Cleaning bottles with caustic soda...

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by sbaclimber, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    ...does anyone have any experience?

    My last brew (see: http://www.brewersfriend.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=95) has left a thin film stuck to the bottom of each and every bottle. At first I figured it was just some yeast, but now I am not so sure. It is the same yeast that I always use (WLP007) and have never had a problem just rinsing out of the bottles, but no matter how long I soak these bottles in soap and water it refuses to come out.
    Caustic soda seems to be pretty standard for cleaning more heavily contanimated brewing equipment, so I got a hold of a package of crystals and mixed up a 0.5% solution, as instructed...
    (PS, the instructions in the photo are actually for a 0.1% solution)
    [​IMG]

    After an hour of soaking, the film was still in the bottom of the bottles, so I left them overnight. This morning (~8hrs ago), the film seems to have disolved some, but not completely. I really hope that the bottles will finally be clean when I get home in a couple hours, because I need to bottle my newest brew this evening!

    Even if they are clean this evening, it still strikes me as unusual that it would have taken so long.
    Was 0.5% too weak? Should I have made the solution stronger? I have seen references to 2-4% solutions for cleaning kegs, but I am a bit worried about not being able to properly rinse too strong of a solution and/or it burning a hole in something. :|
     
  2. Kaiser

    Kaiser Member

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    When I use caustic soda for cleaning I make a 4% solution.

    I consider caustic as the nuclear weapon in cleaning, especially when hot. But it is not a casual cleaner and I don't use it for bottles. If a bottle does't get clean with a dishwasher soap or PBW soak I put it into recycling. Once in a while I remove the labels of commercial bottles and use them to replace bottles I retire.

    Caustic comes in use when I want to clean items where I can't reach the dirt or biofilm and can't get it off otherwise. In most cases that's only keg lines and picnic taps. Given its aggressive nature I have to be very careful and wear gloves and, most importantly, goggles.

    I'ts also great for making prezels or titration experiments.

    Kai
     
  3. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info, Kai.
    Turns out, the 0.5% solution was just plain too weak. When I got home this evening, the bottles still weren't clean. So, after reading your post, I mixed up a 5% solution (while wearing goggles, gloves, apron, etc) and *wouldntyaknowit*...most of the bottles were clean in about 20min :!: :)
    The bottles that still weren't clean after that are going for recycling, but at least I got enough clean for bottling my newest brew this evening.
    Thanks!
     
  4. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Wow the bottle has warnings in English and German! What is that stuff on a chemical level - is it drano (strong base), or a strong acid?

    +1 on being safe with it. I wear goggles when I use drano.
     
  5. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Drano
    I actually have a bottle of Drano in the cupboard and the primary active ingredient it lists is "sodium hydroxide", i.e. caustic soda.
    Because of the other degergents-or-whatever in it, I didn't think it would be a good idea to use Drano as a bottle cleaner though.... :mrgreen:
     
  6. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    And that means it is basic not acidic - but just as dangerous as a strong acid. I'm just thinking back to chemistry classes, that stuff always interested me.

    That'll teach those bacteria colonies living in the bottom of used bottles! I look in every bottle before soaking in star san on bottling day, just to make sure it is still clean. I caught a nasty one last week. I thoroughly rinse all my bottles after using them, but apparently something the bacteria could eat managed to get by in that one.

    Normally with dirty bottles I use a bit of bleach and water, that clears it up. That is about the only place I use bleach though. Occasionally I'll use it in a very dilute solution (1 oz / 5 gallons) in a glass carboy to soak for several days.
     
  7. Kaiser

    Kaiser Member

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    The good thing about a strong base or acid is that it becomes harmless once diluted enough. It's also septic safe in residential quantities since the vast amount of stuff in the septic will neutralize its power. The big danger is getting the stuff in the eyes since it attacks the cornea very quickly.

    Kai
     
  8. Conservidave

    Conservidave New Member

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    Speaking of bottle sanitation/sterilization, anyone use the dish washer?

    I have used the dish washer the last couple of times i bottled and it seems to work ok. Any thoughts or experience good or bad? I hope im not killing the thread, just trying to continue the discussion on sanitation.

    Thanks,
    Dave
     
  9. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    I don't suggest using the dishwasher. They have inconsistent spray patterns, residual food particles, and also the soap has surfactant's that will leave residue on your bottles. You can use just the heat cycle to sanitize them, but Starsan is much easier.

    I find that a soak in scent free oxiclean and a quick scrub with a bottle brush will easily remove all residual debris.
    If that doesn't work, recycle them.
    Brian
     
  10. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Most definitely!
    Straight from the MSDS: "pH : Strong base >14"

    12% chlorine bleach is pretty strong too ("pH : 12-14"), but lye has the benefit(?) of being odorless.
     
  11. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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  12. Conservidave

    Conservidave New Member

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    All of my bottled beer is served from a glass and the bottles are immediately rinsed. I too have the sanitation cycle on our machine but i was beginning to doubt weather or not my bottles were clean enough for beer. I have always been a stickler for sanitation and using the machine seemed to be a bit of a risk but i will likely use it again until i can get my keg and equipment going.
     
  13. chessking

    chessking New Member

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    Rinsing your bottles immediately after you pour saves a lot of effort later. If I cant wash out the bottle and it will be sitting a while (only a day or two) I will rinse it, then fill it with water. This keeps the crap soft and easy to brush out later.
    The dish washer works great for sterilizing. Put CLEAN bottles in and run without soap and dry with heat. Keep the door closed until you are ready to bottle, then use the open door as a drip tray under the bottle bucket.
     
  14. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    I've never used the dishwasher because I read it can leave residual detergent in the bottles - even if you run it without soap. That residual is enough to kill the head on your beer.

    Open to seeing this Myth busted.
     
  15. chessking

    chessking New Member

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    Larry, do you bottle in your shed? And if you do, busting this myth might cause you to have to plumb in a dishwasher.
     
  16. Kaiser

    Kaiser Member

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    I like the oven for sanitzing (it may even sterilize).

    I cap them with alumium foil, which I reuse for future bottles, after adding a squirt of water. The I place them in the oven and bake them for 2.5 hrs at 250 overnight. Next morning I put the bottled back into their cases and b/c of the aluminum foil caps they remain sanitized until I need them. If I plan to bottle from a cold keg of beer I place the case into the fridge so they can cool down to the temperature of the beer.

    Kai
     
  17. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Yes indeed!
     
  18. slie123

    slie123 New Member

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    Caustic soda is the best dishwasher that cleans the utensils soon.
     
  19. Rodbrew70

    Rodbrew70 Member

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    I double rinse the sediment out of the bottles after drinking then wash with sodium metabisulfate and rinse with 70c water to remove residual detergent and caustic! It's fiddly but worth it, haven't had a bad one yet!!
     
  20. ginja ninja

    ginja ninja New Member

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    Caustic for organic scale ie carbohydrates/fats/oils/proteins. Yeast is basically protein.
    Acids for inorganic scale ie salts eg descaling the kettle in your kitchen.
    Rule of thumb for caustic is: 4% brewhouse/heavy scale; 2% fermentation and 1% bright beer. the hotter the better.
    Caustic can be combined with sodium hypochlorite or hydrogen peroxide or a descalant like EDTA.
    Can't use sodium hypochlorite hot as it attacks stainless steel or other metals.
    Never mix acid with sodium hypochlorite - you'll create chlorine gas.
    Caustic is great but takes a lot of rinsing away as it is hydrophobic. It also feels soapy on the skin (as it's eating the fat in your skin) and slippy underfoot. Keep rinsing bottles, vessels til the rinse water it no longer soapy.
     

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