PBW Price Comparisons and Buying Guidance

PBW – Powder Brewery Wash is my go-to brewery cleaner. It is a non-hazardous buffered alkaline brewery cleaner and it.. works great.

Using the Spray Bottle Method for Star San means that I use so little Star San that it’s really not even worth price comparing.  I have used the same bottle of Star San, literally, for years.

Not so with PBW.  This is something that I go through relatively quickly.  Under the premise of “buy things in bulk, that you use in bulk” I thought I’d do some price comparisons.

First observation… Buy the bigger sizes (4 lb+).  Never buy the 2 ounce size of PBW.  It’s not even close to enough for one batch of beer.  I’m not including it in the results here, but, you can pay $20 per lb for this size.  I’m not even sure why they make it.  I guess as a sample.  Similarly, the 1 lb size doesn’t make a lot of sense at up to $10 per lb and is not included in this post.

A note about shipping fees.  If free shipping at a certain threshold is available, shipping costs are considered $0.  It’s more difficult to consider calculated and flat rate shipping.  $7.95 flat rate shipping could ship a bunch of stuff, so it doesn’t seem fair to include that entire cost in this comparison.  I’ve divided those figures in half.  50% of flat rate shipping fees are used when flat rate is available.  Calculated shipping is even trickier.  It doesn’t seem right to attribute the entire cost to a single PBW purchase.  Shippers have minimum shipping costs.  You may pay close to the same amount for two of something as for one.  To try and account for that, calculated shipping (in all but one case – as noted) is based on the average of shipping two items.  Cost = shipping for two containers of PBW divided by two.  Note that if shipping fees are calculated, they should be considered an estimate.  I can’t figure these for your location.  Check the retailer for actual shipping cost to you.

Results – 18 Offerings:

Quick Picks:

  • If you’ve got the budget or can go in on a group buy, one of the 50 lb offerings makes the most sense.
  • If you’re not ready to spend $200 on PBW, MoreBeer’s 8 lb PBW (with the prospect of free shipping) is a great choice.

Some Take-Aways:

  1. Retailers that charge calculated shipping have minimum shipping/processing thresholds.  Consider placing a larger order to offset that minimum.  Other items may ship for free or not much more.  Along the same lines, take advantage of sellers free or flat rate shipping offers.  Just get ingredients for your next batch or two.
  2. Never buy the 2 oz size of PBW.  If homebrew dentists existed… this size would be a free giveaway after you went to the homebrewing dental hygienist for your regular whatever-those-people-would-do.  Along those lines, the 1 lb size should also be skipped.
  3. Buy the largest size of PBW your budget allows for.
  4. Don’t disregard sellers that charge calculated shipping prices, with regards to cost… It’s the total to your door that matters.
  5. Shop around.  Prices change, sometimes quickly.  With calculated shipping cost sellers, your cost will vary based on your location in relationship to the retailer.

11 thoughts on “PBW Price Comparisons and Buying Guidance

  1. Zulu

    Must be honest, I only use real PBW about twice a year, hot wash of the whole brewery.
    Soak near boiling mix and circulate for 20 minutes through all systems, then do and rinse few times before a Star San neutraliser , and final water rinse.

    Mix 3:1 Oxy and TSP for years and it does all my other weekly cleaning. Star San bought by Gallon about 5 years ago still going strong, and yes spraying works very very well. And saves plenty.

  2. Josh

    I use Oxiclean Free and minimize “spots and film” on my carboys by giving them a quick spray with Star San prior to letting them dry. Great write up though. I have been looking for some more PBW for the big jobs, and will stick with Oxiclean for the small soaks.

    1. Chris Brewer

      That’s a good tip. I do the same for tubing and carboys and it works dandy at cutting down spots.

  3. mpkirkland

    Wow, this makes the LHBS look really good at $11.50 for a kilo (~$5.22/lb). RIP Dan Small. 🙁

    1. Chris Brewer

      Pretty good price. The first couple of options are less expensive… delivered to your door. The third one is right in the ballpark. Some LHBS break up 50 lb buckets themselves and come out with pretty good prices that way.

    2. mpkirkland

      Yeah, that’s what they do. It actually comes out to $5 even per pound since the container is returnable for a deposit. They’d probably give a further discount if I asked for 50 lb, they’re good about that sort of thing.

  4. Steven Schwartz

    I bought a 3 pound oxiclean free(walmart) and a 1 pound tsp phosphate free alternative(lowes). Everywhere online says 3 to 1 mixture, works pretty well. The only thing missing is the chelator, which supposedly can be substituted with citric acid according the comments on here http://www.bertusbrewery.com/2012/11/super-charge-your-oxiclean.html
    But couldn’t find the proper ratio.
    How do you get enough contact time for your glass carboy with only 1 gallon of star san?

    1. Chris Brewer

      Coat everything with a spray bottle.. It just has to stay wet for 1 to 2 minutes (or 30 seconds) depending on who you’re listening to.

  5. Lewy

    Williams Brewing has the 50# PBW for 164.90 plus 18.33 shipping (for me to San Diego) Totaling 3.66 per pound.

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