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Old 02-05-2010, 05:39 PM   #1
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Default Vitamin C, 5.2 Mash Stabilizer, Brew Salt Additions & Interplay in H2O Chemistry Q's

OK, so I've been trying to read thoroughly and widely as regard to brew water chemistry. I'm not a science buff, but I enjoy the process of trying to figure things out. I've read tons of stuff here, watched Bobby's videos on Youtube, messed around with BeerSmith and the EZ Water Calculator. I've also read on Brewer's Friend and elsewhere. After reading, I decided to try using my tap water from home rather than buying Ice Mountain Spring Water from the store. I'm working on getting my water report from Ward. The publicly available one seems to be useless for brewing purposes. Once I get that taken care of, I'll be ready to move forward. But before I even get to that point I'm wondering about a few things.

First of all, I know that regardless of what the water report says, my water will have Chlorine and Chloramine in it. I know I can boil off Chlorine and supposedly Chloramine too with a 20-minute boil. I know some will disagree with me but I read it from a trusted source (www.sfwater.org/Files/FAQs/removal.pdf). Regardless, I'm not going to use this techinique. Keep reading. I don't want to boil off the Chlorine and Chloramine. Too much of a propane waste. So in the link listed above, I read that a 1000mg Vitamin C tablet will "remove chloramine [and chlorine] completely [from the water in] a medium size bathtub without significantly depressing pH." So, I'm thinking, OK, Vitamin C is cheap and readily available. I'll use that. There doesn't seem to be any risk of surface corrosion to stainless steel or plastic so there shouldn't be any worries. (Correct me if I'm wrong here).

I've also been reading that 5.2 Mash Stabilizer is a simple and great way to get your mash pH to that "5.2 sweet spot" but that it does so through Monosodium Phosphate (NaH2PO4) and Disodium Phosphate (Na2HPO4). So I'm thinking, OK, if I add that into my mash, it's going to affect the pH, dropping it to 5.2. But with the Vitamin C in there, that shouldn't be a problem. Tap water has a pH above 5.2 in fact it's often above 7. So if anything the Vitamin C will bring the pH down slightly making the 5.2 Mash Stabilizer not have to "work as hard."

Now, here are a few questions. 5.2 Mash Stabilizer will affect my pH but won't it also affect my water chemistry? Well, certainly it will! It will add those phosphates listed above. This would result in a different water profile. Which wouldn't this mean I need to enter different numbers in the water adjustment calculator? Well, I don't know!

So, then I go onto the question of brewing salt additions. How much will the additions of Vitamin C to remove the Chlorine & Chloramine and the addition of 5.2 Mash Stabilizer affect my water chemistry and water profile? Don't I need to know this to be able to figure out how much of the various brew salts (Gypsum, Calcium Carbonate, etc.) I need to add? I don't want to add too much and get any off flavors.

Will the additions of Vitamin C and 5.2 Mash Stabilizer affect the numbers I would add into my water adjustment calculator (i.e. Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Chloride, Sulfate)? I see "Na" (i.e. Sodium) among the chemicals that 5.2 Mash Stabilizer use to drop the pH. And I also see Sodium as one of the categories listed on the EZ Water Calculator. So do I need to adjust my levels?

5.2 Mash Stabilizer uses phosphates for it's work and the brew salts use carbonates, and sulfates, and other items not in 5.2 Mash Stabilizer. So while there are definite changes in the water chemistry, maybe it doesn't matter for the purposes of brew salt additions? This is where my lack of scientific expertise rears its head.

Can anyone help me out with a few answers here? Thanks a lot!

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Old 02-05-2010, 06:00 PM   #2
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Adding 5.2 Buffer at the recommended dosage will not have a significant effect on the water chemistry. Yes, it will contribute Na (salty taste) and pull some calcium out of the water as insoluble calcium phosphate, but the quantity is insignificant at the correct dosage. It certainly won't hurt but there is evidence 5.2 Buffer may not help either. Personally, I stopped using it after I purchased a pH meter.

With regard to vitamin C additions, I don't see the point. I recommend you use standard chlorine/chloramine removal methods - carbon filter and/or potassium metabisulfate.

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Old 02-05-2010, 06:14 PM   #3
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When you say "there is evidence 5.2 Buffer may not help" what do you mean by that? I have been reading on a number of sites that it works well and it a viable option for controlling pH. Could you point me to your source for that statement? As far as adding vitamin C vs. Potassium Metabisulfate (i.e. Campden Tablets) I looked into that and Vitamin C is more readily available (i.e. I can get it at the grocery store). But I see your point. Potassium Metabisulfate is the standard method of removal for a reason. Thanks lamarguy!

Does anyone have any other input as far as numbers and water chemistry go? Maybe personal experience?

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Old 02-05-2010, 06:18 PM   #4
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Several of us have put our pH meters to task to verify the effciacy of 5.2 at the reccommended doseage rates and found it to be lacking. Thus determining that if it in fact is not doing it's job as specified then why use it as opposed to much simpler methods with proven results.

Like acids.

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Old 02-05-2010, 06:40 PM   #5
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Ahhhhh. Well that throws a whole 'nuther wrench into my system. Now I have to begin researching ACIDS?! Son-of-a! Well let me ask this right off the bat then. Would putting acid in my mash along with a Campden Tablet influence the numbers I would input into the water calculator?

As far as acid use in Homebrewing, any good places to start with this? Any calculators or things like those available for brew salt additions? And I'm assuming it's back to How to Brew by John Palmer right? Hell that ought to be an acronym like RDWHAHB. HTBBJP, the standard answer to most any question right?

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Old 02-05-2010, 06:46 PM   #6
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TH's Easy Water calculator has a section for Hydrochloric and Lactic (as does Palmers RA sheet) and LamarGuy and I made some headway on how to replace the HCl with Phosphoric for calculations. But at the end of the day it really comes down to using a pH meter to be certain.

I have found the best way is to calculate the salts, add them, test pH and make adjustments, then key the volume of acid added to calculate if additional salt are needed to compensate for the disassociations, and then check pH again.

Or, just say fook it add the salts and adjust pH.

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Old 02-05-2010, 06:49 PM   #7
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Generally you will use either lactic or phosphoric acid. Either is available from home brew shops.

Lactic acid has a flavor (which is not necessarily bad especially in small amounts) phosphoric has less of a flavor.

Phosphoric acid will remove calcium from the water causing a sort of feedback loop which makes it hard to estimate the resulting pH and the residual calcium. So phosphoric is a little trickier to use.

Lactic acid happens to be available in the form of acid malt. This is what I use for acidification. 1% in the mash lowers pH .1, roughly.

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Old 02-05-2010, 07:36 PM   #8
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GilaMinumBeer, do you use the EZ Water Calculator to determine the volume of acid needed? I see where you can enter this. Do you just put a number in and see what it does and then adjust in the calculator until it looks good. Then take that number and put that much in your mash? I'm looking at 88% concentration of lactic acid from MoreBeer.com. Do you have to enter this number somewhere so that your ml additions are right?

Also, I'm a bit confused as to what the numbers next to "Sparge Additions (Add to Boil)" mean. Am I adding this many more grams of the particular salt to the boil kettle? That's what I'm assuming.

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Old 02-05-2010, 07:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hafmpty View Post
GilaMinumBeer, do you use the EZ Water Calculator to determine the volume of acid needed? I see where you can enter this. Do you just put a number in and see what it does and then adjust in the calculator until it looks good. Then take that number and put that much in your mash? I'm looking at 88% concentration of lactic acid from MoreBeer.com. Do you have to enter this number somewhere so that your ml additions are right?

Also, I'm a bit confused as to what the numbers next to "Sparge Additions (Add to Boil)" mean. Am I adding this many more grams of the particular salt to the boil kettle? That's what I'm assuming.
A.) No, I use the section more for calculating additonal salt needed after acid additions at least until I have "dialed -in" an expectation of how much acid is being used to balance my pH. For example, I calc salts and add them to the mash, then check pH and add acid to target, then I enter the volume of acid added to the mash to see what effect it has had on the salt additions. If additional salts are calculated beyond what I added previously then I add the difference and check the pH again. Kinda trial and error and there is prolly an easier way but, I am a chem idiot and bound to the tools I have.

B.) Yes. those are salts added to the kettle to counteract ions lost to draff.
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Old 02-05-2010, 07:47 PM   #10
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I haven't had to use acids yet. If I can't get my tap water into the guestimated SRM range for a batch, I just dilute with distilled water until I can. I've been testing the mash with colorpHast strips and so far so good. Of course, acid is one of those things you can stir in if you do find your pH to be too high, real time.

I hate the idea of not knowing the interplay of 5.2 with other salts and I don't know that I've ever seen anyone answer it.

The campden contributes less than 10ppm of sulfate from what I've read. I use half a tablet or 1/8 teaspoon of the powder for 10 gallons.

My advice is to build water up from RO/Distilled until you have your ward results back.

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