Cleaning Safely With Chemicals

When we set out  to develop  Cleanskin, we wanted to make a product that was safe.  The feedback overwhelmingly from cellar staff was they’d like to use non-dangerous goods.  This made perfect sense to us and we know that everyone needs to be vigilant when handling dangerous chemicals. 

Here are some of our top tips when working with chemicals.


1.  Check the MSDS

Knowledge is power after all.  There are risks associated with dangerous goods such as sodium hydroxide or hydrogen peroxide.  We see the first step in making sure you’re handling chemicals safely is to know what you’re using.  The Material Safety Data Sheet (or Product Safety Data Sheet or Safety Data Sheet) has information about hazardous information and composition of inputs.  This can help you identify risks in the work place.  All AIRD  SDS information is available here

Anther good resource to check if a chemical is dangerous or not is the Hazardous Chemical Information List.


2.  Chemical Storage and Mixing

Some chemicals don’t like others!  From basic chemistry we know that acids will react with alkalis (anyone remember the bi-carb soda and vinegar volcanos?).  When storing chemicals it is really important that the space is clear, dry with good ventilation and it doesn’t get too hot or cold.

There is a wealth of information on this online – some of our basic recommendations are:


  • Keep your acid based products away from alkaline products
  • Keep anything with hydrogen peroxide separate from your acids and alkalis (ie Linvasan, PerCitra, Peracetic Acid).
  • With liquids make sure that there is adequate bunding (to capture any spills)
  • Make sure you have adequate space to utilise and mix chemicals (ie no trip hazards)
  • Ensure that labels are visible and easily read
  • Make sure pumps have drip catchers
  • Know which chemicals can react to heat


3.  What are you using the chemical for?

Looking at the application of a chemical is a really important safety consideration.  When cleaning it may be possible to use a safer means of achieving the same goal.  If it is possible to eliminate dangerous goods from your site then this means that you’ve significantly improved safety.

If it isn’t possible to remove every dangerous good, look at limiting the amount of exposure your staff will have to dangerous goods.  Making dangerous goods a last resort throughout the cellar means that staff will be safer. 


For example an approach to cleaning could be: 

1.     Initial water rinse

2.     Circulation of non-dangerous chemical

3.     Rinse and Review

When staff are at the review stage and further cleaning is needed they can make an educated decision about next steps if they’re required.  Most cleaning in the cellar for wine shouldn’t need a dangerous good.


4.  Is the product a powder or a liquid?

This may seem trivial however it is important.  The risks associated with dangerous goods in a powder form are much higher because the strength of these chemicals are generally much greater.  For example, if your winery uses caustic the average powdered form of sodium hydroxide is 99.6% active (caustic pearl), versus the liquid version that is circa 45-50% active.  While both are dangerous one is much stronger than the other. 

Another risk from powdered caustic is dust.  The dust can be inhaled, or can easily get into eyes so it is important that adequate safety equipment is being used.  Be very careful disposing with the packaging (ie bags/buckets that chemicals are contained in).  Often the packaging that caustic comes in is overlooked by cellar staff and in a powder form it only takes a small amount to do a lot of damage.

Vapours are another risk with powders – especially with caustic.  Be very careful as you can get a face full of pH 14 vapours and even with safety equipment this is a high risk.

The downside of dangerous goods as a liquid is that if they spill easily and even at a lower percentage activity level a splash in an eye can be very dangerous.


5. Make sure staff know the WHS plan and are familiar with how to use chemicals and are supervised appropriately

If you don’t already have a WHS plan this is a really useful link.  There are lots of resources on the web, and industry trained safety consultants can help make sure that your workplace is safe.  When it comes to chemical safety having a WHS plan and making sure that staff are adequately trained is essential.

Working safely is working smarter.  In the AIRD range Cleanskin, Destainex, Citsanex, Vinisan, Oak Restorer, Peroxica, Rejuvasol and Wineglass are all non dangerous.


Haven’t tried any of our non-dangerous cleaners and sanitisers lately?  Talk to us.



Useful Links: 



Cleaning to Organic Standards

Organic wineries often ask us if our products comply with organic standards?  Our first question in response is which one!  The Department for Agriculture in 2010 outlined that there were in fact 7 bodies that are able to provide organic certification  (read more here).   

This provides no shortage of confusion!  We thought we’d go back to basics and see if we could clarify what organic means and how this impacts hygiene (cleaning and sanitation) product choice. 

From the department of Agriculture there were the following organisations that were accredited to provide organic certification:


ACO - Australian Certified Organic

Bio-Dynamic Research Institute (Demeter)

NASAA - The National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia

OFC - Organic Food Chain

Safe Food Production Queensland

Tasmanian Organic Dynamic Producers

(Department of Agriculture Feb 2015)

Organic certifiers all adhere to the minimum requirements set out in the National Standard for Organic and Bio-dynamic produce and may have further requirements on top of this.

 So what is organic?  From the Australian Government Definition we can define Organic as: 

Organic: means the application of practices that emphasise the: 

- use of renewable resources; and 

- conservation of energy, soil and water; and 

- recognition of livestock welfare needs; and 

- environmental maintenance and enhancement, while producing optimum quantities of produce without the use of artificial fertiliser or synthetic chemicals.


Furthermore we can define bio-dynamic as follows: 

bio-dynamic: means an agricultural system that introduces specific additional requirements to an organic system.  These are based on the application of preparations indicated by Rudolf Steiner and subsequent developments for management derived from practical application, experience and research based on these preparations.

Source National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce Edition 3.5 (Feb 2013)

We like what we’re hearing.  Using renewable resources, conservation of energy, soil and water and a conscientious approach to the environment.  We don’t think any wine maker would disagree with these concepts on the whole.

So the part we are interested in is the chemical part – where chemicals are used for cleaning and sanitation.  The good news is that hygiene is factored into producing organic wine – all the accreditation bodies that we’ve worked with and have been able to research, allow a range of chemicals to be used so long as they are followed by a potable water rinse (so that cleaning inputs don’t come into contact with organic produce). 

What is concerning is the types of chemicals that are able to be used by wineries undertaking organic production.  Our table below gives a summary of some of the inputs that are allowed under different bodies.


Approved organic inputs by accreditation provider 

Approved organic inputs by accreditation provider 

Of course – if you are an organic producer you’ll need to check with your accreditor to verify this.

We think some of these chemicals need review – especially in light of the environmental conservation aims outlined in the National Standards.  The reality is that the standard allows halogens (iodine, sodium hypochlorite), quaternary ammonium and salts such as sodium and potassium hydroxide to be used so long as they don’t come into contact with the organic produce. 

We see a few issues with this as halogens are toxic to many plants, quaternary ammonium has a large environmental impact (worryingly there are some microbes that are developing a resistance to QAC - Tezel, 2009) and strong alkali salts can lead to sodic soils (you can read more on caustic here).

While we are sure many conscientious wineries won’t be going near some of these products – the fact that they are listed as inputs in national standards is a real environmental risk – completely undermining the environmental principles of what organic produce is about.  The potable water rinse – “should” mitigate the risk of using these products. In reality though, mistakes happen.  Having the chemical’s like sodium hypochlorite or QAC’s onsite at a busy time of year could mean that the very best of intentions have been mitigated by human error – in doing so contaminating what would otherwise be organic produce.

For organic producers we would always recommend using a bio-degradable detergent.  The good news is that AIRD products have always been approved for use in organic facilities.  Our products are also low salt, have a low VOC are produced from bio-degradable materials and mostly are non-dangerous (improve safety and environmental impact simultaneously).

And even if you’re not working in an organic facility – your waste water will thank you for using products that biodegrade effectively and have a low environmental impact.

Like to know more?  Talk to us.

Further Reading: 

ACO  - Australian Certified Standard 2013

Organic Standards and Certification in Australia

Tezel. U, 2009 Fate and effect of Quaternary Ammonium Compounds in Biological Systems, Georgia Institute of Tech

Interestingly from Tezel’s research:

“Given the antimicrobial properties of QACs, microbes that subsist on QACs have to also have developed resistance mechanisms.”

“…strong evidence of biodegradation potential of QACs in biological systems under aerobic, anoxic and anaerobic conditions.”

Cleaning Cross Flow Filters

We're often asked how to clean cross flow filter systems.  This can often be a challenge.  Cross flow systems remove very fine particles out of wine – and to remove these particles from a filter system can be tricky.  The nature of the organic soils – although still wine – often are more gelatin like, and without some thinking before hand it is easy to turn an organic gelatin in the cross flow system into soap!
Often the two key concerns for cleaning are pressure and flow.  As organic soils and solids build up in the filter there is an increase in pressure on the pump.  While this is building pressure on the pump it is also decreasing the flow rate for the entire machine. 
So the cleaning aims seem simple – remove the solids, reduce the pressure and increase the flow.   With a few variables in play here (ie the filter type) we have some views on this that might help with cleaning.
If we go back to some basic principles of cleaning in wine the steps are;

  1. Reduce the surface tension of any solids to wash the soils off the article being cleaned (detergency, surfactants, wetting agents);
  2. Dissolve (emulsify) any acids/organic soils that can be dissolved.

Once the surface tension of a solid has been reduced (ie that soil can’t hold onto the surface any longer) – it can then be washed off the surface, and if soils can be moved into a solution then they can be washed out of the vessel being cleaned.
This makes sense for tanks – if you can get the soils in the tank into a solution – or get the soils off the wall of the tank you then have a good chance of rinsing out all the organic matter leaving a bright shiny finish.

Where this process comes unstuck for cross flow systems is the type of chemicals that are often used.  Many manufacturers recommend caustic to clean with.  Our view on caustic is that it doesn’t clean effectively.  What we find is that the high pH of caustic products actually increases the surface tension of soils.  This means an organic soil is harder to remove from a surface – it is more attached requiring more force to shift it.  This is happening chemically in tanks, but also in the cross flow filters.

The compounding issue for cross flow filters is that high pH products on gelatin soils can have the effect of creating soap!  The caustic hardens the gelatin, making it extremely difficult to wash from the system.

Another issue we see commonly in bottling lines that can impact cross flow systems is water temperature.  If the water used to clean is too hot (ie above 90 degrees C) it will cause a protein char.  This stain is burnt on (similar to a chemical burn from caustic) and it is actually caused by just hot water.

The two common problems as we see it, are that current chemicals being used aren’t performing adequately, and that very high water temperatures can be creating a further problem in cleaning cross flow systems too.

For cross flow systems we suggest that moving away from caustic is a good first step to a better clean.  A lower pH product, (in our range Cleanskin, Cleanskin K or Oak Restorer) – where the surfactants are food grade, plant based and rinse well, will have a far better impact in reducing surface tension so that soils can be washed from the system.  Using warm water (40-60 degrees C) will help with this too.

Cleaning a cross flow system is tricky, it will take effort.  In our opinion using quality chemicals and water that isn’t too hot will make the job a lot easier.



All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. AIRD Chemistry makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.  AIRD Chemistry will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Quality in Chemical Production is in Rapid Decline

The adage that you “get what you pay for” is very true for practically everything, including chemicals. The demand for low cost chemicals has meant manufacturers are either removing or substituting expensive inputs from the end product.  The resultant chemical may be masking future problems and is in stark contrast to the direction of the wine industry.
The wine industry has been working hard to change the perception of Australian wines.  No doubt, Australia is still making some pretty good low cost wines, however industry bodies are all in agreement that longer term the money is in quality, not quantity.
“…longer term, producers will move towards premium wines, which will bode well for margins and industry profitability.” – Ibis world
We can see this in the sales figures too. 
Australian wine sales declined 6% last year, yet the value has increased by 2% (Wine Australia Annual Report).
While no-one will argue that saving costs in wine production is important, longer term making a better quality ‘drop’ is the direction of the industry.  However, wineries looking to save on cleaning and sanitation chemicals need to be careful.  While wine as an industry in Australia is moving towards a premium price bracket, most chemical manufacturers and suppliers are doing the opposite to secure sales. 
There is a significant push towards reducing costs in chemical manufacturing while increasing sales by volume or weight.  This is concerning as wineries are facing greater environmental constraints, in order to reduce the amount of chemical being consumed in an effort to be more sustainable.
Saving money in chemical production is pretty simple.  Common cost reduction is by reducing material activity via substitution (taking a more expensive compound and replacing with a cheaper input); introducing water soluble fillers (near neutral compounds that have no impact but weight) and lowering the total active ingredients percentage (so more of the product is required to complete the job). 
They all have similar themes – the customer will need more chemical to complete the job therefore increasing cost with more purchasing.  Another measure chemical producers use to lower costs is to use the same product across multiple industries. Customers should be quite concerned about the composition of the cleaning product they’re using.
Substitution can lead to inputs that are not ideally fit for wine production.  Common examples are surfactants which are not completely free-rinsing or do not have hydrotroping properties; chelates and water sequestrants that are not in formulated products or at an insufficient quantity to be effective; and silicates which are film-forming.
Sodium metasilicate (di-sodium metasilicate) appears in some laundry detergents because of the low foaming and lubricity properties theoretically assisting with soil anti re-deposition (no surface charge on garment fibre) silica coating.
Worryingly, sodium metasilicate has been transferred to wine hygiene products offered by other companies.  It’s cheap and with a pH-12 it is on the border-line for dangerous goods (Technically they are Classified as a DG. Silicates can be mixed with other high pH chemicals to maintain a high aggregate pH, or, be used in a greater proportion to reduce the pH of alkali hydroxides pH 13-14). 
The key reason that silicates are not fit for wine production is because they create a surface layer after cleaning.  Each time the tank is washed a little more silicate is deposited and over time, it enables chemical films to form on the surfaces of tanks. These films often contain residues of alkali-denatured wine soils which, within and behind the film, yeast, microbes and other bacteria reside in the tank establishing a great risk to the overall quality of the wine.
A low to very low price for hygiene products may mean you are purchasing latent problems, or paying a lot more than you should for non-active substances or carriers such as water. 
Wine Australia Annual Report    

Halogens in Hygiene - Is the taint risk worth it?


Chlorine is a dirty word in wine.  The family of chemically related elements to which chlorine belongs are called halogens.  Halogens are toxic, they’re dangerous and they’ll taint.

There has been a significant push from within the wine community to remove halogens from the cellar and there has been an overwhelming amount of research undertaken to define sources of taint.  A key concern with halogens is that a little, really does go a long way.  Here is what The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) said:

 “Numerous cases of contamination have been reported in the literature with “disinfectant” or “medicinal” descriptors. The problem is generally traced back to the presence of halophenols in very small amounts. These compounds have low sensory thresholds and can impart taints to foods at concentrations in the ppb (parts per billion) or ppt (parts per trillion) range.”(AFGC, 2007).

Not a lot is needed to have a big impact.  Unfortunately, there is, some nostalgia around halogens.  Bottling managers, Cellar Hands and even some Wine Makers have been known to talk fondly about “hypo” (short for hypochlorite).  A surprising amount of wine producers will probably still have some in the cellar, which they’ll swear by.   We know from our customers that there is more awareness of hygiene in the industry and many are taking some really positive, progressive steps towards their hygiene (using non-dangerous, environmentally friendly, safe, cleaning and sanitation chemicals).  A minority of producers are reverting back to old habits and using a bit of “hypo” as we’re told from time to time that “nothing else works”. 

 And in part they’re right, halogens are incredible sanitisers.  They’ve been historically used in cleaning and sanitising chemicals for all industries - dairy, household, a myriad of food and beverage production environments - for this very reason.  Manufacturers are still including halogens in their products because they're a cost effective (cheap) means of ensuring exactly what it states on the packet - a clean and sanitised surface.  What isn’t marketed so obviously is taint, and the large warning sign about environmental degradation caused by halogens is often omitted. 

Taint is a real problem in all food processing industries. 

“…the food industry worldwide has been confronted with severe tainting of various foods due to the presence of halogenated phenols (or halophenols) and their related anisoles (together referred to as organohalogens)”. (AFGC, 2007). 

When looking at TCA taint caused by halogens, there is more than just the cork that needs to be taken into consideration.   An article in The Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research stated: 

“TCA can originate from 2,4,6-trichlorophenol (TCP) produced from naturally-occurring phenol and chlorine from sanitisers and cleaning products, and town water.” (Simpson et al, 2007).

The potential for taint coming from multiple sources, including cleaning and sanitising chemicals is very real. We know that only a minute amount of a halogen like chlorine is needed to cause dramatic consequences.

The sensitivity of wine to this sort of taint is extreme.  We’ve heard of taint caused by; residues, contaminated oak through vapor, water quality, insufficient rinsing, over-spray and we are sure there are many other methods. The chances of wine coming into contact with a halogen if it is in use in the cellar is a reality.

“Make certain that any chlorophenol-based algaecides or disinfectants used in the factory cannot be accidentally introduced into the processing line. A critical step to avoid is cleaning with water containing phenol and chlorinated cleaning agents.” (AFGC, 2007).

This is good advice, however with the multiple ways in which wines can become tainted it is almost impossible to eliminate this risk if halogen based chemicals are used in cleaning and sanitation.  Wine producers are often the first to admit that accidents do happen, often during busy periods like vintage.  The only way to completely eliminate this is to remove it from site.

The environment will thank you for it too, as will your staff.  Halogens in the environment are toxic to many crops and plants and impact the build up of sodic soils.  This sums it up quite well: 

“…high tissue Cl concentrations are toxic to many crop plants, and restrict agriculture…” (White et al, 2001).   

Removing halogen based products like “hypo” from the hygiene arsenal and replacing with non-dangerous, environmentally friendly products makes work sites much safer.

Halogens are a slippery slope (just look at the dairy industry) and reverting to old habits regarding hygiene isn’t the silver bullet wine producers might be hoping for.  No one will disagree with wine producers wanting “hypo” like results.  The reality is though, taking a halogenated approach to hygiene is an old fashioned approach that could have nasty consequences.

Looking for a non-dangerous, environmentally friendly approach to your hygiene?  Then talk to us


Organohalogen Taints in Food, Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) 2007

Philip J. White, Martin R. Broadley, 2001, Chloride in Soils and its Uptake and Movement within the Plant: A Review, Annals of Botany, Volume 88, Issue 6, Pp. 967-988.

SIMPSON R and SEFTON M, 2007, Origin and fate of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole in cork bark and wine corks, pp106–116, Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research 13

Uhlich et al, “Analyses of the Red-Dry-Rough Phenotype of an Escherichia coli O157:H7 Strain and Its Role in Biofilm Formation and Resistance to Antibacterial Agents”

Appl Environ Microbiol. Apr 2006; 72(4): 2564–2572.


Caustic does not clean.  And it definitely doesn't sanitise.
That brown tinge in your bottling tanks or throughout your bottling line could be causing you more problems than you think.  It is a signal, and a very important one, that your line isn’t clean.  Of most concern is that if it isn’t clean in areas you can see, just think about all the areas in the line that you can’t see.
The brownish tinge is often a bio-film and is putting each wine moving through your bottling hall at risk.   This risk can be completely eliminated through good hygiene practices.  The first step is to understand the nature of wine arriving at the bottling hall and the reactions that high pH products can have in bottling lines.
Finished wine that is about to be bottled is different to that in the cellar.  These wines don’t contain heavy tartrates or high soil loads.  The lighter tartrate and organic soil loading means less reliance on pH to remove wine films and surface staining.  There is a tendency though, in bottling halls, to reach for high pH commodities such as sodium or potassium hydroxide (caustic) and this is where the trouble starts.
There are myths about caustic products.  The most common one is that sodium or potassium hydroxide will sanitise.  This is not the case.  A recent study of comparative sanitising agents found that sodium hydroxide (NaOH) didn’t meet the same standards of proven sanitisers such as peroxy-acids (Abban et al, 2013).  The alkaline environment does provide a small amount of resistance to microbes, yeast and bacteria, however caustic doesn’t meet the standards necessary for a surface to be deemed sanitised.
We’ve spoken about caustic products previously (read more here) and the issues that high pH products cause.  There is no doubt that inadequate cleaning through the use of commodity caustic leads to protein char (or protein staining).  This protein char is a biofilm and can put your wine in danger right before it enters the bottle.
“…biofilm formation in the winery is clearly undesirable as it can become a serious source of contamination.” (Joseph et al, 2007).

Biofilms are all around us (for example plaque on our teeth).  When bacteria aggregate on a surface they form an extracellular glue-like matrix that protects them and attaches them irreversibly to that surface.  At this point the resultant community is referred to as a bio-film (Joseph et al, 2007).  The issue continues because micro-organisms living in biofilms are much more resistant to disinfectants (Vlkova et al, 2008).   The really dire news is that once a biofilm has formed on the surface it is much harder to remove - you’ll need more chemical, more washes, more manual action and more time.  Just more of everything to remove it.
“Biofilms are formed by different species of micro-organism are dangerous because they protect one another during the application of chemical agents (for example alkaline chlorine solutions).” (Vlkova et al, 2008)
There are more risks to high pH.  Chemical manufacturers often use Sodium Metasilicate or Disodium Metasilicate to eliminate foam.  At a high pH it is difficult to disperse foam in a cost effective manner.  A cheap way of doing this is to use silicates.  This is an issue as silicates compound layers over time to form a chemical film.  This chemical film enables another environment where microbes, yeast and bacteria can persist.  This effectively is stinging bottling mangers twice,firstly they have a biofilm from the caustic and secondly it is much more difficult to remove because of the silicates.
So there are some issues with caustic.  Most bottling managers will state that a steam or hot water sterilisation will resolve this.  On first glance this seems reasonable, anything not caught by the caustic will be eliminated through hot water or steam sterilisation.  Easy right?
Well no, not really.  It is extremely difficult to sterilise every part of the bottling line - from filler tanks to fittings.  Some parts of the line, which may be hard to reach are simply not reaching the required temperature to create a sterile environment.  This gap is then compounded by potential biofilms or chemical films protecting microbes, yeast and bacteria in the bottling hall.
“Proper cleaning enhances the effectiveness of the sanitation process.  Cleaning removes the soils and enables a surface to be sanitised.” (Bar-Am et al, 2012).
The good news is that there are several steps bottling halls can take to eliminate their risk.  The first is stop using caustic.  Find a mid pH alkaline cleaning agent which will help wash off any light films that are produced.  Make sure that the chemical does not contain any sodium metasilicate or disodium metasilicate.  In our range we would suggest Destainex LF, Cleanskin or Citsanex.
In Australia and New Zealand, bottling organisations should also use a chemical sanitiser (in our range Linvasan, PerCitra or Vinisan) as a second precautionary step prior to a steam or hot water sterilisation.  In the USA and Canada, Destainex LF will provide an excellent clean surface and will reduce the microbe, yeast and bacteria count significantly (through oxidation).  This way you’ll be sure that your process is robust and no-hard to reach areas are going to put your wine at risk.
The benefits of moving away from caustic are immense.  Not only will your bottling hall be safer and cleaner, but you’ll also reduce the amount of salt going into your waste water stream and you’ll be giving your wines far better protection.

Abban, Jakobsen and Jespersen, A practical evaluation of detergent and disinfectant solutions on cargo container surfaces for bacteria inactivation efficacy and effect on material corrosion, 2013, Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen, DK -1958 Frederiksberg C,Denmark Accepted 5 June, African Journal of Biotechnology Vol.12(23) , pp. 3689-3698
Calanit Bar-Am, Jim Lapsley, Rolf A.E. Mueller and Daniel A. Sumner, Grapevines of Innovation: Ozone as a Cleaning Agent in the California Wine Industry, Journal of Wine Economics, Volume 7, Issue 01, May 2012, pp 108-125

Filomena L. Duarte, Alberto López, M. Filomena Alemão, Rodrigo Santos, Sara Canas, 2011, COMMERCIAL SANITIZERS EFFICACY – A WINERY TRIAL pg 45-52, Instituto Nacional de Recursos Biológicos

Biofilms and Hygiene on Dairy Farms and in the Dairy Industry: Sanitation Chemical Products and their Effectiveness on Biofilms – a Review.,Czech J. Food Sci. ,26: 309–323

L. Joseph, G. Kumar, E. Su, and L. Bisson, 2007, Adhesion and biofilm production by wine isolates of Brettanomyces bruxellensis, In: American Journal of Enology and Viticulture 58(3):373-378.2007

Save Water, Recycle Your Cleanskin

There is an industry wide push to limit the environmental impact of wine production and conserve water where possible.  One easy innovation that all elements of wine production can implement is re-using cleaning solutions.
Simple right.  Cleaning solutions are re-used.  This saves; water, chemical and time (as the solution is already mixed).  The best part is that re-using cleaning chemical is cheap and can be implemented easily at any winery.  The GWRDC outlined in its report that re-cycling and re-using chemical saves on water and also limits the amount of salt put into the environment (GWRDC, Operational Guidelines 2011).
The boffin’s at AIRD have put together some answers to common questions regarding how to recycle cleaning solutions.
What sort of cleaning products can be re-cycled?
As a general rule alkali cleaning products can be re-used (however we would always recommend checking with the manufacturer first).  The benefit of re-using cleaning chemicals also means that you exhaust all the pH from your alkali products.  This is important because it means less salt will end up in your waste water (read more here) and you’ll be saving water.
When is it ok to re-use Cleaning Solutions?
Whenever the acid levels and soil level in the vessel to be cleaned is low.  Traditionally finished wine and wines with light tartrate loading don’t need a lot of cleaning action in order to remove surface soils.  Often in these cases all that is required is to remove colour or films.  The very light acid level (precipitated tartar) means that a high pH isn’t required.  
The following are often areas where cleaning solutions can be recycled:

  • Bottling lines
  • Wine Tankers
  • Finished Wines
  • Wines with Light Tartar levels

For AIRD products if the pH of the solution is above 9 then the solution is able to be re-used.
How are other wineries recycling cleaning chemical?
A few labels on Intermediate Bulk Container (IBCs) can go a long way to ensure that effective cleaning solution is exhausted prior to pumping into the waste water stream.  IBCs have been found to be effective because they are easily transported to where they are needed in the winery, or they can be placed in a warmer part of the winery (ie out in the sun) to maximise the effectiveness of the chemical solution.
Having small amounts of cleaning product is a really cheap and effective way to manage your solutions.  Being able to visibly see the quality of the solution is a good control measure also as a solution with too much soil and acid in it will need to be dumped.
Will a spent solution mean a greater bacterial loading on tanks or vessels?
The microbiological loading in tanks won’t significantly change from cleaning agents.  This is because the action of cleaning is the process of removing solids and soils from the surface.
Although microbes, yeast and bacteria don’t persist as freely in alkali environments (and often cleaning agents are alkali) a cleaning agent on it’s own will not necessarily impact the microbiological load.
Sanitation is what is required to reduce the microbiological loading on a surface (after it has been cleaned).  A good rule of thumb is cleaning agents will address all that can be seen, sanitation will address everything that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Read more about sanitation here.
Will a higher pH mean that my surfaces are cleaner?
No.  High pH doesn’t mean that your surfaces will be cleaner.  The pH doesn’t equate to cleanliness and unfortunately pH alone will not sanitise either.
The reason that high pH products are used in wine production is to remove the tartaric acid which forms during the wine making process.  However on surfaces that have very low levels of tartar the high pH can be a hindrance as it can cause protein char (or protein staining) which can form biofilms enabling microbes, yeast and bacteria to persist even in high pH environments (read more about biofilms here).
The pH is important regarding removing tartrates and there will become a point where the cleaning solution is “spent”, for AIRD products this is usually around a pH of 9.
If I have a higher pH does this mean that the solution will last longer and be more efficient?
No.  Increasing the pH of a cleaning chemical to be re-cycled doesn’t mean that the solution is going to be more effective.  In fact it is important not to overdose the cleaning product either.  If a cleaning agent is over dosed, there can be issues with solubility and it also means that there will be increased salt in the waste water stream (due to more chemical).  An increased dosage doesn't make the cleaning solution more effective either.  This is due to the water having a carrying capacity.  With a higher concentration of cleaning agent the water in the solution has a reduced capacity to dissolve acids and water plays an important role in carrying soils and solids from the tank.

The high pH is only useful to remove tartrates.  The cleaning product has other ingredients such as surfactants, chelates and wetting agents which are all important to wash solids and soils in order to clean the surface.  It is important to check the manufacturers guidelines about recommended dosages for a cleaning product.
Does water quality impact the dosing I should use for my cleaning solution?
Yes.  Make sure that you are dosing your chemical appropriately following the manufacturers instructions.  Water quality and temperature both impact upon the effectiveness of the cleaning agents that are being used (read more here).  Water that is higher minerals (calcium or sodium) will need more cleaning agent.  Better quality water will need less.  Likewise hot water won’t require as much cleaning agent as cold in order to achieve the same result.
Why do I need to check the pH of a solution?
To re-cycle effectively you’ll need to know the pH of the solution that you are using.  Having pH meters or pH test kits readily available means that you’ll be able to quickly assess the effectiveness of the chemical that you’re using.  As a general rule we suggest re-using chemical if the pH of the solution is 9 or greater.
If the pH is 9 is the cleaning solution still working?
Yes.  The pH of a cleaning product is not the only factor needed to clean a surface.  Products that contain high quality chelates, wetting agents and surfactants are built to help remove soils and solids from the surface being cleaned and washed from the tank.  The pH of a solution only becomes important when there is more acid on the surface of the vessel to be cleaned.

Every product in the AIRD cleaning range can be recycled to improve your waste water and make your cleaning spend stretch further.  Now that's cleaning smarter.

Produce Better Wine - Clean and Sanitise Your Winery!

Produce Better Wine - Clean and Sanitise Your Winery!

Cleaning and sanitation is important because it enables wine producers to control what comes into contact with their wine.  There is overwhelming evidence that states cleaning and sanitation in wine production significantly reduces the risk of taint by yeast, microbes and bacteria.  Two basic processes are cleaning and sanitising and we have outlined a quick re-cap of both processes below.

Good hygiene depends on high quality water.

Good hygiene depends on high quality water.

A final rinse after cleaning and sanitising with low-quality water that contains bacteria, or is too hard for chemical to be effective could be putting your wine at risk when it doesn’t have to be.  By using high quality water in your winery operations, you can minimise contamination risk, without significant financial expenditure.  There are two principal considerations to take into account to assess water quality - water hardness and potability.

Is peracetic acid putting your wine at risk?

Is peracetic acid putting your wine at risk?

Sanitation is important.   We strongly recommend that every winery implements high quality sanitation protocols.  Good hygiene through a fully built cleaning agent and a sanitiser (that won’t taint wine) will reduce the risk of unwanted bacteria yeast and microbes taking hold in your wine.  Ultimately it protects your investment.  Chemical products used in the cellar for cleaning and sanitation that taint wine increase the likelihood of wine spoilage through human error.