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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Should i use 5.2 mash ph adjuster?
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:48 AM   #1
firemostale
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Default Should i use 5.2 mash ph adjuster?

Hey out there in beer world... I'm planning on doing my first decoction mash soon and was wondering about something.

I normally use tap water for my brews (public city water). I normally add one Camden tablet and one tablespoon of 5.2 ph adjuster to my water for mashing and sparking. (Not sure if I should do this for my sparge water or not in reference to the 5.2, any opinions on this are welcome too)

Since I will be doughing in at around 90 degrees and doing an acid rest, should I forget about the 5.2, or should I still use it?

Also, do Camden tablets effect ph in anyway? I've never done any kind if tests for ph. I blindly use 5.2 due to the fact that I have never had a problem with any of my mashes, I usually hit to within three points of my target gravity (.003) With about 40 AG brews.

Any thoughts are welcome!

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Old 04-24-2013, 05:23 PM   #2
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To summarize lots of info on the 5.2 stuff - NO.

Read this:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/bre...primer-198460/

and then use this:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/ez-...-3-0-a-261001/

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Old 04-24-2013, 08:37 PM   #3
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Just remember...5.2 Stabilizer works great for those that don't check their pH and doesn't work at all for those that do. Great product, if you like salt.

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Old 04-24-2013, 08:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
Just remember...5.2 Stabilizer works great for those that don't check their pH and doesn't work at all for those that do. Great product, if you like salt.
lol
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Old 04-30-2013, 03:52 AM   #5
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Funny thing is I use it and great results. Also, I check my PH with strips and it is always on the high side (Above 6.5). Given that and I also use softened water (potassium) which I hear is a no-no yet I still turn out beer I consider really good. I have also had really good feedback from many others including a couple different home-brew clubs in the area. Eventually I will spring for a water analysis but for now I stick with using the 5.2. My beer never tastes like Gose and I always get good malt character. Now what works for me, may not work for others. I just know not using it causes a very astringent flavor and 20% reduction in mash efficiency in my environment.

I have read the water chemistry primer and when I get in to competition lagers then I will head down that path with probably an insane reverse osmosis system with a 100 gallon tank. For that, I will want to start with a blank canvas.

Now I would at least get some of the litmus type test strips and test mash PH without the 5.2. If your mash is staying in the acceptable range, you are probably spending money you don't need to. If you see it getting above 5.4 I would add it. When I use 5.2, I use it in both mash and sparge water.

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Old 04-30-2013, 04:05 AM   #6
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Forget the Campden tablets. They hydrolyse in water and release sulfur dioxide, which some folks use as a sterilant(depending on the concentration). Your concentration may be too dilute to cause problems, but it is an unnecessary complication to your water chemistry.
Good luck,
Al, MS, chem.

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Old 04-30-2013, 04:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlCophile View Post
Forget the Campden tablets.
Al, MS, chem.
Do not forget them if you have a high concentration of chlorine in your water, they are meant to get rid of chlorine, not affect ph.
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Old 04-30-2013, 05:09 AM   #8
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Theoretical considerations (the two relevant pK's of phosphoric acid are 2.4 and 7.2 so that attempting to design a phosphate buffer, which is what the 5.2 product is, to buffer at 5.2 is bad practice and makes it clear that it will have little buffering ability at 5.2) and careful laboratory experiments with malt reveal that this product does not do what it claims to do. It's use is at best a waste of money and at worst an unnecessary source of additional sodium ions. If one wants to use the phosphate system to control mash pH that is fine but use phosphoric acid - not a mix of the monobasic and dibasic salts (composition of the 5.2 product). This does allow you to reach pH 5.2 (on the low side) if you want to go that low and does not introduce any sodium.

Metabisulfite (Campden tablets) does indeed decompose into bisulfite ion and sulfur dioxide at acidic pH in aqueous solution. Metabite is often referred to as 'solid sulfur dioxide' and that is why is used in brewing when chloramine is present. The bisulfite and sulfurous acid are capable of reducing chloramine to chloride and ammonium ions with the metabite being oxidized to sulfuric acid:

S2O5-2 + 2H2NCl +3H2O -->2SO4-2 + 2H+ +2Cl- + 2NH4+

This is the simplest and most effective means of dealing with chloramine (with the other being GAC filtration). Thus, if your water supplier uses chloramine, do not forget the Campden tablets.

Campden tablets are also effective against chlorine (reducing it to chloride) but are not necessary since simply heating water in the HLT or letting stand overnight will remove chlorine (this does not work with chloramine unless the water is boiled for an hour or so or allowed to stand for several days).There is more on Campden tablet use, doses, the effects of the product ions etc. at
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/cam...-water-361073/

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Old 04-30-2013, 11:02 AM   #9
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Thanks all for the input. I think I will continue doing as I have been for the time being... Using Camden tabs and 5.2.

I do have a small crash bag RO unit from when I was in the navy ( I was a submariner). We had these units for crash bags and I am not really sure of their capacity or even if it works at all.

I guess I should dig it out and give it a shot. Hopefully it doesn't take too long or too much of an effort to use to get approximately 10 gallons per batch!

Second I thing I will be doing is contacting my city water company and getting their numbers for chemistry and finding out if they add chloramine or chlorine to the water.

Then I would like to send a sample drawn from the tap and one from the earlier mentioned RO unit and see what I h e to work with. I will also be buying a pH meter for my own checks as well.

Does anyone recommend a particular meter that is easy to use and reliable????

I'll keep posts in my progress in this endeavor.

Thanks everyone for their input.

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Old 04-30-2013, 02:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firemostale View Post
Thanks all for the input. I think I will continue doing as I have been for the time being... Using Camden tabs and 5.2.
You have to admire a man who, after having been told that 5.2 can only detriment his beer and why decides to continue to use it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by firemostale View Post
Second I thing I will be doing is contacting my city water company and getting their numbers for chemistry and finding out if they add chloramine or chlorine to the water.
This is wise. You do not need Campden tablets if there is no chloramine. Chloramination is becoming more prevalent overall but while it is quite common in some states in others it is quite rare. Municipal water reports are designed to satisfy governments, not brewers. Depending on how thorough the report is you may want to send a sample off to Ward Labs. The expense is minimal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by firemostale View Post
Then I would like to send a sample drawn from the tap and one from the earlier mentioned RO unit and see what I h e to work with.
Sending a sample off from an RO unit is sort of a waste because if the unit is working then the analysis comes back full of 0's (or small numbers). If it isn't working you will discard it or replace cartridges. RO units can be simply checked for function with an inexpensive TDS meter. If the TDS test is passed then you don't really care what the analysis is.


Quote:
Originally Posted by firemostale View Post
I will also be buying a pH meter for my own checks as well.
This is also wise. And if you do it you will stop wasting money on 5.2. As I first observed a couple of years ago 5.2 seems to work for people who don't own pH meters but stops working as soon as they get one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by firemostale View Post
Does anyone recommend a particular meter that is easy to use and reliable????
Most modern pH meters are pretty easy to use. The main problem with them seems to be stability IOW they don't hold calibration very long. The workaround for this is frequent calibration checks and recal if necessary. See http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/ph-...ration-302256/ for more information on this.

I can't really make a recommendation because the units I use are laboratory instruments which cost a lot more than most home brewers want to spend but they are very good instruments.

An interesting new approach uses your i-phone as the meter. The electrode and associated electronics package are available at http://www.hach.com/ph-1-module-for-...id=15010961384 but the cost is $300. As a good (stable) electrode seems to cost at least $100 this looks like a good deal to me but I haven't checked it out.

The only inexpensive meters I have any experience with are the Hanna pHEP meters. They work, seem to have decent life, are easy to use but they are, as is the case with every under $100 meter I have ever checked, not too stable. They are useable though with frequent recal.
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