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Old 12-14-2012, 12:20 AM   #1
chasep7
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Default Ward Labs Report

This is what I got from Ward Labs on my water. I was thinking I drew from a faucet that bypassed the water softener but it doesn't look like it. I am however a chemistry noob. This is from well water in northeast NE.

pH 6.8
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 175
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.29
Cations / Anions, me/L 2.8 / 3.1

Sodium, Na 65
Potassium, K < 1
Calcium, Ca < 1
Magnesium, Mg < 1
Total Hardness, CaCO3 < 1
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.5 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 5
Chloride, Cl 6
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 162
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 133

After reading the water primer, I'm thinking I need to add calcium chloride for every brew to some degree. Should I worry about diluting to reduce the bicarbonate or sodium? The bicarbonate appears to be 3X too high for pale beers, according to Palmer. (Does this include IPAs IYO?) I've had a problem with metallic tastes with beers brewed at my last house and would like to avoid that in the future.

Thanks!

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Old 12-14-2012, 01:29 PM   #2
ajdelange
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You did indeed get a post water softener sample so we can only say that your hardness will be a bit less than 140 (depending on how much sodium is in the water - the 65 mg/L comes mostly from the softener but there is doubtless a bit in the source). We can also only guess that the hardness split will be perhaps 80/60 Ca++/Mg++ giving you about 32 mg/L calcium.

Yes, 133 mg/L alkalinity is enough to be troublesome but there are lots of ways to get it down to an acceptable level. The easiest of these in terms of the path to good beer is just to dilute it away with RO water. This is the direction the Primer takes. If you do that then you will need to add calcium chloride to every brew and perhaps calcium sulfate depending on your tastes and the style of the beer.

Dilution is easiest to understand and implement in the brewery if you have a convenient supply of RO water. It is not the most convenient if you have to drive across town to get low ion water. Alkalinity can also be disposed of by neutralizing with acid, by boiling the water or by treating it with lime. These are not terribly difficult to carry out but you really should have a pH meter and hardness and alkalinity test kits to guide you and to see how effective your treatment has been.

RO is definitely the surest way to go in order to be certain of reaching a particular goal but it is too easy in the sense that the mysteries of water chemistry will never be revealed to you if you take this easy way out.

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Old 12-14-2012, 01:35 PM   #3
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Judging by the modest sodium concentration that the softener left you with, the hardness is not ridiculous. But, there are ions other than Ca and Mg that a softener might be targeting, namely iron and manganese. If those are present at high enough concentration to taste, then this unsoftened water may not be suitable for brewing. If there are any faucets that discharge unsoftened water and there are either rust-colored or black-colored stains, then the water might have those metals. You may not have any choice but use RO water then.

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Old 12-14-2012, 02:54 PM   #4
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Even iron can be dealt with in various ways such as a whole house greensand filter or by treating only the brewing water via aeration and filtration through clean sane. PITA but instructive.

I forgot to mention Fe/Mg in my last post. OP needs to send another pre softener sample to Ward Labs anyway and should be sure to get the test that includes iron (it's a few bucks more). Or he can test for iron himself. Aerate a sample of pre softener water thoroughly and force through a few layers of folded paper towel. If a orange/brown/black stain is visible on the paper iron and or maganese are present.

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Old 12-14-2012, 06:26 PM   #5
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Wow thanks for the great replies! I'm going to have a pre-softener test done, hopefully not too hard like you said.

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