Types of Brewing Sanitizers
In general, there are many different types of sanitizers ranging from bleach to no-rinse acid based sanitizers. Chemicals like bleach have a high possibility of damaging your beer and carrying off flavors. In this post, we will be talking only about no-rinse sanitizers, as we have found these to be the most brewer friendly.
Acid Based Sanitizer
One of the most popular types, acid based sanitizers are a very effective and easy to use solution for brewing beer at home. Typically requiring only one minute of contact, this type of sanitizer is great for when you are moving quickly.
A common type of acid based sanitizer is Star San which is manufactured by Five Star Chemical Company. Star San utilizes food-grade phosphoric acid and when properly diluted, it will not impact your beer. Star San has high foaming qualities which help it get to hard-to-penetrate cracks and crevices.
When using Star San, there is often residual foam even after drying. This foam will have no impact on your beer and has even inspired a slogan: "Don't fear the foam".
Iodine Based Sanitizer
As an alternative to foamy acid based sanitizers, brewers can opt to use iodine based sanitizers. A key benefit to iodine is that it does not foam as much and as a result can be less of a hassle to deal with if you have an aversion to foam.
A downside to iodine based sanitizers is that they typically take two minutes of contact time to be effective versus the one minute of contact time required for acid based sanitizers. Though this isn't an eternity, it can add up when sanitizing something repetitively, such as bottles.
Additionally, iodine has a staining quality which is more likely to happen with plastic components such as siphons and hoses.
Oxygen Based Cleanser
Oxygen based cleaners are often falsely branded as sanitizers. If you get a powdered sanitizer when you purchase a beer kit, it is likely that this powder is an oxygen based cleanser.
This being said, rumor has it that some of the leading brands of oxygen based cleansers had the option to certify their products as sanitizers, but opted not to due to the high expenses associated with this.
Many people report that oxygen based, no rinse cleansers work as well as sanitizers and there are even compelling arguments that these cleansers are technically sanitizers.
Due to the fact that they are not certified sanitizers, we choose to stay away from them, but encourage you to do your own research before totally discounting them.