Sanitizing Your Home Brewing Kit, Supplies, and Equipment
July 25, 2014 by
One of the first steps in brewing
beer at home (or anywhere) is to clean and sanitize
your brewing kit
and/or equipment. The old saying "cleanliness
is next to godliness" is the chant of all brewers,
big and small. You must have the cleanest,
most sanitized environment in which to brew beer.
Arguably, every home brewer knows the
importance of sanitation. Most even know the
difference between cleaning and sanitizing.
What's crucial to understand is anything that will
touch your home brew wort must be sanitized.
When we first started brewing beer, we
read a lot of information on the home brewing process.
And, no matter how much we read or how many You Tube videos
we watched, it seemed that the primary focus was always
We initially started "sanitizing" our home
brewing equipment with One-Step, a white powdery substance
we added to warm water. For the most part, our
homebrew turned out good. Well, honestly looking back
on it, we probably didn't realize the minor off-flavors we
were tasting. After about 10 batches, we began to
notice that something wasn't quite right with some of our
discussing the issues we were having with our guys over at
the Asheville Brewing Supplies store, we learned we really
weren't sanitizing our home brew equipment; rather we were
simply cleaning it.
The solution (no pun intended)? Iodophor.
Iodophor is a no-rinse water-soluble agent
containing iodine. A couple capfuls per 5 or 6 gallons of
water, followed by a 2-minute wait, and our equipment is
completely sanitized. We use it for everything from
the fermentation carboys and buckets to the bottles and kegs
we ultimately fill with refreshing homebrewed beer.
Mind the plastic buckets, however. Anything more than
about 5 minutes and your bucket will turn yellow in color.
Not a big problem. Just something to look at and
The real beauty behind Iodophor is the
fact that, when mixed properly, you don't need to rinse (and
you clearly wouldn't want to rinse) after a bath in this
sanitizer. It naturally converts to gas, leaving no
We typically fill our carboy with luke
warm water and two capfuls of Iodophor. After about 3
or four minutes, we siphon this into a clean sink, which
sanitizes both the siphon (which will be used later in the
home brewing process), and the sink. Everything else
goes in the sink with the solution, including the brew
spoon, air-lock, rubber stopper, funnel, hydrometer,
thermometer, wort chiller, etc.
Your bottles should be dipped for at least
two minutes and allowed to air-dry for about 5 minutes
before filling. If you don't have a bottle tree, get
one. For now, you can place your bottles on the dish
washer racks or even stand them on the counter after the
Iodophor bath. Don't forget to give your bottle caps a
dip as well!
Be careful when using Iodophor! This
stuff can cause damage to eyes.
Another sanitizer home brewers use is Star
San. Does pretty much what Iodophor does, but with
more suds/film. We like Iodophor, however, because it
Some people let their dish washer to the
sanitizing by running it without soap, and on high heat.
We've also heard of brewers heating their
equipment in the oven at about 300 degrees F. But,
this just seems problematic to us. Also, the required
time for heating is between 1 - 12 hours. No thanks.
And, you can also use a bleach solution.
It takes about 20 or 30 minutes of soaking time, and you run
the risk of some minor off flavors (such as chlorophenol).
During our preparation for brewing, we
spend about a half hour getting everything in place.
This includes arranging clean towels on the kitchen counter,
thoroughly cleaning our bottles, gathering the brew kettle,
carboy, wort chiller, air-lock, etc., and doing an inventory
of supplies. But, the initial (and constant) focus in
on cleanliness and sanitation.
Don't let a contaminated siphon or
hydrometer ruin your 5-gallons of homebrewed beer.
Clean and sanitize everything!
Now that you have an appreciation for
sanitation, it's time to learn about the
homebrew boiling process...