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So it's that time of year where none of the local shops are open (at least in my area) and I am itching to put on a new brew but haven't got any sanitiser.

I thought some Napisan (I believe AKA OxiClean - sodium percarbonate for washing clothes) might be useable but my research shows otherwise.

What can I find around the home that I can use to sanitise my gear? It's mostly plastic so I don't think I can use heat treatment. I usually use no-rinse but I doubt I'll have that luxury! If applicable, what steps will I need to take to treat after sanitisation?

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5 Answers 5

Your best bet is probably Bleach. Here's the excerpt from How To Brew

The cheapest and most readily available sanitizing solution is made by adding 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water (4 ml per liter). Let the items soak for 20 minutes, and then drain. Rinsing is supposedly not necessary at this concentration, but many brewers, myself included, rinse with some boiled water anyway to be sure of no off-flavors from the chlorine.

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bleach isn't that great -- the chlorine can really cause some nasty off flavors so you've gotta rinse. –  tkone Jan 3 '12 at 15:49
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@tkone yup, you probably should rinse which is more or less what John Palmer said in that quote. Bleach would be a last resort for me, but it seemed like a perfect solution to the question. –  sgwill Jan 4 '12 at 18:42

I've never used it myself, but here is a recipe for homemade no-rinse sanitizer.

Edit to note the recipe comes from Charlie Talley of 5-Star Chemicals, who produce the commercial no-rinse sanitizer Star-San.

Safety note: this recipe uses both vinegar and bleach. Mixing them directly together can produce chlorine gas, which can kill you. The recipe specifically notes to dilute the 1oz of vinegar in 5 gallons of water first before adding the 1oz of bleach. This high dilution and indirect mixing prevents that problem.

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*which produces? I'll have to consult english.stackexchange.com :) –  JoeFish Dec 29 '11 at 15:16
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I really can't get behind the average person mixing vinegar and bleach in the same solution. If you get the ratios off, you'll be producing a poisonous gas, with the potential to kill you. –  baka Dec 31 '11 at 19:41
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You're entitled to your opinion, but that seems a bit alarmist when we're talking about 1oz of each in 640oz of water. The text also specifically says to dilute the vinegar before adding the bleach. JMO, of course. But then I sometimes run with scissors, so I'm a little crazy :) –  JoeFish Dec 31 '11 at 23:05
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The problem is that if someone doesn't understand the chemistry and decides to make it "stronger", they may injure themselves and people around them. –  baka Jan 9 '12 at 13:09
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The same could be said of bleach alone, Star-San, or a million other household chemicals that are normally safe. While I agree with the warning that mixing the two chemicals can be dangerous, I don't feel we need to censor an effective and safe recipe because some people do ignorant things with its ingredients. My opinion, of course. And this isn't the place to discuss opinions. I will update my answer with a warning about the dangers of mixing the chemicals and leave it at that. –  JoeFish Jan 9 '12 at 14:12

You can use iodine; it should be available at the drugstore.

Dilute 1 tablespoon in 5 gallons and you've got a no-rinse sanitizer.

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The dilution depends on the active iodine percentage. Be sure to hit 12,5 ppm. Here is a online calc for any concentration, after a long explanation about it, but in portuguese: cervejarte.org/blog/2009/07/20/… –  jards Nov 10 at 10:05

I use oxiclean to clean, with a thorough rinse (usually 2 or 3). then Star San to sanitize.

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The recipe recommended by JoeFish (home made no-rinse sanitizer) on the homebrewtalk.com wiki has been deleted, so I'm reproducing it here, as rescued via the wayback machine:

For all of you wondering, yes you can make your own sanitizer at home. I recommend a good commercial no-rinse sanitizer (NRS) like Star-San, Iodophor, etc. In a pinch though, there is a simple solution to your sanitation dilemma (pardon the pun).

Everyone has heard the home brewers warnings about bleach and the brewery, and they are right. However, the man himself Charlie Talley (manufacturer of Five Star Chemicals, makers of Star-San) spoke about a homemade concoction that kills just as well in the event of large scale sanitation or the using up of your favorite sanitizer. Charlie recommends an accurately measured solution be made from the "dreaded" bleach, water, and house hold distilled white vinegar.

A mixture ratio of 1 oz distilled white vinegar to 5 gallons of water is thoroughly mixed, and then 1 oz of household bleach is added only after the vinegar is diluted in the water will work perfectly. This high dilution of the vinegar in the water before the bleach is added prevents any out-gassing of chlorine from the bleach that is added at the end. The vinegar actually helps the bleach work as a better sanitizer due to acidifying the solution more. The high dilution also means it leaves no residual tastes behind of bleach or vinegar, making it a perfect "cheap" no-rise sanitizer.

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