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Old 01-09-2012, 05:14 PM   #1
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Default My house water PH is 5.2

Ugh. I don't know what the heck is going on with my water. I don't have a PH meter yet (one is coming in the mail). I sent for a Ward Labs report a few weeks ago and this was the result:

PH 7.9
NA 9
CA 9
MG 1
SO4-S 2
CL 4
Hardness CaCO3 27
Bicarbonate HCO3 38
Alclinity CaCO3 31

Brewing yesterday my PH was really low and I thought I just screwed up my acid malt additions until I tested the water again today. Its showing PH 5.0-5.3 on the strips.
What can I do to fix this when I brew? I used the ezwater3.0 calculator to add salts, however now I dont know how accurate my water profile is if it changes that much in a month.

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Old 01-09-2012, 05:46 PM   #2
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Something is not right. I don't even think you can HAVE water at that pH...

Also, I for one would not trust a strip to be within .3.

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Old 01-09-2012, 05:47 PM   #3
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Use 5.2 PH stabilizer. You Ph will change throughout the brewing process, this will keep everything in line.

5.2 ph Stabilizer - 1 lb | MoreBeer

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Old 01-09-2012, 05:50 PM   #4
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Wait until the meter comes before you rack your brain too much. That PH sounds much to low for public water. Many factors can affect the accuracy of strips. The meter should give you a much more reliable reading. Hopefully you picked up some of the cal solutions as well. Then you know you are in the correct ballpark when you use the meter.

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Old 01-09-2012, 05:52 PM   #5
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It is possible to have water at a pH that low if it comes from a well but that is pretty low (even for a well) and given the Ward Labs report I doubt that it is really that low. But even if it were that wouldn't be a problem! The water is of low alkalinity and that translates to low buffering capacity and that translates to small influence on the pH of the mash. My advice is throw away the test strips and learn how to use that pH meter properly. And remember that it isn't the pH of the water that counts. It's the pH of the mash.

[Edit] And forget the advice in #3. That product does not work as advertised.

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Old 01-09-2012, 06:00 PM   #6
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You're a recipient of Rocky Mtn rainwater. The very low alkalinity of that water is VERY subject to a low pH swing. I'm betting that the current amount of snowmelt is driving down the alkalinity even further than when you had that sample tested originally.

It looks like you can consider your tap water similar to RO water and use the recommendations of the Primer.

You are fortunate, but you will need to learn to employ an alkaline mineral to control mash pH drop for some beers.

Enjoy!

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Old 01-09-2012, 06:26 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the replies.
This all started because I saw a home test kit at Home Depot and wanted to run a "Home Test Kit vs Ward Labs" thread posting the results from each. I didn't expect the results to be that far off!
I don't like using the 5.2 buffer because I don't understand it and don't think it works that well. I try to change my water profile by the addition of salts. I know the strips are not that accurate but I would guess the water is close to 5.3 (somehow the bottom picture makes it look like 5.4 but its a little lighter). I have tried multiple strips and even used the home test kit from Home Depot.
Here is the Home Depot home test kit:



Here is the PH strips from the local brew store:

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Old 01-09-2012, 07:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acefaser View Post
I would guess the water is close to 5.3
That's very unlikely. For water with about the alkalinity level you report to have a pH of 5.3 would require it to be at equilibrium with about 0.15 atmospheres of CO2. The actual CO2 content of the air is about 0.0003 atmospheres. The only way your water pH could be that low would be if someone had dissolved acid in it. If it is runoff rainwater or snow melt that someone could be the collective citizenry with their sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions but your water authority would do something about that because the water's saturation index at pH 5.3 would be -3.66 i.e. quite corrosive to the distribution mains and your water authority would add alkali to bring the SI up closer to 0. The saturation pH is 8.96 and they probably wouldn't take it that high (higher than WHO recommendation) but 7.9, as indicated in the Ward Labs report is reasonable. Just hypothecating based on the given information.
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Old 01-11-2012, 04:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acefaser View Post
I know the strips are not that accurate but I would guess the water is close to 5.3 (somehow the bottom picture makes it look like 5.4 but its a little lighter). I have tried multiple strips and even used the home test kit from Home Depot.

Here is the PH strips from the local brew store:


I just remembered a trick I came up with when Kai asked me to participate in an experiment in which he measured samples with a meter, dipped test strips and sent off photos like yours to various people in the hopes that he'd get an idea as to how variable the readings would be. I'm color blind and so didn't think I'd be able to help but then remembered that most modern computers come with a utility that reads off the color of any pixel you put the cursor over. For your photo the green channel is the most sensitive to pH change as shown on the legend. Interpolating the green reading for the strip between the green readings of the 5.0 and 5.4 legend chips we find the pH of the strip to be 5.14. Doing it with the red channel we get 5.2 and, this is most interesting, the blue value for the strip isn't between the 5.0 and 5.4 patch values. The strip is much bluer. IOW the color of the strip isn't between the chip colors and it is no wonder that it is hard to make a determination even if you have normal color visions. This should lend some perspective on the value of strips.
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Old 01-16-2012, 08:25 PM   #10
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Ok I got my PH meter and have been testing the water again. I have found the PH to be about 8.0 and that is the same as the Ward Labs report. My guess is that the PH strips were only for range 4.6 to 6.4 and using the strip in a solution that was so far out of range caused it to become a color that actually matched the color chart. Does this make sense? However I don't know why the house test strips were so far off. I guess the strips are just not worth dealing with.

Now, I got PH buffer solutions 4.0 and 7.0 and have been calibrating my PH meter. I am having problems with the PH meter being off when I return to the previous solution. I first calibrate it in the 7.0 solution, rinse it off then calibrate it in the 4.0 solution. When I recheck the 7.0 is is off by .5 PH reading about 7.5. It happens the exact opposite going the other way calibrating it using the 4.0 solution first. 7.0 is good and the 4.0 becomes about .5 off. Can one of the solutions be off? I hope its not the meter.

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