Testing Star San Effectiveness

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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 [See: Star San Tips, Tricks and Guidelines]

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.

Testing Star San effectiveness involves two things… Crystal clear solution and pH under 3.  The crystal clear part is straightforward.  The pH question involves using either a pH meter [pH tag] or strips.  I wanted to find pH strips that work well for this task.  I ended up trying a few different styles and manufacturers before finding strips that I think work well.

cln_img_0509I settled on Hydrion Pro 9200 (0.0 to 6) pH Indicator Stripscln_img_0510I wanted something easy to read and use that featured a color chart reading right at 3 pH.  Here is the scale for these strips.  It shows .5 pH increments from 0.0 to 6.0.cln_img_0512Directions: Immerse plastic strip in test solution.  remove strip and immediately match the color chart for accurate pH measurement.  These are also made in the USA.cln_img_0514The container features a flip top cap for easy access and storage.  These strips are a bit stiff so that are easy to stick in solution and read.  You get 100 strips.  If you wanted to, you could probably trim these strips in half to make them last longer.cln_img_0518I poured some Star San Solution from my go-to sprayer [Chemical Guys ACC130 Chemical Resistant Heavy Duty Bottle and Sprayer – Review] for testing.  I’m using an SEOH Weigh Boat to hold the sample.cln_img_0525Results: The Star San Solution should be more orange than the yellow that’s shown for pH 3.  Anything that’s more orange or red indicates a good pH reading.  I would say this strip shows a good reading somewhere between 2.5 and 3.

This is a straightforward thing to do.  The biggest trick is finding pH indicator strips that work well.  I was looking for something that had a key with a reading right at 3 and was easy to read and use.  Hydrion Pro pH Strips catalog #9200 fit the bill.

Micro Essential Labs Hydrion Pro Ph Strips (Ph 0.0 To 6.0) Item 9200 100 Strips

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4 thoughts on “Testing Star San Effectiveness

  1. Mike Scott

    Don’t swimming pool supply shops sell/use pH strips to check pool water? (I know there’s one for Chlorine also, but I thought pH was a big thing with the pooly crowd, too.)

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      You can probably find a good one at a pool supply shop. I’d just make sure to get the right range with a readable resolution.

      Reply
  2. Ben

    My starsan goes cloudy instantly. It is never clear. Water is from Santa Rosa, CA. I’ve never tested the pH, but I haven’t had an infection in years, even when I use starsan that sits in a bucket for weeks. I should use my new ph meter to test it.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Here’s the information I’ve gotten from Five Star Chemicals on this subject (by email): “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.”

      Reply

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