Handy Guide to PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) for Cleaning Homebrew Beer Gear

Sunday, April 28, 2024

For anyone deeply invested in the world of homebrewing, the quest for immaculate equipment is never-ending. 

Enter PBW, or Powdered Brewery Wash, a cleaning product by Five Star that has rapidly become the staple for both commercial and home brewers alike. 

With its roots tracing back to the renowned Coors brewery, PBW has successfully established itself as an indispensable tool in every brewer's arsenal.

PBW's reputation precedes itself. This cleaning agent is celebrated not just for its efficacy but also for the trust it has garnered among North American homebrewing communities.
If you're new to brewing and ask for cleaning recommendations, you'll inevitably stumble upon enthusiastic endorsements for PBW. 


Aren't we all?

• Effective Cleaner: Excellently removes organic residues such as proteins and lipids.• Requires Thorough Rinsing: Must be completely rinsed off to avoid residue.
• Versatile: Safe for use on all materials including stainless steel, glass, plastic, and ceramics.• Not a Sanitizer: Cleans effectively but does not have sanitizing properties.
• Environmentally Friendly: Biodegradable and non-hazardous under typical use conditions.• Optimal Performance Requires Hot Water: More effective with warm to hot water, increasing energy use.
• Non-Corrosive Formula: Safe on metals and materials used in brewing equipment.• Cost: Generally more expensive than traditional cleaners, which might affect budget considerations for home or professional brewers.
PBW powdered brewery wash for cleaning brewin equipment

Why PBW Shines as a cleaner of beer brewing gear

Beyond Brewing: The Unexpected Uses of PBW

It's not just brewing equipment that can benefit from PBW's cleaning prowess:

Beer Bottles: Let's face it, cleaning dried sediment from the bottom of beer bottles is tedious. Why bother with a bottle brush when PBW can do the job?

Fermenter drums: Even if you've neglected your fermenter for weeks, a soak in PBW will bring it back to its pristine condition. And the best part? No scrubbing required.

The PBW User Manual: How to get the best cleaning results

Using PBW is straightforward:

Step 1: PreparationMeasure the correct amount of PBW for your equipment. Use 1-2 ounces of PBW per gallon of water, depending on the level of soiling.
Step 2: SoakingSoak your brewing equipment in the solution overnight. This extended soak time allows PBW to thoroughly break down and remove organic residues.
Step 3: RinsingRinse your equipment thoroughly the next day to remove any residues of PBW. Ensure all surfaces are completely clean to avoid any contamination in your next brewing session.
Step 4: Post-CleaningOnce rinsed, your equipment is ready for another brewing session. Inspect for any remaining residues and ensure equipment is dry before storing or using.

sodium percarbonate beer equipment wash powder

Cleaning vs. Sanitizing: The Essential Distinction

It's crucial to understand that while PBW excels at cleaning, it doesn't equate to sanitization. 

Post-cleaning, it's imperative to sterilize the equipment to eliminate any lingering microbes. Many brewers swear by Star San, another product from Five Star, as their go-to sanitizer.

To be frank though, after using a PBW product, this brewer doesn't bother sanitizing the gear if it is being used straight away. 

Decoding PBW: The Ingredients that Make it Work

At its core, PBW is powered by Sodium Metasilicate, which constitutes about 30% of its formulation. 

This ingredient is the powerhouse that tackles grease and brewing residue head-on. Additionally, sodium percarbonate plays a pivotal role. 

Fun fact: sodium percarbonate is a primary component in many household laundry soakers... so if you don't want to splash cash, just grab some from your laundry. It says on the ingredients list if the product contains sodium percarbonate. 

DIY PBW: Crafting Your Own Cleaner

For those looking to replicate the cleaning efficiency of PBW at home, combining TSP/90 (commonly known as Red Devil) with Oxiclean can yield similar results. However, it's essential to note that while percarbonate is more of a sanitizer, metasilicate serves as the cleaner.

PBW has carved a hand niche for itself in the brewing world, and rightfully so.
Its cleaning efficiency, coupled with its safety and versatility, makes it an invaluable asset for brewers. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned brewer, integrating PBW into your cleaning routine can significantly elevate your brewing experience.
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