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Old 11-16-2009, 01:04 AM   #1
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Default Water, Water and not a drop to brew with

So the story goes like this...
I contacted my local MUD (Municipal Utility District) to get a water analysis report. What they sent me was useless, only displaying dissolved solids and heavy metals/pesticides (or lack there of).

I collected my own sample and sent to Ward Labs. Reading the report again has lead to sudden revelation. I have almost 300 ppm/gallon of Sodium (Na) in my water. According to John Palmer, if I add Calcium Sulfate (gypsum) to my water, I will get this harsh bittering flavor from the sodium and sulfate combination. I can't figure a way to reduce the sodium content of my water.

Is my only recourse to use bottled water from Ozarka, Culligan or Sparkletts? I can't find any analysis charts of their waters other than the useless dissolved solids/heavy metals report.

What should I do? This water is killing my beer!


Last edited by 3 Dog Brew; 11-16-2009 at 06:37 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 11-16-2009, 01:20 AM   #2
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You could dilute it with distilled water

1/2 distilled would cut all your mineral contents by 50%

you might even have to add some minerals back in

The other choice is to get an RO system and build your own water

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Old 11-16-2009, 01:38 AM   #3
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I have an RO system, but getting 10 gallons out of it would take forever. It has a 1 or 2 gallon tank on it. How could I go about that? Get one gallon a day and fill up a couple of 5 gallon carboys?

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Old 11-16-2009, 01:39 AM   #4
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Edit .. just saw your last post. You can setup a large bucket/barrel with a float valve to collect any amount of water and have it shut off before it overflows. They're about 12 bucks.

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Old 11-16-2009, 01:51 AM   #5
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WARNING:
BEER GEEK SPEAK AHEAD, USE CAUTION!


I had the same analysis done on the RO water:
pH: 6.4
Sodium ppm 3
Potassium ppm < 1

Calcium ppm < 1
Magnesium ppm < 1
Total Hardness, CaCO3 1

Nitrate ppm < 0.1
Sulfate ppm < 1
Chloride ppm 5

Carbonate ppm < 1
Bicarbonate ppm 10
Total Alkalinity 8

So, using my handy-dandy Palmer Nomograph, I've figured that to make a Red Ale with SRM 15-18, I should add (rounding for convenience) 1 tsp Baking Soda (NaHCO3) to 10 gallons of strike water to yeild 85ppm HCO3 + 91ppm Na AND add 1tsp Calcium Chloride (CaCO3) to the mash (after strike) to yeild another 28ppm CO3 + 19ppm Ca.

This should yeild mash pH of somewhere between 5.8 and 5.9

Does all this sound right?
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Old 11-16-2009, 02:22 AM   #6
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To distill your own water all you need is two containers and a length of hose.

Dig a hole and put a carboy in it and give it sahde then take another carboy and put it on something that will absorb heat like a black rubber mat. Put a stopper and an run a hose to the mostly buried carboy and let it dangle into the vessel.

The carboy sitting in the sun is mostly filled with water. After short order the temperature differential will cause a corresponding partial pressure differential.

That's a distiller in a nutshell.

One container hot and under pressure -- another container cooler under less pressure.

PV=nRT.

Although you might have better luck thinking it through more thoroughly. Like building a box and running copper pipes back and forth to preheat the water for faster distillation. Solar thermal water heater basically.

My brother heats his house's hot water this way. He lives in sub-artic Maine and on a sweltering 70 degree summer afternoon in July, his hot water tank inside the house registers about 170F. The temperature differential causes the hot water to pump itself into his hot water tank and draws new cold water into the copper pipes from the service. It works well year round in fact as long as it's sunny. It is overcast about 50% of the time.

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Old 11-16-2009, 04:35 PM   #7
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See if you can get a water report for cities within convenient driving distance. If one of them has good brewing water then drive there and fill every container you can get a hold of. It's not horribly convenient, but would keep you brewing till you figure out a more permanent solution.

You could also wait for the next hurricane/flood and load up on all the bottled water FEMA brings in. :-D

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Old 11-17-2009, 06:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3 Dog Brew View Post
WARNING:
BEER GEEK SPEAK AHEAD, USE CAUTION!


I had the same analysis done on the RO water:
pH: 6.4
Sodium ppm 3
Potassium ppm < 1

Calcium ppm < 1
Magnesium ppm < 1
Total Hardness, CaCO3 1

Nitrate ppm < 0.1
Sulfate ppm < 1
Chloride ppm 5

Carbonate ppm < 1
Bicarbonate ppm 10
Total Alkalinity 8

So, using my handy-dandy Palmer Nomograph, I've figured that to make a Red Ale with SRM 15-18, I should add (rounding for convenience) 1 tsp Baking Soda (NaHCO3) to 10 gallons of strike water to yeild 85ppm HCO3 + 91ppm Na AND add 1tsp Calcium Chloride (CaCO3) to the mash (after strike) to yeild another 28ppm CO3 + 19ppm Ca.

This should yeild mash pH of somewhere between 5.8 and 5.9

Does all this sound right?

I'm new to this whole water chemistry thing myself, so take my comments with a grain of salt...

I think some of your calculations and assumptions may be incorrect. Based off the data in Palmer's book, I get that adding 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 10 gallons of water will contribute 33ppm Na and 84ppm HCO3.

Adding 1 teaspoon of calcium CARBONATE (you wrote "chloride" in your post, but used the formula for calcium carbonate, make sure you are using the right stuff!) to a mash with 10 gallons of water in it would contribute 19ppm Ca and 28ppm HCO3.

Together, these would put your ion concentrations at:

Mg: <1 ppm
Ca: 19 ppm
HCO3: 122ppm
Na: 36ppm

This would give you a RA of about 1.73mEq/L -- or 86ppm on the top bar of the Palmer nomograph. If you were mashing only base malt, in theory you would end up with a pH a little over 5.8 when measured at room temperature. When brewing a red ale, the acidity of the darker malts would pull the pH down into the ideal range for mashing.

***However***, you probably aren't going to be mashing with the full 10 gallons, are you? If not, you have to be sure to calculate your ion contributions for the CaCO3 off of the volume of water in the MASH (assuming you are adding it directly to the mash as suggested). Personally, I only treat my mash water, so all of my calculations are based off of strike volume.

Another thing to consider is the lack of magnesium in your reverse-osmosis water. If you experience poor yeast performance, you might try adding a yeast nutrient to your wort to compensate for this deficiency. Then again, it may not be a problem.

The big message I've gleaned from my reading is that all of these super-fun calculations only provide you with a good guess for a starting point. Mash chemistry is too complex to accurately predict, so measure your mash pH and be prepared to adjust to reality.
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Old 11-17-2009, 06:46 PM   #9
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Not sure where you live, but my local Safeway sells RO water for something like $.89 / gal.

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Old 11-17-2009, 06:56 PM   #10
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I have poor water too. Very high in Sodium. (>300 ppm) I use Ozarka spring water for now. I have an RO system with a 4 gallon tank but it's still sitting in the box. I need to install it. I use distilled water for extract kits.

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