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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > Using DI Water
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Old 06-20-2012, 03:39 AM   #1
FloridaCracker
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Default Using DI Water

Alright, silly question. Can you use DI water for your brew?

I am currently researching a cream ale for a local comp in August, and all the information I find recommends using soft water. Living in Florida, and not wanting to invest in a water softener simply for brewing I realized I have access to a ton of fresh DI water.

So can you do it, and will it affect flavor? Is there any source you could think of that I could use in place of soft water or DI?

Thanks.

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Old 06-20-2012, 01:00 PM   #2
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If brewing extract: yes, di water is preferred because the minerals are already in the extracts in the amounts needed for the finished beer.

If brewing all grain: yes, you can use di water, but you need to add brewing salts (minerals) to the mash according to the beer style you are brewing. Palmer has a good chapter on this in his book.... And a new book coming out on this topic alone. There is also a lot of info on here in this brew science subforum.

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Old 06-21-2012, 01:57 AM   #3
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Here is a great place to start.
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/bre...primer-198460/

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Old 06-21-2012, 02:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FloridaCracker View Post
Is there any source you could think of that I could use in place of soft water or DI?
You don't want to use softened water. Too much sodium.

Every supermarket I can think of has a water vending machine. They dispense reverse osmosis water, which is plenty pure enough for brewing purposes. Deionized just goes one step further to get the last few ppm tds down, which I understand is important for fishtanks but not for beer.
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Old 06-21-2012, 02:49 AM   #5
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Guys, I really appreciate the information! I read the info provided and it seems that adding "stuff" to the water to balance creates a large possibility for error. As a result I will just use RO water, or spring water. My first few beers I used spring water and all seemed fine, my last couple I used tap (mild residual chlorides, and ~8.6 pH, 300ppm hardness) and the results were a little off. Thanks again for all your advice!

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Old 06-21-2012, 12:41 PM   #6
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[QUOTE="FloridaCracker"] I read the info provided and it seems that adding "stuff" to the water to balance creates a large possibility for error./QUOTE]

If you are starting with water with nothing in it, then all you do is add the minerals you want using a gram scale. There are a few spreadsheets and calculators out there that will tell you exactly what you should end up with. With this method you will get within 10% of what you are wanting for water chemistry and that is close enough for beer.

People end up in trouble when there start trying to mess with their source water based on a water report, then adding proportions of ro water with minerals in order to balance the source water out.

MT

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Old 06-21-2012, 02:06 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mthompson View Post
With this method you will get within 10% of what you are wanting for water chemistry...
That's true unless you use chalk (calcium cabonate). Most of the spreadsheets and calculators do not robustly handle carbonate or bicarbonate. But there are lots of reasons not to fiddle with those anyway.
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Old 06-21-2012, 02:49 PM   #8
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That's true unless you use chalk (calcium cabonate). Most of the spreadsheets and calculators do not robustly handle carbonate or bicarbonate. But there are lots of reasons not to fiddle with those anyway.
I've always added my salts directly to the mash when adding the grains. By doing this you can greatly increase the solubility of calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate since they are highly pH dependent and the mash pH quickly begins to fall below 6. There is a lot of complex water chemistry going on with these relationships and equilibrium concentrations of the minerals and their ions, but for most, trusting in the fact that others have figured it all out and that you can simply add the salts based on the estimated final result is more than adequate. (my brain needs to know the "why" for each process, so I read a lot of the journal articles and science-side of things)

I calculate the total of each salt needed for the total volume of water I need for mash and sparges. I add the proportion of salts needed for the proportion of mash water volume to total water volume; these go right in the mash. I sparge with straight ro/di, then add the remaining salts to the boil kettle to result in the calculated concentrations of minerals in the wort.
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Old 06-21-2012, 03:31 PM   #9
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The solubility of calcium carbonate and of calcium bicarbonate do not depend on pH though I can see why you might think that. What does depend on pH is the ratio of bicarbonate to carbonate ion concentration. At higher pH the ratio shifts to higher carbonate levels and as calcium carbonate it is largely insoluble it precipitates at higher pH if calcium is present. Conversely, at lower pH, the calcium carbonate that does dissolve has its carbonate converted to bicarbonate allowing more chalk to go into solution. The chemistry isn't that complex but it's not something most have been exposed to since college. This means that most have not figured it out (there is an abundance of calculators and spreadsheets that more or less ignore this aspect of things) though the situation is getting better i.e. more and more brewers are coming to understand it and the spreadsheets are improving.

The chemistry by which nature makes carbonaceous water does not involve dissolving chalk in mash. It involves dissolving chalk by means of carbonic acid. Put another way, in a natural water, the acid is carbonic, not malt organic acid nor the acid released by the calcium - phytin reaction. Thus unless one emulates nature and uses carbonic acid one cannot achieve a naturally occurring water profile with very good accuracy. Conversely if one does it is possible to attain ion concentrations within 1% of those in natural waters (assuming that one measures his salts and pH accurately enough). As hinted at in the last post this is a lot of trouble and seldom worth it.

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Old 06-21-2012, 05:48 PM   #10
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What does depend on pH is the ratio of bicarbonate to carbonate ion concentration.
What you are referring to is the solubility equilibria, specifically the carbonic acid equilibrium, which certainly affects the pH of the solution. When you physically change the pH of the solution (not leave it at equilibrium state) by adding other acids, which occurs in the mash, you drive the equilibrium and thus the solubility of the constituents of CaCO3 and other solutes (to more or less of a degree):


Quote:
Originally Posted by [url
http://www.chemistry.nmsu.edu/studntres/chem116/notes/solubility.html][/url]

CaCO3(s) <=> Ca2+(aq) + CO32-(aq)

When a strong acid is added, the hydrogen ion reacts with carbonate ion, because it is conjugate to a weak acid (HCO3-).
H3O+(aq) + CO32-(aq) <=> H2O(l) + HCO3-(aq)

As carbonate ion is removed, calcium carbonate dissolves. Moreover, the hydrogen carbonate ion itself is removed in further reaction.

H3O+(aq) + HCO3-(aq) -->H2O(l) + H2CO3(aq) --> 2H2O(l) + CO2(g)
What brewers are most interested in is the molar solubility or solubility product (Ksp; equilibrium constant).....the actual amount of moles of solute (brewing salts) per liter of solution (brewing liquor, or mash, or wort). This is also dependent upon pH of the solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [url
http://ion.chem.usu.edu/~sbialkow/Classes/3600/alpha/alpha3.html][/url]

molar solubility of CaCO3 as a function of pH

pH pa2 molar solubility
2 12.68 170
4 8.68 1.70
6 4.84 0.020
8 2.34 0.0011
10 0.49 1.4x10-4
12 0.0092 7.8x10-5
Now, calculate all this for the other brewing salts and the combined solution and its equilibrium state, and I'd say it's pretty complex. Luckily we don't have to do this every Saturday!

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