Chapter 7

Brewery Cleaning and Sanitation


Surfactants, chelating agents, and emulsifiers often are added to enhance the effectiveness of both alkaline and acid detergents.


Surfactants, also referred to as wetting agents, are a large group of compounds that, when dissolved in water, gives a product the ability to remove dirt from surfaces of equipment thus increasing the penetration of the cleaning solution.

Chelating Agents

Chelating agents (sequestrants) are chemicals that are incorporated into the detergent formulation that prevent scale buildup, i.e., the precipitation of calcium and magnesium salts onto equipment surfaces. The chelating agent is purchased either as part of a proprietary formulation or as an additive for blending. Commonly used sequestrants are EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid), NTA (nitrilo-tri-acetic acid), ADPA (aceto diphosphonic acid), sodium gluconate, and sodium tripolyphosphate.


Emulsification is a measure of a detergent's ability to break down fats and oils into smaller units that are removed more easily during rinsing. Polyphosphates function as emulsifying agents and are employed widely in the formulation of alkaline detergents for use in brewery processing applications. Phosphates are divided broadly into two classes: the orthophosphates and the condensed or complex phosphates.


The most widely used of the orthophosphates is trisodium phosphate (TSP), which is a good soil remover and emulsifier. It is very effective in softening water by precipitation, producing an easily rinsed non-adherent precipitate. TSP is hard on the skin, so rubber gloves should be worn while using it.

Complex Phosphates

The complex phosphates used most widely in the formulation of detergent mixtures including tetrasodium pyrophosphate, sodium tripolyphosphate, sodium tetraphosphate, and sodium hexametaphosphate. All the complex phosphates, particularly sodium tripolyphosphate, have good synergistic properties in aiding the detergent in its cleaning action.

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