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Old 01-18-2011, 04:25 AM   #1
bopgun23
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Default pH Meter vs 5.2 pH Stabilizer

Hiya folks,

A question:

pH meter = $50 (approx.)
1lb of 5 star 5.2 pH stabilizer = $10

Is there any advantage to manually testing and adjusting one's mash pH versus just using the stabilizer?

I don't mind the work and price of manual adjustment if there's a good reason.

Thanks in advance for your bounty of knowledge, HBT.

Rob

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Old 01-18-2011, 04:34 AM   #2
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pH meter = only measures your pH

5.2 = purports to keep your mash in that range....

Tough call, as the meter doesn't "change" anything and the 5.2 may or may not do anything......depending on your water....

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/5-2...esults-169092/

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Old 01-18-2011, 01:11 PM   #3
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You can't have both because the pH meter will stop the 5.2 from working properly. This is said with tongue firmly in cheek based on dozens of reports that 5.2 is the greatest thing since sliced bread from people who don't measure pH at all or use strips whereas those who use pH meters find that this product does not bring mash pH to 5.2. It really couldn't be expected to unless inordinate amounts of it are used as it has little buffering capacity. A buffer should never be designed for a pH more than 1 unit removed from the closest pK of the acid involved (phosphoric here - nearest pK 7.2 i.e. 2 pH units away). Beyond this it seems to buffer at 5.99 (in distilled water) i.e. the powder is a buffer designed for that pH rather than 5.2. Analysis of the sodium concentration confirms this. This has lead me to wonder whether they are relying on the malt to provide extra monobasic phosphate thus establishing a buffer closer to 5.2 but this is really a desperate attempt on my part to give them some credit for knowing what they are doing (in the chemistry sense - the stuff is sold in every LHBS and mail order catalogue so they do seem to know what they are doing in the marketing sense).

So the serious answer to your question is that 5.2 cannot be relied on to establish proper mash pH. A pH meter will show you that. Or you can take our word for it and save the money on the 5.2. The pH meter is one of the best investments you can make in brewing. Learn how to use it and it will help you to establish proper mash, kettle, and fermenter pH.

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Last edited by ajdelange; 01-18-2011 at 02:03 PM. Reason: Corrected DI water pH of solution of powder
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Old 01-18-2011, 01:49 PM   #4
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2oz of gypsum - $0.99
Package of baking soda - $2
Actually being able to adjust your pH once you take a reading - priceless

Seriously though, it's not really fair to compare price on a pH buffer and pH meter. If you're looking at measuring pH it's more fair to compare the pH strips to the meter. A vial of 100 beer range pH strips is around $5. I use the strips personally simply because I've just started all grain in the last few months and haven't dropped the money on a meter yet, so I can't comment on how accurate they are in relation to the meter. They do seem to work to me though. I like using baking soda and gypsum to adjust my pH since they're pretty easy to get and cheap, and I can adjust up or down as I wish and test again to see if it had the effect I wanted. I'm probably going to get a meter eventually, for now this works ok and still costs less than $10 to actually have a decent idea of what's going on with your water.

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Old 01-18-2011, 01:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
So the serious answer to your question is that 5.2 cannot be relied on to establish proper mash pH. A pH meter will show you that. Or you can take our word for it and save the money on the 5.2. The pH meter is one of the best investments you can make in brewing. Learn how to use it and it will help you to establish proper mash, kettle, and fermenter pH.
Thanks, ajdelange. Your opinion seems very well informed. Your answer is what I expected, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask before dropping the cash on the pH meter.
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Old 01-18-2011, 02:15 PM   #6
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It's not just the meter either, you really need the storage solution and the two calibration solutions. Still, in the grand scheme it's not that expensive. I still need to pull the trigger myself.

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Old 01-18-2011, 02:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
You can't have both because the pH meter will stop the 5.2 from working properly.
Has brewing finally entered the realm of quantum mechanics? AWESOME!
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Old 01-18-2011, 02:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
pH meter = $50 (approx.)
1lb of 5 star 5.2 pH stabilizer = $10

Is there any advantage to manually testing and adjusting one's mash pH versus just using the stabilizer?
pH meter is also very handy if you want to make wine (especially red wine).

I have to agree with the above, the premise of the question is only valid if the 5.2 tabs always work. But, from what I've learned, they don't always work.
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Old 01-18-2011, 03:40 PM   #9
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I've been shown that the pH buffer was not keeping my mash in the proper range, likely the cause of my piss-poor efficiency. I'd like to invest in a meter at some point, right now I'm still kind of winging it. The strips, even the "good" Colorphast strips, aren't perfect, either; they tend to read off by upwards of 0.3.

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Old 01-18-2011, 07:41 PM   #10
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I am also in the market for a pH meter as ajdelange has steered me from the 5.2 Stabilizer as well. Does anyone have a recommendation for a reliable pH meter? I'm looking to spend somewhere between $50-80, although I would not hesitate to buy a cheaper one if it is accurate and well made. Right now I've narrowed my choices down to the Hanna Phep-5 or Milwaukee Tester SM101 as recommended by Kaiser. Thanks as always.

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