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Old 08-14-2013, 02:09 PM   #1
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Default Water Hardness Question

I'm doing my 1st AG batch this weekend. I have an under the sink RO system, and up till now I've been using that water to brew with. We have a water softner as well, but I just discovered that my kitchen sink cold water is not softened.

The only thing I know about the local water is that the hardness is 11 grains. I'll get it tested, but for brewing this weekend would you recommend I just use the tap water or use the RO water and add some minerals? I'm making a Pale Ale, if that matters at all.

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Old 08-14-2013, 02:24 PM   #2
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To predict and control, I'd go with the RO and adjust with minerals....
How big a batch? If your RO system is like mine, I can't get more than a gallon and a half out of it at one time....takes several hours to get more.

My water calculator (Brunwater) tells me to add .5 g/gal of Gypsum and Calcium Chloride and .2g/gal of Epsom Salt to RO water to obtain a Pale Ale profile

I also discovered that softened water is not good for homebrew.....

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Old 08-14-2013, 03:05 PM   #3
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I'm doing 5 gallons. I can only get a couple gallons from my system at a time as well, but it refills quickly, so if I can manage 6 or 7 gallons over the course of a few hours I think.

I assume you would add all of those minerals into the mash? Or would you only put half in the mash and the rest in the sparge water?

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Old 08-14-2013, 03:05 PM   #4
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I'd use the RO. Half to 1 tsp of calcium chloride and half to 1 tsp of gypsum (I'd start at at a half of each) will be just fine for an IPA. You don't really need Epsom salts but if you want to put some in anyway a little won't hurt.

To increase the production rate of your RO system leave the valve open (with a hose running to some collection vessel). This prevents the pressure from building up in the bladder tank. That pressure reduces the volume of water produced per hour.

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Old 08-14-2013, 03:29 PM   #5
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Thanks. So if I do 1/2 tsp of each, would that be all in the mash or 1/4 tsp of each in mash and 1/4 tsp in sparge water?

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Old 08-14-2013, 04:44 PM   #6
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That would be (1/2 tsp each) per 5 gallons of RO water however you want to divide it up. Much easier (IMO) to treat the whole volume at the outset.

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Old 08-14-2013, 04:59 PM   #7
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The problem is, the pot I'm going to use to heat water is only 5 gallons, so I have to fill and heat it twice.

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Old 08-14-2013, 05:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
. . . You don't really need Epsom salts but if you want to put some in anyway a little won't hurt. . .
Magnesium is good for yeast flocculation....and with RO water, you don't have any. Another local homebrewer has been extensively experimenting with straight RO water and mineral additions and has reached the conclusion that epsom salts are dang near necessary when doing all RO.

and don't take my word for it...take Palmer's
http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter6-9-1.html
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Old 08-14-2013, 05:35 PM   #9
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That says that since I brew with 0 magnesium (effectively - the water is softened before going through the RO system) I should have trouble with flocculation. But I don't. So much for that theory.

I didn't take your word for it. Here's what John says:

"Usually the wort supplies all the necessary mineral requirements of the yeast, except for zinc which is often deficient or in a non-assimilable form."

That's true. There is plenty of magnesium in malt. In fact the amount of magnesium that gets added from a few mg/L Epsom salts addition to the water (remember that they contain 7 waters of hydration) is small relative to the amount contributed by the malt.

Magnesium is not required for flocculation. It may help but you really should must have some calcium and that takes care of the flocculation. What magnesium is needed for is as a co-factor for some of the enzymes involved in fermentation. Malt supplies plenty for this.

It is also true that worts may benefit from addition of a bit of zinc and most yeast nutrients contain so.

Bottom line:
You don't need to add magnesium salts.
It won't hurt to add some magnesium sulfate if you really want to or if you want the particular bitter/sour flavor that magnesium imparts.
I might help to add some zinc.

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Old 08-14-2013, 06:42 PM   #10
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No...it doesn't say you should have trouble. It says you could avoid trouble or if you have trouble, magnesium could be helpful. It also says, yes the magnesium may be sufficient but it can be inhibited.

Maybe your flocculation would improve with a magnesium addition.

And just prior to what you quoted is what I'm referencing....

But it's homebrew...to each his own. Add or don't add what you want but if it won't hurt and might help, why not?

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