If you are into you brewing at home, you should definitely learn about PWB cleaner if you hadn’t already.
In this guide, we will tell you what PWB cleaner is, how it is used when home brewing and why you should use it!
What is A PBW Cleaner?
PBW is short for Powdered Brewery Wash and is a proprietary alkali cleanser created for Coors that is now commonly used in commercial breweries across the US.
Clean kettles with one to two ounces per gallon, kegs, fermentors tanks, and other apparatus with 3/4 ounce per gallon.
Soak equipment in PBW solution overnight before rinsing the next morning with no need for scrubbing.
Soft metals, rubber gaskets, and your skin will not be harmed.
PBW can successfully clean objects that a brush or sponge cannot reach, and it is powerful enough to remove thick, tough, caked-on organic soils.
Many of the same components are used in PBW as in other professional cleaners, with the addition of sodium metasilicate, which is good at eliminating organic debris.
The sodium metasilicate distinguishes PBW from other commercial cleaners by safely increasing the efficiency of detergents.
The primary component is around 30% Sodium Metasilicate.
Its chemical formula is Na2SiO3, and it is responsible for getting rid of beer smegma and grease.
PBW is available online, at local home brew shops, and on occasion at Walmart or Target.
While it is somewhat more costly than other cleansers, it not only has a better formula, but you also don’t need much at a time, so one container will last a long time.
How Is PBW Used for Home brewing Beer?
Brewing equipment is cleaned using PBW.
It is an alkaline, non-caustic, ecologically safe, and user-friendly cleanser designed particularly for brewery equipment and the beverage sector.
PBW cleans brewing equipment effectively without generating hard water scaling or leaving residues after rinsing.
Furthermore, because it contains no colors or aromas, it will not impart off-flavors to future batches of beer if properly washed.
Organic material is easily cleaned with PBW. Powdered Brewery Wash is unafraid of the trub left behind after racking beer, as well as tenacious wort residue.
Five-Star Chemicals further claims that no cleaning is required.
That means you can simply clean beer lines with PWB without the need for a brush or pipe cleaners.
How to Use PBW Cleaner
To use PBW cleaner correctly, the first thing you have to do is rinse off the surface or vessel that you are going to clean.
Next, dissolve about one to two gallons of the cleanser if you are washing something like a kettle, but if you are washing something like a keg or fermentor, then you should use 3/4 ounces per gallon.
For circulation cleaning, the heat should be at around 130°-180° F and circulated for at least half an hour.
However, if you are soaking, the heat should be set at 140° F and left to soak for four hours.
One of the great things about PBW cleaner is that you do not have to have very high temperatures for it to work as it is non-caustic.
After you have done this, you should rinse the equipment or surface again.
You can keep the mixed solution that you used to clean for no longer than 10 hours, but the PBW has a good shelf life of up to a year once it has been opened.
What Materials Can You Clean with PBW Cleaner?
PBW is not harmful to stainless steel. Because PBW is a percarbonate-based cleaner, it will not promote corrosion like bleach.
It is a frequent fallacy that stainless steel does not rust.
Passivation, a chemical process that generates a protective oxide layer, prevents corrosion in stainless steel.
To generate that oxide layer, clean a fresh stainless steel brew kettle with PBW and then sanitize with Star San or SaniClean.
Aluminum may be safely treated with PBW. It will not oxidize metal or leave a black stain on the surface like OxiClean, bleach, or similar cleansers.
This oxidation is corrosive and might make the aluminum unfit for use.
Copper is safe to use with PBW. Because of the chemical characteristics of copper, the solution may become blue, although copper equipment (such as a wort chiller) is safe with Powdered Brewery Wash.
Many home brewers, concerned about the safety of PBW on their copper equipment, have mentioned this blue solution on a number of home brewing forums.
The chemical reaction that produces the solution blue is not dangerous, but it does recommend that copper be soaked for a shorter period of time than other materials for optimal effects.
Plastic may be cleaned with PBW. Plastic is protected from corrosion by the buffering agents and mild alkalis in PBW.
On the glass, PBW is safe. However, it is slippery before properly cleaning, so proceed with caution to avoid breaking the glass and injuring yourself.
Here’s a helpful video showing how to safely clean a glass carboy using PBW.
PBW is not harmful to brass. Other acids will ultimately chew through brass fittings, hence Five-Star Chemicals suggests only using PBW and Star San or SaniClean on brass.
Why Should You Use A PBW Cleaner?
If you’ve ever used a five-gallon stainless steel boil kettle after a home brewing session, you know how crusty the leftovers on the bottom, maybe.
A simple game of PBW will quickly sort them out. When cleaning with hot water, all you have to do is add a small amount of PBW, mix it up, and let it sit in the pot.
All of that burned-on junk simply peels off. A decent burner, in theory, should not cause this difficulty.
PBW is non-hazardous to the environment, biodegradable, and will not impact septic systems.
You can even use it to clean your dishwasher and in fact, you may use it to clean any stainless steel equipment which is why it’s so useful as a cleanser for home brewers.
If you need to eliminate an odor caused by organic material, PBW will remove both the substance and the associated odor.
As a result, it’s ideal for cleaning out ancient brewing equipment that may require some TLC before it can be used again.
It does not burn the skin like other chemical agents, such as sodium hydroxide, nor does it have a strong pungent odor like other high duty cleansers.
After a nice soak, removing labels off beer bottles comes in helpful.
It’s also useful for removing labels from beer bottles that you wish to use for home brewing. Give them a thorough soak, and the labels will fall right off.
PBW is used to wash and clean your brewing equipment. It will not actually kill any bugs that may persist, for which you are responsible.
Before brewing, and after confirming that your equipment is clean, sanitize the fermentor and any equipment you are using, including any funnels, spoons, or other utensils.
How to Clean and Sanitize your Home brewing Equipment
The only thing you can do to keep your beer from spoiling is to clean and sanitize all of your home brewing equipment.
If you do not clean and sterilize your equipment, you risk destroying your beer, which is the last thing you want.
Cleaning and sanitizing is, thankfully, a breeze. It only requires a little attention to detail and common sense.
You’ll have no trouble keeping your equipment clean if you can wash and scrub dishes.
It simply entails soaking, washing, or spraying your equipment before it comes into contact with the beer.
Before you begin sanitizing, you must first clean your equipment.
One cannot exist without the other. It only takes one speck of dirt stuck at the bottom of the carboy that you didn’t notice, and no sanitizer can guarantee that the speck of dirt won’t release unwanted bacteria into your treasured beer.
It simply cannot eliminate the built-up filth that harbors bacteria as a cleaner can.
You shouldn’t compromise on cleaning chemicals; only the best will do. PBW or Oxiclean is the best.
PWB is more powerful than Oxiclean and is more commonly accessible. Both will serve their purpose admirably.
This cleaning chemical is quite powerful, and it may even be used to wipe beer labels from bottles collected from breweries.
It’s dirt inexpensive and quite effective. If possible, try to purchase the Versatile free version. OxiClean is well worth the money.
The best is PBW, although it is pricey. Another oxygen-based cleaner is the best on the market, but it is also the most expensive.
Oxiclean is nearly as excellent, so if you’re on a budget, go with Oxiclean.
It’s clearly not as widely available as Oxiclean, but if you buy all of your supplies and equipment at a home brew shop, they’ll have it.
Technically, dish soap can be used in place of PBW. It just so happens to be inexpensive and already in your kitchen.
However, if you use it, you must carefully cleanse it. Otherwise, it will impart a soapy flavor to your beer and reduce head retention in the finished product.
If you must use dish soap, choose a fragrance-free type.
You can, believe it or not, use bleach. It’s what home brewers have been using for a long time.
You must rinse it as if you were a paranoid son of a gun.
Even a bit can spoil a whole batch of beer. Furthermore, it has the potential to spoil your clothing, discolor your bar towels.
On brew day, the things you will have to clean include the fermentor, fine mesh colander, airlock, funnel, big spoon, and thermometer.
But on the bottling day you should clean the hoses and the racking cane or auto-siphon.
Soak your equipment in your chosen cleaning solution for 20 minutes, or longer if necessary, then softly scrape to remove any residue and debris.
Obviously, you can’t clean hoses, airlocks, racking canes, and so on, but a 20-minute soak should be enough.
If any residue remains after a thorough soak, you should just replace the gear. To be cautious, change my hoses after every ten batches.
If you want to give that piece of gear one more shot, consider soaking it for 24 hours.
When cleaning plastic, never use an abrasive sponge or brush. Instead, use a soft cotton towel or a soft sponge.
Scratches in plastic equipment serve as a breeding environment for microorganisms.
I’d also be cautious with your stainless steel pot—if the brush is extremely abrasive, it may scratch the surface. If possible, use softer sponges.
Once you have cleaned everything, you can move on to sanitizing all of your equipment that has had contact with the wort after the boil
StarSan is unquestionably the most popular sanitizer, and it is utilized by professionals.
Not only is it flavorless, odorless, and does not require rinsing, but it also foams quickly.
That is a nice thing. The foaming action forces the sanitizer into all conceivable cracks and crevices, where it finds and kills any unwelcome bacteria.
However, like with all good things, moderation is the key.
If you use too much foam, things will get chaotic.
Even yet, it’s flavorless, so if you find yourself with a bit too much foam on your equipment, don’t worry; it won’t harm the taste of your beer.
Don’t be afraid of the froth, as many amateur brewers advise. Keep a spray bottle of StarSan solution on hand, which is OK as long as the solution is clear.
If it becomes hazy, it signifies the pH levels have altered, and it is no longer effective. A spray bottle is quite useful for sanitizing in a rush.
Iodophor, an iodine-based sanitizing product available online and at most home brew shops, might also be used.
As well as this, it is a no-rinse sanitizer with a short contact duration.
However, it will discolor plastic apparatus over time and may create a strange odor if you use too much.
Fill my bottling bucket with a sanitizer solution with 1/4oz StarSan for 1.25 gallons of water and put in all the equipment that has to be sanitized.
Your equipment simply requires one minute of contact time with the sanitizing solution before it’s ready to use.
Spray the gear thoroughly with a spray bottle packed with sanitizing solution for the more uncomfortable components. Wait a minute, and you’re ready to go.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions that come up when people talk about PWB, so it’s great to know these things now!
IS PBW Cleaner Bad for Skin?
When used correctly, PBW is safe for the skin.
After using the PBW, dilute it according to the package recommendations and thoroughly wash it off your skin with soap and water.
Because some people have more sensitive skin than others, coming into touch with Powdered Brewery Wash may cause moderate irritation or have no impact at all.
While gloves are not necessary while using PBW, they are recommended if skin irritation is a problem.
If you come into contact with PBW, wipe your eyes gently with water for several minutes, removing contact lenses if necessary.
Seek medical attention if the discomfort persists after washing.
Is Oxiclean the Same As PBW?
Simply put, Oxiclean does not perform as well as PBW.
It doesn’t remove caked-on grime as efficiently as PBW, it will not rinse off as quickly, and it might leave hard water scales on your apparatus if your water is hard.
Can I Use PBW To Clean a Coffee Maker?
Coffee makers survive a year around here if you don’t add vinegar or other acids.
PBW is effective on organic deposits, therefore it will remove the brown build-up in a carafe.
Can you Pour PBW Down the Drain?
PBW decomposes into oxygen, water, and salts. I’m sure it’s possible to overdo it, but you should be fine. I usually dispose of it in the storm drain or the bathtub drain.
Cleaning and sanitization are a problem for all brewers, even professional ones.
Brewing is the deliberate creation of an environment in which organisms may reproduce.
This implies that other organisms, including wild yeast, will enjoy your wort as well.
PWB is one of the best cleaners you can get because it’s affordable, very easy to use, and does a great job at getting rid of all sorts of grease and grime that you may have built up in your home brew system.