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Old 01-01-2014, 11:02 PM   #1
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Default Idea for Removing Iron

My water report from Ward Labs indicates I have .2ppm of iron. This isn't too bad, I have had a metallic taste in my homebrew at times in the past year but that might be yeast health as well.

BUT, if I wanted to remove this iron I have several options and the most effective are the most expensive. The least expensive option is to aerate the water prior to mash (possibly not effective.). Another option suggested on another forum was an ion exchange filter. When I read the following link to see how they work I got an idea:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/improvement/interior/1275126

The article indicates the iron will still to the polystyrene beads in the filter, there is a brine that later cleans the beads of the attached iron. Rather than install another filter on our home (we have a Filtrete under the sink filter) why not just buy a large quantity of polystyrene beads and set them in the water prior to mash? The beads could be brined and reused.

Any thoughts on this approach to removing iron from water?



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Old 01-01-2014, 11:54 PM   #2
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0.2 ppm is below the EPA SMCL but above the generally accepted 0.1 level for brewing. The fact that you are tasting iron in your beer supports that 0.1 level.

A home water softener does contain beads of resin but they are not just ordinary beads - they are charged with sodium ions. When exposed to water containing cations exchange between the cations and the sodium takes place and iron, calcium, magnesium, strontium... are captured by the resin and exchanged for sodium in the water. When the beads are later backwashed with concentrated sodium the process is reversed and the beads become again charged with sodium and the cations are released to the backwash stream.

So your idea isn't going to work but the following similar idea will. Aerate the water until it turns grey or yellow or brown. Then pour it through a bed of clean play sand. The aeration turns 'clearwater' Fe(II) into Fe(III) which quickly reacts with water to from Fe(OH)3 which is an ugly brown gel. This gets trapped by the sand particles and the water that passes through should be clear and appreciably lower in iron. If you can get half of what you've got you should be fine.

After you are finished, (back)wash the brown gunk off the sand and use again.

As you note there are automated systems that do what I just described many of which use a special sand and are charged with potassium permanganate as the oxidizing agent. More convenient, will prevent iron stains on your clothes and plumbing but will cost you some brass.



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Old 01-22-2014, 11:45 AM   #3
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I wanted to revisit this concept after some thought.

I like the sand idea and am getting a big O2 setup from Williams Brewing to aerate wort, it can be used in this situation as well I assume.

Another assumption is that I will need to boil this same water before I mash with it in order to remove the oxygen I added initially, right? How long of a boil do you think that needs to be? Or am I not understanding something?

Finally, any suggestions for how a sand filter might work without having sand in the brew water as a result?

I appreciate the thought given to my predicament and the solutions offered. I have seen at least one person on this forum indicate that yeast cells will take up iron and, as long as they don't die and release the iron, can do some of the work removing them from the wort. I am working on better starters and aeration in the hopes that this may offer some relief as well.

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Old 01-22-2014, 02:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maltoftheearth View Post
I like the sand idea and am getting a big O2 setup from Williams Brewing to aerate wort, it can be used in this situation as well I assume.
A good sized air pump and hefty sintered stainless 'stone' ought to do the job or even a smaller setup allowed to bubble air for a longer time should work. But even pouring the water back and forth between two buckets might. Another idea is to obtain a water pump (such as the ones sold at home improvement stores for pumping out basements etc and which are equipped with garden hose connectors) and pumping the water through a nozzle in a fairly fine spray should work too.

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Originally Posted by maltoftheearth View Post
Another assumption is that I will need to boil this same water before I mash with it in order to remove the oxygen I added initially, right? How long of a boil do you think that needs to be? Or am I not understanding something?
Just letting it come to temperature in the HLT should be sufficient. You don't really need to worry too much about O2 in the mash. It is boiled/boiling wort that needs some protection from O2. Some will disagree. I met one commercial operator in the UK that had his Steels masher and mash tun sealed and ran CO2 through the combo as he filled the tun and throughout the mashing process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maltoftheearth View Post
Finally, any suggestions for how a sand filter might work without having sand in the brew water as a result?
If you take one of those white buckets every LHBS sells and drill lots of small holes in the bottom (or you can probably buy one to which this has already been done) and put a layer of cheese cloth in the bottom or a layer of clean pebbles down before you put in the sand that should hold it back.


Quote:
Originally Posted by maltoftheearth View Post
I have seen at least one person on this forum indicate that yeast cells will take up iron and, as long as they don't die and release the iron, can do some of the work removing them from the wort. I am working on better starters and aeration in the hopes that this may offer some relief as well.
This may indeed be the case but the fact remains that for brewing purposes it is recommended that total iron be less than 0.1 mg/L. Yours is at twice that level and you taste it in your beer suggesting that there is a good basis for the lower recommendation.

You can, of course, 'remove' half the iron by diluting 1:1::RO:Tap or 2/3 of it by diluting 2:1 with RO.
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:54 AM   #5
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Wow, much appreciation for your thought(s). To close the loop on one item, the thought about cold side aeration came from John Palmer in How to Brew where he talks about doughing in. I think it is at or around pp. 240 in my edition. Anyway, I have heard this point argued on Basic Brewing and in this forum & have nothing of my own to contribute. Many thanks for helping me try and improve my beer.

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Old 01-23-2014, 03:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maltoftheearth View Post
Wow, much appreciation for your thought(s). To close the loop on one item, the thought about cold side aeration came from John Palmer in How to Brew where he talks about doughing in. I think it is at or around pp. 240 in my edition. Anyway, I have heard this point argued on Basic Brewing and in this forum & have nothing of my own to contribute. Many thanks for helping me try and improve my beer.
We have this installed at our house + a softener
http://www.guthriefreywater.com/pdfs/iron-curtain.pdf

Waiting to see what my samples look like from Ward (IC and IC/Softened)


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