Five Star PBW Homebrew Cleanser Tips & Tricks!

Updated: 5/15/2024

Part of Our Homebrew Tips and Tricks Series.  Check out the complete list – Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts! This is a Top Post! See: All Top Posts

I love PBW!

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

PBW Guidelines and Suggestions

Why shop around?  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.  Not so with PBW.  This is something that I go through relatively quickly.  Since we use this in bulk, why not save money and buy it in bulk.  Buy things in bulk that you use in bulk.

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.  You can easily pay the equivalent of over $20 per lb if you were to purchase PBW in 2 oz increments.  I’m not even sure why they make it.  I guess as a sample.  Along those lines, the 1 lb size should also be skipped.

Buy the bigger sizes (4 lb+).  If you’re an avid homebrewer and like PBW, it’s something you’re going to use.  Generally speaking, the larger size you purchase, the less PBW will cost per lb.  Buy the largest size your budget allows for.

PBW can make a good filler item if you’re looking to qualify for free shipping at sellers that require a certain order threshold to qualify for free shipping.

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.

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Don’t disregard sellers that charge calculated shipping prices, with regards to cost… It’s the total to your door that matters.

PBW can be a good add on item for flat rate shippers or an add on item to reach thresholds for free shipping at other retailers.

Shop around.  Prices change, sometimes quickly.  With calculated shipping cost sellers, your cost will vary based on your location in relationship to the retailer.

Use Tip – Remove Bottle Labels

Soaking beer bottles in warm PBW solution helps to dissolve labels and adhesive.  If you have some trouble spots of labels or adhesive that don’t want to come off.  Put a little PBW on a scrubby pad and rub directly on the spot.  The combination of full strength cleaner and the grittiness of PBW help make quick work of trouble spots.  See: Tip: Using Undiluted PBW to Help with Bottle Label Removal

Use Tip – Make Your Kegs Shine!

I like to use some full strength PBW right on a sponge to clean the outside of a keg when I’m reconditioning it.  That has two advantages.  Some grittiness and since it’s full strength, additional cleaning power. The picture above is from my post on rebuilding kegsJump To: PBW Scrub Section – If you look through the post you’ll see just how good the keg looks at the end.

PBW Sources – Save, Money Compare Prices

Specific Offerings

PBW Tablets

New tableted format for easy dosing. Use for growlers, spray bottles, glassware and more.

Liquid PBW

16 oz. Liquid Five Star PBW Cleaner

Liquid PBW is a buffered alkaline detergent that has been proven to be more than an effective substitute for caustic cleaners. Because of its unique formulation of buffers and mild alkalis, it is safe on skin as well as soft metals such as stainless steel, aluminum, and on plastics.

Liquid Five Star PBW Cleaner at William’s Brewing

PBW Materials Compatibility

When Valuebrew released FDA Rated EPDM Keg O-Rings I did some digging on EPDM and learned that it’s pretty cool stuff. EPDM is the choice of many professional brewers and has some real advantages over silicone. One of the big ones is a much lower permeability. That means they seal better and since they’re less porous they are more resistant to absorbing off-smells and off-flavors.

Anyway, that’s the back story behind this section. While researching EPDM I found some nice materials compatibility charts showing what materials were compatible with what chemicals. Nice!

This made me wonder, what about Star San and PBW??

I reached out to Five Star Chemicals for some information on the subject. Unfortunately, a comprehensive run-down of compatibility was not available at the time I reached out to them.

I received this response from Ryan Alcala at Five Star Chemicals… “When it comes to our products they are compatible with stainless steel, glass, and rubber. They are not however compatible with softer metals like copper and aluminum.”

There are lots of materials we use that aren’t specifically listed in that list. I’m guessing both Star San and PBW have good compatibility with many of the materials we use. But, without a resource outlining materials compatibility, there is no definitive answer.

I can tell you from personal experience that Star San dissolved a plastic gallon jug that I had used for storage. It took a long time, but it started to dissolve the plastic. What kind of plastic was the jug?… I don’t know. But Star San was not compatible with that plastic for that amount of time. That Star San solution had dissolved plastic in it.  This is why I went to glass jugs.

That story is an illustration to make the point that just because we can’t see something happening doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Is Star San or PBW breaking down keg components, tubing and more?  I don’t know.

Personally, I’m going to try to limit contact time for both Star San and PBW as much as possible. Minimizing contact time will minimize any negative affects these chemicals have on homebrew gear.

PBW Alternatives:

  • Easy Clean Cleanser 5 LB via Adventures in Homebrewing
  • Oxiclean Versatile Stain Remover Free, 3 Pounds affiliate link, note that multiple variations of this product may be available, as such a different version may appear at this link – What are others saying?  Search this product’s Amazon reviews for “brew” – affiliate link, note that multiple variations of this product may be available, as such a different version may appear at this link – Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions.
  • Note: None of these is the exact same as PBW

Non-Brewing Uses for PBW…

  • Stovetop
  • Oven
  • Broiler pan
  • Dishes
  • Grill, Grill grates, smoker grates – Do you BBQ?  If so, check out my BBQ site… BBQ Finds
  • Got something to add to the list or a picture to share?  Contact Me and let me know

PBW Material Safety Data Sheet

PBW MSDS – MSDS Dated 5-6-2015

Related: Star San Tips & Tricks!

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Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions. tag:lnksfxd  toppost:pbwbuyingguide rp:tips#28 tag:tpr

One thought on “Five Star PBW Homebrew Cleanser Tips & Tricks!

  1. 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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