The Great Bottle Opener Giveaway

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > High Alkalinity

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 09-12-2013, 07:52 PM   #1
Wallonia
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: , Belgium
Posts: 5
Likes Given: 1

Default High Alkalinity

My water is very high in alkalinity – over 300 ppm in HCO3. What are my options to mitigate?
If I boil, I understand that lowers the HCO3, but what else does that affect? Plus I never know how long to boil and it’s really a hassle.
I’ve used phosphoric acid in the past to get the mash pH to an acceptable range, but seems like I’m using a lot of acid. What’s physically changing in the water profile when I use phosphoric acid? What’s the effect on taste?
What are some other alternatives? Or am I just better off going with an RO system?

Thanks!

__________________
Wallonia is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-12-2013, 09:28 PM   #2
ajdelange
Senior Member
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: McLean/Ogden, Virginia/Quebec
Posts: 5,585
Liked 516 Times on 423 Posts
Likes Given: 14

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallonia View Post
My water is very high in alkalinity – over 300 ppm in HCO3. What are my options to mitigate?
1. Don't use this water
2. Process the water through a softener followed by an RO unit. This is really equivalent to 1.
3. Boil the water to precipitate CaCO3 (reduce alkalinity and hardness)
4. Treat the water with lime to precipitate CaCO3. Same result, essentially, as 3 but no heat.
5. Treat the water with acid.
6. Dilute with RO water and use acid too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallonia View Post
If I boil, I understand that lowers the HCO3, but what else does that affect?
The reaction is Ca++ + 2HCO3- --> CO2 + CaCO3 + H2O so that both bicarbonate (alkalinity) and calcium (hardness) are removed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallonia View Post
Plus I never know how long to boil and it’s really a hassle.
It isn't really necessary to boil if you use some other means to remove the CO2 such as spraying the hot water through a nozzle or sparging it with air or nitrogen. If you boil you are using steam for this purpose. A few minutes of boiling should be sufficient.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallonia View Post
I’ve used phosphoric acid in the past to get the mash pH to an acceptable range, but seems like I’m using a lot of acid. What’s physically changing in the water profile when I use phosphoric acid?
The reaction here is
2H3PO4 + 3HCO3- --> H2PO4- + HPO4-- + 3CO2 + 3H2O
(approximately). You are swapping bicarbonate ions for mono and di basic phosphate ions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallonia View Post
What’s the effect on taste?
I don't know which is a testament to the low flavor contribution from phosphate. Nonetheless I'd prefer to remove most of the alkalinity by means of boiling or lime and then trim with acid rather than doing the whole job with phosphoric acid.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallonia View Post
What are some other alternatives?
Lime treatment:

Ca++ Ca(OH)2 + 2HCO3 --> 2CaCO3 +2H2O

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallonia View Post
Or am I just better off going with an RO system?
I think so but you do have to buy, install and maintain them.
__________________
ajdelange is online now
3
People Like This 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-12-2013, 09:45 PM   #3
TyTanium
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 3,944
Liked 542 Times on 382 Posts
Likes Given: 415

Default

Well how's that for a welcome to HBT. Awesome response.

__________________
TyTanium is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-12-2013, 09:59 PM   #4
IslandLizard
Progressive Brewing
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
IslandLizard's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Pasadena, MD
Posts: 2,369
Liked 264 Times on 239 Posts
Likes Given: 847

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TyTanium View Post
Well how's that for a welcome to HBT. Awesome response.
Yup, that's AJ. Totally to the point and totally amazing!

Wallonia, where in Belgium are you? That's some kind of water you got there.
__________________
Preparing: 2'd Clone | Framboise Clone | Raging Bitch Clone #3 | Tank 7 Saison Clone | Fresh Squeezed IPA | Venturing into some Sours, finally...
Fermenting: Arrogant Bastard Clone | ESB
Dry hopping:
Barrel Aging: Old Treacle Mine
On tap: Belgian Wit {1st place @ Free State Homebrew Guild Wheat Beer Comp.} | Black Butte Porter Clone | Pocahontas Pumpkin Ale
Kicked: Raging Bitch Clone #2 | Citra Wheat Saison | Rosemary Wheat Saison | Great Lakes Christmas Ale Clone | Caramel Amber Ale
IslandLizard is online now
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-12-2013, 11:32 PM   #5
mabrungard
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Carmel, IN
Posts: 2,637
Liked 174 Times on 152 Posts
Likes Given: 24

Default

AJ nailed all the options. It depends how inexpensively you want to proceed. Adding phosphoric is simple. Boiling and decanting is simple too. Neither of those options is very expensive. Moving to a RO water may be more costly in terms of a capital cost for the machine or in terms of the inconvenience of having to find a RO vending machine and transporting water.

__________________

Martin B
Carmel, IN
BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook for occasional discussions on brewing water and Bru'n Water

mabrungard is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-13-2013, 07:09 PM   #6
Wallonia
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: , Belgium
Posts: 5
Likes Given: 1

Default

Thanks all. I'm in the Hainaut region close to Ath. Water here is pretty hard. Actually what I find most around here is that the Ca and Mg ranges are normal but HCO3 is super high.

I wasn't aware that acid actually got rid of the HCO3. Am I getting rid of other things by using acid? It's easy enough and cheap so I don't mind using it, but want to make sure I'm not hurting another area of the water profile.

I'm still trying to wrap my arms around very basic water chemistry...really appreciate the help.

__________________
Wallonia is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-13-2013, 07:40 PM   #7
Homercidal
Moderator
HBT_MODERATOR.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Homercidal's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Reed City, MI
Posts: 22,837
Liked 1900 Times on 1371 Posts
Likes Given: 1045

Default

I think AJ has just about all of the info and options.

Really, for me, it boils down to (pun intended) either mixing your water with some RO or Distilled water, or just buying an RO system and using that water with some added minerals.

If you brew enough, an RO system at home is actually not outside the realm of possibility. I can buy one online for about $150 that is pretty decent sized for this. If you only brew once in a while, it might be cheaper to buy RO or Distilled water from the store and mix with your water using different ratios for different styles of beer.

I'm currently using a combination of phos. acid and mixing with RO water. The mixing with RO helps to limit the amount of Phos I use. I'd prefer to do away with the phos, so I'm thinking about getting an RO system for the house.

__________________
Homercidal is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-13-2013, 08:15 PM   #8
ajdelange
Senior Member
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: McLean/Ogden, Virginia/Quebec
Posts: 5,585
Liked 516 Times on 423 Posts
Likes Given: 14

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallonia View Post
Am I getting rid of other things by using acid?
Acid neutralizes base (which is responsible for alkalinity). The only base that should be in potable/brewing water is carbonate/bicarbonate thus you should not be removing anything else by using it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallonia View Post
It's easy enough and cheap so I don't mind using it, but want to make sure I'm not hurting another area of the water profile.
As I noted in #2 acid replaces bicarbonate ion with an equivalent (chemical equivalence which means a like number of electrical charges) amount of it's anion. Thus the way in which one can hurt the water profile by use of acid is if the alkalinity is high enough that replacing the bicarbonate results in a level of acid anions sufficient to introduce an undesired flavor. Alkalinity at 300 ppm as CaCO3 has an equivalence of 6 mEq/L. Replacing that much bicarbonate with sulfuric acid would result in a sulfate level of 288 mg/L. That is a lot of sulfate but not more than some people enjoy in some beers. Replacing that much bicarbonate with hydrochloric acid would result in 213 mg/L chloride ion. That is more chloride ion than most would want in most beers. With phosphate the actual amount and distribution (between mono and di basic forms) will depend on the pH realized. In any case there will be lots of phophate but malt itself contains lots of phosphate as it is so I doubt that the amount of phosphate released in neutralizing 300 mg/L alkalinity would be enough to introduce an off flavor.
__________________
ajdelange is online now
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-14-2013, 07:52 AM   #9
Wallonia
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: , Belgium
Posts: 5
Likes Given: 1

Default

Thanks again!

__________________
Wallonia is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-22-2014, 09:04 PM   #10
Wallonia
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: , Belgium
Posts: 5
Likes Given: 1

Default

Okay -- it's been a while and I'm coming back to this one. I bought the Palmer/Kaminski book on water, but it's hard to follow for someone with an attention span and chemistry background of a 2 year old.... I'll get there. Just need some time!

Anyways, I still struggle with residual alkalinity. I've recently starting paying very close attention to pH and it's definitely paying off in terms of beer quality and mash efficiency. But the amount of acid I have to use to get the pH to 5.5 seems ridiculous. That said, phosphoric acid is easy to use and I don't notice any affect on flavor. I just want to make sure that by using phosphoric acid I'm not doing anything to the Ca profile. I don't think I am from my understanding of the chemical reaction taking place but need a bit of reassurance.

Thanks as always!

__________________
Wallonia is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
High Sodium, Moderate Alkalinity. How to adjust? Thundercougarfalconbird Brew Science 11 06-19-2013 09:42 PM
Water Report :High Alkalinity and PH? Jukas Brew Science 2 12-10-2012 09:37 PM
Very High Alkalinity hillhousesawdustco Brew Science 14 09-05-2012 03:33 PM
High Risidual Alkalinity causing low carbonation? mklojay Brew Science 0 03-09-2012 12:52 AM
High Water Alkalinity - Why Dilute? bduane Brew Science 5 01-21-2012 03:02 AM