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Old 07-02-2013, 01:23 AM   #1
dan6310
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Default Another water report - Comments welcomed

Here is my Ward Labs water report.
The water sample was taken after a new carbon filter was installed and that was allowed to run for 15 minutes before the sample was taken.
Any comments or suggestion welcome.
PH -7.4
TDS - 242
Cations / Anions, me/L - 3.8 / 3.7

Sodium, Na -39
Potassium, K - 36
Calcium, Ca - 15
Magnesium, Mg - 2
Total Hardness, CaCO3 - 58
Nitrate, NO3-N - 0.3
Sulfate, SO4-S - 4
Chloride, CI - 71
Carbonate, CO3 - <1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 - 85
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 - 70
Total Phosphorus, P - 0.76
Total Iron, Fe - 1.25

One thing I noticed was the Chloride was still fairly high.
For the last 3 brews (English Bitter, Milk Stout and Belgium Wit) I have been using Palmers spreadsheet to formulate the necessary additions. The results were no better or worse to no adjustments at all. All good but not outstanding.
This past weekend I tried Brun Water on an IPA. I have a couple of weeks to see if that turns out any better.
I will add that I diluted my water with 50% DI water for all of the brews and used Lactic acid to drop the PH into range (5.3-5.5).
I do have a PH meter - HM PH-200 that I use.

One thing I find interesting is that I cannot obtain the similar addition requirements between several calculators. I ran the IPA thru Brun Water, Palmer's spreadsheet, EZ water calculator and Kaiser water calculator. All of them give different addition requirements.

After reading the Brewing Water Primer, I plan on starting from scratch on my next brew, a Cream Ale.
First, I will use campden tablet on my water to bring down the chlorine. I'm not sure why the filter didn't do better in dropping this lower. Without the filter the water doesn't smell or taste of chlorine.
Next I will dilute my water by 50% with DI water, per the primer.
For this Cream Ale I will add 1/2 tsp. of calcium chloride and add lactic acid to adjust the PH. I'm not sure how much to add just yet.

Does this sound like a reasonable approach? Any thing to change or add?
Thanks for all the help.
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Old 07-02-2013, 01:28 PM   #2
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The elephant in the room is the iron which is about 4 times the EPA SMCL (maximum recommended limit from an aesthetic, not a health, POV) and 12.5 times the suggested limit for brewing water. Does the water taste of it? I would expect it to at that level and I'd also expect that sinks, toilets, shower heads and perhaps even laundry would be showing brown/orange stains. You will want to do something about this not only for your brewing but because of the other problems in the household as well. There are several approaches to iron removal. You should consult a plumbing supply or well operator in your area to see what they are. For the relatively small quantities of water you need for brewing you can aerate as by splashing, spraying through a shower head or nozzle etc. and then filtering through clean play sand (which you can backwash and re-use). Whole house units involve softeners (which you don't want as they remove all the calcium (of which you don't have much) and replace it with sodium of which you already have quite a bit, and special devices designed to remove iron. These are often based on greensand charged with potassium permanganate.

The chloride is good for most beers but there is a potential problem in that you will want to supplement calcium in lots of cases and often calcium chloride is the best way to do that but if you do then you are pushing the chloride pretty high. Also, if you don't like the mouthfeel and sweetness boosts that come with chloride you may already be in trouble. You can, of course, supplement calcium with gypsum and if you like sulfate's effects then you are in good shape. If you don't then you are in trouble.

Running this water through an RO system will eliminate the iron and everything else and solve all your problems. Dilution 1:1, as you did in the brew last weekend will only drop the iron in half (i.e. to 0.625) which is still way to high. A dilution of 9:1 or more would be required to get it to 0.125 or lower in which case you might as well use straight RO water.This may be the way to go for brewing. A whole house system is not practical because you'd have to replumb with PEX and it would, even without the plumbing, be more expensive than an iron removal unit.

Your comments about chlorine lead me to believe that you are confusing chloride ion and chlorine/chloramine. Activated carbon will reduce chlorine/chloramine (as will Campden tablets) but not chloride ion. If you can't smell chlorine then generally chorine and chloramine have been reduced sufficiently. It would probably be a good idea to check the chlorine level using a test kit which you can get from Hach or an aquarium supply store. Be sure to get one that tests for total and free chlorine if your supplier uses chloramine. If you can confirm that no chloramine is being used then simply heating the water in the HLT or letting it stand over night is sufficient to remove it.

As to your comment about the different calculators giving you different answers: this should tell you something. They give you different answers because they use different models. As none of them (AFAIK) ask you for the pre-treatment or post treatment water pH then none of them can be correct as the water chemistry depends on pH. This doesn't mean that they are way wrong because within the bounds of normally encountered pH certain approximations can be made. These remarks only apply where bicarbonate or carbonate are involved. If you enter data on DI water and other salts they all should give you the same answer. If you are referring to pH prediction that is a whole new ballgame which requires modeling of malt buffering which none of the calculators do accurately because they can't possibly have the data on the actual lot numbers of the malts you are using. The calculators are still useful as planning and learning tools.

The passage of the water through a carbon filter will remove musty flavors and aromas and some of the chlorine and chloramine but none of the dissolved inorganics.

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Old 07-02-2013, 02:56 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input AJ.
Your one of the experts in this area that I respect your comments.
I would add that this is town water that is from town wells.
I didn't realize the iron levels were too high. I will take your recommendation and look into this. Yes, I do see from time to time the brown/orange stains.
I think for my future brews I will use 100% DI water and adjust accordingly and investigate installing a RO system.
For the chloride issue, I am confusing the chloride and chlorine/chloramine. I've read a lot on the water science lately and need to take a break and let it all sink in.

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Old 07-02-2013, 07:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
As none of them (AFAIK) ask you for the pre-treatment or post treatment water pH then none of them can be correct as the water chemistry depends on pH.
Kai’s does.

http://www.brewersfriend.com/mash-ch...er-calculator/
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Old 07-03-2013, 01:23 PM   #5
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Well I didn't know that. The point being that they all make approximations and assumptions (including mine) which means none of them can be correct. The other point is that any of them may be 'correct' enough (close enough for government work as we say in Washington) for the intended purpose

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Old 07-09-2013, 02:51 PM   #6
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I'd like to piggyback (and hopefully not highjack) onto this discussion. Our water supplier (Western Virginia Water Authority) has been kind enough to create a water page for homebrewers. My water supply contains the following: pH 7.8, Na 3.36, Cl 5.93, alkalinity as CaCO3 122, Ca hardness as CaCO3 82, Mg hardness as CaCO3 (by their calculation) 57, and sulfate is 2.77 . How am I looking? Is my alkalinity high? Can/should I treat that with acid(s)? Where do I find out how much calcium I have, from the Ca hardness? From what I understand 50 ppm is a good level to start at. I'm really only interested in my mash/sparge pH's and calcium level. Just ordered my first pH meter (Phep 5) and will be experimenting with that on my next beer. I do carbon filter my water and add a Camden tablet the night before, or the morning of while heating my H2O.

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Old 07-09-2013, 02:56 PM   #7
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The real elephant in the room is that these reports are not useful. They represent a snapshot in time of dynamic values.

The differences in these values between seasons and the different water sources your municipality uses, can be very large.

Even if you are on a well you will have some variation in the ion concentrations.

IMO its a waste of time to try and adjust water unless you have a known starting point, distilled or RO water.

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Old 07-09-2013, 03:15 PM   #8
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We get our water from the same location (Crystl Spring) and get twice yearly reports. Looking back there is minimal difference between the current report and the previous. Like I said I am really only concerned with my calcium level and pH in mash and sparse.

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Old 07-09-2013, 04:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Summy View Post
We get our water from the same location (Crystl Spring) and get twice yearly reports. Looking back there is minimal difference between the current report and the previous. Like I said I am really only concerned with my calcium level and pH in mash and sparse.
That's great and atypical from my experience and others I know.

I would still be leery of the reliability of those numbers during times of heavy rainfall though.
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Old 07-09-2013, 04:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Summy View Post
I'd like to piggyback (and hopefully not highjack) onto this discussion. Our water supplier (Western Virginia Water Authority) has been kind enough to create a water page for homebrewers.
Must be a closet home brewer hidden on the staff some where. I've never heard of this being done before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Summy View Post
My water supply contains the following: pH 7.8, Na 3.36, Cl 5.93, alkalinity as CaCO3 122, Ca hardness as CaCO3 82, Mg hardness as CaCO3 (by their calculation) 57, and sulfate is 2.77 . How am I looking? Is my alkalinity high?
Yes, a bit.

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Originally Posted by Summy View Post
Can/should I treat that with acid(s)?
Yes, but that's the answer I'd give even if you didn't provide any water data. Most beers with most waters require some acid. The exceptions are, of course, those brewed with low alkalinity water (say less than 50) that contain acidic specialty malts in quantity. The other way to dispose of alkalinity is to dilute down with low or 0 alkalinity water. It would take 4:1 dilution to get your alkalinity down to 24; 3:1 would give you 30 and 2:1. 40.


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Where do I find out how much calcium I have, from the Ca hardness?
Yes. Divide the hardness number by 50 and multiply by 20. Your calcium ion concentration is about 32 mg/L.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Summy View Post
From what I understand 50 ppm is a good level to start at. I'm really only interested in my mash/sparge pH's and calcium level.
Fifty is by no means a solid minimum requirement. Lots of very good beers are brewed with less than that and for some beers low mineral content is an important part of the style. Calcium does lots of good things for beer so sometimes it is a trade between, for example, having to lager longer to allow a lower calcium level.

Calcium does lower pH but not that effectively compared to added acid.

If you dilute to lower alkalinity you will also dilute calcium and everything else including the already low chloride and sulfate. Some supplementation of at least the chloride will be deemed beneficial by most and many will want enhanced sulfate as well depending on personal taste and the style of beer being brewed. As the calcium salt will be used for either calcium will be augmented regardless of which of the two or both you choose.
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