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What concentration of bleach (or Sodium hypochlorite) diluted in water is necessary to sanitize bottles?

How much time is necessary to keep the bottles immersed in the solution, or is sufficient to use a bottle washer that squirts the bleach inside of the bottles (commonly used with 'no-rinse' sanitizers like Star San, alcohol, etc)?

How much time is necessary to wait until the bottles can be used (filled) when not rinsed?

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Regarding your last question, are you implying that you will not be rinsing the bleach out, or that you are using no-rinse sanitizer? If the former, that's a really bad idea. The latter: 30 second contact time for Star-San. – Scott Mar 7 '14 at 19:07
I'm asking for many things: In general, how many time is necessary to keep bottles immersed in a bleach solution, and is enough just to splash their internal surface with a bleach solution without rinse them ? How many time to wait in booth cases (if applied) before the bottles can be used (filled with beer) ? – Luciano Mar 7 '14 at 19:28
@Scott: Just knowing that Chlorine evaporates, but not knowing how many time it takes to evaporate (almost completely), I thought about no rinsing bottles sanitized with bleach solutions. – Luciano Mar 7 '14 at 19:33
Apparently, if the concentration of bleach is correct, and pH is correct, no-rinsed bleach-based sanitizer is possible. Apparently this is backed up by Charlie Talley himself (Star San). See my answer below. – Jeff Roe Mar 20 at 19:38

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

According to this page, which was linked to recently on Basic Brewing Radio's facebook page, you can make no-rinse sanitizer with:

  • bleach diluted to 80 ppm
  • an equivalent amount of white vinegar to adjust the pH (mixed in after the bleach has been mixed into the water -- do not mix full-strength bleach and vinegar directly)

This info is apparently backed up by what Charlie Talley (Mr. Star San) said on a Basic Brewing Radio episode.

This chlorine dilution calculator from Public Health Ontario tells me how to get my brand of "Ultra Disinfectant Bleach", which claims to be 8.25% sodium hypochlorite, to 80 ppm. Using all this info, it appears that I could make no-rinse solution with:

  • 20 litres of water
  • 20 ml bleach
  • 20 ml white vinegar

And apparently this only needs 30 seconds of contact time. This almost seems to good to be true, but I intend to try it.

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I read the article, very interesting. Although, the use is "just 30 seconds and just drain", should it be immersed, full filled, or just sprinkled inside bottle, while we wait some time (how long ?) to drain ? – Luciano Mar 25 at 20:14
With bottles, I think you'd want to immerse, wait 30 seconds, then drain. – Jeff Roe Mar 26 at 0:42
What about the time to drain ? Does it mean completely dry ? – Luciano Mar 26 at 13:50
No, they don't need to be completely dry. I give my bottles a shake, then hang them in a bottling tree until I'm ready for them... 30 minutes or so. Then I give them another shake when I take them off the tree. But I think the idea with any no-rinse sanitizer is that it's fine for a few drops -- even quite a few drops -- to get into the beer. – Jeff Roe Mar 26 at 15:15

How to Brew by John Palmer recommends soaking equipment for 20 minutes, and says that rinsing isn't absolutely necessary for the recommended concentration. The concentration he mentions is 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water (4 ml per liter).

I avoid bleach. I'm too worried about it introducing off flavors if it's not completely gone, and would only use it as a last resort.

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Tnx. But what about timings ? How many time to wait the bottles dry before to use them (when no rinsed) ? – Luciano Mar 7 '14 at 20:01
I think once the bottle looks dry, you'd be good. With such a low concentration of bleach, it should be gone with the water. Adding heat would speed up the drying process. – a_hardin Mar 7 '14 at 20:07

I used to use bleach when i first started and would always rinse. I would soak the bottles for a couple hours thn rinse and let dry on a tree. I never had problems but decided that starsan or iodine no rinse solutions were easier and faster.

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If rinse water is at a premium, you could spray a shot of sulphite solution in each bottle. This will release a burst of sulphite gas, and since the sulphite is slightly acidic (or acts as an acid; I'm not a chemist), it also neutralizes the (alkaline) bleach solution, making it easier to rinse out. I've used this method lots of times in the past with good results.

Try handling bleach solution some time, then shpritzing a bit of sulphite on your hands. You'll find it instantly gets rid of that unpleasant soapy feel. As a bonus, you get a roaring snootful of sulphite to clear out your sinuses.

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Crossing all information I take from you all, Palmer, Papazian, and sparse in internet, I tried 2 solutions being there very adherent to what is explained in the Papazien's book:

First of all, it cannot be used in metals (aluminium neither in stainless steal), and the home bleach need to have about 5% of Chlorine. I use it only in glass, plastic, hoses, ...

1) DEEP CLEANING: Use about 60ml of bleach in 20L of water (2 oz in 5 gallons). Immerse all objects to be cleaned and leave it there for 1 night (8 to 12 hours), of course you need to remove coarse dirt, before immersion. After the elapsed time, rinse them and they are ready to be used.

2) SANITIZE: Use about 5 to 10 ml (I prefer 10) in 20L of water (0.15 to 0.30 oz in 5 gallons). Immerse all objects (already cleaned) to be sanitized for about 30 min to 1 hour. As I use 10ml I always rinse them. But if I can leave them to dry for 1 night, I don't rinse (like bottles, and none off-flavors until now).

Oops! I need to say that I rinse using mineral water without chlorine.

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If the information in my answer is correct, for your SANITIZE solution you could (1) increase the bleach to 34 ml, and (2) add 34 ml vinegar, and then you'd have no rinse sanitizer which requires only 30 seconds of contact time. – Jeff Roe Mar 21 at 16:18
What is the purpose of vinegar? – Luciano Mar 23 at 13:52
The vinegar adjusts the pH to where it needs to be. See the first link in my answer for more details. – Jeff Roe Mar 23 at 14:00

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