3

Premise

As a chemical engineering student, I tried my best to avoid any chemical at all (When they say trust me, you should never do so).

As such, I resorted to steam to sanitize my fermenter and bottles. However, the steam comes out of the household appliance with a plastic scent to it.

I know, by fact, that this indicates a presence of plastic degradation molecules: however, I still tried sanitizing a part of the bottles this way as the fermenter, which I had first tested the appliance on, produced a healthy (I hope...) wort.


Question

How safe would that beer be? Also, can anybody provide me with real-world data on the sanitation-water temperature-soaking time for hot tap water? (That is, soaking in 25°C water of course will never work, regardless of time, but I believe 60°C would work over 30 minutes, and 45°C should work over 1 hour)

Also, how high are the odds of wort infection for 1 minutes of 45°C hot water soaking?


Brew Data

Malt extract & Yeast: Cooper Lager kit
OG: .034 FG: .010 Fermentation vessel material: stainless steel
Bottle material: glass
Cap material: Half the bottles have ceramic caps, half have tin and plastic ones
Fermentation average temperature: 26°C
Signs of wort infection: none

6

"How safe would that beer be?"

If it's steam coming from a commercial appliance (presumably a dish-washer or some other such food-grade device) it wouldn't be any less safe than eating off a dish that came through it. What you might see is a small carry-over of that plastic-y scent into your beer from residuals left after draining. Unsafe? No. Inappropriate flavor for a beer? Probably.

"...sanitation-water temperature-soaking time for hot tap water?"

An often-cited figure for commercial-grade sanitizing with hot water is 30 minutes at 80-85°C, with an additional 5 minutes per degree C the water used is colder than 80°C. I'm sure this is over-kill for you but it gives you an idea of the heat and length of contact needed for it to be truly effective.

I would think you'd want to at least reach 60°C (140°F) to get some level of sanitizing in a reasonable time (30 min.), but of course this depends entirely on how hot your tap water is. Remember, too, that filling a vessel with water at a certain temperature is not the same as soaking the vessel at that temperature for a specified time, since the water will lose quite a bit of heat as it sits. If 60°C isn't possible, you really won't even approach the effectiveness of chemical sanitizers or proper heat treatment. Note: the above measures (30 min. @ 80°C) should be comparable in effectiveness to properly applied chemical sanitizers, most of which are available to us home-brewers (iodophor, PAA, StarSan).

Below 60°C may still be just fine for your needs, as a combination of good cleaning and the inhospitable environment of fermenting beer may be able to keep infections down. But you're likely to run into issues long term, and learning good sanitation up front is basically the best favor you can do yourself when starting out brewing, so I really don't recommend getting used to using ineffective sanitizing techniques.

"[H]ow high are the odds of wort infection for 1 minutes of 45°C hot water soaking?"

Really depends on the cleanliness of the equipment you're sanitizing, as there might not even be a large microbe load to reduce, but 45°C (113°F) is not likely to do anything in one minute, much less over the course of an hour. It might even serve to incubate microbes (in a moist environment no less) or introduce more microbes (from the water) than were originally present.

  • 1
    45°C won't do anything to some critters - if you want to do a sour mash, the lactobacillus will happily grow right up to 49°C. – Pepi Jun 19 '15 at 1:51
  • I wish I had enough reputation to vote up your answer! Still, a few additional questions: - The commercial appliance is a steam cleaner. As the appliance is brand new, I expect it comes from the initial conditioning of polymers that make up the steam conduit. In light of this new information, how safe would the beer be? - Considering a conductivity of 1.05 W/(m*K) , would steaming the outer surface of the bottles be effective? Steaming how long? - Should I go and pour away the bottles left in hot water? The initial temperature was 60°C, 45°C the one before bottling. – Simone Chiesi Jun 19 '15 at 8:55
  • With beer, it is tastes good likely hood of deadly infection is about nill. The biggest reason for good sanitation is for taste, not keeping ourselves alive. See this exchange: homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/5245/… – diceless Jun 19 '15 at 15:21
  • @SimoneChiesi: A bit confused, are you referring to steaming bottles that already have beer in them? Or just to what you'll do next time you bottle? As for pouring anything out, you'd have to let your nose and taste buds decide but: your beer will more than likely taste just fine and will be entirely safe to drink, even if it doesn't taste great. If it tastes wrong you can dump it, but it's always a great opportunity/experiment to see how sanitation works, rather than just preemptively dumping all your work down the drain. – Franklin P Combs Jun 19 '15 at 15:45
  • I was referring to the next time I'll bottle P.S. Thanks for the change of view on the possibility of failing a brew! : ) – Simone Chiesi Jun 23 '15 at 12:40

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