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Old 06-13-2013, 12:04 AM   #1
el_caro
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Default RO Water Worries

I have only ever used RO water for mixing my Starsan solution but am about to try doing Kai's Edel Hell recipe using RO water.

Went to my local RO Water machine and purchased 30L of RO water. Decided to make up 4L of Starsan solution and put the other 26L aside waiting for my WLP830 to arrive.

A week passed and I happened to look at the unused 4L of starsan solution and was shocked to see it had gone as cloudy as I have ever seen Starsan go after months of use.

I contacted the company who own the machines and had a good discussion with the manager who said all the right things and is sending me free tokens to compensate for my inconvenience. He admitted that filters and membranes etc do deteriorate and that clearly there was a problem with the particular machine and they would rectify it without delay. He will SMS me when it is back to 100% efficiency and I will shoot down and load up with pure RO water.

My concern is what my beer may have turned out like if I had not made the starsan solution. I have a ph meter on the way but frankly would not have a clue about water chemistry and what sort of things caused the solution to go cloudy.

Seems the moral of the story is - do not blindly believe the water coming from the RO machine is all it is cracked up to be.

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Old 06-13-2013, 12:07 AM   #2
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It's the hardness in water that causes the cloudiness. So, that water must have had a fair bit of mineralization.

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Old 06-13-2013, 02:55 AM   #3
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For a few bucks you can buy a conductivity tester that reads estimated TDS. You want RO water that reads less than about 10 mg/L.

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Old 06-13-2013, 04:04 AM   #4
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Thanks AJ
Silly questions but would the cheap chinese testers be usable and do the probes have a short life like the pH meters?

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Old 06-13-2013, 11:21 AM   #5
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These should be good enough. Probably a good idea to zero them before use in some distilled water (note: the 'distilled' water I just bought here is labeled as having TDS < 5 ppm) before use.

No, the electrodes on these don't degrade as long as they are kept clean (and some don't even have electrodes but I don't think that will be the case in this price range).

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Old 06-13-2013, 12:27 PM   #6
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Thanks AJ.

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Old 06-13-2013, 10:28 PM   #7
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I agree with AJ. A TDS meter is a fairly simple apparatus and there is little reason why you can't get an adequate measurement with an inexpensive unit. I think I paid $30 for a dual-probe in-line TDS meter from HMI.

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Old 06-19-2013, 03:05 AM   #8
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I got this one a year or so ago for buying water from RO machines and it works fine. Chose it because it was cheap and calibrated with solution aboue 350 ppm TDS vs many at 1000 ppm TDS. It also reads in the 0-5 ppm TDS in distilled water.

http://www.amazon.com/HM-Digital-TDS-3-Handheld-Carrying/dp/B000VTQM70

I just bought water recently and went out of the way to get a sample from the store's water supply. I took a dixie cup and got a TDS reading of 430ppm from the bathroom tap (consistent with a Wards report I did a few years ago with my unsoftened house water). Water from the RO machine was about 20ppm TDS (95% difference from what I assume the source is). The grocery store machines always read in the 15-30ppm TDS range here.

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Old 06-19-2013, 03:39 PM   #9
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I also brew with commercial RO water. The place where I buy gets certified every year. The owner is going to send me the test results of their last certification. It's worth asking.

As far as the StarSan and the cloudiness. I have found no link between cloudiness and actual pH stability. I have very hard tap water and my StarSan turns cloudy quickly. I've stored some for several months and pH test strips indicated that it hadn't degraded.

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Old 06-20-2013, 10:52 PM   #10
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The Glacier machine at the neighborhood grocery has a display that tells you when the machine was last serviced, a TDS probe could still be a good cross check.

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