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Old 09-05-2012, 06:40 PM   #1
Ashella
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Default Water report, trying to make sense

Hello all,

I received a report of the distribution averages for my city's water, and they are as follows:

Alkalinity 89.7 mg/L
Ammonia Nitrogen 0.1 mg/L
Calcium 35.7 mg/L
Chloride 30.5 mg/L
Magnesium 8.88 mg/L
Organic Nitrogen 0.2 mg/L
Potassium 1.55 mg/L
pH 7.72
Total Dissolved Solids 189 mg/L
Sodium 16.3 mg/L
Sulphate 27.3 mg/L
Total Hardness 127 mg/L

The one thing that seemed to be missing from the report was the Bicarbonate levels. From reading John Palmers "How to Brew", it would seem that most all my levels (Calcium, Chloride, Magnesium, Sulphate) are under the recommended levels. Does this mean I am going to have to supplement my waters minerals?

Any help you guys can provide is appreciated, as this water science stuff is very new to me!

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Old 09-05-2012, 06:46 PM   #2
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You can use your Alkalinity measurement in place of the bicarbonate.

I use the EZ Water spreadsheet and while your levels are under Palmer's 'recommended' levels, I generally won't treat my water just to add a few ppm of Calcium/Mag/Sulfate. IMO, you can mess with the chloride:sulfate ratio is accent malts or hops but I'd leave everything else alone.

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Old 09-05-2012, 07:13 PM   #3
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With the alkalinity and pH values, the bicarbonate concentration can be calculated easily with Bru'n Water. Then you have all the critical information needed for brewing water adjustment.

The concentrations of all the ions in that water are fairly modest. Dilution with RO or distilled water should generally not be required. With adjustment of the alkalinity either up or down, this water should be well suited to brewing. The modest ion levels mean that you should be able to add minerals to boost certain ions to your preference without problem. Bru'n Water provides guidance on what concentrations you might consider for the brewing water.

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Old 09-05-2012, 07:16 PM   #4
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There are 2 components to water chemistry as far as home brewers are concerned - modifying your water for pH control, and modifying for flavor.

Your water is quite similiar to mine (Detroit City Water drawn from Lake Huron). I brew all-grain and need to acidfy my water when brewing most styles, as I need to reduce the alkalinity of my water in order to have the mash pH drop to an acceptable level. You may wish to do the same if you are an all-grain brewer.

As far as flavor modifications, that's more of a personal preference than controling your pH. I like my hoppy beers to have an increased level of sulphate, so I add gypsum. For maltier beers I add calcium chloride. Make small mineral additions, keep notes as to what you did and how you liked the result, and keep brewing the same beer until you've dialed it in according to your preferences.

Finally, look for any posts by ajdelange or mabrungard in this forum if you want to increase your water knowledge. They are the titans of this forum and have helped me many times.


Martin, you post faster than me!

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Old 09-06-2012, 04:33 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the great responses guys!

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Old 09-06-2012, 06:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmf143 View Post
There are 2 components to water chemistry as far as home brewers are concerned - modifying your water for pH control, and modifying for flavor.

Your water is quite similiar to mine (Detroit City Water drawn from Lake Huron). I brew all-grain and need to acidfy my water when brewing most styles, as I need to reduce the alkalinity of my water in order to have the mash pH drop to an acceptable level. You may wish to do the same if you are an all-grain brewer.

As far as flavor modifications, that's more of a personal preference than controling your pH. I like my hoppy beers to have an increased level of sulphate, so I add gypsum. For maltier beers I add calcium chloride. Make small mineral additions, keep notes as to what you did and how you liked the result, and keep brewing the same beer until you've dialed it in according to your preferences.

Finally, look for any posts by ajdelange or mabrungard in this forum if you want to increase your water knowledge. They are the titans of this forum and have helped me many times.


Martin, you post faster than me!
I was just curious how much gypsum and/or calcium chloride you would add. I tried using the EZ Water Calculator spreadsheet on the forums, but I am having trouble reducing the mash pH in the 5.4-5.6 region without exceeding the mineral ranges in the sheet. Without adding anything, it is saying my mash pH will be 5.71.
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashella View Post
I was just curious how much gypsum and/or calcium chloride you would add. I tried using the EZ Water Calculator spreadsheet on the forums, but I am having trouble reducing the mash pH in the 5.4-5.6 region without exceeding the mineral ranges in the sheet.
You might need acid malt instead of mineral additions for pH
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhamilton View Post
You might need acid malt instead of mineral additions for pH
Sorry I'm really new to all-grain. Can you explain what that means?
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashella View Post
Sorry I'm really new to all-grain. Can you explain what that means?
Acid Malt

It's a specialty malt that has lactic acid in it -- it helps lower your mash pH without having to add other minerals. If you have high pH problems, this is a good solution but I've never had to use it personally.
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:39 PM   #10
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Do you think that a predicted mash pH of 5.71 is high enough that I need to take action to correct it? Like I said, the EZ Water Calculator spreadsheet says that the range is 5.4-5.6.

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