Author Topic: Extending the life of Star-San  (Read 2022 times)

Offline gmac

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Extending the life of Star-San
« on: June 03, 2011, 05:56:02 AM »
My water is fairly hard and as such, when I add Star-San to it, it clouds almost immediately.  I've read on the forum that once it goes cloudy, it loses its' effectiveness.  I've put 2.5 gal in a glass carboy and added Star-San and watched it turn milky in seconds.  I've not yet encountered any noticable contamination issues but I only use the sanitizer once.  I've gone through almost a full container in a couple months.

I don't have access to RO or distilled water that is convenient to get.  Is there anything I can do to my regular water to help extend the life of the sanitizer?  For example, would adding citric acid to lower the pH help?  I've also "double dosed" the water with more sanitizer (less than label rate) the next day if I have something to sanitize.  Not sure if this is a good idea or not but it seems to have worked.

Is there a different no-rinse sanitizer that would be better in my situation?  I've started using an acidic dairy wash to clean my carboys etc so I think that helps but I don't use it for siphons, bungs etc.  Any advice would be appreciated.

Offline ajk

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2011, 06:27:34 AM »
Do you or one of your neighbors have a water softener?  My hot water runs through one, and I use that water to make StarSan solution.  A water softener is technically just an ion replacement system, but it seems to effectively remove watever ions StarSan reacts with, resulting in a shelf-stable solution.  I make up 5 gallons in a Corny keg and sanitize kegs by pushing it from keg to keg with CO2.  I also dispense some to a spray bottle for ad hoc use.  It stays clear (and at a low pH) for months.

It sounds as though you've looked into it, but around here RO water is easy to get at any grocery store.  They have kiosks where you can fill and refill 5-gallon jugs of the stuff.  I use it to dilute my (very alkaline) tap water to make my brewing liquor.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2011, 06:39:32 AM »
I thought it was the alkalinity that was the problem, as that raises the pH.  I have a softener, and the SS turns cloudy after a couple of weeks, maybe less.  Softeners take out the hardness, which is the Ca and Mg.  Softeners leave the bicarbonate, HCO3, which my water is loaded with, and the soft water is liquid Tums.  Never tried the hot water for the SS, as some of the HCO3 will drop out at higher temps (which is why I drain 5 gallons off of the bottom every quarter, so the water heater life will be longer than the 7 years for the last one).

RO water is my solution.   Too bad gmac can't find it conviently.
Jeff Rankert
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Offline ajk

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2011, 06:42:49 AM »
I thought it was the alkalinity that was the problem, as that raises the pH.

Well, that does make a lot of sense.  I'm not sure why my StarSan lasts so long, then.

Offline denny

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2011, 07:32:04 AM »
I believe that I've heard of people adding acid to their water for Starsan.  Graham, try contacting Charley Talley at 5 Star and see what he says.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2011, 07:43:44 AM »
Are you anywhere near a Walmart as they carry Distilled water. I always keep some on hand for last minute needs like this.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2011, 08:11:34 AM »
There's a Wal-mart about 35 minutes away.  Next time I'm in that area I'll see if they have distilled.  I will look for a neighbour with a softner too as suggested.  There is a place that sells RO water near me but I don't do business there (all kinds of problems with friends getting ripped off for gas...).  I guess I could swallow my pride and go buy a few gallons just this once.

I have beautiful soft water running around my house (I've mentioned this before) but I'm not sure how clean it is (bacterially  i mean, it looks very clean and its very cold).  I may try to boil a couple gallons of this for a while and then add some Star-San and see what happens.  I'd love to use this to brew with but its so shallow that even if I got a good water report back, I'd be afraid of a rain washing contaminants into it.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Offline dano14041

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2011, 10:30:39 AM »
I have the same problem with the star-san becoming cloudy right after it is mixed. I was concerned about it so I test it with a pH strip until it reads above 3, then I mix more. It usually last 2 wks to a month.

Tulsa, OK

Offline richardt

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2011, 11:12:24 AM »
Try your local big-chain grocery store--many of them have RO water dispensers out front (you need to bring your own 5 gallon homer bucket--if you're making StarSan solution, or water jug(s)--if you want brewing water to build).  I get 5 gallons for $1.50 (30 cents/gallon).

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2011, 11:30:32 AM »
Probably a dumb idea, but would adding acid to the water to reduce alkalinity help? Since you're not worried about flavor, you could use something cheap like white vinegar.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2011, 11:34:49 AM »
I don't think that's a dumb idea, it might work.  I'm not sure vinegar is a strong enough acid to help much though, especially at 4% acetic acid like most store bought vinegar.  It would be cheap enough for someone with hard water to test though.
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Offline euge

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2011, 06:27:13 PM »
The easiest thing to do is locate some RO or distilled water. The stuff will last practically forever- especially in a spray bottle.

The "pure" stuff around the casa ought to be boiled and maybe put through a Brita-type pitcher or filter.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline ibru

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2011, 07:32:58 AM »
I'd try the Brita water. I just got my water tests back. My tap water hardness (CaC03) is 198. I also sent in a sample of my Brita filtered water, it was 71.

As for the rest of my test, it looks like I'll be buying a lot of bottled water for brewing....

Offline hoser

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2011, 07:46:06 AM »
I would go RO or DI water.  I guess you could always try phosphoric acid since it is essentially tasteless.  I think the lactic and vinegar flavors may be left behind?

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Extending the life of Star-San
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2011, 10:01:48 AM »
I'm betting that its the complexing of hardness ions that's causing the problems since at a pH of 3 and less, there is very little alkalinity (technically there is no methyl orange alkalinity since the pH is below 4.3). 

I just started a test using my house's softened water that I know runs about 2 or 3 ppm Ca and Mg.  That is as low as my RO system puts out.  The softened water still has high alkalinity since those ion exchange softeners do not alter alkalinity.  I'll see if it clouds up in a few days and report back.
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