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Cleanliness is next to awesomeness

In preparation for this weekend's brew, I'm borrowing some Better Bottles from C4.  I asked for 1, so he gave me 3, in what I believe to be an effort to justify purchasing more glass carboys.  To each their own, I used to prefer glass, and had I not severed the tendons in my left hand on a shattered carboy, my preference might be the same.

One of his complaints is how hard it is to clean the PET carboys, the other is an infection he blames on them, which I think could be valid, based on the carboys he gave me.  I believe I have good news.


 

I have read glowing reviews of PBW (Powdered Brewers Wash), with claims that it is from heaven above, and can cleanse even the deepest, darkest sins, and also stains.  I needed a carboy for the weekend, and wanted to take no chances.  While checking out, purchasing the largest canister they sold of PBW, I asked Kelly (local homebrew store owner) if it was all that and a bag of potato chips.  He told me it was usually overkill, that he used something cheaper for most applications, but that it was the strongest, and at the quantity I was buying, not as bad   I was encouraged.

These are the carboys after his attempts to clean them.  I've read and heard that the best results from PBW are obtained when using in very warm water.  I heated up water in my hot liquor tank to about 125 F, as the Better Bottles state on the side that you should not exceed 140 F.  125 is very uncomfortable, but not scalding, as I found out when submerging tubing by hand to fill.  

I put in about 5 ounces of PBW into the first carboy, and filled to the top (about 6.5 gallons).  Within a minute or two, I could see stains lifting off the sides of the carboy, moving toward the top, looking like tea steeping.  After about 30 minutes, I poured the contents of the first carboy into the second carboy, and rinsed once with cold water.  This is the result:

 

The first carboy is the one filled with PBW, the second is a dirty carboy, the third is the carboy I cleaned and rinsed, and the fourth is a brand new carboy after only one brew and cleaning with a brush.

My conclusion is that PBW can work some wonderful magic, and I love not having to risk scratching the carboy, or messing with a brush and scrubbing.  Though it did not render the carboy "good as new", the cloudiness is the result of scuffing with a brush, which might have been avoided if using such a cleaner regularly.  Regardless, the carboy was more than clean enough for me to be comfortable using in my upcoming brew, and I was very glad to have such a powerful tool in my possession.

I also used it on my kettle, though I forgot to get a before shot.  I was very happy with how it left the kettle looking, especially the electric element, which gets grungy after time, as it's really hard to clean:

 

I will probably try to find a cheaper cleaner for regular use, and hold onto PBW for the occasional epic battle. I will probably just abandon the carboy brush.

Comments

2 comments on this page. Add your own comment below.

C-4
Feb 18, 2013 7:47am [ 1 ]

OK, so you didn't use the brush at all? Man, we really should have been using this stuff the whole time.

Wes' Brother
Jul 19, 2013 2:05pm [ 2 ]

PBW is great stuff. In a pinch, Oxyclean Free works well. Oxyclean is about 100% sodium percarbonate which is 70% of the PBW formula (the other 30% is tri-sodium phosphate).

Cheers

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