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Old 04-07-2008, 09:57 PM   #1
manny101
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Default Mineral Salt Users

My city provides RO tap water and I think I have a grasp on the whole water chemistry thing. However, I am confused about when to make the salt additions and what volume do I use to calculate the amount of salts to use? Is it post-boil volume, strike water volume, strike + sparge water volume, initial mash runnings volume, pre-boil volume, or what? Do I make the additions to just the initial mash water, to the mash and sparge water? If I heat the mash and sparge water in the same vessel, do I add the salts to that? Thanks for any help and advice I appreciate it.

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Old 04-08-2008, 12:49 AM   #2
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I guess it all depends on what you are trying to do with the salts you are adding.

In my case I add salts to adjust the PH of my mash and I do it when I am mashing. I don't subscribe to the perfect water profile for the style as in using the various profiles provided by authors.

But if that is what you are trying to acheive, then you add your salts to the amount of water you are using at any particular time to the ratio you have worked out. And you add it to disolve before mashing or sparging, etc.

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Old 04-08-2008, 01:53 AM   #3
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There are two things to consider when adding salts for brewing.
The first is the ion concentrations, and the second is pH.
I brew pale ales almost exclusively and have soft water with very little calcium or sulphates.
For the strike water, I add 1 tsp gypsum, 1/2 tsp calcium carbonate, and 1/4 tsp epsom salts, The gypsum provides calcium which I understand assists the enzymes in converting starches to sugars, and also lowers the pH of the mash. With just gypsum, the mash pH gets a little bit low, but the calcium carbonate adds more calcium, and raises the pH to more acceptable levels. As for the epsom salts, it doesn't noticeably change the mash pH, adds a touch of magnesium in case it helps, and is extremely cheap. I have it, so I use it, but I won't buy any more. I'll be dead before my current supply runs out.
I also add 2 tsp gypsum to the sparge water. This lowers the pH, guarding against excess tannin extraction (I fly sparge) and adding more sulphates which supposedly helps the hop profile for a pale ale.
I do know that without the gypsum added to the sparge water, I have had occasional tannin extraction problems.

Hope this helps.

-a.

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Old 04-08-2008, 02:42 AM   #4
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as I understand it there are 2 important Ph measurements to adjust for, the mash Ph would be adjusted after the grains have absorbed the mash water and the temperature has settled out unless, if you have really really messed up water and the mash Ph is so high or low as to denature the enzymes then you would have to add salts before adding the grain (this usually doesnt work well because the salts don't dissolve well in plain water), and second is the Ph of your wort run off from the lautertun. I think the Ph is supposed to be between 5.2 and 5.4.

there are a few ways to deal with this, if your water is fairly normal you could use something like "5.2 Mash Stabilizer" it works well for most people but if your water is very hard or soft you might have to adjust things manually.

the second way is to add salts as needed to keep the mash and runoff Ph in the desired range, the third way is to try and duplicate the water of someplace appropriate for the style of beer.

for the third option you need a water report for you area so you know what your starting with then you need a selection of water salts (stuff like: Gypsum, Epsom salt, calcium chloride, sodium chloride, calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, you can also use acids like lactic, phosphoric, sulfuric... anything food grade) I usually measure out two quantities of salts one for the mash water and one for the sparge water. ProMash software makes it easy to figure out how much of each of these salts are needed to duplicate a water style.

you can also stick to brewing the styles of beer appropriate for the water you have naturally or use malts that will lower the Ph to the desired level (Dark malts lower the Ph, I think I've also seen lactic acid malts that wont add a lot of color but will help lower the Ph).

both chlorine and chloramine can be a problem too chlorine can be removed by boiling but chloramine which isnt very common so not a huge concern needs to be filtered or chemically removed. campden (a pasteurizing / stabilizing agent for wines and meads) should take care of both it comes in two forms, sodium meta-bisulfite and potasium meta-bisulfite. you want the later as it doesnt add excess sodium to the beer.

There are a lot of good resources from people who know a hell of a lot more than I do, for example: http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15.html

I hope I got all of this right, if I left anything out or got anything wrong Im sure someone more knowledgeable will correct me.

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Old 04-08-2008, 03:31 PM   #5
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Your city tap water is RO???!!!!! That has got to be danged expensive!!!! People wash their cars, water their lawns etc. with RO water? Do they provide you with an analysis?

As far as calculating your salts, do your calculations based on the volume going into your fermenter. They will increase in conc. as you boil. If you do the calculations based on the total water it will end up more concentrated than you want.

pH is an issue with RO water. The easiest way to deal with this is to use the pH 5.2 stabilizer. Other wise you'll have to mess with all of the other salts to get the pH right.

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Old 04-09-2008, 01:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjj2ba
As far as calculating your salts, do your calculations based on the volume going into your fermenter. They will increase in conc. as you boil. If you do the calculations based on the total water it will end up more concentrated than you want.
i'm not sure that's true. the salts will definitely get more concentrated, but i've always added salts based on the idea that a water profile for a given city or beer represented the water used. so, you would want to adjust all the water used for the beer. i add my salts to my hot liquor tank, based on the concentrations i want to achieve and the water volume in the HLT. i also add a bit of 5.2 buffer and my runnings come out of the MLT at 5.2ish.

OP- i'd double check that your tap water is RO. if you're really actually using RO water from your tap (can't imagine that unless you live in the desert, but who knows!) then the most important ion you want in your water is calcium. calcium sulfate (gypsum) and calcium chloride are two great solutions for adding calcium. 1g of gypsum adds 62ppm of calcium and 148ppm of sulfate per gallon of water. 1g of CaCl adds 72ppm of calcium and 127ppm chloride per gallon of water. take a look at this for info on salt additions and water profiles for different styles.
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Old 04-09-2008, 02:42 AM   #7
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Yes, my city provides RO through the tap water. Here is a link http://www.cityofpascagoula.com/water.htm. Pretty much the only things left in the water are chloride and sodium at 20 ppm each per a water report I obtained. I have a sample on the way to Ward Labs for analysis. I guess I should have mentioned that I batch sparge. I am not trying to emulate a specific city's water profile or anything , I just need to get some stuff in there so conversion can take place and while I am at it try to get a flavor profile for the style of beer I am making. Again, thanks for everybody's responses. I am really learning alot about water chemistry. I don't know though if having RO water is a good or bad thing.

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Old 04-09-2008, 06:27 PM   #8
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when adding salts to achieve a flavor profile for a style you are, in fact, trying to mimic the water of a particular city where that style is traditionally brewed. i brewed a kolsch recently and that list i linked in my last post doesn't have a kolsch on it, so i searched online for the water quality report for the city of cologne, germany. you could make things complicated if you want, but if i were you i'd just add gypsum to match the calcium in the style you're shooting for. get some pH strips and test the resulting pH after you've dissolved the gypsum well. if you're still high then i'd either go to the Five Star 5.2 pH buffer, or start using acidulated malt in your mashes.

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Old 04-09-2008, 06:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manny101
Yes, my city provides RO through the tap water. Here is a link http://www.cityofpascagoula.com/water.htm. Pretty much the only things left in the water are chloride and sodium at 20 ppm each per a water report I obtained. I have a sample on the way to Ward Labs for analysis. I guess I should have mentioned that I batch sparge. I am not trying to emulate a specific city's water profile or anything , I just need to get some stuff in there so conversion can take place and while I am at it try to get a flavor profile for the style of beer I am making. Again, thanks for everybody's responses. I am really learning alot about water chemistry. I don't know though if having RO water is a good or bad thing.
I use filtered water and used to use RO water. You have very clean soft water with RO, great for making lagers. I only ever worried about adding Burton Water salts when making my hoppy beers. I would add a tsp for every 5 gal at the 60 minute addition of the bittering hops. The burton salts help bring out more of the hop bitterness.
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