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Old 03-09-2009, 02:59 AM   #1
uwmgdman
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Default High Carbonate Water

Hey everyone,

I recently moved to a new house, not far from where I was before, my water is even more alkaline that it was previously, a lot of carbonate without enough calcium to balance.

Here is the water report, I am mainly served from well 5, but also from well 4.
WELL# 5 WELL# 4 WELL # 3

Chloride- 3.6 mg/l 8.9 mg/l 3.4 – mg/l
Calcium- 63.8 mg/l 67.2- mg/l 63.8- mg/l
Alkalinity- 277 mg/l 274- mg/l 275 – mg/l
Hardness- 295 mg/l 315- mg/l 298- mg/l
Magnesium- 33.9 mg/l 35.8 mg/l 33.8- mg/l
Sodium – 2.9 mg/l 3.8- mg/l 3.0 – mg/l

This weekend I was pickeling some spicy green beans and there was a fair amount of Calcium carbonate precipitated in my boiling water where I sterilized the empty jars. I don't really recall this happening at my old house, brewing or pickeling, it happens when I boil water for spaghetti too. Should be concerned about this as far as brewing water? The water tastes just fine. I'll be brewing this weekend at the new house for the first time. As I did with my previous house, I'll plan on using pH 5.2 in my mash. I've also got some calcium chloride I will add to my water. For light brews I'll continue to dilute my water with distilled water.

Any water chemistry gurus have an opinion?

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Old 03-09-2009, 07:32 PM   #2
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I have silimar water. To get rid of bicarbonates I just boil it the day before brew day, adding a spoon of chalk to encourage precipitation, and when it is cold I decant it - on the bottom of the kettle there is usualy a layer of white CaCO3.

But don't do it when you brew dark beers - it this case bicarbonates are helpful.

Your water is pretty hard - I would't add any calcium salts to it.

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Old 03-09-2009, 07:38 PM   #3
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I would dilute with distilled and then add CaCl and/or CaSO4. Your report doesn't show SO4 (Sulphate) and it would be nice to know that. In addition to high alkalinity you also have quite a bit of Mg. Diluting with distilled will reduce your alkalinity and Mg (along with everything else)...then by adding CaCl and/or CaSO4 you can get your Calcium back and also adjust your Cl and SO4.

The spreadsheet at the bottom of section 15.3 in Palmer's How To Brew (online) is very useful imo.

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Old 03-10-2009, 12:01 PM   #4
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Madison water (east side) has me so frustrated with how hard and carbonat-y (?) it is. Every brew i do i cut the city water by at LEAST 50% with DI, then add the appropriate salts to get everything closer to target.

By actually paying attention to this, the quality of my beers has drastically improved.

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Old 03-10-2009, 12:49 PM   #5
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We've got almost twice as much bicarbonate in our water here. I dilute heavily w/ RO water, use the 5.2 buffer, and get good results.

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Old 03-10-2009, 12:59 PM   #6
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Thanks guys. I'll continue to use the distilled/tap water blend, added CaCl if needed (lighter brewers) as well as pH 5.2 for all brews.

I was most concerned about the precipitate coming out of my water when I boiled it. I hadn't seen that before. I actually drained the water and tasted the precipitate (CaCO3 I believe), it had no taste, so I'm sure it is fine.

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Old 03-10-2009, 02:08 PM   #7
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I use pickling lime to reduce my carbonates. I don't have the time to boil my water ahead of time. I set up my water a day ahead of time and add ~1 tsp of pickling lime. This reacts with the carbonates to make insoluble CaC03. I do this in a bucket with a spigot so I just drain the water off of the precipitate. The only precaution with this is you have to be careful with your pH as the lime is very alkaline. The first few times I did this I was very careful about checking my pH at mash in. I've got it pretty well down now to know how much to add to my water so I don't have to do any additional pH adjustments

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Old 03-10-2009, 06:00 PM   #8
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As a chemist, I do not agree with some of the replies.

Addition of an acid such as citric or lactic will effectively remove the carbonate and get the pH down without adding extra salts

Gypsum (CaSO4) or Calcium chloride will lower the pH and add salts.

Addition of lime (CaCO3) or slaked lime [ Ca(OH)2] will not be productive as they will raise pH

Addition of a Calcium compound and pH 5.2 together will be somewhat counterproductive. The 5.2 is a phosphate buffer and it will precipitate some of the calcium as calcium phosphate.

Dilution with purified water is not necessary with your water as it is not too high in salts.

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Old 03-11-2009, 03:24 AM   #9
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As far as dilution, it's not the salts one tries to curb, it's the hardness. This is the route i go, because the salts of my water are fine, but the hardness is off the charts. After dilution, i actually add certain salt back to the brew water to match the target profile.

I also use 5.2 stabilizer as extra insurance AFTER i've made the appropriate dilution. Also as a chemist, i feel this gets ME to where I need to be.

Just some suggestions.

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Old 03-11-2009, 02:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbford View Post
As a chemist, I do not agree with some of the replies.

Addition of lime (CaCO3) or slaked lime [ Ca(OH)2] will not be productive as they will raise pH
I beg to differ. If one is heavy handed with the slaked lime, then yes you have a pH problem. However, if you are careful with how much you add, the buffering compounds naturally present in the malt will bring the pH right back to where it needs to be. There are equations out there that can be used to calculate how much lime to add in order to avoid pH issues
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