All filters are essentially strainers, made up of very small, uniformly sized holes or pores. As wine passes through these pores, any solids in the wine which are larger than the specific pore size of the filter will not pass through and become trapped in the membrane. Eventually the build-up of the solids getting trapped in the filter become significant enough that the flow rate of the wine slows and eventually stops altogether. Depending on the amount and size of the solids in the wine, and how “tight” (small) the pores of the filter are, this loading of the filter may happen sooner, later, or not at all during your filtration. However, if and when the filter does clog, you will need to take steps to re-establish the flow. The most straightforward approach is to just throw-out the clogged filter and swap it out with a new one. With filtration set-ups that use pads (i.e.: a plate and frame), this is indeed your only option. However, because of their design, filtration set-ups using cartridges can be cleaned and reused. Cleaning a cartridge filter is an easy process that allows you to really get the most out of your investment. This manual will show you step-by-step just how to do this. Let’s begin by taking a look at what’s needed to get started.
To clean the filter we essentially run our filtration set-up just like we were doing for the wine, except now we will be running two different cleaning solutions through the filter. We will begin with “PBW”, and then finish with “SaniClean”.
PBW is a buffered alkaline cleaner that dissolves the organic solids (yeast, bacteria, pulp, protein, etc) that are responsible for clogging our filters. Once the solids are dissolved we can flush them out of the filter using our pump.
PBW has a soapy quality to it, so once it has done its’ job it needs to be completely removed before we can use the filter. Removing the PBW is done in two steps. First, we flush the filter with hot water until the water coming out no longer has a slippery feel to it. Then we neutralize any residual PBW remaining in the system with our acid-based, final rinse sanitizer “SaniClean”. Once the “SaniClean” has been run through the filter, the filter will be clean, sanitized, and ready to be used again.
Now that we have an idea of the steps needed to clean a cartridge, let’s take a closer look at how this all comes together.
To make the solution: fill a bucket or vessel with enough hot* water to fill the entire filtration circuit (the hoses, filter housing(s), and pump) and have about a gallon left over. Depending on the length of your hoses and how many filter housing you are using, a five gallon bucket may be all you need. Add 1 to 1.5 oz of PBW per gallon of water and stir to mix it in thoroughly. The solution is now ready to be used.
*Note about temp: While PBW can work as cool as 50 F, it works quicker and is more effective when heated. We recommend heating the water used to make the filter cleaning solution to around 125 F. The PBW can be used at even hotter temperatures, but the filter housing itself (FIL32) has a maximum temperature rating of 125 F. So, this becomes the highest temperature to which we can safely heat our cleaning solution.
Cleaning the filter in 4 steps:
1. Set-up the Filter to Soak: With our PBW prepared, we are now ready to clean the filter. To do so, we will run our filtering set-up just as when we were filtering wine. The only difference is that now we will be running cleaning solutions through the system instead of our wine. To begin, remove the hoses from the two vessels we were filtering to and from. If there is wine in the lines drain it out before starting to run the cleaning solution or you will dilute the PBW and lower its’ effectiveness. Place the “inlet” hose (the end that draws into the pump) into the bucket of cleaning solution. Place the “outlet” hose (the end coming out of the filter) into a second, empty bucket. This second bucket will serve as a temporary “catch” bucket (or you could direct the “outlet” hose directly into a drain if available). Turn on the pump and start to run the PBW cleaning solution through the system (note: depending on how clogged the filter is this may take a few moments). Once the PBW has made it through the filter and just starts to flow out of the output hose, shut off the pump and place the output hose into the PBW bucket. At this point you will have both hose ends in the PBW bucket. Allow the filter to soak in the PBW for the next 30 min. Discard the liquid in the “catch” bucket.
2. Purge the Filter: After the filter has soaked in the hot PBW for 30 min, the organic solids will have dissolved and can now be purged out of the filter. This is done by re-circulating the hot PBW though the filter set-up. Luckily, since we ended-up with both ends of the filter hoses in the PBW bucket at the end of the previous soaking stage, all we need to do is just turn the pump on. Note: Adjust the output of the pump so that the flow rate is slow and gentle. Force and speed of the liquid through the filter are not important during the purging stage, only that the filter is in constant contact with the PBW under a gentle pressure. Continue to re-circulate the PBW through the filtration set-up for 30 min.
Helpful hint: Be careful that the “input” hose doesn’t become stuck on the bottom of the bucket as a result of the suction created by the pump!
3. Rinse Out the Filter with Hot Water: At the end of the 30 min purging cycle, turn the pump off. Now we need to rinse the PBW from the filtration set-up with hot water. Fill an empty bucket with hot water (remember, no hotter than 125 F). Lift the “inlet” hose above the surface of the PBW solution and let the liquid that runs out of the line drain back into the PBW bucket. Once empty, place the “inlet” hose into the bucket of hot water. Lift the “outlet” hose above the surface of the PBW solution and let the liquid that runs out of the line drain back into the PBW bucket. Once empty, place the “outlet” hose into a drain or another bucket. Turn your pump on and run the hot water through the filter set-up. Continue running hot water through the set-up until the water no longer has a slippery feel to it when you rub your fingers together. Note: this may take more than one bucket of water to accomplish!
4. Do a Final Acid Rinse with SaniClean: Once the water coming out of the “outlet” hose runs clean, there may still be residual amounts of PBW in the filtration system. In order to make sure we have removed all of it, our final step involves running an acid-based
solution through our filter. The acid in the solution will both neutralize the PBW (which is a base) and will sanitize the filter at the same time:
Fill the bucket we used to hold the hot water in the previous step. Fill it to the 5 gallon mark. Add 2 oz of “SaniClean” (CL27) and stir to mix it thoroughly. Turn your pump on and slowly run the entire 5 gallons through your filter. Congratulations, the filter is now cleaned, sanitized and ready to keep filtering!
Storing filter cartridges:
When you are done filtering, cartridges should be cleaned and then properly stored for their next use. The best way to store cartridges is to keep them submerged in cheap Vodka! You can use the filter housing itself as a holding vessel, but you will need to plug the two inlets with ½” Stainless steel plugs (H633). If you are storing more than one filter cartridge, glass or PVC tubing will also work (when working with PVC, however, avoid using “PVC cement” to seal the end caps as this is not food-grade and can leach into your filter (and therefore your wine) over time).
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