Sodium Metabisulfite vs OneStep

I just purchased my FIRST ever wine starter kit (Master Vintner). I am VERY confused as to when i should use sodium metabisulfite vs the OneStep. I went to the OneStep website which clearly states the product is not a sanitizer but can be used as one.

Do I use sodium metabisulfite to sterilize BEFORE i use my equipment?

Do I use the OneStep to clean my equipment AFTER using my wine equipment?

I intend to use wine bottles that I’ve saved. Do i clean them a few days before bottling with the OneStep, then on the day of bottling sterilize with the sodium metabisulfite?

Thanks in advance for the help and advice.

Someone will correct me when I’m wrong, but here’s my understanding:

OneStep is actually a cleaner similar to OxyClean, probably made out of the same stuff (sodium or calcium carbonate, probably). It’s a cleanser, not really a sanitizer. Now, if you’re starting with clean new equipment, then it might work fine to put your raw must or wort in there. But if you’re using old plastic buckets with scratches and stains, then OneStep might not be a very good “sanitizer” for you – it’s really not a lethal chemical, just a cleaner.

Sulfite on the other hand serves as a sanitizer, but is probably not a very good cleaner. It kills the wimpiest of bacteria and wild yeast, but it also doesn’t kill 100%, maybe only 95% or something like that, so you still shouldn’t rely on a “quick rinse with sulfite water” as your main source of cleaning and sanitizing. However it should be an effective sanitizer when used with clean equipment. At least, it gets things “sanitary enough” for most fermentations, assuming that you’ll be adding a lot of healthy yeast to your must or wort.

If you want the best of both worlds, something that can both clean and sanitize in one single step, and that doesn’t even need to be rinsed, then I know of nothing better out there than StarSan. It does both. No need to rinse. Don’t fear the foam. Don’t use too much, a little goes a long way. Use as directed. This is what I use.

Iodophor and bleach also do the job very well and can both clean and sanitize. The problem with these is that they need to be rinsed, and in the case of iodophor, it also stains everything it touches. I used bleach for a while but it’s smelly and doesn’t taste good if you don’t rinse all of it out. I never used iodophor and never will unless someone gave it to me free as it seems to be even more of a pain, but it should be every bit as effective as bleach.

That’s about all I know about all the so-called sanitizers.

That is a pretty good summary by Dave. Fo the old timers, Sulphite was always the go to sanitizer. But as he mentioned, it is not 100% effective, so up here in Canada most wine on premiss operations don’t use it anymore.

I don’t use StarSan myself, but it seems like it would be ideal when readily available.

I have access to a few different food grade (no rinse) sanitizers here - oxy-san, and vortex (industrial/ food grade).

I also have access to a cleaner call Aseptox (also a no rinse).

The main difference is that the sanitizers kill everything with much less contact time (light spay contact of 30 seconds). So ideal when getting out clean equipment.

The Aspetox will sanitize, but not as effectively as a spray on. You would have to fully clean with it. But it does lift out stans and dirt, whereas the sanitizers will not.

I use Star San to spray my stir spoons, rinse carboys, fermenters, bottles etc. Star San is not really a cleaner, its a sanitizer. Star San is a stone killer of everything, germs, fungus, spores, you name it. Once its diluted into the must it becomes food for the yeast. All the ingredients in Star San are safe and used in foods you eat. As they say do not fear the foam.

If your equipment is clean then there is nothing on it, therefor sterile.
I use One Step and also Clorox Oxi Magic which I believe is the same or similar to One Step.

For a stronger cleaner I also use PBW.

For information try this podcast

March 29, 2007 - Sanitizing with Bleach and Star San
Charlie Talley from Five Star Chemicals tells us best practices in using household bleach and Star San in sanitizing equipment.