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Old 08-06-2013, 05:38 PM   #11
mchrispen
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I am thinking we should take this PMs now, but the discussion may be helpful for others.

Clarifying a couple of points:
1. In general, I have been very frustrated finding a home installed system that focuses on the basic science of home water treatments without going into "snake oil" features. That doesn't seem to be the case for commercial application or even the hobby specific consumer applications (like for aquariums). So just ranting about people being snookered and upsold to things they just don't need or do not work. Of course this is rampant in many industries...
2. The effluent comment is the water output from my aerobic septic system... it is heavily chlorinated and then sprayed onto the yard.

As to the removal of bicarbonate, even for a smaller brewing dedicated system, I have been reading about slaked lime precipitation. Perhaps that plus acid adjustment would bring down the pH to a reasonable level. I could setup a pre-treatment tank in an old malt extract barrel, maybe treat 30 gallons or so at a time and pump through the RO. I am guessing a sump-styled pump could produce the required pressure to drive a system? I love that skid setup you show - but it adds more concerns if I need to provide water pressure to it after a precipitation tank at atmospheric pressure. This is getting pretty elaborate!



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Old 08-06-2013, 08:23 PM   #12
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Your water is not suited for lime-softening. The alkalinity is high enough, but the calcium content is not. Although I like lime-softening and the batch treatment you mention, it isn't going to work for your water. Plan on the RO.

You are correct that home water treatment can be a scam. Do educate yourself and find a solution that works for you.



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Old 08-06-2013, 09:15 PM   #13
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You could use lime treatment but it's probably not the best way to go and would have to be done in batch (unless you put together some pretty fancy gear). You would have to add a calcium salt (chloride or sulfate) in addition to the lime in order to provide calcium to coalesce with the carbonate. The end result is two chloride ions or one sulfate ion for each pair of bicarbonate ions removed.

CaCl2 + Ca(OH)2 + 2HCO3- ---> 2CaCO3 + H2O + 2Cl-

The same result is achieved if just hydrochloric acid is added:

HCO3- + HCl --> CO2 + H2O + Cl-

The HCl could, conceivably, be injected in line but with an inline process there is no way for the CO2 to escape (in a batch process you can agitate the water to let it off). I'm not sure what the consequences of having it entrapped would be. I expect it will go right through an RO membrane with the result that your RO water would be quite acidic. Presumably when exposed to atomospheric pressure the CO2 would escape.

I could go on with other ideas suggested by the chemistry but it is really a question of what you can practically have installed in your house. You would really have to consult someone who sells systems in your area which, of course, opens you up to the possibility of being sold a bill of goods. I guess what you need is a disinterested consultant.

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Old 08-06-2013, 10:54 PM   #14
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Thanks guys, will let you know what happens...


Disinterested Consultant... Love it!

Looking forward to the "Water" book!

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Old 08-12-2013, 04:51 PM   #15
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Ok, so the RO system arrived Saturday, and I have been planning on how to hook this up for brewing. I bought the Hydro-Logic 31023 1000-GPD Evolution RO1000 High Flow RO system, on sale for just under $500. A friend uses this system for his very large salt-water aquariums and is very happy. Still got a ways to go on the initial purge, but TDS is down under 40 PPM. I have a couple of carbon filters in line before it - as well as it's own pre-filter. Getting about 2 minutes / gallon flow rate at 40 PSI - which is very nice. The replacement filters are not cheap, but if I can get over a year out of them with my little usage for brewing and drinking water - will be very happy.

Question, and I know I should (re)read the primer... should I have this water tested as well? I see that in the Bruin water spreadsheet there are some small values when you choose RO as dilution water, rather than all 0 additions like DI. I don't intend to dilute, so I figured I would essentially add in gypsum and calcium chloride (mash and boil) to generically hit a target water profile. Maybe a touch of Epsom for magnesium. I like both malt forward and hop forward beers and would build the water as part of the recipe. Regardless, looking forward to some experimentation and hopefully better tasting beers.

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Old 08-12-2013, 07:23 PM   #16
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No need to test the RO as long as the TDS is low enough. You know that most of what is in there is sodium bicarbonate as most of what's in the feed is sodium ocarbonate. If you are going to build up to tens of Mg, Ca, etc having a few extra isn't going make much difference.

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Old 08-19-2013, 08:51 PM   #17
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An update.

Re-brewed my last beer, a pale ale, with the hopes of making at least some comparisons to the same brew made with just charcoal filtered tap water vs R/O with salt adjustments.

First, I did make a couple of slight adjustments to the grain bill as I was adding upwards of 8-12 ounces of acid malt before to hit proper mash pH, so I added that amount back into the base malt. I also swapped out some C120 for C90, which will result in a desired lighter color (C90 was my original intention, just didn't have it when I brewed first batch). Also, reset my grain mill which was wonky... so... I had been seeing somewhere between 62-65 efficiency, just hit 81% today. I used Brun water spreadsheet (yellow - balanced) recommendations on salts, but added only half the predicted phosphoric acid because I reached 5.4 quickly at dough in.

1. Hit Mash pH within the first 10 minutes and it held well. 5.1 rose to 5.3 over 45 minutes. Very Happy!
2. Clearly got conversion early - while I didn't do an iodine test, the wort was very sweet quickly.
3. I overshot my gravity by 10 points (I believe partly because I got full conversion, and because I tightened up my mill a bit).
4. The boil was a different one in that the bubble and scum activity was very vigorous and full of break, while it didn't overflow - I did get some "scum" slapping out of the kettle onto the burner plate. Process here was the same - so assume the water conditioning may be in play.
5. Kettle pH was good, and for the first time I got amazing hot and cold break. Always gotten a little bit, but today it was off the charts. Cold break filled the bottom 3 inches of my hydrometer tube. Never seen that before. Lets put this at 10x the break material from before. Used whole hops - you couldn't see them for the break drop.

Everything is in the fermenter and chilling to pitching temperatures. Will see how this goes. It's about the taste and clarity for me - got my fingers crossed. There are a ton of high-alpha hops in this for a pale ale.



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