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Old 01-11-2009, 07:33 PM   #1
bendavanza
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Default Water Quality Report

Ok I know my tap water is on the hard side, and I have heard to look at the water quality report for my area. The latest report is here (PDF) http://www.dallascityhall.com/pdf/dwu/WQR07_english.pdf
It looks like it only goes over contaminants and nasties rather than the kinds of things that my brewing software asks about...
calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, sodium, chloride, sulfate, alkalinity
Maybe these factors are in this report and I am just not enough of a chemist to figure it out. Any help is appreciated, as I'd like to enhance my brewing experience. I just ordered a culligan RV inline filter to draw tap water through. Amazon.com: Culligan RV-500A Recreational Vehicle External Water Filter (Includes Standard Hose Fittings): Home & Garden It should be here in time for my next brewing session. It should make a difference over using straight from the tap.
cheers
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:13 PM   #2
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Yeah, I think filtering definitely helps with the taste, but of course won't do much about helping you with your minerals.

Most of those online (or even mailed) reports don't contain the superficial water qualities that you're looking for. I had to call my local water people and specifically ask for magnesium and all that stuff, but they were ready to give it out. Just make a list of all the things you want to know and call them.

Also, a good thing to ask is if they add chloramine (not chlorine). If they do, you can add 1 crushed Campden tablet per 20 gallons to counteract that.

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Old 01-11-2009, 08:35 PM   #3
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That "Quality" report is only to state that there isn't anything harmful in the water from a health standpoint and it's safe to drink. As you have already found out that type of report does not have the information you need to know as a brewer. Follow the suggestion above and ask for the kind of report you need. The link below tells you what to ask for.
http://http://www.allaboutbeer.com/homebrew/survey.html

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Old 01-11-2009, 08:42 PM   #4
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There was some good Discussions on this over the summer, and some people on here great at making heads or tales of it...If you scroll down on the computer screen you will see a box with related threads...IIRC the one by Ryan_PA is a good one...


I think conwpeter is another one good at reading it as well, you could always pm one of them to get further info.

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Old 01-11-2009, 08:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigEd View Post
That "Quality" report is only to state that there isn't anything harmful in the water from a health standpoint and it's safe to drink. As you have already found out that type of report does not have the information you need to know as a brewer. Follow the suggestion above and ask for the kind of report you need. The link below tells you what to ask for.
http://http://www.allaboutbeer.com/homebrew/survey.html
Broken link... the right one is this one.
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Old 01-11-2009, 11:10 PM   #6
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Shoot an e-mail to your water supply they might be able to help you with the numbers you're looking for.

Or just send a check for $16.50 and a bottle filled with tap water to Ward Labs for their "W-6 Household Mineral Test"

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Old 01-12-2009, 05:54 PM   #7
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OK, I'm new to the brewing thing, but water quality and chemistry I have a lot of experience with.

Here's the catch with the paper report you have. Unless you live next to the water treatment plant, it's not the same as the water they have tested. Chemicals settle out, evaporate, react with each other and every substance it touches all the way through the pipes to the tap. So if you want to know the quality of your water, have it tested at the tap.

Most of the chemical tests we're talking about (hardness, alkalinity, etc.) are relatively inexpensive given the investments a lot of us have made, and if you're concerned about brew quality it might be a worthy investment. Contact the state/local health department and they should be able to give you contact information for approved drinking water labs.

But in reality the simplest solution may be best. If you drink the water and it tastes fine, use it to brew. Having too few minerals in the beer will likely affect the taste as much or more than having too many.

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Old 01-13-2009, 01:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketman768 View Post
Broken link... the right one is this one.
+1
Once you have these numbers you can them determine what you water needs are. If low on minerals/salts it is easy to add them. If you have hard water then you have to either dilute(bottle water), use RO(strips everything and pricey) or precipitate out the mineral(CaCO3). Beersmith has a calculator and chapter 15 in Palmers How to Brew book is excellent.
How to Brew - By John Palmer - Understanding the Mash pH
The filter you posted is good at chlorine removal. I don't think it will remove chloramines. You need to find out if your water is treated with chloramine or chlorine.
Do you mash or extract brew? All on this info is more important if mashing. If using extract I would remove chlorine/chloramines and make beer. If mashing I would study water minerals more.
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Old 01-13-2009, 02:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
There was some good Discussions on this over the summer, and some people on here great at making heads or tales of it...If you scroll down on the computer screen you will see a box with related threads...IIRC the one by Ryan_PA is a good one...


I think conwpeter is another one good at reading it as well, you could always pm one of them to get further info.

I feel all warm and fuzzy!

I ended up getting both the report from the city (that had the right numbers, had to ask for them specifically) and also got a Ward Labs water test done. The numbers were similar but quite different in some ways. I had a lot more sodium (Due to me usually running the water softener, though I turned it off to test my water). Also the water filter does not change the quantities of any of the ions.

I have hard water, and depending on style I dilute with distilled water, and then add back whatever ions I need with brewing salts. For lighter styles I really need to cut my bicarbonates, so I use 6 gallons of distilled and 2 gallons of my (filtered) water, then I can add back a little gypsum for the So4 and calcium, and kosher salt for the chloride (Depending on what style again..)

I have a couple spreadsheets I work off of if anyone wants them. I also need to get the "Mash Water Chemistry Calculator - v1.1.xls" spreadsheet working, I think it was posted here somewhere but I'm getting some errors when running it.
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:23 PM   #10
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Dallas water does have chloramines. yuck. Aren't campden tablets used for halting fermentation?
I have been using straight tap water so far, but i thought I would try to improve my beers. I am now mashing, and not using extracts (for the most part) and that's the direction I want to stay in. I will call the city and get the straight dope on the other things, which my brewing software is asking about.

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