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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > Water Report - Distilled Water in my Future?
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Old 08-10-2011, 02:34 AM   #1
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Default Water Report - Distilled Water in my Future?

I just received my water analysis report from Ward Labs and it's not quite what I expected. I did expect the alkalinity to be high but I don't know what to make of some of the low values. My first all-grain brew (Saison Ete) was a few weeks ago (before I had the report) and I just cut my water with 50% distilled water and it seemed to work okay. It looks like I'll need to cut my water with distilled water for anything but a stout or porter. Does that make sense to those who know more about this than I do?

In any event, here's the report:

pH 8.0
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 239
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.40
Cations / Anions, me/L 4.5 / 4.4

(Values below in ppm)

Sodium, Na 39
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 34
Magnesium, Mg 13
Total Hardness, CaCO3 139
Nitrate, NO3-N < 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S < 1
Chloride, Cl 12
Carbonate, CO3 6
Bicarbonate, HCO3 231
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 199
Fluoride, F 0.27
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01
"<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit


This is for well water, BTW. How concerned should I be about the Sulfate or Calcium values?

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Old 08-10-2011, 07:01 AM   #2
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Sodium is a little high. Modest Calcium sulfate and Calcium chloride additions will help with residual alkalinity.

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Old 08-10-2011, 07:21 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nut4wine View Post
It looks like I'll need to cut my water with distilled water for anything but a stout or porter.
Distilled water is overkill for brewing. Reverse osmosis water from the machine outside the supermarket is usually under $2 for five gallons and is plenty soft for brewing.

Gypsum and CaCl2 will help supply your yeast with calcium and reduce mash pH, but you still might need some extra acid (or acid malt) for pale beers even with 100% RO.
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Old 08-10-2011, 09:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 944play
Distilled water is overkill for brewing. Reverse osmosis water from the machine outside the supermarket is usually under $2 for five gallons and is plenty soft for brewing.
Is there really any discernible difference with commercial distilled vs RO water? I know home RO systems are nowhere near 100% effective, but the water you buy should have a negligible mineral content, no? Unless you're talking about some sort of cheap machine hooked into the plumbing and generating RO water on demand.

But I persinally buy distilled water, and don't really see it as "overkill". It's sold in front of the registers at my local grocery store, although it's not store brand, but some other company that offers both distilled and spring water at the same price.

I buy the distilled water in 4-gallon containers for $3.99, and as an added bonus, the bottles they come in are PET, and are perfectly sized to fit two of them in the bottom of my basement fridge (without taking up the space in my fermentation freezer.) Heck, if I wanted to, since I could use 2 of those bottles per batch anyways instead of doing 50-50, I could literally just split all my batches into two, and essentially have an endless supply of single-use "Better Bottles" that would never require cleaning, and would drastically lower chances of infections and even contamination from previous yeast strains. Hard to beat all that for $4. In fact, the idea of using single-use fermentors for most of my beers is incredibly enticing, and now I'm going to seriously consider starting to do so.
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Old 08-10-2011, 11:07 AM   #5
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Is there really any discernible difference with commercial distilled vs RO water?
Functionally, probably no, so if you can get distilled for the same price as RO, then by all means use distilled.
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