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Old 01-27-2010, 02:47 PM   #1
Dec 2008
Posts: 30

Hey folks can I get some suggestions on how to make my water better for an IPA. The water I use goes through a softener, here are the numbers from ward labs,

pH 7.8
sodium 141
Potassium 2
calcium 0
Mag 0
CaCO3 0
nitrates 2.3
sulfates 17
Chloride 12
carbonates 0
bicarbonates 252

Thanks for any help

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Old 01-27-2010, 03:18 PM   #2
Jul 2007
Albany, NY
Posts: 539
Liked 6 Times on 6 Posts

You aren't going to want to hear this, but start from scratch with ro water. Your bicarbonates are really high, despite going through a softener... Also, your sodium is also really high.

I think you are going to have a really hard time with that water
~"A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it's better to be thoroughly sure.

On Deck: Spruce APA, Chambord Fortified Chocolate Porter, Imperial IPA

Secondary: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Lagering: None
Kegged/Drinking: Cascade, Cent., Amarillo Pale Ale
Kegged/Drinking: Belgian Pale Ale (HG yeast for yeast cropping see above)
Bottled: ESB

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Old 01-27-2010, 03:23 PM   #3
Edcculus's Avatar
Jun 2007
Greenville, SC
Posts: 4,546
Liked 50 Times on 46 Posts

From what I understand, most softeners use some sort of chemical reaction to replace calcium with sodium. Not ideal for brewing. No matter what beer, 0ppm calcium is a bad thing. You are going to have to add a lot to that water, then you have the problem of high bicarbonates and high sodium. Any chance of taking your water softener off line?

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Old 01-27-2010, 03:53 PM   #4
Nov 2008
Kansas City
Posts: 3,654
Liked 43 Times on 41 Posts

I would find a way to take water before the softener, as the sodium is simply too high. Resend that to Ward and see what you are working with.

The bicarbonate is pretty darn high, but it will be fine for some beers and for others you can probably get away with blending with RO rather than using 100% RO.

Now, lets say you have to use that water. For an IPA you will need to cut it some with RO to get the residual alkalinity right and then will want to get your magnesium and calcium in range using primarily magnesium sulfate and calcium sulfate to increase the sulfate to chloride ratio. How much Mg and Ca you add will dictate how much you need to cut with RO. There are a couple of moving parts here so get a spreadsheet and just play around with it. At a minimum, cut it half and half with RO as the sodium is too high otherwise.

A lot of people recommend -TH-'s spreadsheet as easy to use and BobbyM produced videos showing how to use it.

I personally like kaiser's spreadsheet for a number of reasons (handles acidulated malt which I use, handles dissolved chalk water which is a practice I picked up from him).

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