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Old 09-23-2010, 01:10 PM   #1
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Default Testing Tap Water

I was contemplating using bottled water for my upcoming adventure into homebrewing but started thinking about using tap water after a tout of local craft brewery (free plug---Two Brothers Brewing Co.) where I asked what source their water comes from. The brewer said they use their cities water (Warrenville IL). I asked if they have to muck with the water at all to get it ready for use and he said that part of the year they have to add calcium but that was all they did.

I live in a different city a few miles up the road so I am sure even though our water most likely comes from some of the same sources (like Lake Michigan) there might be differences in how each city treats it. I got my cities 2009 water report which shows all added and natural elements found in the water however other then it not being contaminated and now aware that the city uses chlorine and adds fluoride I don't know where the water ph or anything else that matters for brewing and mashing stands.

Can anyone recommend an inexpensive testing kit that can be used for the home brewer or any other methods of testing?

Thanks!

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Old 09-23-2010, 01:34 PM   #2
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Don't bother testing until you call your water company and ask for a detailed water profile. They're usually required to send you one for free, and often have the information available online. If the profile is disgusting, skip the kit altogether. If not, you can still buy a test kit, but don't have to.

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Old 09-23-2010, 02:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pericles View Post
Don't bother testing until you call your water company and ask for a detailed water profile. They're usually required to send you one for free, and often have the information available online. If the profile is disgusting, skip the kit altogether. If not, you can still buy a test kit, but don't have to.
I actually have the profile/report that I pulled from their website But I am not sure what specifically to look for in the report. Aside from the use of chlorine to treat the water, which from what I understand can be boiled off and the use of fluoride, everything else is "greek" to me. I drink the water straight from the tap so I know it doesn't taste bad. My boil should be ok but when I go all grain I'd like to know what if anything I need to manage.
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Old 09-23-2010, 03:47 PM   #4
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I got my free water report online, and it also doesn't give me the info needed from Palmer's guide, only contaminate information like lead, etc. I live 1.5 miles from Terrapin, I'll have to go there this weekend for tour and tasting, for entirely hydrological research purposes.

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Old 09-23-2010, 04:07 PM   #5
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ward labs (http://wardlab.com/) will do a household mineral test for like 16 bucks. if you can spare the money and are really interested in your water report I think it's worth it. what the water company tests at their plant and what comes out of your faucet aren't always the same- though for the purpose of brewing it's probably close enough.

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Old 09-23-2010, 11:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adurotec View Post
I actually have the profile/report that I pulled from their website But I am not sure what specifically to look for in the report. Aside from the use of chlorine to treat the water, which from what I understand can be boiled off and the use of fluoride, everything else is "greek" to me. I drink the water straight from the tap so I know it doesn't taste bad. My boil should be ok but when I go all grain I'd like to know what if anything I need to manage.
Water is one of the most complicated things in brewing so there's not going to be a real easy answer unfortunately. On the bright side, unless your water really sucks, it won't ruin your beer and you may not need to worry. Having the right water can take you from very good to great, though.

Brew Strong did a 4 or 5 part water series which is a very good, thorough listen if you are into podcasts. How to Brew by John Palmer is the other resource I recommend.

Since you asked about pH, my LHBS sells pH test papers for about $2 for 100. Your shop may have them too, or at worst you can get them online from MoreBeer, Northern Brewer etc. If your water report sucks and doesn't provide pH that should get you in the right ballpark.
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:25 PM   #7
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talking about water anyone ever use bottled water from jewel/osco? i bought about 7 gallons of the drinking water for 85 cents a piece and am going to use them in my first brew

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Old 09-24-2010, 03:01 PM   #8
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talking about water anyone ever use bottled water from jewel/osco? i bought about 7 gallons of the drinking water for 85 cents a piece and am going to use them in my first brew
I was originally going to do just that, Meijr brand though ;-) but having read a few reasons why not to and hearing from a local brewmaster who brews beer I really enjoy, unless I am going to give it my tap water a shot.
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Old 09-24-2010, 03:09 PM   #9
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If you're just starting out, you mights as well just give it a shot with your tap water.

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Old 09-24-2010, 03:22 PM   #10
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Water is 99% of every beer. Get that right and you will brew superior beer.

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