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Old 12-31-2011, 01:37 PM   #1
HawkATP
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Default Adding brewing salts to sparge water

I've been using the Bru'n Water spreadsheet for my brews. My question is, I have been adding the recommended sparge additions of gypsum, CACL, and MGSO4 directly to the kettle instead of the sparge water. Should the sparge additions be mixed in with the sparge water before batch sparging or added to the boil kettle? Does it matter?

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Old 12-31-2011, 01:48 PM   #2
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I batch sparge too and only adjust my strike water for mashing. I may be flawed in my thinking but my reason for adjusting my water is to hit a specific mash PH. Once the mashing process has converted all the starch to sugar I don't worry about my sparge water. Now I do remove the chlorine from my sparge water, but that's it. Someone else may have better input from which we can both learn. But that's what has been working for me.

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Old 12-31-2011, 04:38 PM   #3
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Most breweries do not treat the sparge and mash water separately. Why would they go to extra effort (costing more money) if they didn't have to? If they treat the water at all they treat the whole volume and just brew with it. Similarly most don't make kettle additions if they don't have to.

I think it's the same in home brewing. If you don't have to treat separately, why bother with it?

So perhaps the better questions are "When do you have to treat sparge water separately?" and "When do you need to make additions to the kettle?" The obvious answer to the first question is "When pH rises too rapidly during sparge such that pH is above 6 before runoff extract is as low as desired." This would happen with alkaline water but if you have alkaline water you should be taking steps to reduce alkalinity for mashing so you shouldn't need to treat the sparge water separately. The usual method by which today's home brewer "decarbonates" water is by diluting it with low ion content water. If that's how you are doing it you could prepare your mash water with whatever dilution you need to get the alkalinity you want for mashing and then dilute whatever is left over further for sparging. Or just sparge with RO water. I think it preferable to make the sparge water as much like the mash water as you can as you presumably had stylistic considerations in mind when you came up with the mash water profile.

As to the second question: the answer would be essentially the same i.e. don't do anything unless the pH is too high. Very few home brewers even check kettle pH let alone adjust for it. As long as it is less than 5.2 (or perhaps even 5.3) everything should be fine. If it rises higher than that then some acid can be added.

Of course if one is doing something special, such a making a Gose extra salts, can be dosed into the kettle to get the desired flavor(s).

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Old 12-31-2011, 04:42 PM   #4
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Adding those minerals that are slated for the sparge water volume to either the HLT or directly to the kettle is fine. The sparge water ion profile doesn't really have an impact on the mash performance. You do want those minerals in your final wort in order to produce the desired water profile. Although it may be possible that some of those ions are getting tied up in the grist, it should not matter that much when they are added to your wort.

Of course, you should always make sure the pH and alkalinity of the sparge water is within recommended range.

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Old 12-31-2011, 06:57 PM   #5
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re: ajdelange

I would love to treat all my brewing water at once, but because I use a 15 gallon capacity hot liquor tank I have to fill it separately between the mash water and the sparge water. I think it would be a waste to have to heat all of that water just to let the sparge water cool off during the mash and have to reheat it. That's why I have separate treatments for the mash water and sparge water.

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Old 12-31-2011, 10:26 PM   #6
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There are lots of ways to skin the cat depending on equipment and technique. In my case the HLT is about 30" high so I dissolve all the salts in 60 cc of water and add 30 cc to the HLT initially. The mash water is drawn off as is water for temperature adjustment infusions, makeup for decoctions etc. As water for sparging etc is added to the HLT one cc of salt solution is added for each inch of water put into the tank. This may or may not work in your case but it works in mine.

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Old 12-31-2011, 11:49 PM   #7
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Thanks ajdelange, that makes a lot of sense about dissolving all the salts in a small volume prior to brewing and then adding them as needed. I have a ph of 9.4 in my local water, do you recommend adding lactic acid to the sparge water to bring that below 6.0?

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Old 01-01-2012, 04:50 AM   #8
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That depends on how you got to pH 9.6. If you took distilled water and added lime to it the alkalinity after adding enough to get to pH 9.4 would be 3.4 and you would definitely not need to acidify. But if you did what nature has most likely done (dissolve limestone with CO2) the alkalinity for pH 9.4 would be 206 and you would want to acidify if you sparged with that water. IOW it doesn't depend on the pH - it depends on the alkalinity.

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Old 01-01-2012, 04:36 PM   #9
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My tap water has a pH of 9.4, with a total alkalinity (CACO3) of 43, does that affect whether I acidify the sparge?

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Old 01-01-2012, 05:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HawkATP View Post
My tap water has a pH of 9.4, with a total alkalinity (CACO3) of 43, does that affect weather I acidify the sparge?
In my opinion, the alkalinity is just a little too high. The good thing is that the amount of acid needed to bring that down to a more appropriate alkalinity for sparging is quite small. I show less than 1/4 tsp of 88% lactic in 5 gallons of sparge water will bring the alkalinity to well under 20 ppm as CaCO3 and the pH will be around 6.

I consider sparge water alkalinity to be the primary goal and pH is secondary. That is why there isn't a definitive sparge water pH that brewers need to shoot for. Low alkalinity tap water like the OP's can target a sparge water pH in the 6 range to achieve an acceptably low sparge water alkalinity while a brewer with high alkalinity water might have to target a much lower pH (maybe 5.5) to produce an acceptably low sparge water alkalinity.

Bru'n Water has this calculation.
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