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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > Found my water report, is it enough?
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:45 AM   #1
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Default Found my water report, is it enough?

I finally found my local artesian well report on-line, but reading through it, it seems there are some things missing: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4l9...zRj/edit?hl=en

It lists:
Nitrate-N .42 mg/L
Fluoride .13 mg/L
Chloride 3.6 mg/L
Sulphate 9.5 mg/L
Zinc .007 mg/L
Sodium 6.29 mg/L
Hardness (calcium carb) 164 uS/cm

Everything else is either none detected, or just not there.

Is this enough info to enter into Brewater?
Would it be better to just get a specific report from Ward?

I travel about 5 miles to get this water for free, but I also have access to RO water right here at my house... I just figured building up water from scratch would be more difficult than adjusting spring water.

Thanks for any help/opinion on which route to go.

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Old 12-29-2012, 02:20 PM   #2
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Your eyes crossed and you picked up the conductivity rather than the hardness which is 65.8 mg/L.

You want to know the individual calcium and magnesium hardnesses. Assuming calcium hardness is 60% of the total which is not an unreasonable assumption but is certainly not guaranteed to be the case you would have 15.8 mg/L calcium and 6.4 mg/L magnesium. You also want to know the alkalinity which we can estimate at 66 based on the other ions but that is also just an estimate. These estimates are doubtless good enough to feed into a spreadsheet.

Building up water from scratch is always easier than modifying spring water because scratch water (low ion water) is just spring water with nothing in it. This means you don't have to take what is in the water initially into consideration - it's always 0 on every ion. In this particular case the alkalinity is high enough that it can cause problems with some beers. You would have to either dilute with low mineral water or add acid to control this before going on to augment the sulfate, chloride and calcium. With pure water you can leave out the dilution and acid addition steps.

If you have access to food grade sulfuric and hydrochloric acids you can simultaneously dispose of alkalinity and augment sulfate/chloride but FCC grades of these chemicals are astronomically expensive and hard for a home brewer to obtain (not to mention that you can do yourself a mischief with these if you don't handle them properly). And you'd still need to do calcium supplementation. So I still think it's just simpler to add a bit of calcium sulfate, calcium chloride and calcium hydroxide (if needed) to low ion water than it is to adjust existing water.

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Old 12-29-2012, 06:05 PM   #3
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Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. Building up the RO water sounds like the way to go for many reasons.
So to be clear, I would build up water for mashing, but sparge with straight RO water?

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Old 12-29-2012, 07:27 PM   #4
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You can always sparge with RO water if you want to but it might be simpler for you to treat the entire volume of brew water the same way and do it at the same time (if you have an HLT big enough to hold the entire volume of water). It really depends on what you are brewing and how you go about brewing it. What you do not want to do is let runoff pH rise high enough that tannins are extracted from the grain husks. With RO water to which you have added no alkali that's not a problem. It's really not much of a problem in any case as a bit of lagering will allow the polyphenols to complex and drop out but if you want to minimize conditioning time it is something to be aware of.

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Old 12-29-2012, 07:44 PM   #5
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This is from a Sand and Gravel aquifer, so I'm surprised to see the hardness as high as reported. I'm not sure that the Seattle area has carbonate formations in their geology, but the result suggests they do. The calcium or magnesium content is only a result of the geology, so there is no way to make a meaningful or useful estimate of the contributing ions.

While I would prefer food-grade acids, it appears that ACS Reagent grade acids would be suitable for brewing use. These meet American Chemical Society standards for purity and represent the highest purity available. The thing that is missing is the certification that they are indeed pure and free from dangerous impurities. I won't recommend acids with this purity standard, but they are the best that you can get. There are plenty of places that sell this grade of acid for reasonable cost. The average homebrewers only need a teeny quantity of these acids since they are typically at high concentration. Add to the fact that hydrochloric and sulfuric acids are quite dangerous to handle and it should be apparent that only the most savvy and capable brewers should consider their use.

In the case of the OP's water, there is no reason not to use Lactic acid for all alkalinity neutralization. The alkalinity is quite low and the amount of acid needed is low. The benefit of using those mineral acids mentioned above is quite minor given the potentially increased hazard.

That artesian water is quite suitable for brewing. I would supplement the water report with one performed for the brewer. Ward Labs is a good choice.

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Old 12-29-2012, 08:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
This is from a Sand and Gravel aquifer, so I'm surprised to see the hardness as high as reported. I'm not sure that the Seattle area has carbonate formations in their geology, but the result suggests they do. The calcium or magnesium content is only a result of the geology, so there is no way to make a meaningful or useful estimate of the contributing ions.
I'd guess (and it would be no more than that) that the utility has added some hardness and alkalinity to raise the saturation index to its current value (based on my 60/40 guess) of -0.33 (undersaturated) WRT CaCO3 in order to protect their distribution system. Halve the alkalinity and hardness numbers and that increases to 0.92 undersaturated. Halve them again (getting closer to my general impressions of what water in that region is like) and you are undersaturated by 1.53.

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.. The thing that is missing is the certification that they are indeed pure and free from dangerous impurities.
The thing that is missing is the certification that they are handled and packaged in a facility inspected and approved for the packaging of food (FCC) or drug (NF) products. If you check assays in catalogues you will find them about the same. For example, sodium hydroxide is made using a mercury cathode in an electrolysis cell. You might, therefore, expect some Hg in sodium hyrdoxide and there is: about 0.1 mg/Kg in both ACS and FCC. OTOH ACS grade sulfuric acid contains less arsenic and heavy metals than FCC and NF grades.
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Old 12-30-2012, 03:54 AM   #7
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Thanks for the responses. Some background of this water...
It was originally tapped for use as supplied water for the entire city. This is well #5 of six.
The well taps an aquifer that is approximately 250' deep.
As the city grew, water demands couldn't keep up, so the aquifer was abandoned, and all the well heads were capped with exception of this one, which freely flows from a pipe at a kiosk at a rate of 10 gallons per minute. It is made available to the public for those that prefer un-chlorinated, and un-fluoridated water. The water is not treated in any way.

As for my system and styles, I brew mostly light to medium ales, some hoppy IPA's, and some darker amber ales.
I use a direct fired mash tun, and I do have a pretty significant HLT, so I could batch all my water.

I just spent the day cleaning and going through my RO system... I have a home anodizing system to go along with my aluminum machining projects (thus the reason for large amounts of RO water) . I have a 40 gallon tank full of dilute sulfuric acid, so I am familiar with acid use (Always Add Acid... the 3 "A's") and safety protocol. No, I won't be using battery acid for brewing.
None the less, at least for tomorrow's brew, I will be building up from RO water.

I'm thinking a simple addition of 4g gypsum, and 6g calcium chloride could be a good starting point. Brewers friend calcs the mash ph will be 5.71. Should I think about lowering that with a bit of lactic acid? Thoughts on those water additions?

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Old 12-30-2012, 03:42 PM   #8
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That mash pH prediction is only valid in limited circumstances. I can't help but recommend you find better software to assist you with your brewing water calculations.

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Old 12-30-2012, 04:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acidrain View Post
I'm thinking a simple addition of 4g gypsum, and 6g calcium chloride could be a good starting point. Brewers friend calcs the mash ph will be 5.71. Should I think about lowering that with a bit of lactic acid? Thoughts on those water additions?
You don't say how much water you are treating or what your grist bill is like so it's hard to comment. You will need some acid for most beers.

Given the usual 5 gal, typical pale ale malt as a base, and reasonable amounts of flavor malts (crystal) 10 grams of added salts seems a lot. Don't rely on calcium to set mash pH. It does have an effect but acid is really required to do the job. I'd start with 2 g gypsum and 3 g calcium chloride and use 2% sauermalz based on the thinking that 5.7 is a reasonable pH to expect (under the assumptions I made) with the alkalinity you have and the added calcium. Each % sauermalz lowers pH by approximately 0.1. You can use lactic or another acid for this job. The main advantage of sauermalz comes through the 0.1pH/% rule which makes it easy to figure out what to do and do it.

It would really be best if you made a test mash with a pound of grist and a quart or so of water and measured the pH adjusting the acid or sauermalz to hit 5.4 - 5.6.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
It would really be best if you made a test mash with a pound of grist and a quart or so of water and measured the pH adjusting the acid or sauermalz to hit 5.4 - 5.6.
Excellent idea... this I will do.

BTW, 6 gallon batch, about 9 gallons total water use for this batch.
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