PBW Price Comparisons and Buying Guidance


PBW is my go to brewing cleanser.

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… Never ever 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, I’ve found that it can cost up to…. $51.92 per lb.

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.  If a retailer offers free shipping at a certain threshold, shipping costs are considered $0.

Results:


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, More Beer’s 4 lb offering may be your best bet, depending on how calculated shipping prices work out for your location.


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 ever 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, instead it can sell for the equivalent of over $50 per lb.
  3. Buy the largest size of PBW your budget allows for.  From the same retailer: The 1 lb size is 5.51 times more expensive than the 50 lb size.
  4. Don’t disregard sellers that charge calculated shipping prices, with regards to cost… It’s the total out the door amount 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.

A Budget Alternative:
Oxyclean Versatile Free is a fragrance free, percarbonate based cleanser that is similar to PBW.  It doesn’t have all of the ingredients that PBW has and, in my opinion, doesn’t work as well, especially if you have hard water.  I think that it spots more than PBW and it can leave a scaly mineral film.  I think hard water makes this worse.  If you have soft water, you may not notice either of these issues.  I do use this sort of cleaner on some occasions, generally when I am going to do a quick soak and rinse.  Some say that adding TSP to Oxyclean will yield a mixture more similar to PBW.  At the current cost of $7.52 for 3 lbs with free shipping as an Add On item, this figures to $2.51 per lb shipped.



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12 thoughts on “PBW Price Comparisons and Buying Guidance

  1. 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?

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
  3. 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.

    Reply

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