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Old 01-22-2009, 01:25 AM   #1
Pelikan
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Default Is Calcium Carbonate Required?

If one is using reverse osmosis/distilled water plus gypsum, epsom salts, and calcium chloride for a mineral base, is calcium carbonate a required addition? I would also be using buffer 5.2, so pH wouldn't be much of an issue.

From where I'm sitting, CaCO3 is more of a hindrance than a help in this situation, but I'm not certain on this point.

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Old 01-22-2009, 01:50 AM   #2
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If one is using reverse osmosis/distilled water plus gypsum, epsom salts, and calcium chloride for a mineral base, is calcium carbonate a required addition? I would also be using buffer 5.2, so pH wouldn't be much of an issue.

From where I'm sitting, CaCO3 is more of a hindrance than a help in this situation, but I'm not certain on this point.
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Old 01-22-2009, 01:59 AM   #3
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Nope...nothing is required. What style of beer are you brewing? I would think that would dictate what minerals you put in. Sounds like you're trying to go with a "normal" Ph using the buffer. So make the water hardness indicative of your favorite beer's water

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Old 01-22-2009, 08:00 AM   #4
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Nope...nothing is required. What style of beer are you brewing? I would think that would dictate what minerals you put in. Sounds like you're trying to go with a "normal" Ph using the buffer. So make the water hardness indicative of your favorite beer's water
That's more or less what I figured. I'm trying to come up with a fairly general profile for a majority of beers I brew, something to the tune of about 200 ppm split between calcium, sulfate, magnesium, and chloride (not evenly, of course).

I pretty much had my profile worked out, then saw something about CaCO3 and began wondering if it was indeed a "required" addition. From everything I've seen, it's more of a hindrance than a help.
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:05 AM   #5
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The following is from the portion of John Palmer's website talking about water and water reports which can be found here.

Bicarbonate (HCO3-1)
Molecular Weight = 61.0
Equivalent Weight = 61.0
Brewing Range = 0-50 ppm for pale, base-malt only beers.
50-150 ppm for amber colored, toasted malt beers, 150-250 ppm for dark, roasted malt beers.
The carbonate family of ions are the big players in determining brewing water chemistry. Carbonate (CO3-2), is an alkaline ion, raising the pH, and neutralizing dark malt acidity. Its cousin, bicarbonate (HCO3-1), has half the buffering capability but actually dominates the chemistry of most brewing water supplies because it is the principal form for carbonates in water with a pH less than 8.4. Carbonate itself typically exists as less than 1% of the total carbonate/bicarbonate/carbonic acid species until the pH exceeds 8.4. There are two methods the homebrewer can use to bring the bicarbonate level down to the nominal 50 - 150 ppm range for most pale ales, or even lower for light lagers such as Pilsener. These methods are boiling, and dilution.

Carbonate can be precipitated (ppt) out as Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) by aeration and boiling according to the following reaction:

2HCO3-1 + Ca+2 + O2 gas --> CaCO3 (ppt) + H2O + CO2 gas

where oxygen from aeration acts as a catalyst and the heat of boiling prevents the carbon dioxide from dissolving back into the water to create carbonic acid.

Dilution is the easiest method of producing low carbonate water. Use distilled water from the grocery store (often referred to as Purified Water for use in steam irons) in a 1:1 ratio, and you will effectively cut your bicarbonate levels in half, although there will be a minor difference due to buffering reactions. Bottom Line: if you want to make soft water from hard water (e.g. to brew a Pilsener), dilution with distilled water is the best route.

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Old 01-22-2009, 08:25 PM   #6
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Yes, I've read that over about fifty times. But when using a buffering agent, such as 5.2, CaCO3 seems like a moot point. It doesn't appear to offer anything to the flavor profile, which is what I'm after in building up a mineral base.

Can someone elaborate on this?

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