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Doctor_Wily 11-25-2012 05:07 AM

chloramine in water (water quality report attached)
Greetings great brew science folks, I have a question I hope you can help me with.

For my beer I have been buying bottled water because my sink water doesn't taste so great. The issue is that buying bottled water every brew day is getting kinda pricey and inconvenient. Also the city uses chrloramine to treat the water and it's my understanding that this can result in some off flavors.

I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to improve my tap water to be brew worthy. I've heard mixed reports on charcoal filters being able to clear things like chloramine. I'm including a link to my water quality report below:


Thanks for taking a look I really appreciate your time!

edds5p0 11-25-2012 06:33 AM

As far as I know, as long as your chloramines are below 3 ppm, you should be alright. Mine is about as yours and I've never had my issues.

DeafSmith 11-25-2012 07:13 AM

Campden tablets - 1 tablet per 20 gallons of brew water. Crush tablet, add to water, stir, done. That'll get rid of the chloramine. To change the mineral balance, take a look at this thread:

ajdelange 11-25-2012 03:44 PM


Originally Posted by edds5p0 (Post 4618888)
As far as I know, as long as your chloramines are below 3 ppm, you should be alright. Mine is about as yours and I've never had my issues.

Bad advice! Chloramine at that level is disastrous.

Do go to the Stickies and do read the Primer but more to the point read the Sticky on Campden tablets first.

mabrungard 11-25-2012 03:59 PM

Most municipal water supplies are going to have a chlorine or chloramine residual in the water delivered to your home that is somewhere around 2 ppm. As AJ mentions, that is more than enough to defect your beer.

The detectable chlorophenol level in beer is on the order of 10 parts per BILLION (ppb), so you would need to remove the precursor chlorinated compounds from the water prior to introducing the malt. PS: 1 ppm is 1000 ppb. Be sure to remove all chlorinated compounds in water before mashing. Filtering water slowly through an activated carbon filter will remove chlorine, but the flow rate has to be ridiculously slow to remove chloramine. Treating water with metabisulfite (campden) will remove either chlorine or chloramine from water.

Doctor_Wily 11-26-2012 04:40 AM

Thank you so much to everyone that answered. I'm happy to hear campden tabs are my solution since they look to be pretty cheap. I'll do my next brew using my tap and a portion of a tablet.

I really appreciate it!

ajdelange 11-26-2012 11:12 AM

Campden tablets are the solution to your chloramine problem but if your water is heavy laden with alkalinity, sodium, sulfate or magnesium you may have other problems to deal with as well.
The report you attached does not list any of the ions that brewers are concerned with (though data on a missing page 3 is referred to on page 2). It may be simplest to send a sample to Ward Labs. For a few $ they will do the tests of major interest to brewers.

Wynne-R 11-26-2012 12:27 PM

OK, could somebody calculate how much chloramine tapwater it takes to wreck a batch? I’m guessing 10-20 mL, but I don’t know the chemistry. Given 2 ppm chloramine, how much tapwater to hit 10 ppb chlorophenol in a five gallon batch?

Follow up question, how do you get taste thresholds? Is it an average or a minimum or what? Some people are way more sensitive to phenols.

ajdelange 11-26-2012 01:17 PM

That very much depends on a host of things. You can often get away with brewing at high cloramine leveles for quite some time and then all of a sudden you get hit. Remember that it is a chorinated phenolic that ruins the beer not chloramine and there are lots and lots of phenols available depending on what may be in the water, what's in the grain, how effectively the phenols are extracted from the grain, how much chloramine may have escaped from the water and whether conditions for reaction of chlorine and phenol are 'favorable' for chlorphenolic formation. It's probably safe to say that if you grind your grain (and hence husks) to powder and sparge with very hot water at high pH your chances of chlorphenolics with highly chloraminated water are better than if you used less chlroaminated water and treated the grains more gently but I wouldn't want to go beyond that. As chloramine is so easily dealt with it just makes sense to treat for it if you have it rather than try to predict whether you will get away without treating for it.

As to detection thresholds: note that Martin said 'detectable chlorophenol level in beer is on the order of 10 ppb'. This is not a very precise specification nor is it intended to be. Values of 1 to 100 ppb are within 1 order of magnitude (and thus on the order of) 10 ppb because their logs differ from log(10) by 1. Thus detectability is quite variable depending on the particular chlorphenolic, the matrix (beer) and the taster.

How do you get taste thresholds? By having panels taste. What they taste depends on what you are looking for. To determine a taste threshold for salt, for example, you could prepare a solution of a given concentration and present it to a panel to see how many detect the salt. This is often done by presenting triplets of cups to each panel member. At least one, but not more than 2, of the three cups will contain the salted water and the other(s) plain water. The panelists are asked to declare which of their three cups is different from the other 2 and to tell whether the different one tastes salty or not. The results are scored and the results tablulated in the form 'x% of panelists were able to detect y mg/L NaCl at the z% confidence level' with the confidence level being the probability that x% could have been arrived at by coin flipping. The investigators have flexibility in what they want to call 'detectable'. If 5 out of 20 panelists identify the different cup correctly then you probably wouldn't call y mg/L detectable because the probability that they were coin tossing (panelists are told they must pick one of the three cups as different) is 85%. If, OTOH, 14 picked the different cup correctly, you probably would call y mg/L detectable because the probability that 14 out of 20 coin tossers would get it right is 0.08%.

If you got 5 out of 20 the obvious next step would be to repeat the test with 1.5*y or 2*y or some other multiple of the original concentration. Suppose you pick 2*y mg/L and now get 14 out of 20. You are now pretty sure that 2*y is above the threshold and that y isn't. Thus the threshold must be between y and 2*y but where? You could now try 1.5*y.....

As you can see you can wind up doing a whole lot of testing and still not come up with a solid number. If you consider the problem of trying to determine the MLD for a drug or poison you will appreciate that investigators have evolved techniques for minimizing the number of tests required but even so a hard and fast number is difficult to come up with. That's why it's 'order of 10 ppb' or 'at ppb levels'.

Wynne-R 11-26-2012 02:53 PM

That non-answer is actually very helpful. It explains how some people have no problems with untreated tapwater and others get it from tiny amounts. Apparently the chlorine and the phenols are in a love/ hate relationship. I imagine chloramine would be quite a bit more contrary than free chlorine.

We have had a couple of people in the forum with mysterious astringency and it turns out they were using tapwater in their sanitizer. I suggested they use RO and they quit posting. I assume that means their problem was solved.

How many sigmas out is that? By that I mean is it at all likely to get astringency from a few mL of chloraminated water?

I see the taste thresholds are another durn Gaussian thing. When Martin said “on the order of” he didn’t mean ‘about.’

I’m going to have to study probability if I’m going to try to keep up with AJ. Then I can start peppering my speech with qualifiers like ‘mostly’ and ‘probably.’ ‘Virtually’ is a personal favorite.

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