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Old 04-22-2010, 05:17 PM   #1
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Default Central Jersey Hard Water, Good for Mashing?

I'm from central NJ and I get my water from a utility (whose name escapes me) in Elizabeth. It's fairly hard water (it will leave marks if you don't wipe it up). As it has a bit of chlorine taste to it, I would run it through a filter and/or use a campden tablet. I don't have a water report, but I guess I could order one if I figured out what offices to ask. I also don't know the PH.

For my first mash, I used Poland Spring water and hit my target (~75% efficiency). For future mashes, I'd like to use my own water, for convenience and money savings. Would 1 tablet crushed and split between two 5 gallon buckets be good? If it's too complicated, I'll stick with Poland Spring or store-brand spring water (whichever is cheaper at the moment).

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Old 04-22-2010, 05:22 PM   #2
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I'd recommend getting a water analysis to know what your working with. The water utility may be able to provide this info. If not you can send it to ward labs and have it tested. The test costs 16.50 + postage.

Once you have that info it's fairly easy to adjust the water with salts and whatnot for making beer.

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Old 04-22-2010, 05:30 PM   #3
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If you can pay your bill online, try and get a report from the website. I found that my water supplier has reports on their website for anyone to pull up. Yours might have one too.

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Old 04-22-2010, 05:43 PM   #4
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Well, I decided I'd just look at my water main and see if it listed the utility. Turns out it's Elizabethtown Water Company, which is part of American Water. As for why I didn't check my bill: I'm an irresponsible college student who has my mom deal with that. I found the report here and a summary here. I'm guessing that between this and Papazian's book, I can figure out whether my water's good for mashing.

It lists the zip codes it applies to, so maybe it'll help some other people in my area.

It looks like my Ca is a bit high, if CaCO3's ppm is the same measurement as ppm of Ca. It's 76-530 PPM (big range, meaning that it's inconsistent, I guess). The PH is also kind of wide, ranging from 6.5 to 8.5. If the water is hard, though, doesn't that usually mean it's alkaline?

I'm guessing this means I could stand to soften my water. Is there an inexpensive way to do that from one source infrequently? I know some people soften their whole home's water, but we already have hard water resistant stuff set up, and know to not leave puddles of water around.

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Old 04-22-2010, 06:09 PM   #5
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If you know for sure that you're on system 2004002, this is the actual tested data from last summer after a carbon filter:

Sodium, Na 28
Calcium, Ca 30
Magnesium, Mg 10
Total Hardness, CaCO3 117
Sulfate, SO4-S 15
Chloride, Cl 53
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 72
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 59


Cities on the same system:
Raritan Twp. Hunterdon Manville Boro Somerset
Readington Twp. Hunterdon Millstone Boro Somerset
Tewksbury Twp. Hunterdon Montgomery Twp. Somerset
Hopewell Twp. Mercer North Plainfield Boro Somerset
Lawrence Twp. Mercer Peapack-Gladstone Somerset
Princeton Boro Mercer Raritan Boro Somerset
Princeton Twp. Mercer So. Bound Brook Boro Somerset
West Windsor Twp. Mercer Somerville Boro Somerset
Cranbury Twp. Middlesex Warren Twp. Somerset
Dunellen Boro Middlesex Watchung Boro Somerset
Edison Twp. Middlesex Clark Twp. Union
Middlesex Boro Middlesex Cranford Twp. Union
Piscataway Twp. Middlesex Fanwood Boro Union
Plainsboro Twp. Middlesex Garwood Boro Union
South Brunswick Twp. Middlesex Hillside Twp. Union
South Plainfield Boro Middlesex Kenilworth Boro Union
Chester Boro Morris Linden City Union
Bedminster Twp. Somerset Mountainside Boro Union
Bound Brook Boro Somerset Plainfield City Union
Branchburg Twp. Somerset Roselle Boro Union
Bridgewater Twp. Somerset Roselle Park Boro Union
Franklin Twp. Somerset Scotch Plains Twp. Union
Green Brook Twp. Somerset Union Twp. Union
Hillsborough Twp. Somerset Westfield Town Union



The 2 cent tour of this water puts it as appropriate for Amber colored beers (from a mash pH perspective) but can be easily modified for pale and brown beers with salt additions. Extra pale beers require dilution with distilled water. All beers can benefit from a boost in SO4, Calcium and Magnesium which can be done with measured additions of gypsum and epsom salt.

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Old 04-22-2010, 06:10 PM   #6
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Would a Brita filter do a good job on the water? Should I also consider adding the 5.2 buffer?

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Old 04-22-2010, 06:13 PM   #7
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Thanks Bobby, that does include my water system. That looks generally pretty good AFAICT. I just need to get a filter big enough to manage enough for a brew day. I'll keep my eyes peeled for a cheap tap filter.

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Old 04-22-2010, 06:23 PM   #8
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In truth, you can just skip the filter and continue to campen the water for chloramine. I bought a filter before I really understood any of this. You really have to run the water through the carbon filter very slowly to strip chloramine.

Get some gypsum from the brew store next time. Get some baking soda and epsom salt from the supermarket.

Get the EZwatercalculator.com and enter the numbers to play with it.

Watch my water videos.

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Old 07-08-2012, 12:03 AM   #9
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Resurrecting an old thread here but I just moved to Plainsboro. Bobby are these still the numbers you're using for your water calculations or has the water situation changed? Thanks!

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