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Old 09-03-2012, 05:06 PM   #1
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Default Very High Alkalinity

Hey Gang, looking for advice on best utilizing my water profile. Here's the gist:

PH 7.95
BiCarb/CaCO3 351
Chloride 2.56
Sulfate 7.73
Calcium 89.8
Magnesium 32.8
Hardness as CaC03 359
Sodium 6.18
Conductivity 664

So I've got some pretty serious hardness. I've been brewing with this water (off my well) for several years now and I can make a pretty great porter and some very nice big IPAs. Anything that I'd consider "light" such as a cream ale, wit, wheat, etc comes out way more bitter and astringent than desired.

I've started to counter this by adding 5 gallons of distilled water to my HLT. So far that has led to my best beers yet, and the only malt-forward beers (just made a great pumpkin amber) that didn't come out tasting overly bitter.

Do you science nerds have any additional suggestions for me? I have no interest in reproducing some famous water profile, simply getting my water to a spot where I can more easily brew the full range of ales. I'll soon be getting an RO system (tired of paying for 2.5 gallon jugs of distilled) and plan to more or less dilute my water half and half with the RO. I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel (or water, for that matter) but is there any other simple thing I should be doing?

Thanks for any assistance.

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Old 09-03-2012, 05:27 PM   #2
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Yep, its pretty hard and alkaline. It also has a decent amount of magnesium in it. If an RO system is in the plans, then the solution is near. By varying the amount of dilution, you will have the best of both worlds with the alkalinity on tap to brew darker beers and lack of mineralization for lighter beers. Given the hardness of the water, if your house already has a water softener unit, be sure to feed your RO unit with the softened water and the membrane will last longer.

Another option that this water is well suited for is Excess Lime softening. That will drop the Ca, Mg, and alkalinity, but its much more a PITA than drawing off gallons of RO water. Check out Bru'n Water if you haven't already.

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Old 09-04-2012, 07:29 PM   #3
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Thanks very much for the expert input, and for the excellent Bru'n water referral!

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Old 09-04-2012, 07:36 PM   #4
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Your water has more bicarb than mine, and I ended up getting a RO system myself this spring. Up until low, I was buying RO water at the store and diluting my tap water.

Before buying the RO system, I tried the lime softening. It was easy, but I hated it. I had big containers of water, so I could rack off the precipitant. It was a pain, and I did alot of lifting and pouring. If I had a container to use, in a higher place or with a pump, it would have been ok. I saw a photo in this forum, but I forgot who it was, that would be something that might work for me. It was a big trashbin, with a low level spigot, and he used it just for lime softening his brewing water. For me, it didn't work because I needed more water than I wanted to deal as I do 10 gallon batches.

Anyway, I bought the RO system and am completely thrilled with it. For some beers, I use 100% RO water, for some I mix tap water and RO water, and for one (my stout) I use tap water.

One thing that instantly improved my beers was sparging with 100% RO water. I wish I would have done that years ago!

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Old 09-04-2012, 07:48 PM   #5
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Excellent info, thanks Yooper. I remembering reading through your RO thread a few months ago and thinking it sounded like a good idea for me. Glad to hear the results are topnotch!

With your RO system, could you set up a tank or trashcan or whatever with a float-switch or something and collect as much RO water as you wanted? A lot of the packages I've seen have 3 or so gallon tanks- if I wanted to collect 15 (or more for that matter) would that be pretty easy to do given a little time? I've got tons of space and was thinking of setting up a tank and maybe even running a coil through it to use as a CLT for heat exchange when cooling.

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Old 09-04-2012, 08:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillhousesawdustco View Post
Excellent info, thanks Yooper. I remembering reading through your RO thread a few months ago and thinking it sounded like a good idea for me. Glad to hear the results are topnotch!

With your RO system, could you set up a tank or trashcan or whatever with a float-switch or something and collect as much RO water as you wanted? A lot of the packages I've seen have 3 or so gallon tanks- if I wanted to collect 15 (or more for that matter) would that be pretty easy to do given a little time? I've got tons of space and was thinking of setting up a tank and maybe even running a coil through it to use as a CLT for heat exchange when cooling.
Yes, mine has an auto-off included and with a float valve, it would stop when full. I didn't get the holding tank, as I'm not using it for drinking water.

Here is the one I bought: http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/brs-4-stage-value-ro-only-system-75gpd.html I love it, and it works great for me. I didn't even bother with the float switch but it has the auto off in it, so I could. I just have a clamp on I use to hook it up to my HLT and the waste water to the drain, and I'm all set. I didn't even bother mounting it- it's just under my utility sink. It comes with all the hardware you could want to hook it up to the sink (so you can still use water out of that sink), but I just do the quick and easy way by putting the adapter on the faucet and come back in a few hours to check on it.
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:01 PM   #7
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How long to get ten gallons out of it?

Also, all of the RO systems I see might be overkill for me. I brew in my well-house, so I'm about 5 feet from my sediment/carbon/citrus filters...could I just purchase the very last filter in these systems (the RO membrane I assume) and use that?

The whole system really is really quite affordable, but paying for the extra filters, when my well filters are doing the same thing, doesn't make huge sense for the long-term. That said, if the well filters are doing their job then really I shouldn't ever need to change the sediment/carbon filters...right?

Thanks for the input, and apologies if you've addressed all this stuff in other threads.

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Old 09-04-2012, 09:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by hillhousesawdustco View Post
How long to get ten gallons out of it?

Also, all of the RO systems I see might be overkill for me. I brew in my well-house, so I'm about 5 feet from my sediment/carbon/citrus filters...could I just purchase the very last filter in these systems (the RO membrane I assume) and use that?

The whole system really is really quite affordable, but paying for the extra filters, when my well filters are doing the same thing, doesn't make huge sense for the long-term. That said, if the well filters are doing their job then really I shouldn't ever need to change the sediment/carbon filters...right?

Thanks for the input, and apologies if you've addressed all this stuff in other threads.
I get about 3 gallons an hour out of mine.

I don't know about getting just the RO part, so suggest sending the supplier an email (I got mine from Bulkreefsupply.com and I've emailed several questions to them and got good quick responses) and ask. You may have a much longer lived membrane with the filters in place.
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillhousesawdustco View Post
...citrus filters...
Citrus filter?

Quote:
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...could I just purchase the very last filter in these systems (the RO membrane I assume) and use that?
You could but the RO cartridge isn't just another filter cartridge. It requires special housing. Remember that feed water must be let in but that both brine and permeate have to come out. Also by not buying a system you won't get a pressure tank. This is a plus in the sense that the system will produce more per day without the pressure tank connected (but you can achieve the same thing by leaving the outlet valve on the pressure tank open while collecting for brewing). If you omit the pressure tank or include it and leave the valve open you must have something to collect the RO water in.


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That said, if the well filters are doing their job then really I shouldn't ever need to change the sediment/carbon filters...right?
Right. Especially of your well is clean with regard to earthy/musty odors, hydrogen sulfide.... The carbon filter is there mainly to protect the membrane from chlorine/chloramine.
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:09 PM   #10
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http://www.purewaterproducts.com/

These people build their own stuff, they can tell you what you need and customize something for you.

Just in case Yooper’s connection can’t give you what you need.

Yooper, as much as I love Red Green, I’m glad you got your whip back.
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