Let's get a few things straight right off the bat. Sanitizing is NOT the
same as cleaning. Cleaners are just that. They clean. Period. Sanitizers, on the other hand
are for killing germs. They are made for killing bacteria, rogue yeasts, and other
microscopic nasties that would just love to set up shop in your fresh brewed wort.
<P>And you can't sterilize anything, unless you have an autoclave, so forget
the term sterilize.
<P>Here's a short run down of the available chemicals for homebrewers that are
made for killing bacteria in your brewing equipment. They run the gamut from very inexpensive to outrageously expensive in prices.
<P>Bleach<P> Benefits: Cheap, ready available. Easy to use. Kills everything.
Short soaking time - 30 minutes maximum.
Drawbacks: Needs rinsing. Can't soak plastic for long periods because of
absorption into pores of plastic. In other words, if you soak plastic bucket in bleach for a long time, expect your finished beer to taste like bleach. Can't use on stainless steel equipment, because of pitting. Also hard on vinyl tubing used in brewing.
<P>Iodophor <P>Benefits: Relatively inexpensive. Easy to use. Kills everything. Does not need to be rinsed. Short soaking time of 2 - 10 mins. Can be used on all equipment, but not recommended for long soaking on stainless steel.
Drawbacks: Stains plastic permanently. Must be used in cold water, or it
will fume off.
<P>Star-San<P> Benefits: No rinse. Easy to use. Kills everything. Short soaking time - 5 mins. Drawbacks: Expensive. Leaves a film on all equipment. May be hard to find.
<P>Saniclean<P> Benefits: No rinse. Easy to use. Kills everything. Basically the same as Star-San except it doesn't foam. Short soaking time of 5 mins. Drawbacks: Expensive. Also leaves a film on all equipment. May be hard to
<P>These are just a few of the many chemicals that are available for using in
homebrewing. Be aware that these chemicals can be dangerous if used improperly. Always follow label instructions. Wear protective gloves & eyewear.