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Old 02-03-2013, 05:05 PM   #1
JPFuller
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Default Chicago Water

I have been using Bru'n Water for the past year and really like it a lot-Thanks Martin and AJ you guys have really helped me to start getting a grip on water-but I have a question about Chicago's most recent water report.

The reported Calcium is quite a bit higher than I have ever seen it before (46.3 mg/l) and with that value, I cannot get my cations and anions to agree.

Now, playing with the spreadsheet, if I reduce that level to a more typical one (34-36 mg/) I not only get the cations and anions to an acceptable range, but, Martin's predicted "total hardness" and the actual reported value are identical.

So my question is this, should I leave the Calcium level be (as reported) and just brew with an unbalanced profile, or, cheat and enter a more typical Calcium concentration, ignoring the reported one?

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Old 02-03-2013, 09:26 PM   #2
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Reported would be the actual number. What do you gain by pretending it is something else?

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Old 02-03-2013, 10:38 PM   #3
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If the report's hardness does not agree with the calculated Bru'n Water hardness when the reported Ca and Mg were input, then I'd have to say that the Ca concentration was probably incorrect. In addition, since Chi town gets their water from Lake M, it would take a LOT of calcium minerals added to the water to get the Ca concentration to change. If the historic value produces a reasonable ion balance, then I'd say that the most recent Ca concentration may be incorrect.

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Old 02-04-2013, 10:45 PM   #4
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Martin, a reporting error was what I was thinking too, which is why I was going to "pretend" that the Ca was actually a little closer to its historic value. As others have before me, please let me thank you for your tireless and patient responses to water questions on this and other forums. Bru'n water has helped me elevate my brewing, thanks--John

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Old 02-04-2013, 10:51 PM   #5
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Look to see if you can find a current Evanston water report. The source is the same but they do their own analysis. Not sure if they treat the water the same but that shouldn't change the mineral numbers.

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Old 02-04-2013, 11:03 PM   #6
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]Look to see if you can find a current Evanston water report. The source is the same but they do their own analysis. Not sure if they treat the water the same but that shouldn't change the mineral numbers.

Good idea, I will look, don't know if Evanston posts theirs or if they would mail a copy to me, but it would be a good way to double check Chicagos quarterly report.

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Old 02-05-2013, 03:23 AM   #7
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I had my water (Lake Michigan) analyzed by Ward Labs and had a calcium ppm number of 34. I'm sure it could change and I suppose I would welcome higher Ca numbers but it doesn't seem very realistic to think it went from 34 to 46. I also don't know if I would bother with Chicago's report when you must assume that Ward Labs' numbers are precise. When I was researching this, I remember something called the Northwest Water District which maintains all of our area's water and something about how they try to keep everything as consistent as possible. Please post back if you find that the numbers have changed and thanks for posting this.

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Old 02-05-2013, 01:31 PM   #8
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There are many reasons why a water report may not balance. Omission of an ion that carries appreciable charge is one. Error in measurement is another. Reporting of averages a third and reporting calcium measured on Tuesday and sulfate measured on Thursday is another. If you have a report that doesn't balance there isn't much you can do about it. If a report is badly balanced that tells you that you shouldn't put much reliance on it. In the case of the OP the poster chose to reduce the reported calcium in order to acheive better balance. He could have increased an anion(s) and gotten the same result. Unless there is justification for reducing calcium (such as the observation that this particular reading is out of line with the historical record) one may equally well fiddle with any of the numbers. But it is guessing.

I really doesn't matter unless you are trying to match a profile. If you have a water report that is balanced (or close to it) you can match a profile quite closely (1% for each ion concentration) in most cases (as long as the profile is balanced). To get that level of accuracy requires a balanced starting profile, a balanced target and, usually, the use of CO2 gas. Because the last factor is a nuisance most who try to match profiles wind up with much poorer matches. As recent thinking is that profile matching isn't that important anyway balance is not so significant except as a quality control indicator on the report.

Ward Labs indicates balance on their reports saving you the trouble of doing it. The problem is that they don't calculate carbonate correctly. I have no idea how they do it but it's plain they aren't doing it right because the pH dictates what the ratio of bicarbonate to carbonate shall be and their reports don't match that. This effects the balance numbers but as, fortunately, there is usually very little carbonate in our brewing water it isn't a factor that often.

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Old 02-05-2013, 02:34 PM   #9
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Homebrewers in Chicago are lucky in that Chicago reports their water quality, quarterly which is available on line.

I have begun to tailor my water to suit particular styles, and in the case of light lagers it has made a huge differance. In the particular instance I reported in my original post, the Ca value was not only unusual, but suspiciously so in that the numbers, '43' were the reverse of what I would of expected, '34' leading me to suspect a simple transposition error.

This theory appeared to have been confirmed when I was able to get Martin's calculator to come to agreement by replacing the reported with a more conventional value.

Hopefully, this thread can help other Chicago brewers attempting to alter thier water, I know that I have found water a bit daunting but with the help of guys like AJ and Martin, I think I am figuring it out (which means anyone can).

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Old 02-05-2013, 02:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPFuller View Post
Homebrewers in Chicago are lucky in that Chicago reports their water quality, quarterly which is available on line.

I have begun to tailor my water to suit particular styles, and in the case of light lagers it has made a huge differance. In the particular instance I reported in my original post, the Ca value was not only unusual, but suspiciously so in that the numbers, '43' were the reverse of what I would of expected, '34' leading me to suspect a simple transposition error.

This theory appeared to have been confirmed when I was able to get Martin's calculator to come to agreement by replacing the reported with a more conventional value.

Hopefully, this thread can help other Chicago brewers attempting to alter thier water, I know that I have found water a bit daunting but with the help of guys like AJ and Martin, I think I am figuring it out (which means anyone can).
I couldn't agree more and it's good to hear from other Chicago area brewers looking into water. I was just out at a brewpub with some of the local brewers last week and water dominated our conversations. I will say that other than the bicarbonate level, the rest of our water numbers are quite good. My path was clouded a little bit because I was picking up bulk "RO" water and diluting for pale-colored beers and my beers were not coming out much better. I finally decided to send some of that "RO" water to Ward Labs and found that it still had a TDS number of 68 and a bicarb number of 50 which is not right for RO water. So I will just dilute with distilled from now on. I'm making a West Coast Lager tomorrow where I will slightly knock down the bicarb level with a 25% dilution. Cheers!
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