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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: Robert on November 04, 2017, 11:48:21 AM

Title: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Robert on November 04, 2017, 11:48:21 AM
I clean my draft line every week, or 2 weeks at most, with caustic (BLC). I recirculate for 15 minutes (fountain pump based rig I built) then flush clean water.  I recently saw something suggesting "acid cleaning" should be done every 3 months in addition. What product should I use and what's the procedure?  Or am I good?
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Kutaka on November 04, 2017, 04:20:01 PM
One way to tell if you are good is to use your BLC.  Recirculate normally.  Dump the line.  Then let BLC sit still in the line for 3 hours.  Then pour an ounce of the line into a clear glass or white container.  Is it clear?  If yes, then you are better than good.

If not, then expose your line to BLC for longer than 15 recycled minutes.  I don't recirculate and let the BLC sit in the lines for 2-3 days with two purges a day before it drains clear. 

The acid cleaning can be a longer than usual contact with StarSan, but this has not been needed after a few days with BLC.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Robert on November 05, 2017, 07:01:30 PM
One way to tell if you are good is to use your BLC.  Recirculate normally.  Dump the line.  Then let BLC sit still in the line for 3 hours.  Then pour an ounce of the line into a clear glass or white container.  Is it clear?  If yes, then you are better than good.

If not, then expose your line to BLC for longer than 15 recycled minutes.  I don't recirculate and let the BLC sit in the lines for 2-3 days with two purges a day before it drains clear. 

The acid cleaning can be a longer than usual contact with StarSan, but this has not been needed after a few days with BLC.

Thanks for the great info!  The method of using BLC to test the line is good to know.  But leaving BLC standing for days--well I'd rather not go for days with beer unavailable!  Today I did my regular routine--recirc BLC and flush-- then let StarSan sit for an hour or 2 with several draws along the way.  I just drew a beer, and the way it poured, smells and tastes (perfect) tells me what I need to know for now!  If you think there's any problem with that procedure I hope you'll  advise. Now I'm going to finish my beer.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: JT on November 06, 2017, 06:21:37 PM
I do an initial 30 minute recirc with hot PBW solution.  If it's been too long since the last cleaning (it usually has), I'll dump the PBW and do a second 30 minute recirculation with a fresh mixture.  Followed by two consecutive hot water flushes for (just a few minutes each) and Saniclean to finish for another 5 to 10.  Max time is hour and a half and those lines seem pretty darn clean. 

  "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Kutaka on November 06, 2017, 06:37:42 PM
Quote from: Robert  link=topic=30550.msg39895
[/quote

Thanks for the great info!  The method of using BLC to test the line is good to know.  But leaving BLC standing for days--well I'd rather not go for days with beer unavailable!  Today I did my regular routine--recirc BLC and flush-- then let StarSan sit for an hour or 2 with several draws along the way.  I just drew a beer, and the way it poured, smells and tastes (perfect) tells me what I need to know for now!  If you think there's any problem with that procedure I hope you'll  advise. Now I'm going to finish my beer.

In that case, you can skip the line cleaning completely for 2-4 batches if the most important thing to you is minimal downtime.  Or maybe buy one more line than you have kegs and clean the dirty line until it pours clear after at least an hour of BLC in the line.

The line you poured beer from today is likely a dirty line.  Does it really matter if you like how the beer tastes?  That is a question only you can answer.   

It takes 2-4 days of alkaline soaking and draining for a line to pour clear from a hoppy batch.  Good beer gets poured from dirty lines globally every day.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Stevie on November 06, 2017, 07:16:56 PM
Be careful leaving caustic and alkaline chemicals in draft lines. It’s easy to forget about those sort of details or an unsuspecting buddy may pour himself a bloody stomach.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Robert on November 06, 2017, 07:36:24 PM
Quote from: Robert  link=topic=30550.msg39895
[/quote

Thanks for the great info!  The method of using BLC to test the line is good to know.  But leaving BLC standing for days--well I'd rather not go for days with beer unavailable!  Today I did my regular routine--recirc BLC and flush-- then let StarSan sit for an hour or 2 with several draws along the way.  I just drew a beer, and the way it poured, smells and tastes (perfect) tells me what I need to know for now!  If you think there's any problem with that procedure I hope you'll  advise. Now I'm going to finish my beer.

In that case, you can skip the line cleaning completely for 2-4 batches if the most important thing to you is minimal downtime.  Or maybe buy one more line than you have kegs and clean the dirty line until it pours clear after at least an hour of BLC in the line.

The line you poured beer from today is likely a dirty line.  Does it really matter if you like how the beer tastes?  That is a question only you can answer.   

It takes 2-4 days of alkaline soaking and draining for a line to pour clear from a hoppy batch.  Good beer gets poured from dirty lines globally every day.
Well, I know I won't go for batches, as I notice the difference if I go the two weeks, and adding the acid step showed me the drift in quality over time using only caustic.  And I'm happily stuck with my one-line keezer for reasons of space (so downtime is an issue but I won't trade off  quality -- I'm basically a Pilsner guy so it really shows).  I think your point on taste is the key and will be my best guide.  I'll gladly add all the tools I can to my kit (thanks forum members) and ramp up my cleaning routine as I see the need. 
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: JT on November 06, 2017, 08:24:51 PM
Be careful leaving caustic and alkaline chemicals in draft lines. It’s easy to forget about those sort of details or an unsuspecting buddy may pour himself a bloody stomach.
+1

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/503894/Man-drinks-beer-containing-caustic-soda/amp

  "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: mabrungard on November 07, 2017, 06:04:41 AM
I've found that BLC can sometimes be insufficient for removing biologic growth in lines. That's when I pull out the warm lye solution and let that sit in the line for a few hours. It always removes biofilms.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Robert on November 07, 2017, 06:40:35 AM
I've found that BLC can sometimes be insufficient for removing biologic growth in lines. That's when I pull out the warm lye solution and let that sit in the line for a few hours. It always removes biofilms.

Specifics on said warm lye solution please? And is that followed with acid and water flushes?
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: mabrungard on November 07, 2017, 07:53:46 AM
I'm not precise with a lye concentration. As long as the solution feels slippery between my fingers when I touch it (that's a sign that the lye is dissolving your skin and creating soap from the oils in your skin...do this quickly and wash off immediately!!), that seems to be sufficient for line cleaning.

Of course, some water flushing is needed after the treatment. Looking through the line when it has water in it also helps you see if there are still films in the line.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Stevie on November 07, 2017, 07:57:31 AM
Five Star Liquid Line Cleaner is lye. Being a liquid makes it dissolve more easily than crystals. Always add lye to water and never the other way around.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Kutaka on November 07, 2017, 08:37:14 AM
Be careful leaving caustic and alkaline chemicals in draft lines. It’s easy to forget about those sort of details or an unsuspecting buddy may pour himself a bloody stomach.

It's pretty hard to pour a pint full of caustic when the line isn't attached to a keg.  I use a hand pump line cleaner and remove the line from the keezer. 
Title: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Stevie on November 07, 2017, 09:08:37 AM
Be careful leaving caustic and alkaline chemicals in draft lines. It’s easy to forget about those sort of details or an unsuspecting buddy may pour himself a bloody stomach.

It's pretty hard to pour a pint full of caustic when the line isn't attached to a keg.  I use a hand pump line cleaner and remove the line from the keezer.
Somebody could connect a keg or maybe you forget and connect a keg. Just pointing out that extra care needs to be taken if leaving dangerous chemicals in the lines for an extended period of time.

Also, it wouldn’t take much to cause some serious internal damage.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: stpug on November 07, 2017, 09:28:51 AM
I'm with Stevie on this "caustic" conversation - utmost care needs to be utilized with strong alkalizers.  They are not nearly as forgiving as the acids (and concentrations) we typically use in beer brewing, and additional rinsing is required when using them on both equipment and, especially, skin.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Robert on November 07, 2017, 04:39:25 PM
Five Star Liquid Line Cleaner is lye. Being a liquid makes it dissolve more easily than crystals. Always add lye to water and never the other way around.

I pulled up the MSDS sheets for LLC, BLC, StarSan, Saniclean, and various other acid cleaners and beerstone removers, and they all seem to have similar compositions: LLC is sodium  hydroxide and BLC potassium, and the acid products look like just different concentrations of the same acids.  So would lye really work differently from BLC or just faster? I can imagine that you could make up a higher concentration from lye crystals, because the liquid products contain surfactants that are hard to rinse if you go over the recommended dilution. But it would just be dangerous guesswork. Is LLC already more concentrated than BLC?
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Stevie on November 07, 2017, 04:55:35 PM
No idea if one is more concentrated than the other. I use LLC because that is what MoreBeer sells and I was placing an order with them.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Robert on November 07, 2017, 05:07:16 PM
No idea if one is more concentrated than the other. I use LLC because that is what MoreBeer sells and I was placing an order with them.
Cool.  I use BLC because that's what my LHBS sells. And I just stocked up.  I can't imagine line cleaning is fundamentally different from, say, tank cleaning.  Alkaline followed by acid. Use what you've got access to.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Kutaka on November 08, 2017, 02:27:43 PM
I'm with Stevie on this "caustic" conversation - utmost care needs to be utilized with strong alkalizers.  They are not nearly as forgiving as the acids (and concentrations) we typically use in beer brewing, and additional rinsing is required when using them on both equipment and, especially, skin.

Comically dramatic warnings with red text about the danger of caustics is completely unnecessary.  People are capable of reading the warnings on a bottle of caustic cleanser.  Almost everyone knows drinking any kind of chemical cleanser is a really bad idea. 

I have a system that allows me to soak lines for as long as I want with zero chance of anyone drinking it.  If some brewers can't figure out how to do that, then I suppose they shouldn't let caustic liquid sit in beer lines.  ;)     
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Kutaka on November 08, 2017, 02:42:53 PM

So would lye really work differently from BLC or just faster?  Is LLC already more concentrated than BLC?

They work the same way.  LLC is stronger and probably works faster.  BLC uses a blend of potassium and sodium hydroxide for the purpose of being less harmful to metals and it still cleans lines very well given enough contact time. 

Using BLC then LLC or a home mixed lye solution is a step that only the most obsessive line cleaners take.

But like I said before, if you only leave BLC in the line for 15 minutes and you brew a lot of hoppy beers, the line might not be super clean in that amount of time. 
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Stevie on November 08, 2017, 02:45:41 PM
That’s cool and all, but people don’t always consider these things and assume everything we buy is safe enough.

See the linked article above. Some tool left cleaner in the lines and the customer suffered in a big way.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Kutaka on November 08, 2017, 03:07:59 PM
I'm aware of the article and read it before you linked it.  The danger of drinking chemicals is a discussion my father and I had when I was 4 years old.  There are millions of home brewers.  How many of them were dumb enough to drink drain cleaner from the tap?     
Title: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Stevie on November 08, 2017, 03:31:24 PM
Just pointing out the dangers. First thing I learned in chem lab was to never under any circumstances drink from a piece of lab ware. Even if it is brand new and outside of a lab setting. It’s the same as always assuming a firearm is loaded.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: narcout on November 08, 2017, 03:32:33 PM
I really don't like using BLC or any similar products for my draft system.  I just run Iodophor through the lines between kegs.  In 9 years, I've never had any issues.  However, I endeavor to change my lines once a year (though it often ends up being 18 months).

On a side note, what is a safe way to dispose of BLC and undiluted Star San?  Is it ok to pour down the drain or do I need to take it to a S.A.F.E. center?
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Stevie on November 08, 2017, 03:34:15 PM
BLC is the same thing as drain cleaner.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Kutaka on November 08, 2017, 04:56:49 PM
Just pointing out the dangers. First thing I learned in chem lab was to never under any circumstances drink from a piece of lab ware. Even if it is brand new and outside of a lab setting. It’s the same as always assuming a firearm is loaded.

Steve, I understand you are pointing out what should be obvious dangers to most people that can read the back of a bottle of caustic because you are apparently very concerned for their safety. 

In the context of this thread, the OP has proven to be quite capable of searching for MSDS sheets and understanding them.  I'm very confident the OP or his keg tapping guests will not drink Draino from a beer line, even if he lets it in sit in the line for a year and gets Alzheimer's before the line is safely drained.

Before you say, "well I was just saying this for anyone who doesn't know" for the third time, please save your breath.  They probably aren't here and hopefully the improbable minority heard you the first or second time.
Title: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Stevie on November 08, 2017, 05:33:18 PM
This isn’t about the OP. You made a recommendation that many others would determine is unsafe. You and others can do whatever they hell they want, but somebody should point out he stupidity of your recommendation.

Now excuse me while I make toast in the tub.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Kutaka on November 08, 2017, 05:59:34 PM
This isn’t about the OP. You made a recommendation that many others would determine is unsafe. You and others can do whatever they hell they want, but somebody should point out he stupidity of your recommendation.

Now excuse me while I make toast in the tub.

You take things very personally Steve.  It's clearly hard for you to admit being wrong. 

Simply put, a trained monkey could learn how to move a line full of caustic to a location that would not be tapped for a week.  All I want to know is why you haven't figured out how to do it? 

My recommendation was for people that aren't stupidly paranoid.  Anyone else should reconsider using caustics.   
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Stevie on November 08, 2017, 06:03:42 PM
How many people remove their line? Never seen that.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Kutaka on November 08, 2017, 06:25:50 PM
How many people remove their line? Never seen that.

Only the least paranoid, most secure and adequately bright homebrew people remove their lines for cleaning.  Perhaps that is why you haven't seen them.  We are a rare breed that aren't easily influenced by the homebrew hive mind.

Protip - the easiest way to do this is to have a spare line.  Just a line with fittings.  Not even an extra keg.  Your drunk guests won't tap a new keg with a line from a utility sink because all the kegs are pouring.  You can always put a note on the caustic line that says drinking from this line will make you wish you were dead, stupid .  You can even use bold red text, if your guests are especially stupid.   :P
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Robert on November 08, 2017, 06:36:24 PM

So would lye really work differently from BLC or just faster?  Is LLC already more concentrated than BLC?

They work the same way.  LLC is stronger and probably works faster.  BLC uses a blend of potassium and sodium hydroxide for the purpose of being less harmful to metals and it still cleans lines very well given enough contact time. 

Using BLC then LLC or a home mixed lye solution is a step that only the most obsessive line cleaners take.

But like I said before, if you only leave BLC in the line for 15 minutes and you brew a lot of hoppy beers, the line might not be super clean in that amount of time.

I'm kind of betting that frequent cleaning has a similar effect over time to longer less frequent contact.

And wow, you and Stevie need to relax and have a caustic-free beer.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Kutaka on November 08, 2017, 06:53:52 PM

I'm kind of betting that frequent cleaning has a similar effect over time to longer less frequent contact.

And wow, you and Stevie need to relax and have a caustic-free beer.

All of my home brews are poured from caustic free lines that were filled with an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS caustic solution for 2-10 days.  The caustic in the line could liquefy a corpse given enough time.  It would take a lot longer than 15 minutes at room temperature and pressure.  Just saying.   :)
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Robert on November 08, 2017, 07:13:28 PM

I'm kind of betting that frequent cleaning has a similar effect over time to longer less frequent contact.

And wow, you and Stevie need to relax and have a caustic-free beer.

All of my home brews are poured from caustic free lines that were filled with an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS caustic solution for 2-10 days.  The caustic in the line could liquefy a corpse given enough time.  It would take a lot longer than 15 minutes at room temperature and pressure.  Just saying.   :)

Hey, glad to see a lighter tone developing here.  But on the subject of protecting forgetful selves or clueless guests, rather than removing a line, it occurs to me, why not just put a bag over the faucet?  Like the gas station does when a pump is out of order.  Seems simpler, and takes so little effort it hardly seems like a mark of paranoia!
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Kutaka on November 08, 2017, 07:56:20 PM
Hey, glad to see a lighter tone developing here.  But on the subject of protecting forgetful selves or clueless guests, rather than removing a line, it occurs to me, why not just put a bag over the faucet?  Like the gas station does when a pump is out of order.  Seems simpler, and takes so little effort it hardly seems like a mark of paranoia!

It's ok Robert.  The sign of a good question is one that creates contention.  It's obvious you are capable of handling caustics in a home brewery.  Some people have determined how to do something 'the right way' and can't think about how to do it any other way safely.  You already have.  Way ahead of the curve.  Pretty soon you will be brewing better beer than everyone here except for me.   ;D
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Robert on November 08, 2017, 08:29:15 PM
You know I just rejoined AHA after letting my membership lapse about 25 years ago (have I been lazy or just really busy brewing? )  Two things that didn't exist back then are online forums and any decent knowledge about cleaning and sanitation.   All great advancements come at the price of some aggravation, don't they? ;)
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: ynotbrusum on November 10, 2017, 02:24:07 PM
You know I just rejoined AHA after letting my membership lapse about 25 years ago (have I been lazy or just really busy brewing? )  Two things that didn't exist back then are online forums and any decent knowledge about cleaning and sanitation.   All great advancements come at the price of some aggravation, don't they? ;)

Sorry that the forum became a bit contentious over your initial post - we usually agree on things or quickly agree to disagree peacefully.  For example, the homebrewer now has antimicrobial beer lines available to him (though some say it is a waste of money and prefer to simply swap out lines more frequently at around 1/3 of the cost or to stay on top of the cleaning process keg to keg - either way works, if you are happy with the results). 

Innovations are sometimes embraced and sometimes dismissed; unfortunately, we sometimes really put our faith into a product and are not willing to be dissuaded; other times, we don't have the means of measuring the product's efficacy and fall prey to anecdotal evidence presented.  in the end, you should look at things for what will work best/easiest in your situation. 

Anyway, Cheers to a long time brewer!
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: narcout on November 10, 2017, 03:15:39 PM
For example, the homebrewer now has antimicrobial beer lines available to him (though some say it is a waste of money and prefer to simply swap out lines more frequently at around 1/3 of the cost or to stay on top of the cleaning process keg to keg - either way works, if you are happy with the results).

That's what I'm running now and have been pretty happy with it.

https://www.morebeer.com/products/ultra-barrier-silver-antimicrobial-pvc-free-beer-tubing-316-id-foot.html?site_id=5
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: HoosierBrew on November 10, 2017, 03:18:33 PM
Quote from: narcout link=topic=30550.msg399243#msg399243

That's what I'm running now and have been pretty happy with it.

https://www.morebeer.com/products/ultra-barrier-silver-antimicrobial-pvc-free-beer-tubing-316-id-foot.html?site_id=5


Same here. Like it pretty well.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Robert on November 10, 2017, 04:12:39 PM
For example, the homebrewer now has antimicrobial beer lines available to him (though some say it is a waste of money and prefer to simply swap out lines more frequently at around 1/3 of the cost or to stay on top of the cleaning process keg to keg - either way works, if you are happy with the results).

That's what I'm running now and have been pretty happy with it.

https://www.morebeer.com/products/ultra-barrier-silver-antimicrobial-pvc-free-beer-tubing-316-id-foot.html?site_id=5

I wasn't aware of this product.  I'll check it out.  It seems to me though that the line itself is less of a potential problem than the faucet and disconnect with their nooks and crannies; it's prudent to disassemble everything once in a while anyway so I can understand those who just replace lines more often.

But as I suggested early in this thread, I like having as many tools as possible in the kit, so to speak, and be adaptable to use what's most expedient in any given situation.  That's pretty much my philosophy in every aspect of brewing -- there's rarely just one way to proverbially de-pelt a feline!

Thanks for the tip and link.
Title: Re: Acid cleaning draft lines
Post by: Robert on November 18, 2017, 03:29:06 PM
Okay, just an update from the OP. Too soon old and too late smart, I downloaded the BA' s Draught  Beer Quality Manual.  Anyone reading this thread with questions, start there! Everyone posting here has been a great help in clarifying things, and of course homebrewers will develop their own practical solutions -- but DBQM is a welcome addition to my "library."  http://www.draughtquality.org/