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Old 09-19-2012, 01:52 AM   #11
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Well they say better is the enemy of good enough and if you are happy with it that's what ultimately counts but some of us want to brew the best beer we can. I am interested to know what the 'perfect pH' is and also perfect efficiency. I assume that means 50 pounds of grain gives 50 pounds of extract.

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Old 09-19-2012, 02:06 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange
Well they say better is the enemy of good enough and if you are happy with it that's what ultimately counts but some of us want to brew the best beer we can. I am interested to know what the 'perfect pH' is and also perfect efficiency. I assume that means 50 pounds of grain gives 50 pounds of extract.
Ha! Whoops, perfect not the best word Great may be the better choice :-)
But why so -NEGATIVE - with Well Water?
Or why so Negative?
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:03 AM   #13
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I'm not trying to be that negative. The technical explanation is that calcium is beneficial to the mash, in the kettle and in the fermenter and that sodium is at best a don't care and at worst a flavor detriment. Thus a water softener removes something that benefits the beer in several ways and replaces with something that can be detrimental to beer flavor. It is probable, therefore, that your beer would be improved if the water were treated in a different way. To say what that way might be we'd have to see the details of your water chemistry.

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Old 09-19-2012, 02:00 PM   #14
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Rickochet,

The simplest solution to your water problem is the installation of a reverse osmosis system to remove most of the ions from the water. The R/O systems works better with low temporary hardness water (lots of calcium/magnesium and bicarbonate), and the water after the softener is such water. High temporary hardness water, like you get from the well, causes calcium carbonate to precipitate on the membrane which reduces its efficiency.

Another solution is to precipitate the temporary hardness, most of which is calcium carbonate, from your well water through either boiling or lime treatment. Here is an illustrated how-to: http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...tion_with_lime

boiling (there is some info here http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...cium_carbonate) would be a good short term solution to determine if this approach works for you. You may want to pick up a GH&KH test kit from an aquarium supply store to test the effectiveness of that method and the lime method.

An R/O system will give you more flexibility, but with a greater initial cost. It also wastes water since you need about 3-4 gal to make 1 gal filtered water. The lime treatment method is the most economical, which is why many breweries do it that way. You only need to get a large tank to treat the water and some pickling lime along with your other brewing salts.

You won’t be able to lower the sulfate with either of these methods. But unless you are planning to brew lots of delicate lagers, I don’t think that 90 ppm sulfate will be a problem.

Kai

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Old 09-19-2012, 04:06 PM   #15
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You won’t be able to lower the sulfate with either of these methods. But unless you are planning to brew lots of delicate lagers, I don’t think that 90 ppm sulfate will be a problem.Kai
Kai,

Maybe I'm misunderstanding this statement. Are you saying that an RO filter will not remove sulfates? I had my home water tested and had 21ppm SO4 in my regular tap water but <1 in my RO sample.

Thanks!
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:12 PM   #16
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His sulfate is 90 as sulfur so it's 270 as sulfate. That's 20 over the MCL (secondary tho it be) and, unless he is one who really likes sulfate laden beers, he is out of luck from that POV alone. With respect to limiting salts in an RO unit - needless to say as is the water is well supersaturated WRT calcium carbonate and that would ruin a membrane pretty quickly. So obviously he'd want to feed with softened water. Even if he does that, though, there is a good chance that gypsum would be limiting. If I replace all his post softener sodium with calcium I find he'd be limited to 45% recovery by calcium sulfate. As some of the sodium was doubtless replacing magnesium and as most home RO units don't have recoveries approaching 45% this is probably not really a problem for him, however.

No, Kai isn't saying that RO units won't remove sulfate. The whole reason I have one is to get rid of modest sulfate (27 mg/L) which isn't actually modest if you are a Boh. Pils nut.

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Old 09-19-2012, 04:33 PM   #17
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I missed the sulfate as sulfur. Yes, 270 ppm is a bit high and with this RO (home unit or store bought) would be best option.

I have a RO unit for my well water, but mine is nearly as hard as yours. It's pretty close to Munich, actually.

Kai

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Old 09-20-2012, 12:16 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaiser View Post
Rickochet,

The simplest solution to your water problem is the installation of a reverse osmosis system to remove most of the ions from the water. The R/O systems works better with low temporary hardness water (lots of calcium/magnesium and bicarbonate), and the water after the softener is such water. High temporary hardness water, like you get from the well, causes calcium carbonate to precipitate on the membrane which reduces its efficiency.

Another solution is to precipitate the temporary hardness, most of which is calcium carbonate, from your well water through either boiling or lime treatment. Here is an illustrated how-to: http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...tion_with_lime

boiling (there is some info here http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...cium_carbonate) would be a good short term solution to determine if this approach works for you. You may want to pick up a GH&KH test kit from an aquarium supply store to test the effectiveness of that method and the lime method.

An R/O system will give you more flexibility, but with a greater initial cost. It also wastes water since you need about 3-4 gal to make 1 gal filtered water. The lime treatment method is the most economical, which is why many breweries do it that way. You only need to get a large tank to treat the water and some pickling lime along with your other brewing salts.

You won’t be able to lower the sulfate with either of these methods. But unless you are planning to brew lots of delicate lagers, I don’t think that 90 ppm sulfate will be a problem.

Kai
Master Kaiser--After looking at your interesting website, you are clearly the "Water Wizard"! What a tremendous amount of information you provide for the rest of us who are just beginning to grasp the correlation of water between making good beer and making great beer. I appreciate your response along with the others who added to my knowledge base.

After doing some research regarding the ill health effects from drinking high sodium water, I would like to take the best route to greatly reduce it. What brand of RO system would you recommend? I would like to have one that would supply RO water at two locations; the kitchen and the brew area. You mentioned I might be better off adding the RO system post water softener--will the softened water have any negative effect on the RO water?

Advice is appreciated!

Thanks,
Rick
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Old 09-20-2012, 12:44 AM   #19
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[QUOTE[...will the softened water have any negative effect on the RO water? [/QUOTE]

Quite the contrary - if your water is at all hard you must feed an RO system with soft water. See #16.

If you want RO water in a couple of areas then you are basically looking at a 'whole house' system though, naturally, you don't want to waste RO water on flushing toilets and watering the lawn. These can turn out to be rather elaborate (read expensive) as they involve several components beyond the RO unit and the plumbing must be done with non-metallic pipe but they are definitely convenient as you just open the faucet and the RO water comes out. Metallic pipe is probably no longer a big concern as most new home plumbing seems to be done with PEX these days anyway.

I did something similar to what you are talking about for my brewery and lab. The RO unit is a 500 GPD skid manufactured by Titan. It feeds an atmospheric tank (100 gal capacity) and pressure tank (about 80 gal). I designed and built the system myself (and plumbed it in) but even so the RO skid (under $2K) was the tip of the iceberg. If you want small quantities of RO water for brewing and drinking it would be much less expensive to buy two units - one for the kitchen (drinking and cooking water I assume) and one for the brewery. Before putting in the Titan system I used the GE units (from Home Depot and elsewhere I'm sure) for years with great success except that it was a PITA having to start collecting water days early. Pretty hard to screw up an RO system, I'd think, but I'm sure some manufacturer has figured out how to do it.

With regard to the low recovery (amount of feed water that comes out as RO water): The small systems do have low recovery (18-20%) and they have to do that in order to be able to tolerate relatively high levels of hardness in the feed. If you can run softened water to the unit recovery can go much higher (70%) but there is no way to adjust the simple units though you could easily make some mods that would allow higher recovery. The larger systems, as they process and thus have the potential to waste much more water, have the mechanisms to allow higher recovery. I usually run my system at 40-50% (i.e. I throw away a gallon for every gallon of output).

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Old 09-20-2012, 01:27 AM   #20
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This is an excellent thread as my RO system should arrive in a couple of days. I used to brew on relatively soft city tap water and just had to worry about removing the chlorine. I moved and now have a well with extremely low pH water (hence the lime, softener, filters, etc.) and I can say that my beers have been negatively impacted by brewing with this water. That said, my water profile changes daily, so if I could get a water report every morning, I think I could brew decent water even with a softener in the line.

Point is, I'm expecting the RO system to greatly improve my consistency, after I spend several batches figuring out how to tweak on the water that comes out of it!

Thanks!

Shane

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