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Thread: Foaming Caustic Issues

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Morgantown, WV

    Foaming Caustic Issues

    We recently switched to a Caustic cleaner, replacing PBW, when cleaning our fermenters and brites. But now I am having a serious problem with foam after cleaning the tanks. Its been a few times now, sometimes it works fine, and sometimes it takes another 20 minutes to rinse out all of the foam. Checked with the chemical supplier, they came out and ran some tests to make sure they didn't accidentally send the foaming cleaner, tested our water, and the chemicals several times, but nothing out of the ordinary. I make sure to follow the recommended dosing and temps and run time on the CIP. The odd thing is, it only does it with the fermenters and 20bbl brites, but not on the 30bbl brite. Any suggestions? I really don't want to go back to using PBW, but we never had a problem like this with that chemical.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Portland, ORE
    Caustic turns fat into soap. What most guys do is make a cleaning solution that's a little weak and do a pre wash. Once it foams, rinse it out and start again with full strength.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Virginia Beach, VA, USA
    It's most likely the speed and volume that is being pushed through your sprayball. If it's going too fast, the caustic will foam up. Try dialing down your speed either by: reducing the speed of your VFD pump, or (if not a VFD) restricting the outlet on the pump or at the cip arm. That should at the very least help the situation. I've also moved to a pre-rinse with just about a couple ounces of caustic. It takes the big stuff off,
    Heats up the vessel, and keeps the foam down during the full strength cip. Cheers!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Sounds to me like you are using more or less pure sodium hydroxide.

    A modern caustic cleaner is mostly sodium hydroxide, but with several other components that will make the product clean better (pure sodium hydroxide does a poor job of cleaning).
    One of those components is a foam inhibitor.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    It seems as though a lot of chemical suppliers have popped up in the last few years selling "brewery cleaning chemicals". They were previously selling caustic/sanitizer/etc. to dairy and food processing. Now they have found a "new market" in breweries. MOST of these companies are taking the same basic caustic that they sell to their existing markets and re-branding it into "brewery CIP cleaner". I have run through many of these companies testing out their products. I always have foaming issues. If you use fermcap in your kettle you can put a little bit of that in the fermenter with the caustic and it will help the foam somewhat, but this is a less than ideal solution. Spraying out the worst of the gunk before CIP is also a good idea to help mitigate the issue.

    I recently switched to one of the more well known brewery cleaner suppliers out there and quit messing around with all the local guys who got into the market in the last 2-3 years. They are providing me a truly "built caustic" product that was ACTUALLY designed for the unique factors involved in CIP for breweries. The difference has been night and day. No foaming and the tanks are cleaner than ever. Even though the previous caustic was getting off the visible gunk, it was allowing a slow buildup of brown "staining" in the tanks which I didn't even realize was there until my new caustic took it all off.

    Long story short, make sure you are using the right product for the right application from a company that knows what they are doing when it comes to brewery chemicals. There is a lot of half-ass chemicals being sold to breweries out there these days.
    Scott LaFollette
    Fifty West Brewing Company
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Solon, IA
    Sounds like your NaOH supplier was nice enough to leave out the sequestering agents, and I would believe that they saved some cash leaving out the chelating agents as well. Birko makes a caustic addition called Brute Plus that (I believe) makes up for the lack of the additives required for cleaning in protein-heavy applications. Depending on your process water source, you could be in a position to leave a large amount of Ca++ and Mg++ in your tank after the caustic cycle that PBW doesn't leave.

    Try it out. I'd be curious to see what your results are.


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