Star San Tips, Tricks and Guidelines – Using Star San In a Spray Bottle

883157 - Star-San - 32oz.

Star San is my sanitizer of choice.  It’s food safe and no rinse.  Required contact time is one minute.  It has worked very well for me for quite some time and I’m convinced that it’s one of the most economical solutions available if you use the spray bottle method outlined here.  I’ve used a single 32 oz bottle for years.  Like 5+ years.

How long is Star San good for?
Star San (diluted sanitizing solution) needs to remain under pH 3 AND be crystal clear.  If your solution of Star San gets cloudy, according to Five Star, it may not be effective.  Hard water will make the solution go cloudy quickly.  If this is happening to you, use distilled water.

Some will say that the clear part is not important.  Here’s the information I’ve gotten from Five Star Chemicals on that:  “The cloudy solution could be okay, but it could be bad. The cloudiness is the surfactant coming out of solution. It has reacted, or is reacting with the metals in the water. I don’t know if it is still good, because I don’t know how much surfactant has reacted. I error on the side of caution and suggest that you don’t even mess with it. Use DI water.

So, as long as it’s clear and the pH is below 3 it’s effective.  Related: Testing Star San Effectiveness

Cleaning, Sanitizing and… Sterilizing
The first step in sanitizing is cleaning.  Cleaning and sanitizing are two separate steps.  Cleaning gets the physical dirt off, sanitizing kills (many, not all) of germs on an already clean surface.  I typically use a mixture of PBW for cleaning.  Sterilizing is killing everything.  Typically, we’re not interested in sterilizing, we’re only interested in sanitizing.  I use a syringe to dose Star San.

1 Gallon of Star San
I mix up one gallon of Star San at a time.  Just add 6 CCs of Star San to one gallon of distilled or soft water.  How did I come up with 6 CC/ml?  Dosing rate for Star San is 1 ounce per 5 gallons.  That’s .2 ounces for 1 gallon.  .2 ounces = 5.91 ml.  I round that up to 6 CC/ml.

I use a glass gallon jug for storage.  It takes a while but Star San will eat through plastic gallon jugs.  I’ve had it happen and it’s not cool.

The Spray Bottle Method
The key is using what you need.  That fact of the matter is… there’s no need to submerge your equipment in gallons of this stuff.  The middle of your carboy does not need to be sanitized.  Just the surfaces do.

Fill up a spray bottle and you’re good to go.  Liberally coat surfaces in need of sanitizing.  If you have a larger job, like a keg or a carboy, use what you need to sanitize (already clean items) and pour the Star San mixture back in the gallon jug for re-use.  That’s it.  Spray liberally, let stand and drain any excess.

Measuring 6 CCs/mLs10 CC Luer Lock Syringes

I use a syringe to measure the 6 CCs needed.  I’ve used a couple different models over the years.  Some with luer locks and some without.  If you get some with luer lock connections, there’s no need to put anything on the luer lock.

Some syringes…

Spray Bottle  31oRQjzJdPL._SX425_As mentioned previously, Star San can dissolve plastic over time.  The ACC130 is a professional quality, chemical resistant bottle and sprayer.  Check out my [Hands on Review]

Chemical Guys ACC130 Professional Chemical Guys Chemical Resistant Heavy Duty Bottle and Sprayer – 32 oz.

Also ConsiderRubbermaid 32oz Heavy-Duty Spray Bottle


PBW  An important part of sanitizing effectively is starting with something that’s already clean.  I use PBW.11054

Unlike Star San, I go through a lot of PBW.  Under the premise of, buy things in bulk that you use in bulk, I suggest buying the largest size of PBW that makes sense for your budget.

Star San15412


1 Gallon Glass Jug for Star San Storage8158


Testing pH41s3XP8RicL._SX385_

If you want to test your Star San solution to make sure it’s under 3 make sure your pH test papers or meter read in that range.

Recent Great Deals [more]:


15 thoughts on “Star San Tips, Tricks and Guidelines – Using Star San In a Spray Bottle

  1. Anonymous

    I put starsan into a corny keg, and have it on tap next to my brewstand. Use distilled water and it will keep forever. I use a spray bottle too, but I just refill it from the keg, it also allows me to flush hoses and anything else without any problems.

  2. Anonymous

    There’s been quite a few tests done on the PH of starsan that has been used in hard water or gotten cloudy after a period of time and the PH level stays where it needs to be. I think it’s a marketing ploy to make you dump it and use more! 🙂 Check out all the threads at HomeBrewTalk for discussions about it.

    1. Marcus

      The PH, according to the article is only part of the issue. It is not the PH itself that causes the cloudiness, but rather the metals in the hard water that bind to the sanitizing agent in StarSan that causes the cloudiness. How much of this chemical agent that becomes “bound’ and is no longer present in effective concentration to sanitize becomes the issue.

  3. Homebrew Finds

    I don’t completely understand the chemistry, but there are two components to the sanitizing power of star san. One is pH.

    The other is some other thing that I don’t know what it’s called. 🙂 But whatever that thing is, when the solution gets cloudy, it’s that thing coming out of solution.

    So, pH is not the only indicator of effectiveness.

    I used cloudy star san for quite a while before learning about this without an issue. I don’t think anyone is saying it does no good at all. I think it has something to do with how much of the whatever it’s called has come out of solution.

    I say better safe than sorry. Distilled water costs under a buck and with this technique a gallon last a long, long time.

  4. Anonymous

    how does cloudiness negatively affect star san? i’ve seen videos of experimentation on this subject. as long as the pH stays balance it should work just fine

  5. Anonymous

    i would also find out exactly what the “cloudy” “thing” is that you speak of that is not chemically good for sanitization, rather than saying “cloudy thing”..sounds less credible..

  6. Anonymous

    I keep a StarSan solution in an old 5 G bottling bucket. Its easy to dispense into a tray to soak stuff in on brewday and then I just pour it back in the bucket (provided it didnt get mucked up). Its really decreased my sanitzer waste.
    By the way, I emailed Five Star and they reported that starsan will not dissolve plastic buckets.

  7. Noiz Boy

    The “thing” is mentioned in their email to you. It’s the surfactant. What that is, is a chemical that lets another chemical coat and get into the knocks and crannies.

    SO the problem is that while the PH is fine and it will kill whatever it touches, if it’s surfactant is not working it won’t touch everything it needs to. THAT is the problem.

    You are talking about saving a few pennies by putting 5 gal of homebrew at risk. Hmmm the math isn’t that hard.

  8. Toby

    Thanks for the write-up! Always a good idea to reduce chemical waste/consumption. Just a note on the following line:
    “If you have a larger job, like a keg or a carboy, use what you need to sanitize (already clean items) and pour the Star San mixture back in the gallon jug for re-use.”

    In microbiology research, it is basically a cardinal sin to re-use any sanitizing solution. The reason is that once you have used the sanitizing solution, it is contaminated and weakened (even if just slightly). In practice, the solution may still have enough “sanitizing power” to do a sufficient job, but it definitely violates best practices.

    Whatever you choose, I wish you a happy and infection-free brew. Cheers!

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for the thoughts Toby! For a laboratory scenario, I think that guideline is very reasonable. For what we’re doing, I think that you can re-use sanitizer with good practical results. For additional information I would refer people to the 3/19/2006 episode of the Brewing Network’s “The Session”. Charlie Talley one of the founders of Five Star Chemical Company (the makers of Star San) give some thoughts on it’s use for homebrewing.

  9. Scott Millican

    So, how long in a plastic jug does it take to eat through it. I mean it comes non diluted in a plastic container…granted not the same type of plastic container, but still.

    I store mine in distilled water jugs that I use for another purpose. Been sitting with diluted star san in them for 3-4months and no leaks as of yet.

    1. admin Post author

      It took quite a while the time it happened to me. Longer than 3 or 4 months, but it’s been a while and I’m not exactly sure. I would say maybe I had a bad gallon jug or it was somehow otherwise damaged, but I’ve had other people say this has also happened to them.

  10. J

    Star San will cause pitting in stainless according to the information shared on the previously mentioned BREWING NETWORK podcast (as I recall). Long term storage is not recommended in kegs unless that is the purpose of that particular keg.

    1. sc

      I believe they said ‘plain water will pit stainless faster than StarSan would’. I keep StarSan in a keg for dispensing, have done for years (same keg, 3+ years). I fill 2.5 gallons (due to my usage rate) – there is absolutely no visible pitting or ‘fill line’ i can see on the keg’s internal wall. I mix per the StarSan instructions (.5 ouce in 2.5 gallons of distilled water – technically I round up to 15ml/cc).

      Think about it – Star San is about as acidic as soda; these kegs were designed for Soda. When I see people claiming it ate stainless, it is usually a small part or something – probably something that is chromed or plated and not actual stainless (chinese ‘stainless’ or chromed or something else). I’ve never seen one report of a keg or other proper stainless object being damaged by StarSan. I have seen a number of other people say they keep it in there for years like I do, no problem. StarSan on tap is fantastic! I can dispense straight to a carboy/keg for sanitizing, re-fill my spray bottle whenever, and put any ball lock fitting/hose/etc on the tap to fill it with sanitizer right-quick (no disassembly required).

      My 2c. If anyone has a confired report of StarSan damaging stainless, please post (including what grade stainless and how long the contact time and what concentration of StarSan)

  11. EchoTony

    I’ve been using the spray bottle method for a few years with great success. I normally mix up a 5 gallon batch and fill 2 spray bottles with that. I then use the bucket full that’s left for soaking keg parts, auto siphon bits, transfer lines, airlocks, and bungs. I use the spray bottles on everything else (and on the parts that were soaked if needed as well). My 5 gallon bucket normally has about 3-4 gallons after I fill the bottles and brew a batch. I then put the lid on the bucket and keep it for at least 2 weeks, if not much longer. The bottles I will use until empty. I’ve never had an infection issue.
    My water his very hard and the solution will turn cloudy in just one day. If the cloudy solution was the sign of it going bad, then I’ve been wasting my time trying to sanitize at all. But since I’ve been using this method for over 5 years (since switching from bleach and later iodine) with no infections, I think cloudy solution is not a good measure of the quality of your solution.


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