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usafbeerlover 01-12-2013 09:48 PM

Using RO water

I want to use RO water as a base and add to it to build beer profiles. Looking for advice what to order and a good beer profile breakdown. I need the least complicated if possible.

bigbeergeek 01-12-2013 09:52 PM

Get a pound of gypsum and a pound of chalk. Pretty straightforward info here:


bigbeergeek 01-12-2013 09:54 PM

Also, I can't recommend these enough. Don't let the price fool you, each strip can be cut into 3-4 strips. Thus, your $40 investment gets you 300-400 accurate pH measurements.


GotPushrods 01-12-2013 10:41 PM

You need 6 things:

1) Acid. Whether it be acid-malt, or liquid phosphoric or lactic acid.
2) calcium chloride
3) calcium sulfate
4) pickling lime (for use on rare occasion)
5) a way to measure pH. Preferably a pH meter, but you need to know the limitations of the strips if you use them.
6) an accurate scale that will measure 0.1 gram.

Don't bother with chalk. It does not dissolve easily and will give you erratic results.

Understand that pH strips are not an ideal solution and will tell you ballpark at best. In fact those ColorPhast strips are known to read about 0.3 pH units low.

Head over to the Brew Science forum section and read the stickies. This will be your quickest jumpstart to water knowledge.

najel 01-12-2013 11:30 PM


I have found this to be the easiest explanation, and seems to work well for many people judging by the comments.

bigbeergeek 01-12-2013 11:41 PM


Originally Posted by GotPushrods (Post 4778590)

Don't bother with chalk. It does not dissolve easily and will give you erratic results.

It might not dissolve well in water but it certainly raises pH when you need it.


Originally Posted by GotPushrods (Post 4778590)
In fact those ColorPhast strips are known to read about 0.3 pH units low.

I wouldn't sweat 0.3 pH difference for the price (a dime per mash).

usafbeerlover 01-13-2013 11:57 AM

Thank you guys for the great info but what if I just used store bought spring water. Would I need to add anything to it and just test the PH. Also I saw PH strips in Walmart yesterday for aquariums, will these work the same? Here is what my water report says. Can someone decipher it for me?

Chloride 22 ppm 250 ppm
Color 3 PCU 15 PCU
Iron <0.10 ppm 0.3 ppm
Manganese <0.05 ppm 0.05 ppm
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) 85 ppm 500 ppm
Sodium 18 ppm
No Standard
Alkalinity 28 ppm
Conductivity 210 umhos/cm
Hardness 56 ppm
Ortho-phosphate 1.2 ppm
Silica 5.8 ppm
Temperature 71.6˚F (22˚C)

mabrungard 01-13-2013 02:24 PM

There isn't really all the information that you would like for brewing, but the information that is provided suggests that it might be fine for brewing. The wide variability in chloride and TDS are troubling though.

I find that RO water from a vending machine is often less expensive than jug water that is trucked in from somewhere. It should be even less mineralized too.

I do have to disagree with Message #6 above. I have not found chalk to be effective in raising mash pH unless it has been previously fully dissolved by CO2 treatment prior to brewing. Just adding powdered chalk to the mash tun has proven totally ineffective at raising mash pH for me and numerous others.

I generally agree with the sentiment that colorpHast pH strips are useful and effective in the brewery. However, there can be cases where the darkness of the wort causes the brewer to mis-interpret the result. They're not perfect, but still useful.

usafbeerlover 01-13-2013 04:01 PM

I have a Glacier water dispenser unit right up the street. I was thinking of using that and the 5.2 ph stabalizer they sell at northern brewer. Here is the a link to the water.
I am honestly thinking about going back to extract just to not worry about all this water hoopla.

Thanks again

mabrungard 01-13-2013 04:27 PM

Glacier water is RO water and should be fine for brewing. Adding 5.2 Stabilizer would not produce a good result in most cases. It appears that this product just adds phosphates and sodium to the water, neither of which are very beneficial to brewing.

A RO source could mostly benefit from a calcium addition. The recommendations of the Water Primer in this forum are most useful when using RO water excepting that the Primer provides little guidance as to what additions are needed when brewing beers with acidic grists (grists with significant crystal and/or roast content).

Even extract brewers need to be concerned with the water they use to reconstitute their wort. Since the extract already has a dose of ions in it, using a water with a lot more ions can be bad for the beer. RO water can frequently be the best addition when brewing with extract.

So there isn't really an escape to water concerns, but you really don't have to fret over water. With only a few understandings of either the tap water or RO water, there would be only a few things you MIGHT want to adjust. Brewing beer doesn't require much understanding of water. But brewing great beer in a wide range of styles does require a good understanding of water. No one needs to play with water until they aren't satisfied with their brewing results.

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