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Old 06-18-2013, 04:38 AM   #1
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Default Input needed for water profile

So I am not new to brewing but I am new to water chemistry. I have been using bottled spring water for all of my beer and it seems to work ok but not great so I feel that I need to make a change. I sent a sample of my water to Ward Labs and put the results in the Brunwater spreadsheet. I am playing around with the numbers and it seems that if I dilute my water 50% with distilled water I should be in good shape, I think. My water seems very hard from what I have read so far and that makes me think that it should not be that simple to just dilute and have it fix all my problems. If anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate your opinion.

Here is my Ward Labs report.

pH 7.8
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 342
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.57
Cations / Anions, me/L 6.3 / 6.6
ppm
Sodium, Na 5
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 81
Magnesium, Mg 23
Total Hardness, CaCO3 298
Nitrate, NO3-N < 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 12
Chloride, Cl 13
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 336
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 275
Total Phosphorus, P 0.86
Total Iron, Fe 0.12

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Old 06-18-2013, 07:10 AM   #2
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I think diluting 50% with RO/distilled water would work fine. You might consider adding a little calcium chloride or calcium sulfate depending on the style your brewing to keep the calcium level up. Probably not even needed but I'd look into one of the water spreadsheets to see if you might need some more calcium for your specific grain bills to hit proper pH.

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Old 06-18-2013, 11:21 AM   #3
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That water should drop a huge amount of chalk if it were boiled. The alkalinity is very high.

Hardness is not really a problem in brewing, excepting when magnesium is elevated. Mg is getting on up there for this water. Boiling would knock out the alkalinity and a good bit of the calcium, but the magnesium would remain. Dilution is the only solution to the Mg pollution.

The rest of the ionic content is quite modest. The prospect of preboiling the water is not ideal since it consumes time and fuel. RO treatment may be a better option, but that requires an equipment purchase and the membrane life may be compromised by the amount of hardness.

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Old 06-18-2013, 01:17 PM   #4
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Lime treatment seem like a good option, if one is so inclined.

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Old 06-18-2013, 05:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
That water should drop a huge amount of chalk if it were boiled. The alkalinity is very high.

Hardness is not really a problem in brewing, excepting when magnesium is elevated. Mg is getting on up there for this water. Boiling would knock out the alkalinity and a good bit of the calcium, but the magnesium would remain. Dilution is the only solution to the Mg pollution.

The rest of the ionic content is quite modest. The prospect of preboiling the water is not ideal since it consumes time and fuel. RO treatment may be a better option, but that requires an equipment purchase and the membrane life may be compromised by the amount of hardness.
I read your post about decarbonation by boiling on the homebrewers association board after you post above. Using the formula, Ending Ca (ppm) = Starting Ca (ppm) - ((starting HCO3 (ppm) - ending HCO3 (ppm))/3.05), and figuring to end with 80 ppm of Bicarbonate, would leave me with a negative Ca ppm. I assume that I would need to add additional Calcium before I boil in order to end up with 80 ppm of Bicarbonate.

If I were to then dilute this decarbonated water to reduce the magnesium wouldn’t it then further reduce my Calcium and require that I add even more Calcium after to bring it back to an acceptable range? Would it be better to add all the Calcium I need before I boil or is there something I am missing about that process?
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Old 06-18-2013, 05:26 PM   #6
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We have 4 mVal of calcium hardness and 5.5 of alkalinity. That means you could probably drop 3 mVal of each leaving 2.5 alkalinity which is still higher than desired. To get down to 1 (50 ppm as CaCO3), about the max you want for most beers, you could supplement the calcium to 5.5 by adding calcium chloride and/or calcium sulfate (gypsum). But that, of course, augments chloride and/or sulfate levels which may be undesirable. These remarks apply equally to boiling or lime treatment but note that lime treatment can be modified to get rid of some of the Mg not that the Mg here is at problem level.

Disposing of the alkalinity with sulfuric and/or hydrochloric acid (CRS) would yield a similar end result: augmented sulfate and/or chloride but the calcium level would stay high. Phosphoric acid, whose anion is pretty flavorless, might be a candidate.

Far the simplest approach would be dilution with RO but the dilution would have to be to the extent of 8 or 9 to 1 at which point you might as well use straight RO unless you find a dilution that gives just the profile you want.

I wouldn't worry about hardness degrading an RO system's membranes because feeding the system with softened water, and most people with water as hard as OP's have a softener installed in their houses, will solve that problem. I cannot, however, help with the capital expense problem. RO systems do cost money.

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Old 06-18-2013, 07:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bborren View Post
I read your post about decarbonation by boiling on the homebrewers association board after you post above. Using the formula, Ending Ca (ppm) = Starting Ca (ppm) - ((starting HCO3 (ppm) - ending HCO3 (ppm))/3.05), and figuring to end with 80 ppm of Bicarbonate, would leave me with a negative Ca ppm. I assume that I would need to add additional Calcium before I boil in order to end up with 80 ppm of Bicarbonate.

If I were to then dilute this decarbonated water to reduce the magnesium wouldn’t it then further reduce my Calcium and require that I add even more Calcium after to bring it back to an acceptable range? Would it be better to add all the Calcium I need before I boil or is there something I am missing about that process?
There is a limit on the degree of decarbonation and it can be limited by either the calcium or the bicarbonate content. It sounds like your water is a case where the calcium content is the limiting ion. In general, you can only bring the Ca content down to somewhere between 12 and 20 ppm when it is the limiting factor. Therefore, you would have to back-calculate what the ending bicarbonate content would be that leaves the Ca within that range of concentration.
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Old 06-18-2013, 08:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Would it be better to add all the Calcium I need before I boil or is there something I am missing about that process?
Yes, absolutely as you will only be able to precipitate calcium to about 1 mVal and as much alkalinity precipitates as calcium. That's why I suggested pre supplementation of the calcium to the 5.5 mVal level. If you supplement calcium beyond that level you may be able to precipitate alkalinity to a bit below 1 mVal (50 ppm).

It is a bit iffy - you get what you get - and so it is a good idea to do hardness and alkalinity tests after the treatment so you are sure what you realized.
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Old 06-18-2013, 08:22 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies. It appears that the amount of work it would take to fix my water would be more hassle than it is worth. I think that I will try buying RO water and follow the steps from the brewing water primer to see what that gets me. If I get the hang of water chemistry that way maybe then I will look into getting a RO system at home.

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Old 06-18-2013, 09:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bborren
Thanks for the replies. It appears that the amount of work it would take to fix my water would be more hassle than it is worth. I think that I will try buying RO water and follow the steps from the brewing water primer to see what that gets me. If I get the hang of water chemistry that way maybe then I will look into getting a RO system at home.
You just need to find a friend that already has an RO system. I gave my friend half of my two for one BYO subscription and I get all the RO water I want :-D
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- Thomas Jefferson

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