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This site has quite a few post on how to clean and re-use bottles. In this community wiki, we learn that by putting foil over the top of bottles and baking them for 60 minutes at 340, we will sterilize bottles. Another mention credits Palmer.

So, given sufficiently baked bottles with aluminum foil tops, the consensus is that the bottles may be stored indefinitely without the need to immerse in a sanitizing solution before filling.

This question is about how long to trust an alternate technique: whole box baking.

Beer cases are prepared with a clean paper towel on the bottom of the case (so any debris in the bottom of the case doesn't come into contact with the bottle). Cleaned and rinsed bottles are placed into the case upside down (inverted). The entire box is placed into a 170 degree oven until the glass gets to at least 170 degrees for one hour [https://homebrew.stackexchange.com/a/10444/1643]. Note that I'm not advocating anyone try this technique, certainly don't leave the kitchen if you do, in case something gets hotter than you expect and fire breaks out!

Now the entire box is removed from the oven and stored in a climate controlled environment (my closet), and left undisturbed.

How long will the bottles remain clean enough to fill without immersing in sanitizing solution? Is this technique as effective as the aluminum foil technique, so allowing the bottles to be filled without further sanitizing no matter how much time passes?

  • What kind of box are you going to use? I've put pizza boxes in an oven at 170 to keep them warm and they start to toast and gave off a burnt paper smell. They would only remain sanitized for a couple of days until dust starts to infiltrate the bottles. You would need to put a sterilized cap on them to remain sterilized. – farmersteve May 24 '19 at 21:01
  • How about buying some sanitizer and using one of these? amazon.co.uk/Bottle-Rinser-Cleaner-Cordial-Bottles/dp/… – CarneyCode May 25 '19 at 11:40
  • @farmersteve, since the bottles are inverted, there's no dust that "falls up" into the bottles. I didn't smell any burnt paper odor. – Dale May 25 '19 at 17:37
  • @CarneyCode, sure, I can use a no-rinse sanitizing solution, but wanted to avoid that (the whole purpose of the alternate technique). – Dale May 25 '19 at 17:38
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    @Dale Believe me when I tell you that all sorts of stuff gets in the bottles. I ran a winery for 15 years and bottled hundreds of thousands of bottles of wine and all the bottles come inverted. Time is your enemy. The longer you leave them, the more stuff gets in them. – farmersteve May 26 '19 at 14:21
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To answer the specific questions:

"How long will the bottles remain clean enough to fill without immersing in sanitizing solution?" I would say "a long time", i.e. several months.

That's based on my own experience, not research. My experience has been that clean, sanitized bottles can sit upside down in bottle boxes for at least several months. My presumption is that if you have bottle sanitization problems, you will see variability in your bottles, i.e. some will be good, some will be bad. (If they are all bad, it's likely an infection occurred before bottling.) You are saying that the bottles will be literally sterile when you store them, so unless the boxes are a strong infection vector, you should be okay.

"Is this technique as effective as the aluminum foil technique, so allowing the bottles to be filled without further sanitizing no matter how much time passes?" Nope! But it's a little less work.

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I use a MUCH simpler method.
. At bottling time, I put all of the bottles I will need for a 5-6 gallon batch into the dishwasher (upside down, of course). Turn the heat up on the water heater, and allow it to get hot. Run hot water in the kitchen sink until it is hot-hot, then start the dishwasher. . When the dishwasher is done, start bottling.
. Open the dishwasher. Take out a bottle. Close the dishwasher. Fill the bottle. Repeat. . I have NEVER had a beer go bad on me, nor develop any off taste using this method. It's also much simpler, does not use any sanitizer (so no waste), and saves you the work of sanitizing bottles one by one. . You can also go one step further, and give each bottle a rinse via a Bottle Jet prior to putting them in the dishwasher.

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    Although I appreciate that your alternative might work, the question is about how long "baked in the box" bottles can be trusted. Here on StackExchange, your input probably fits better as a comment than an answer. – Dale May 29 '19 at 16:00
  • @Dale If you really can't use the bottles right away you should cap them when they are sterile. Then they will store indefinitely. – farmersteve May 29 '19 at 17:45

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