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I am a college student brewing in my apartment and while I am pretty dirty on occasion, when it comes to brewing beer I try to be on top of it. While I have not had a bad batch thus far, but the home brew store clerk talked me into buying Star San sanitizer (my defenses are down in the home brew store).

Star San allegedly cleans and leaves nutrients for the beer, but is it worth twice the cost of regular sanitizer?

Has anyone had any problems with a cheaper sanitizer?

Thank you for any advice. I am only on my second batch (Double IPA with motueka and mosaic hops) so any input will help.

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I will add that if there is ever any question on what to get a homebrewer as a gift, PBW and Star-San are a surefire guarantee to be received with a smile and their gratitude. –  Scott Feb 7 at 14:49

5 Answers 5

Keep in mind that you don't actually have to submerge things in StarSan for it to be effective. You can mix it in a spray bottle with distilled water. It will stay good for months at least...a year isn't out if the question. Then you can spray things rather than submersing them in a bucketful. A 30 second contact time is 99.5% effective according to Charley Talley, a chemist at the company that makes StarSan.

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I will add that you can mix up less than a five-gallon batch of it. Get a needle-less medicine syringe (the pharmacy will probably give you one for free - they are used to give liquid tylenol to kids), and mix at a ratio of 6 ml or 6 cc per one gallon of water. I have gotten my Star-San use down to 1-2 gallons per batch -- tricks include the above spray bottle trick, using an autosiphon to rack Star-San between vessels and sanitizing my tubing along the way, and just putting enough Star-San in vessels so you can shake it up and make everything wet. –  Chino Brews Feb 7 at 23:15

Star San is not a cleaner, only a sanitizer. But boy is it a great sanitizer; well worth the price. 30 second contact time, foams readily, no-rinse, breaks down to yeast nutrient. Only thing I'll use or recommend.

(Hint: mix it with distilled water, and it'll last "indefinitely"; that sure helps the cost go down. :)

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I've learned to keep a bucket readily available with distilled water and Star-San. Need your siphon or spoon sanitized? Toss it in the bucket and grab it when you need it. So much easier than a spray bottle... Which admittedly I still use probably just as much elsewhere. –  Scott Feb 6 at 20:30
    
How do you store your indefinite bucket of Star San? –  Ugly Dude Feb 6 at 20:44
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In an out of the way spot. Basically, my original bottling bucket is now my star-san bucket; as I now keg (and bottle from the keg), I don't use it otherwise. If I wanted to, I'd either transfer the starsan to a carboy or bucket, or if it was really old I might just dump it and make a fresh batch. Every 9 months or so I'll notice it's a bit low, and grab a gallon of distilled water and a 1/4oz or so of starsan to top it up. –  jsled Feb 7 at 3:38
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One more thing to note: you can use a wallpaper tray to sanitize long items like racking canes/tubes, beer thief, &c. with a minimum of sanitizer. –  jsled Feb 7 at 14:01

This question has been answered already, but I wanted to add to the testimonials! It's definitely worth the cost and lasts for months (I've never gone a year but I wouldn't be afraid to). Having a spray bottle is very handy for the fact that it works quick and is reliable. It may be small, but no one has touched on this yet: the customer service is excellent. I sent an email asking a relatively specific question and I had an email back later that day that completely answered my question. I really felt like they appreciated my business, which always make anyone feel good.

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Short answer: I've been using the stuff for years and wouldn't use anything else. The no rinse is great. While you still (obviously) have to sanitize, it largely eliminates the hassle.

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When I was in college and could not afford anything other than bleach for sanitizing, but 1/2 of my beers had some sort of problem with them. The problem with bleach or anything you have to rinse off, is that you have to rinse, and rinse, and rinse, and then rinse again. Definitely think StarSan is worth it.

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