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Old 03-30-2012, 04:04 PM   #1
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Default Brita filters: What do they filter?

Greetings from Upstate NY! This is my first post to this site. (Actually, it's my first internet forum posting ever). Tomorrow's a big brew day, and I'll be having a go at my first pilsener as part of the fun. I'm running my water through a counter-top Brita filter in preparation. In addition to chlorine, what else do Britas filter? I have my city water report, so I want to know if, aside from the chlorine, it will remain similar post-Brita in terms of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and the like. Basically, I'm trying to get an idea of what's left, so that I can soften the water if need be.

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Old 03-30-2012, 04:30 PM   #2
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from:

http://waterindustry.org/Water-Facts/filtered-1.htm

A Brita water filter claims to remove 99 percent of chlorine as well as heavy metals in tap water such as lead and copper which can be caused by the household installations. The filters also eliminate fluoride, which may not be a benefit for children's teeth.

Brita, however, does not filter THMs out of tap water.

Tap water may be just as safe because chlorine and THMs evaporate from tap water after a few hours.

The benefits of a Brita water filter lays in its ability to filter out heavy metals and other impurities, such as lead, which are most likely not in your tap, but may be due to poor plumbing.

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Old 03-30-2012, 04:32 PM   #3
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Brita is an activated charcoal filter. It will probably remove chlorine but I don't know if it does much of anything for minerals.

Depending on your water quality, I would just get 5 gallons of spring water. It's not too expensive.

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Old 03-30-2012, 04:37 PM   #4
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Welcome! If you're like me, you tend to "lurk" more than post. I get turned off quickly by a lot of the shenanigans that go on within many forums. However, I think you'll find this forum to be one of the best in terms of helpful and knowledgeable members. Forums in general are a good source of info, but I've found that this place is one of - if not the - best around.

I can't answer your question with any reasonable level of authority, but I found this on Brita's site:

Quote:
The majority of BRITA cartridges contain a combination of ion exchange resin and activated carbon. The carbon absorbs chlorine, pesticides and organic pollutants, improves taste and eliminates odours and discolouration. It also contains an inhibitor that prevents bacterial growth. The ion exchange resin reduces temporary hardness, which causes limecale. It also significantly reduces levels of metals such as copper and lead.

The overall hardness of water consists of permanent hardness and temporary hardness. Permanent hardness (caused by calcium and magnesium sulphates as well as chloride) does not influence the taste of water or the function of household appliances. Temporary hardness (caused by calcium and magnesium hydrogen carbonate) primarily affects the taste of food and other beverages prepared with hot water.

The BRITA water filter cartridge reduces the temporary hardness of drinking water. The results of this reduction: better tasting water for hot drinks and cooked food and less scale build up in household appliances.
That doesn't tell us all of what Brita's filters take out of your water, but obviously they are removing temporary hardness (calcium and magnesium carbonates).

How much, I can't say. Nor am I much of a science buff. However, I'm sure we have some sharp members here that are far more knowledgeable than I am.

What I will say is that if you have a water report already, you should post that so that we can all have a look. You may or may not want to filter the water based upon this knowledge. It might be better to simply treat it with brewers' salts.
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Old 03-30-2012, 05:15 PM   #5
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Brita filters filter brita

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Old 04-17-2012, 07:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joyceman View Post
from:

http://waterindustry.org/Water-Facts/filtered-1.htm

A Brita water filter claims to remove 99 percent of chlorine as well as heavy metals in tap water such as lead and copper which can be caused by the household installations. The filters also eliminate fluoride, which may not be a benefit for children's teeth.

Brita, however, does not filter THMs out of tap water.

Tap water may be just as safe because chlorine and THMs evaporate from tap water after a few hours.

The benefits of a Brita water filter lays in its ability to filter out heavy metals and other impurities, such as lead, which are most likely not in your tap, but may be due to poor plumbing.

+1

Filtering through a Brita won't hurt anything but will not influence THMs.

On a side note, filtering vodka through the Brita does amazing things for low grade versions.
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Old 07-01-2013, 01:04 AM   #7
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hofmeister,

Undergrad chemistry student and homebrewer here. Some thoughts on your questions:

1) BRITA FILTERS. Yes, Brita filters do indeed remove hardness from your tap water. I base this on a few hours of research online in which I evaluated several independent tests which were posted online. Here are a few:

Missouri TV Station KFVS had an independent water lab analyze Brita filters:
http://www.kfvs12.com/story/307273/b...ering-pitchers

Undergrad chem lab report tests Brita filters. Interesting because it shows faucet-attached model significantly better at hardness removal than pitcher-type.
http://bit.ly/15Wescd

Science Fair project tests Brita filters. Use of TDS meter involved.
http://www.usc.edu/CSSF/History/2006/Projects/J0509.pdf

Also, pistolsatdawn’s post above with the quote from Brita’s website saying their filters do remove hardness from tap water.

Also also, the chair of my department assured me that a few years back they tested Brita filter water in the lab and he was surprised at how much of the hardness minerals it removed. Hopelessly anecdotal from your POV, but still.

2) Softening your water for homebrewing: DON’T DO IT. A defense of this blanket statement would involve a very complicated discussion of the various technologies employed by commercial in-home water softener units. doubtless there is some homebrewer out there who thinks his water softener homebrew is the bomb and will say I’m wrong, but I can virtually guarantee you that if such a person were to chime in, they would lack the technical background to be able to determine if your setup is same as his setup. (also keep in mind that you might think his hb was total dreck if you tasted it, so…)

3) Your location. Consulting a water hardness map of the US (link below), I can see that upstate NY has a wide variation in water hardnesses. Looks like if you live ~50 miles to the S or E of Lake Ontario, your water will be hard to very hard respectively, and elsewhere soft. If you have soft water, then I say your water, esp after being Brita'd, should be just fine for a decent pilsener. If you have found your pilsener brew unacceptable, then I would determine which of your local big chain grocery stores have a water machine that you can buy water from. These machines are always reverse osmosis, and should dispense very soft water (<10 ppm of calcium) which should be excellent for your pilsener.

Hope this helps!

Water hardness map of US:
http://www.h2odistributors.com/water-hardness.asp

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Old 07-01-2013, 01:08 AM   #8
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Maybe a stupid question, but what's a THM?

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Old 07-01-2013, 01:22 AM   #9
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when i saw it above, i assumed it meant "total hardness minerals", but i guess that's wrong. in the context of a water report i think it means trihalomethanes. i've never seen trihalomethanes ever discussed in brewing literature, not sure why joyceman called it out above. rereading his post (2nd down), he doesn't seem to be discussing Britas in the context of brewing.

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Old 07-01-2013, 01:36 AM   #10
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A Brita filter contains (or did last time I checked which was several years ago)
1. A GAC element
2. A H+ for cation and OH- for anion ion exchanger element
3. A silver ion injecting element.

The GAC element removes chlorine and chloramine (I actually tested for this) and should remove THMs to some extent at least

The ion exchange resins remove hardness, alkalinity, heavy metals... i.e. most everything. Given enough contact time the Brita pitcher should produce essentially DI water with the exception of a small amount of silver ion (and some accompanying cation) which is in there to keep bacteria from growing in the filtered water.

Post #7 advises against softening brewing water and that is good advice if the softener is a typical home water softener which replaces calcium (the brewers friend) and magnesium with sodium and leaves bicarbonate (the source of alkalinity which is the brewer's enemy) untouched. A Brita pitcher removes both cations and anions so this comment is not applicable to Brita pitches. Soft, decarbonated water is great for brewing some styles which is why so many brewers are turning to RO as a source of their brewing liquor. In some (many) cases, however, such water needs supplementation with calcium, chloride and, for some styles and personal tastes, sulfate.

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