water, which costs money.
- Harmful to skin, eyes, and clothes.
- If any amount gets into your beer it will ruin the taste.
Overall: Bleach has a lot of uses around the house but sanitizing homebrew equipment shouldn’t be one of them. The rinsing is a time and water waster, and unless you use sterilized water you risk contamination. Also, if you’re like me, you tend to make a wet mess – not good with bleach. Go with a sanitizer that is made specifically for homebrewing.
Common oxygen based sanitizer that comes with many starter homebrewing kits.
- No rinse
- Good cleaner
- No longer classified as a sanitizer by the FDA.
- Many homebrewers treat it as a strong cleaner, and will not sanitize with it.
Overall: From what I’ve read, it sounds like One-Step isn’t classified as a sanitizer by the FDA because they don’t want to go through the approval process, so they may get a pass there. Still, if there is doubt, why risk it when there are better alternatives? You’re probably OK using One-Step, but I’d recommend you buy Iodophor or Star-San when it runs out.
Very effective iodine based sanitizer that can be found at any homebrew store or bought online.
- No rinse
- Short contact time
- Will stain plastic equipment over time. Will also stain skin and clothing.
- If too much is used (easy to do), it will leave a funny odor and stain badly.
Overall: A great sanitizer and one that I used for years. It’s used by a ton of homebrewers and if Star-San didn’t exist, I would easily rank it #1.
A very effective acid rinse sanitizer. Find it at any homebrew store or buy online.
- Foaming helps get in cracks and crevices
- No rinse
- Colorless and odorless
- A little goes a long ways
- Can be reused as long as pH is below 3
- Will make your hands very dry
- The foam scares people, which is silly
Overall: Don’t fear the foam! Star-San is my #1 pick for the best sanitizer. Put it in a squirt bottle and you will use much less, and make it easier to sanitize your equipment. Mix it with distilled or reverse osmosis water and it can be reused many times.
What do you use to sanitize? Is it one of the ones I didn’t mention?
Hey everyone I’m Billy Broas from BillyBrew.com and I’m going to talk about sanitizers.
Now, every homebrewer knows that sanitization is key to making a good clean beer like this one. If you screw that up your beer is not going to be clean it is going to be infected, it’s going to have bacteria, it’s going to taste nasty, and your most likely going to have to dump it out. But, which sanitizer is the best one, because there are so many out there? So I’m going to go through the most common sanitizers, tell you the pros and cons, and give you my opinion about the best ones out there.
So the first one up is bleach, and a lot of homebrewers use this and you probably have it in your house right now. That’s really the benefit of it. It’s really common, and really cheap. this giant jug was seven or eight bucks at Wal-Mart. It’s powerful stuff. It’s going to do the job and sanitize, but the thing about it is, it’s not no rinse. Meaning you have to rinse off your equipment after you use it. That raises two problems. One, it takes more time. And two, you might contaminate your equipment when your rinsing it out, undoing everything you just did with the bleach. On top of that, it’s pretty dangerous, you don’t wanna get it on your eyes or your skin. And if you get it on your clothes you know what’s going to happen. You’re going to have a tie dyed shirt. So bleach is great, it has a lot of good uses, but sanitization is not one of them to me and I wouldn’t recommend it with all these other good ones. So, don’t recommend the bleach.
Next up is One-Step, and if you bought an equipment kit at one point it probably came with this, that’s fairly common. And unlike bleach this is no rinse, so that’s good it saves you time. This bag is very cheap, it’s three or four bucks, but you go through a lot of it, so these bags and the cost really add up. But the biggest drawback about One-Step is that many brewers don’t consider it a sanitizer. It’s really considered more of a strong cleaner. And you know that’s kind of up in the air, but there are better and more effective sanitizers out there. So my thing is, if there’s better options, why not go with those? You’re probably OK with the One-Step while you have it, but once you use it up I would move on to one of these next two that I’m gonna talk about.
Now we’re on to Iodophor and this stuff is great. It’s a no rinse, iodine based sanitizer. It needs a short contact time, only about a minute. It’s pretty cheap. This bottle was about twelve dollars and it lasts a long long time. It’s really effective. You don’t have to worry about anything if you use it right. It’s gonna sanitize all your equipment really well. Drawbacks of it – you can see it’s a dark brown color, and over time it will stain your equipment. In fact it stains everything. If you get it on your clothes, your hands, your kitchen counter. It’s only cosmetic on your equipment, but that might matter to you. It matters to me. Especially on you vinyl tubing on your siphons, it will definitely stain that. So Iodophor, I recommend it, a lot of homebrewers use it. I used it for years, but it’s not my favorite, but I will show you my favorite right now. So this is Star San and in my opinion it’s the best homebrewing sanitizer out there. It’s really effective stuff. It’s no rinse. It needs a short contact time – only about a minute. It seems expensive because this little bottle is about eight dollars, but here’s the thing, you can use it over and over again if you use distilled or RO water. So this little bottle ends up lasting a long, long time. Now, a lot of new brewers are afraid of using Star San because it creates a lot of foam, and they don’t want to mix the beer with the foam. But as we say, “Don’t fear the foam”. It’s not bad for it. I rack on to the foam all the time when I’m transferring my beer and it’s never been a problem. In fact, the foam is a nutrient for the yeast. It’s a yeast food. So it’s actually good for it.
So to wrap up here I’m going to show you a little trick with the Star San. It will make your life a whole lot easier. You can actually it into a spray bottle and sanitize your equipment that way. So for example if I’m transferring from my carboy and I want to sanitize the neck of it, which is a good idea, I just give it a little sprits and it makes it super simple to sanitize it. Plus you use a whole lot less and it will last a long, long time. So this is a handy thing to have around.
So those are my picks for the two best sanitizers. The two I really recommend are Iodophor and Star San. One-Step is OK but I would get off of it, and I don’t recommend bleach.
Thanks for watching, and I’ll talk to you down in the comments. Cheers.
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