How should I sterilize or clean glass bottles for storing e-liquid
I am only a DIY’er in the sense that I mix American eLiquid Store’s 100% VG (30%), with their same flavor/nic of 100% PG (70%) because they have huge sales on 100% VG only. So, I’ve got all the different sized graduated cylinders, blunt-tipped needle top plastic bottles, etc. They recommend refrigeration only (not freezing) their juices, for extended storage up to two years. I’ve got a fairly large stash now in my fridge, bought a large amount of various blue cobalt glass bottles of various sizes from Specialty Bottle a while back and am now ready to begin the transition into the glass for storage.
My question is: what is the best way to sterilize them? I bought various sizes/shapes of all different kinds of cleaning brushes from Amazon, but have heard mixed opinions in here (washing twice, etc.). Specialty bottle does not have any thing on their website about sterilization. So I just got off the phone with Specialty Bottle and the nice woman who answered explained to me the following:
- Their bottles have not been sterilized in any way before they’re shipped. Furthermore, she explained that they’ve been sitting in cardboard cartons in their warehouse, which is not a sterile environment, and most likely have accumulated dust particles in them.
- It depends on how you intend to use them. So I explained that I’m using them for storing electronic cigarette e-liquid, to which she didn’t have any specific answer for that application.
- She said the bottles can withstand up to 90 degrees above room temperature, and that of course boiling them would be much hotter than that, and that they couldn’t guarantee that the bottles wouldn’t shatter.
- She suggested researching how to sterilize them properly. A simple quick search of sterilizing amber medicine bottles yielded very little. A search for sterilizing canning jars seems to point to boiling (no good).
Does anyone have any suggestion or insight here, as to how we can do this? If we really need to do this? If not (or just as a pre-step to sterilization), I’m fully equip to begin a rigorous washing regimen on them.
Any help with this question would be greatly appreciated, as I’m trying to get that task done today!
EDIT: additional email reply from Specialty Bottle regarding my inquiry:
Thank you for your email. The bottles are washed after the manufacturing processes however when they are packed up and shipped, they are subject to dust and debris. You may want to wash the bottles after you receive them. The bottles are dishwasher safe however the caps are not. you may want to wash those by hand.
Please let us know how else we can help you today"
Again, all suggestions welcome!
Last edited by JuiceHound; 02-25-2013 at 08:44 PM.
Cherrycakes and Norman Clature,
Thank you for all the great suggestions, I just got done doing just that:
- Using a splash of bleach with liquid dish detergent in a dishpan with hot water (I put as many bottles and caps in the pan as would fit, to give them max soaking time).
- Scrubbing each one with a special brush (see below).
- Painstakingly rinsing each one out several times with cold water in the opposite sink basin (as Norman says, it's the hardest part and takes the longest) until all the little tiny bubbles are all gone!...lol
- Placed each one on a separate spline in the dishwasher racks for drying.
- Used the basket in the dishwasher that's used for your silverware, to rinse and hold all the caps. You can go in there and pick the basket up and give a good shake now and then to speed up the drying process!
For brushes, I found two that really did the trick:
For the 1 oz, and the 2 oz sizes, the 3” size from this brush set worked great, it just takes a little slow pushing to get the cotton head in and out:
Amazon.com: Casabella 20530 Soft Tip Brushes, Set of 3: Home & Kitchen
And for the 4 oz bottles, just use the 4” size one from the same set. Same deal, just gotta be patient and push slowly… the necks of the bottles won’t break.
And you can just use the cotton tip of one of those brushes, to clean each cap fairly easily.
As an aside, I found this brush to be absolutely the bomb for two of my graduated cylinders:
Amazon.com: Extra-Soft Tube Bottle Brush - 1 Inch Diameter - Choose 9 or 16 In. Length Length: 9 in.: Home & Kitchen
Originally, they only had the 9” one, with no option to choose the 16” one. I went back and forth with FixFind, they said they’ll have their IT guy look at it, and I just checked and now it looks like you can indeed choose between the two sizes. I’ll have to go back and order the 16” one right away for my 100ml graduate cylinder! EDIT: ordered!
And for labels, I tried the shrink bands that Specialty Bottle sells for sealing the caps, ordering the closest sizes that would fit over the bottle, put my label card underneath, tried shrinking them with a heat gun, to no avail, so that didn't work.
Now, I've got some Avery labels for my color laser jet printer, that are weather proof, so as soon as I get the time, I'll print some of those out, to mark the flavor/date, etc. on them. Then it shouldn't be that hard to replace the labels when I need to reuse the bottles. Otherwise the 'industrial' style Sharpie should work great to just change the date on them, should I try to reuse them. That is if the weatherproof labels make it through a washing!
Last edited by JuiceHound; 02-25-2013 at 11:28 PM.
These all sound like good ways to do this. I myself would use Amazon.com: National Chemical Keg Beer Line Cleaner for Kegerators 32 oz Bottle: Kitchen & Dining to get the job done. I have it in my house already to serve draft beer from my kegerator & it is the best for sanitizing without any traces of off flavor left behind. I use it to sanitize my bottles before bottling beer as well & it works wonders.
Thanks, Cyprus! I knew some of this stuff would cross over into the homebrew DIY!!! I used to do that stuff back in the day. If nothing else, the automatic bottle cleaners that beer bottlers use, that attaches to your kitchen sink spigot are unmatched for rinsing!! I'll have to check out that cleaner for sure.
Originally Posted by Cyprus
I use Diversey J-512 for all sorts of stuff like this. Works well for sanitizing kids toys... Which is what originally got me using it.
Originally Posted by GunnyGlow
Thanks for that tip as well, GunnyGlow, the Diversey product looks like it would fit the bill, too!
More from a homebrewer- you can use Star San too.
Oh ya...those are great too!
Originally Posted by JuiceHound
I haven't used it personally but my local brew shop sells it & I trust the owners there in their judgement. Local brewing is big here.
Originally Posted by skoot
Just wanted to clarify some terminology here. First, there are two levels of "cleanliness" - sanitized and sterilized. It is highly unlikely that you will ever need, or be able to achieve, sterilization. Sanitization is all that is needed. Sterilizing means that all bacteria, mold, etc. is reduced to water and carbon dioxide; sanitizing means killing most of them.
Now, to properly sanitize equipment, you need to go through two steps. First is cleaning- this removes any built-up debris, such as dried liquid, mold, whatever. For homebrewing, I use a scoop of Sun oxygen cleaner (Walmart has it, very cheap) dissolved in a gallon of hot tap water. I give everything an overnight soak, then rinse. This step is required because sanitizer will not remove residue, and therefore not be able to sanitize underneath it.
After that, I use Star San, applied with a spray bottle (get a chemical resistant one at Home Depot, Star San is acidic and will eventually destroy cheap spray bottles). Star San only needs a few minutes of contact time to sanitize. Star San is technically a no-rinse product- beer can be poured right on top of it with no effect on taste, pH, etc. I do not know how it would effect e juice. I'd recommend rinsing the bottles with hot tap water and allow them to dry.
This rinsing step could potentially contaminate the bottles, but it's unlikely.