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Old 05-11-2011, 07:58 PM   #1
opteek
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Default need advice, just got my wardlabs report

I just got my wardlabs water analysis report in and would greatly appreciate any advice that you guys could give me. It turns out it is pretty hard and was wondering if it would be better to dilute it with RO or to boil it with calcium hydroxide to precipitate some of the bicarbonate. I'm not sure how much I should be using, only that it should not exceed the total alkilinity. (103 ppm) Also my pH is higher than I expected. I'll be getting the 5.2 stabilizer to rectify that.

Here's my water report:

pH 7.9
Total Dissolved Solids 197
Sodium (Na) 13
Potassium (K) 1
Calcium (Ca) 36
Magnesium (Mg) 13
Total Hardness (CaCO3) 144
Sulfate 27 (after multiplying by 3)
Chloride (Cl) 21
Carbonate (CO3) < 1
Bicarbonate (HCO3) 126
Total Alkilinity (CACO3) 103

(I calculate my residual alkilinity as 69.77)

I'm trying to hit the following water profile (for brewing a Pliny the Elder):

Ca Mg Na HCO3 SO4 Cl
___________________________
76 13 9 26 133 56

As far as my limited understanding goes, everything looks pretty good though besides the bicarbonate levels. Ca could be a little higher for some styles (gypsum?). The Potassium seems low, would I need to add some for yeast health? Also, if I where to boil the water to reduce the bicarbonate, how much more gypsum would I need to add to make up for the Ca that precipitates with it?



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Old 05-11-2011, 08:14 PM   #2
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The problem is, once you've boiled it to drive off CO3, you no longer know what the profile is - surely your total Ca will be higher but by how much. I don't know if you want to try doing a 1hr 5 gal boil and get it re- analyzed or if its better off to just dilute.

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Old 05-11-2011, 09:01 PM   #3
ajdelange
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opteek View Post
I just got my wardlabs water analysis report in and would greatly appreciate any advice that you guys could give me. It turns out it is pretty hard and was wondering if it would be better to dilute it with RO or to boil it with calcium hydroxide to precipitate some of the bicarbonate.
If you have the RO water or can get it easily that is far and away the easiest way to decarbonate/soften water and also, by far, the treatment whose effect is easiest to asses. Just divide everything in the report by the dilution ratio. Thus if you dilute 2 + 1 (2 parts RO water plus 1 part tap water) the dilution ratio is 3 and everything in the mix is at 1/3 of what it was in the source water e.g. Ca 12, alkalinity 34.

Quote:
Originally Posted by opteek View Post
I'm not sure how much I should be using, only that it should not exceed the total alkilinity. (103 ppm)
The amount needed can be calculated fairly easily but is not always exactly the optimum amount. To do the job properly really requires a pH meter.

While on this subject: note that decarbonation with lime will usually get you down to about 1 mEq/L each alkalinity and calcium hardness i.e. 50 ppm alkalinity and 20 mg/L calcium. You can do a little better using a few tricks but it's so much easier to just dilute that I won't go into those. To be sure about what lime treatment does you need to be able to measure hardness or alkalinity or both. Kits are available but this is another argument for dilution. You can calculate with certainty from the water report.

Quote:
Originally Posted by opteek View Post
Also my pH is higher than I expected. I'll be getting the 5.2 stabilizer to rectify that.
As long as the pH is less than 8.5 or so the actual pH of the water itself is pretty immaterial. It is the alkalinity that is significant.

5.2 really doesn't do what it purports to do. Save your money.



Quote:
Originally Posted by opteek View Post
(I calculate my residual alkilinity as 69.77)

I'm trying to hit the following water profile (for brewing a Pliny the Elder):

Ca Mg Na HCO3 SO4 Cl
___________________________
76 13 9 26 133 56
The water is not bad. RA is a little high (caused by highish alkalinity/bicarbonate). And it is not necessary to duplicate the profile you have exactly to make a good beer. There are 2 approaches you could take:

1. You could dilute the water down with RO water the the point where it is "soft" as defined in the Primer in the Stickies area and then follow the recommendations of the Primer. As the profile you show lists sulfate as important be sure to add both gypsum and calcium chloride.

2. You could dilute the water with RA to the point where every ion is at less than the level in your profile and then use one of the several spreadsheets to determine salt additions to get to your profile. As your profile cannot exist physically you will not be able to duplicate it exactly. Ignore the magnesium (unless you fell that its character is an important part of the flavor profile of PTE) and bicarbonate. To get it into solution properly may require that you use CO2 gas. OTOH you may be able to get it with sodium bicarbonate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by opteek View Post
As far as my limited understanding goes, everything looks pretty good though besides the bicarbonate levels. Ca could be a little higher for some styles (gypsum?).
In general the lower the mineral content of the water the better the beer but there are exceptions. Brewing water can be tailored quite precisely if needed but that is seldom justified. This is but one of the reasons why I recommend the Primer approach for people starting out in water treatment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by opteek View Post
The Potassium seems low, would I need to add some for yeast health?
No.

Quote:
Originally Posted by opteek View Post
Also, if I where to boil the water to reduce the bicarbonate, how much more gypsum would I need to add to make up for the Ca that precipitates with it?
In general, boiling will reduce calcium and bicarbonate levels to the same levels as lime treatment. But you may not be able to use boiling. Does your water turn milky when you boil it? If so then you will be able to drop some calcium and some bicarb. If it doesn't, you won't. Again, there are tricks that can be used but also, as before, it's so much easier to dilute.
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