We, as home brewers, face problems that larger breweries rarely have to worry about because they have large scale solutions to these problems. Chief among them is sanitation, while many larger breweries will use Chlorine Dioxide and CIP/Foaming cleaning systems, home brewers are stuck with careful technique and, thankfully, a powerful arsenal of cleaning and sanitizing agents. The #1 Sanitizer used among home brewers (both in terms of amounts bought and used) is a lovely product called StarSan.
StarSan is an acid cleaner/sanitizer that only requires 5 minutes of contact with a cleaned surface to completely clean/sanitize it (http://www.fivestarchemicals.com/). According to Five Star Chemicals, StarSan is a “high foaming, acid anionic, no rinse sanitizer” that is made up of a combination of phosphoric and dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid. This means that all you have to do is drain out the excess StarSan and leave the foam behind until you are ready to use whatever you have sanitized.
I know people always seem to get nervous at the sight of anything containing the word “benzene” in it and a lot of people might ask “will StarSan affect the yeast at all?” The resounding answer is no. The reason being; any leftover StarSan in a carboy will be mixed with wort and later pitched with yeast which will actually consume and break down the StarSan during fermentation.
So, next time you sanitize your equipment with StarSan, rest easy knowing that you have done all you can to ensure the purity of your equipment and that the yeast will clean up anything that’s left over. And that’s why you never rinse a StarSan’d carboy/bucket/fermentation vessel with water, the yeast will clean it up for you.
Gee dang it, I love nature.
(PS, there are multiple forums devoted to this very subject such as the Brewdudes, homebrewtalk, morebeer and the brewingnetworkforums, if you want further reading. For a link to MSDS and technical data sheets of StarSan and related chemicals produced by Five Star Chemicals, click below.)