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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Techniques for dealing with water softeners
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:59 PM   #1
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Default Techniques for dealing with water softeners

So, I finally admitted to myself that one of the reasons my beer has been tasting off lately is my water. I moved into a house about 7 months ago that has very very hard well water. I have a water softener, but no RO system, YET. The beer has been off, so I've mostly assumed its been a cleaning/sanitizing issue, but I've done just about everything and I still keep getting the same bitter aftertaste, which I'm assuming is the sodium ions in the water from the softener.

Anyhow, besides the RO system, how do some of you deal with this issue? If I get water before it goes through the softener, the amount of rust in it would make it just as nasty as with the softener.

On the batch I brewed last week, I ran all the water through a Brita filter and added some gypsum. I now have some Ph stabilizer that will be going into the mash. Not sure if the filter/gypsum combo will help, but it can't be much worse than what I'm getting now.

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Old 07-10-2011, 06:06 PM   #2
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I buy RO water, 10 gallons at a time, at $0.29 per gallon, from the grocery store.

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Old 07-10-2011, 06:09 PM   #3
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We also have very hard water and our house has a water softener so I use bottled water for brewing. Home Depot sells 5-gallon bottles of drinking water for about $12 and you get half of that back when you return the empty bottle.

I like to brew a lot and therefore I need large quantities of water... so the big 5-gallon bottles work perfectly for me.

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Old 07-10-2011, 06:14 PM   #4
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I buy RO water from my local water and ice store, 25 cents a gallon.

my water is crazy hard, so we have a water softener as well, out here the law states that a softener cannot be connected to the kitchen because some people are on sodium restricted diets.

I cut my really hard kitchen tap water 50/50 with the RO water, this has been making some pretty damned good beer for me.

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Old 07-10-2011, 09:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by azscoob View Post
I buy RO water from my local water and ice store, 25 cents a gallon.

my water is crazy hard, so we have a water softener as well, out here the law states that a softener cannot be connected to the kitchen because some people are on sodium restricted diets.

I cut my really hard kitchen tap water 50/50 with the RO water, this has been making some pretty damned good beer for me.
Thats an odd law to have considering you can use potassium as a sub for sodium in water softeners.
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Old 07-10-2011, 10:08 PM   #6
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We have a lot of blue hairs out here, the kitchen bypass is in the building code to protect them from themselves I guess.

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Old 07-10-2011, 10:29 PM   #7
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I have a softener, but my drinking water comes out before the softener. I run it through a charcoal filter. No problems.

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Old 07-10-2011, 10:42 PM   #8
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If you have the softener for just hardness that isnt a problem bypassing for drinking water, but out my way iron is high. The iron coming from my well is around 1 mg/l but there are areas near me where the iron is as high as 30 to 40 mg/l. The DEP deems anything over .3 mg/l unsafe for drinking water. I have a water softener in my house along with a 1 cu. ft. carbon filter and use the water for brewing all the time. I dont get any aftertaste's in my beer.

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Old 07-11-2011, 02:16 PM   #9
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I just got a batch going and I'm going with 5gal of spring water and 3 gal of my water run through the filter. My wife is all for getting a new system, so hopefully we'll make that happen soon. Thanks for the responses.

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Old 07-11-2011, 02:43 PM   #10
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If you have the softener for just hardness that isnt a problem bypassing for drinking water, but out my way iron is high. The iron coming from my well is around 1 mg/l but there are areas near me where the iron is as high as 30 to 40 mg/l. The DEP deems anything over .3 mg/l unsafe for drinking water. I have a water softener in my house along with a 1 cu. ft. carbon filter and use the water for brewing all the time. I dont get any aftertaste's in my beer.
Iron is a divalent hardness ion like calcium and magnesium, its just usually at very low concentrations. The 0.3 mg/L level is where a typical consumer will notice the flavor of iron in water and staining of plumbing fixtures may be apparent. Its not unsafe above that level, just objectionable.

If the local water is otherwise low in calcium and magnesium, but the iron is high. Then the salt-based water softener water may not have too much sodium in it and it could be possible to use that water for brewing. For many areas, calcium and magnesium are the main problems and the level of hardness removal means that a bunch of sodium is added to the softened water.

If iron and other hardness are problems with the water, it may be necessary to buy water or add a RO system to your house to provide higher quality drinking and brewing water.
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