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Old 09-04-2012, 09:03 PM   #1
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Default How Do I Know My Alkalinity?

So I found a 2011 water report online for my home town. I have not brewed with my tap water (have used Poland Spring water only) because I'm pretty sure my tap water sucks. However, I can't really tell because, well, I'm not the sharpest tag in the drawer.

Anyway, in looking at this water report, I don't show alkalinity anywhere. I just see measurements for:
Barium
Chromium
Selenium
Nitrate
Chlorine
Combined Radium
Uranium
Lead
Copper

Am I missing something?

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Old 09-04-2012, 09:46 PM   #2
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What you’re missing is generally referred to as ‘secondary constituents.’

Besides the alkalinity, you would do well to get the calcium and magnesium, plus the sodium, sulfate and chloride.

It’s worth a shot to call the water department to get those numbers. It’s usually difficult to get the right person on the phone, but when you do, they LOVE to talk about water.

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Old 09-09-2012, 10:57 PM   #3
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What you are looking at is a Water Quality report. These report generally only report ions that have regulated limits and could potentially be harmful to your health. The ions that we care about in brewing (calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, sulfate, bicarbonate) don't fall into that category and don't have to be reported.

Many brewers get their water tested at Ward Labs. There are also ways with which you can test your water at home. Those home tests can tell you alkalinity and Calcium+Magnesium, which are the ions that matter for mash pH. Here is some more detail on water testing: How to read a water report

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Old 09-10-2012, 01:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Kaiser View Post
What you are looking at is a Water Quality report. These report generally only report ions that have regulated limits and could potentially be harmful to your health. The ions that we care about in brewing (calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, sulfate, bicarbonate) don't fall into that category and don't have to be reported.

Many brewers get their water tested at Ward Labs. There are also ways with which you can test your water at home. Those home tests can tell you alkalinity and Calcium+Magnesium, which are the ions that matter for mash pH. Here is some more detail on water testing: How to read a water report

Kai
I think the Ward Labs testing was $16.50, so it's definitely worth it!

(PS- Hi there Kaiser- nice to "see" you again!)
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Old 09-10-2012, 02:04 AM   #5
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(PS- Hi there Kaiser- nice to "see" you again!)
Yes, Hi there. I have been active on-line again, but am most likely will be sticking to the Brewing Science part of HBT. Everytime I come back here I feel the ads are getting bigger

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Old 09-11-2012, 05:38 PM   #6
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Just for future knowledge Alkalinity refers to PH as well anything north of a ph pf 7 is considered alkaline below 7 acidic.

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Old 09-11-2012, 05:50 PM   #7
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Yea it can be a little confusing. Alkalinity is a measure of all bases in solution. Laymans terms if you have high alkalinity, it will be very difficult to get your wort down to pH 5.2 to 5.6 range of typical wort.

Generally if you have high alkalinity, you need to either do a 50:50 mix of distilled (which has close to zero alkalinity) and your carbon filtered(to remove chlorine) tap water, or ditch your tap completely and go half spring water/distilled. You want some ions in the water but not too much alkalinity or the grains can't bring the pH down to get good mash.

I found this on the google machine. It is merril creek near stewartsville.

http://nj.usgs.gov/publications/adr/...55240.2007.pdf

Even though it's old, it can be helpful. Alkalinity is usually the same as Hardness, even though you have some other ions such as silicate in there that add to bases. So your CaCO3 hardness is 50ppm, which is not bad. Calcium is a little low around 15ppm. Look up Palmer's howtobrew.com to see what he recommmends for those ions.

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Old 09-11-2012, 06:07 PM   #8
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Just for future knowledge Alkalinity refers to PH as well anything north of a ph pf 7 is considered alkaline below 7 acidic.
Um, not even close!

pH and alkalinity have loose relationship to each other, but there are cases where a solution can have higher pH and low alkalinity and conversely another solution can have lower pH and high alkalinity. It is not true that a pH greater than 7 is an indicator of alkalinity, just as a pH of less than 7 indicates a solution doesn't have alkalinity.

For the purposes of potable water treatment and testing, water has 'zero' alkalinity when its pH is reduced to somewhere between 4.3 and 4.5. (different pH standards exist in the water testing world!) Therefore, water with a pH of greater than 4.5 will have some alkalinity.

Alkalinity is actually a measure of the Basic buffering of the solution and is most frequently the result of carbonate, bicarbonate, carbonic acid, and/or hydroxyl ions in potable waters.
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:15 AM   #9
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Just for future knowledge Alkalinity refers to PH as well anything north of a ph pf 7 is considered alkaline below 7 acidic.
That is the high school chemistry definition of pH. In dealing with brewing water, however, acidity and alkalinity have different meanings. They refer to the buffering capacity of a solution. Alkalinity is the amount of acid which must be added to a liter of the water in question in order to lower its pH to a value near 4.5 (as Martin has pointed out). This, in potable water, is the acid required to convert all the carbonate and bicarbonate in a water to carbon dioxide gas. This is what we must do in the mash tun in order to get the mash pH into the proper range and that's why alkalinity is such an important measure to brewers - independent of pH.

Acidity is the amount of base that must be added to a sample to raise its pH to a particular value, usually 7 or 8.3. pH is really a measure of an aqueous solutions ability to donate protons (hydrogen ions). pH and alkalinity are almost independent of one another. IOW for any pH between say 5 and 8 I can prepare water with any desired pH and any desired alkalinity. They may be weird waters super saturated with respect to calcium carbonate and/or carbon dioxide at ambient pressure but they are feasible under the correct conditions (high CO2 pressure). OTOH when pH rises above 8.3 then pH and alkalinity are no longer independent as a portion of the alkalinity is attributable to the hydroxyl ion. Non carbonate water at pH 11 has alkalinity 52.5 or so. At pH 10 the alkalinity is 7.5 and at pH 9, 3.0. Distilled water (pH 7) has alkalinity 2.5 thus, technically speaking alkalinity and pH are never totally independent but for practical purposes they are as long as the pH is less than about 9.
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Old 09-13-2012, 12:47 AM   #10
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That is the high school chemistry definition of pH. In dealing with brewing water, however, acidity and alkalinity have different meanings. They refer to the buffering capacity of a solution. Alkalinity is the amount of acid which must be added to a liter of the water in question in order to lower its pH to a value near 4.5 (as Martin has pointed out). This, in potable water, is the acid required to convert all the carbonate and bicarbonate in a water to carbon dioxide gas. This is what we must do in the mash tun in order to get the mash pH into the proper range and that's why alkalinity is such an important measure to brewers - independent of pH.

Acidity is the amount of base that must be added to a sample to raise its pH to a particular value, usually 7 or 8.3. pH is really a measure of an aqueous solutions ability to donate protons (hydrogen ions). pH and alkalinity are almost independent of one another. IOW for any pH between say 5 and 8 I can prepare water with any desired pH and any desired alkalinity. They may be weird waters super saturated with respect to calcium carbonate and/or carbon dioxide at ambient pressure but they are feasible under the correct conditions (high CO2 pressure). OTOH when pH rises above 8.3 then pH and alkalinity are no longer independent as a portion of the alkalinity is attributable to the hydroxyl ion. Non carbonate water at pH 11 has alkalinity 52.5 or so. At pH 10 the alkalinity is 7.5 and at pH 9, 3.0. Distilled water (pH 7) has alkalinity 2.5 thus, technically speaking alkalinity and pH are never totally independent but for practical purposes they are as long as the pH is less than about 9.
Wow that had to take a while to type up.

You can complicate this as much as you like or keep as simple as you like. Having had Chem 1, 2 organic and biochem I too can make this very complicated or we can keep it simple.

below ph 7 acidic, above 7 basic or alkaline. This definition is by no means limited to highschool as you will find it micro bio, Anatomy and phyisiolgy, pathology, and a long list of other classes that are def not high school courses.

oop it's 5 o'clock time for beer.
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