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/mLs
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.
Spray Bottle 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 Consider: Rubbermaid 32oz Heavy-Duty Spray Bottle
PBW An important part of sanitizing effectively is starting with something that’s already clean. I use PBW.
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.
1 Gallon Glass Jug for Star San Storage
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.
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