Take the 2-minute tour ×
Homebrewing Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for dedicated home brewers and serious enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My homebrewer friends recommend the StarSan acid sanitizer, hands-down. I tried it once and it foamed everywhere and left a bunch of rings in the carboy and the bottles. It made me paranoid that it would ruin my batch, but the beer tasted fine. Ever since, I have been wary of using it because of all the foam.

Is there any risk associated with leftover acid sanitizer in your beer? What happens to the phosphoric acid and dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid? Are there trace amounts of it in my beer? Has anyone had a bad experience with it? Am I doing it wrong?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

The amount of acid in a properly mixed batch of StarSan is less than in a bottle of Coke. I've been using it for years and find it extremely effective as a sanitizer. I never rinse and it has had no adverse effect on my beer. In fact, I've won several awards since I started using it. The commonly heard refrain is "Don't fear the foam!"

share|improve this answer
1  
Agreed; the key is to make sure you make the right concentration. The directions on the bottle are super clear & easy. –  sgwill Nov 16 '10 at 19:54
    
Don't fear the foam. Got it. –  Carling Nov 16 '10 at 20:10
    
+1 As a know-nothin' noob brewer, I was super hesitant about all the foam. Read John Palmer's How To Brew and watched a bunch of brewing videos on YouTube where they used StarSan, no rinse, foam everywhere... Now I'm a believer. –  jscott Jun 4 '11 at 21:13

I had similar fears after reading the warnings on the label until I read Palmer's How to Brew, 3rd Ed. p. 23, as part of his discussion of different methods of cleaning and sanitizing:

StarSan is only effective when the pH of the solution is less than 3.5. ... This is also the reason it is a no-rinse sanitizer: When the fermenter or bottle has been drained and filled with wort or beer, the higher pH of the wort and beer neutralizes the sanitizing capability, so that the yeast are unaffected. ... [E]ven though there can be a huge amount of foam in vessels like carboys after draining, it will have no effect on fermentation or flavor.

He even says that StarSan and Final Step (both acidic sanitizers) are his "preferred sanitizers" for whatever he can't easily do in the dishwasher.

Regarding the scary warnings on the label, he adds:

Because it is listed as a sanitizer and bactericide by the FDA and EPA, the container must list disposal warning that are suitable for pesticides. Do not be alarmed; it is less hazardous to your skin than bleach.

share|improve this answer

The difference between "drinking" tap water and "rinsing" with it is that our body can handle whatever small amount of bacteria may be in the water, but the conditions for fermenting beer are also ideal for bacteria to grow and multiply so that insignificant amount of bacteria we normally drink can grow under the right conditions (in the fermenter or bottle) and spoil a batch.

That being said, beer is more resilient than we give it credit for.

share|improve this answer
    
Just to clarify, yes, beer is resilient to spoilage than some would credit it for, but wort isn't, and it's during the time before the yeast have lowered the pH and produced sufficient alcohol that the wort is susceptible to bacterial contaminants. –  mdma Jul 2 '13 at 13:29

Perhaps I'm failing to "get with the program" on this no-rinse sanitizer thing, but I personally like rinsing. I like the fact that bleach-and-water does a great job sanitizing, and then I'm glad I've got clean tap water to rinse it all out.

I don't care that the foam isn't going to hurt my beer, I still don't want to be drinking even trace amounts of sanitizer.

share|improve this answer
3  
If you rinse sanitized bottles with tap water, you're in effect undoing your sanitizing. You'll be able to get away with it until the day you don't. –  Denny Conn Jun 1 '11 at 16:07
2  
I bet you put far worse in your belly than drink trace amounts of StarSan with other foods you eat already. –  brewchez Jun 1 '11 at 17:35
2  
If rinsing my bottles with tap water is going to contaminate my beer, I've got bigger problems to worry about than my beer. I drink my tap water all the time. –  Jeff Roe Jun 1 '11 at 18:15
2  
Coming from a chemistry background - I like rinsing, too. However, I've been using the foam and not "fearing it" for about 6 months now and my beer tastes great. I also reuse the solution for bottles so it's actually quite cost-effective. –  Carling Jun 2 '11 at 12:47
2  
The fact that you drink the tap water doesn't change much. Your gut and immune system are very effective at killing foreign microorganisms. Although the alcoholic environment limits what can grow in beer, there are several bacteria and some other species of yeast that will spoil the beer over time. (i.e. make it sour.) –  Dustin Rasener Jun 2 '11 at 22:10

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.