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Old 07-01-2011, 12:11 AM   #1
hops2it
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Default Water Profile Review From The Experts

Hi all. I have done some reading here and have attempted to use a spreadsheet I found in one of the stickies but I'm still a little shaky on the topic. I would like to get opinions from those of you who seem to have a good handle on this:

pH 9.5
Total Alk 44
Total Hardness 126
Ca Hardness 54
Mg Hardness 72
Carbonate 24
Bicarbonate 42
Chloride 19
Sulfate 25
Pottasium 2.0
Sodium 8.7
Iron 0.028

How do I look?

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Old 07-01-2011, 01:50 AM   #2
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That's some funky water. Your Mg is way too high. The pH is weird, and seems pretty high for how low your alkalinity is, but the Mg is your main problem.

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Old 07-01-2011, 02:47 AM   #3
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I may not be listing it properly. I work at the water plant and I'm using data off our lab spreadsheet. We lime soften which is why the pH is high. We actually drive it up to near 11.0, then bring it back down with CO2. Because of our softening method, we are concerned with Ca hardness and Mg hardness, basically to analyze the softening process. Perhaps that is not applicable to what we are looking for here though. I would guess that free Mg would be a different situation and I can't seem to find any data for it, might have to ask someone in the lab.

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Old 07-01-2011, 04:07 AM   #4
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Nothing wrong with the calcium or magnesium at respectively 21.5 and 17.5 mg/L as the ions. But 44 ppm alkalinity isn't enough to balance this profile. You'd need more like 95 for that (or more sulfate or chloride). In addition to that the molar ratio of carbonate to bicarbonate in the report is (24/61)/(42/60) = 0.562 which corresponds to a pH of 10.125 so there is something fishy there too.

OTOH pH 9.6 is by itself high. Above WHO recommendations and a full pH above the saturation pH even when calculated with the 44 alkalinity level. Aren't your guys worried about occlusion?

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Old 07-01-2011, 10:41 AM   #5
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My mistake. I thought those numbers were for ions in ppm.

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Old 07-02-2011, 09:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
Nothing wrong with the calcium or magnesium at respectively 21.5 and 17.5 mg/L as the ions. But 44 ppm alkalinity isn't enough to balance this profile. You'd need more like 95 for that (or more sulfate or chloride). In addition to that the molar ratio of carbonate to bicarbonate in the report is (24/61)/(42/60) = 0.562 which corresponds to a pH of 10.125 so there is something fishy there too.

OTOH pH 9.6 is by itself high. Above WHO recommendations and a full pH above the saturation pH even when calculated with the 44 alkalinity level. Aren't your guys worried about occlusion?
As for the ratio of carb to bicarb, I may have not listed values from the same day and I definitely just threw in our average pH which could have been different at the time of the listed samples. I'm not looking for exact numbers because we have some fluctuations from day to day and most certainly from season to season being a surface water plant with 3 different sources which we use independently or vary the blends depending on source quality.

Our primary reason for the higher pH is lead and copper compliance. Because we had some homes fail tests many years ago, we were required to provide additional protection. To achieve and maintain this protection, our operating permit requires that we provide a minimum CaCO3 precipitation potential (CCPP) of 7.5 mg/l. At our target pH of 9.5 we generally average a CCPP of 15 mg/l. Lowering the pH would reduce the CCPP. That would reduce scale formation but at some risk of again exceeding SDWA lead copper standards. We have seen good results with this configuration and have been using this protocol now years.

I entered my information into Kai's spreadsheet and I thought it looked pretty decent? I'm showing a residual alkalinity of 18 ppm which doesn't seem terrible to me but perhaps I'm underestimating the importance of a complete ion balance (mine was 9.9%).

I then entered some info from my last recipe to predict mash pH and it came out to 5.56, a little high but not far off right? This recipe wasn't a huge grain bill either IMO...8 lbs two row, 2 lbs Vienna, 0.5 lbs crystal 10L. So I guess I'm thinking things aren't all that bad but perhaps I will borrow a portable pH meter from work and take the guesswork out of it altogether.
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Old 07-05-2011, 05:09 PM   #7
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So I ran the same brew using my water through the EZ calculator and it came up with a mash pH of 5.44 which was on the low end of the ideal range. The 2 things slightly out of range were calcium and sulfate at 22 and 25 mg/L respectively. So to balance the flavor, it says I need 0.5 grams of NaCl (to avoid further pH reduction). That's only 0.1 teaspoons though or like a few grains of salt to raise me from the upper end of bitter into balanced.

Really? Am I doing something wrong because it seems strange that a couple grains of salt is going to make the difference between a bitter and balanced beer in 8+ gallons of water.

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Old 07-05-2011, 07:59 PM   #8
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The mistake you are making is accepting that the ratio of chloride to sulfate is a meaningful parameter which has a predictable effect on beer flavor. It doesn't. Chloride and sulfate are separate ions each of which has its own effects. They are not antagonistic. You don't need to be a pHd brewing scientist to appreciate that a beer made with 0.1 mg/L chloride and sulfate will be dramatically different from one with 400 mg/L of each. The former would be nicely balanced, the latter a disaster if you used noble hops (and probably with lots of other cultivars too). You need to explore the effects of sulfate and chloride separately for the kinds of beers you brew.

Most people seem to feel that higher chloride levels improve the beer whereas higher sulfate levels tend to detriment it. But some people find beers with low sulfate lifeless WRT hops flavor.

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Old 07-05-2011, 09:58 PM   #9
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So is ion balance important then as it relates to residual alkalinity? I see that term used in Kai's calculator as though its a significant factor. Appears to me that it and mash pH are the goals of using the calculator. Since I'm close in both of those, I'm wondering what, if anything, I should change about my water. And if its recipe dependent, how do i know specifically what to change based on the grain bill and water volume required for each recipe I try? Is there a single resource or resources that tell a brewer what parameters to shoot for in any situation and what additive/amount to use?

Or do most people just make the same changes to their water each brewday to cover a broad spectrum of brews and call it good?

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Old 07-06-2011, 02:50 AM   #10
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I'm not sure which balance is being referred to here. Clearly, some speak of a "balance" between chloride and sulfate when they are referring to the ratio. Residual alkalinity, if it calculates to 0, represents a balance between the alkalinity and amount of acid hypothetically released by the reaction of malt phosphate and calcium plus magnesium in the water.

What is significant is the balance of electrical charge between all the reported anions and all the reported cations in a water report or profile. Obviously physically realizable water is electrically neutral and so there must be equal number of plus and minus charges. This balance, thus, serves as a quality control check on reports and profiles. Laboratory measurements are never perfect, not all ions are measured and accounted for and water works sampling practices conspire to insure that no report ever balances exactly but the imbalance is usually small. It is with the target profiles that the imbalances are more serious. The bottom line is that you cannot synthesize an unbalanced profile especially from an unbalanced base water.

Some of the spreadsheets calculate balance and so warn you of this situation. Others don't.

Unfotunately there is no single source of information on this complex subject and the new practitioner can easily become overwhelmed and confused. After years of considering this I have come up with a beginning approach which is quite simple and yields good results. It can be found in the Primer posted in the Stickies here. It is intended to get you going while you study the intricacies if you wish to do so.

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