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Old 08-03-2012, 07:18 PM   #1
oldbullgoose
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Default Campden/KMeta vs. Filtering

I just found out that I have a ton of chloramines in my tap water. I have two questions:

I have the ability to do carbon filtering on my water or treating it with Campden tabs/potassium metabisulfate. Both would be minimal effort, I'm curious what makes for better beer at the end of the day.

Second, I brewed about 40 gallons of otherwise very good beer with my muni's untreated tap water...I took the entry level homebrewer's mantra of "if the water tastes good, your beer will" to heart too much, despite having all of intentions and materials to treat the water. Doh... At any rate, I've got what seem to be predictable phenolic off-flavors in at least two of the batches. Still waiting on the other two. Is there anything I can do? I've kegged one and it's sat in my keezer for about 2 months and has gotten a little better. Or maybe I'm just getting used to the phenols. Another batch is lagering, another in secondary, and one in primary.

Thanks.

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Old 08-03-2012, 07:35 PM   #2
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My 2 cents: Unless you've got a reverse osmosis system, how sure are you of your carbon filter's efficiency with removing chlorine and chloramine? As long as the campden tablets have the correct amount of active ingredient, and are used properly, they will work. I am curious to hear other opinions

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Old 08-03-2012, 08:13 PM   #3
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If it concerns you enough just buy drinking water. Its pretty cheap at the mega mart. Boiling and carbon filtering works for chloride but not chloramine.

You could cut your tap water with RO water to lower the ppm.

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Old 08-03-2012, 08:15 PM   #4
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Campden tablets remove both so I guess to answer your question use that method.

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Old 08-04-2012, 03:09 AM   #5
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Regarding the cost of buying water, if I can cut my brewery costs by using muni water, I'll do what i can to get to that point. I was buying water when I was doing 5 gallon batches and it was right around 10 bucks to get spring water at my grocery store to get enough water for a batch. I couldn't justify doubling that when I bumped up to 10gal batches.

Campden/Kmeta sounds like the way to go then. My only (unscientific) opinion was i'd rather not add additional chemicals to treat a water chemistry issue, but I'm convinced by the argument that the filter would only lower ppm rather than remove the chloramines.

I guess the only way would be to actually measure the chloramines. I know there are chlorine test kits, I'll have to do some research to find out if i can test for chloramines. I'll get to that when I'm back at my computer. I spoke at length with the municipal water chemist, who seemed very knowledgeable. Perhaps I'll take it up with her.

Thanks for the feedback!

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Old 08-04-2012, 05:05 AM   #6
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I usually use tap water to mash and RO to sparge. I'll be doing my first all RO batch tomorrow. I'm getting some off flavors and I think chloramines may be the culprit.

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Old 08-04-2012, 06:15 AM   #7
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You could also try good ole vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Not sure of the dose, but you can search this forum.

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Old 08-04-2012, 07:49 AM   #8
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Keep in mind that another benefit of campden tablets is that they inhibit the growth of wild yeasts and spoilage bacteria.

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Old 08-04-2012, 03:15 PM   #9
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I just provided input on the source water treatment chapter for Palmer and Kaminski's upcoming book on brewing water. One of the analyses I provided was on the subject of activated carbon (AC) filtration. For chlorine removal, AC is very effective and useful when the flow rate is low. For the typical 10-inch undersink filter unit, a flow rate of 1 gal/min or less is effective at removing chlorine. Due to its more stable nature, chloramine does not react with AC in the same manner as chlorine and the contact time between chloramine and AC must be much higher. To produce good chloramine removal with typical AC media, the flow rate through a 10-inch filter would be a ridiculous 0.02 gal/min. That flow rate can be increased if specialized chloramine-specific AC media is used. But that is still going to be below 0.1 gal/min. That flow rate is still unworkable in my opinion.

Side note: The flow rate through the AC filter on a 50 gal/day RO unit is less than 0.1 gal/min, so that AC prefilter on those units do remove chloramine too.
Because of the unrealistically low flow rate requirements for chloramine removal with AC media, I now strongly recommend the use of metabisulfite for chloramine removal. With the typical dosage, a brewer will only be adding a few ppm of chloride and sulfate along with a few ppm of sodium or potassium to their brewing water. Those additions are negligible.

This shortcoming of AC media for chloramine removal does not mean that AC is not useful in the brewery. If the tap water has taste and odor components, then that AC filter will still be useful. I still suggest that low flow rate (say less than 1 gal/min with a 10-inch filter) be utilized to maximize the removal of taste and odor.
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Old 08-04-2012, 05:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
I just provided input on the source water treatment chapter for Palmer and Kaminski's upcoming book on brewing water. One of the analyses I provided was on the subject of activated carbon (AC) filtration. For chlorine removal, AC is very effective and useful when the flow rate is low. For the typical 10-inch undersink filter unit, a flow rate of 1 gal/min or less is effective at removing chlorine. Due to its more stable nature, chloramine does not react with AC in the same manner as chlorine and the contact time between chloramine and AC must be much higher. To produce good chloramine removal with typical AC media, the flow rate through a 10-inch filter would be a ridiculous 0.02 gal/min. That flow rate can be increased if specialized chloramine-specific AC media is used. But that is still going to be below 0.1 gal/min. That flow rate is still unworkable in my opinion.
Side note: The flow rate through the AC filter on a 50 gal/day RO unit is less than 0.1 gal/min, so that AC prefilter on those units do remove chloramine too.
Because of the unrealistically low flow rate requirements for chloramine removal with AC media, I now strongly recommend the use of metabisulfite for chloramine removal. With the typical dosage, a brewer will only be adding a few ppm of chloride and sulfate along with a few ppm of sodium or potassium to their brewing water. Those additions are negligible.

This shortcoming of AC media for chloramine removal does not mean that AC is not useful in the brewery. If the tap water has taste and odor components, then that AC filter will still be useful. I still suggest that low flow rate (say less than 1 gal/min with a 10-inch filter) be utilized to maximize the removal of taste and odor.
Great info, thanks Martin!

Some (more expensive?) RO systems do have chlorine and/or chloramine removal features, I believe. Is it because of a special filtering?
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