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Old 01-19-2012, 02:44 AM   #1
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Default Treating hard water with Lime, my experience

Not long ago I asked for help on how to reduce my Total Alkalinity as Calcium Carbonate. My Total Alkalinity CaCO3 living in San Antonio, was around 235, which is way too high for many of the light beers that I desire to brew. Two people were quick to help me out and I just wanted to post a follow up on how my water profile before and after turned out.

I followed the instructions in this link Alkalinity reduction with slaked lime - German brewing and more and found it to be really easy to figure out how much lime to use in order to take out the CaCO3. I sent a before and after Wards Lab just to be sure that I wasn't going to change my water to something dangerous and below are the results after following the article step by step using the included calculator.

Before Profile:

Na: 11
Mg: 16
Total Hardness, CaCO3: 183
Sulfate: 11
Cl: 16
HCO3: 220
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3: 235

After Profile:
Na: 11
Mg: 12
Total Hardness, CaCO3: 85
Sulfate: 6
Cl: 17
HCO3: 47
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3: 54


As you can see it worked! Yes, I will have to add salts, but I wanted to show what the water looks like after nothing done to it but the 24 hour Ca(OH)2 treatment. I cant wait to start brewing with this water this weekend. Thank everyone for the quick replies. If you have any questions I will definitely pay it forward by answering as best as I can. Happy brewing!


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Old 01-19-2012, 02:31 PM   #2
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Wow- thanks for letting us know. Can you give more details, like how you decided to do this? I'll be really waiting to hear how the beer comes out!

I'm buying RO for a portion and treating with lactic or phosphoric acid, and have been considering lime.


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Old 01-19-2012, 03:24 PM   #3
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The usual limitation is 1 mEq/L (50 ppm as CaCO3). You did well!
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Old 01-19-2012, 03:36 PM   #4
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Yooper,

You need to start doing this. I always balked at the idea of buying water, especially since it come out of my tap. I've been treating with lime for a number of years after reading AJ Delanges writings on the subject. Even before folks had their water calculators out there. I used trial and error and pH strips to figure out what worked for my water. You have a pH meter which works even better. When I finally got a proper pH meter, my efficiency went up by ~10%

I do my precipitating in my boil pot, let it sit overnight, and then pump it over to my mash tun and HLT. Then I adjust my pH (phosphoric acid - buy the concentrated stuff from Dudadiesel - way cheaper the from a LHBS)
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Old 01-19-2012, 04:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjj2ba View Post
Yooper,

You need to start doing this. I always balked at the idea of buying water, especially since it come out of my tap. I've been treating with lime for a number of years after reading AJ Delanges writings on the subject. Even before folks had their water calculators out there. I used trial and error and pH strips to figure out what worked for my water. You have a pH meter which works even better. When I finally got a proper pH meter, my efficiency went up by ~10%

I do my precipitating in my boil pot, let it sit overnight, and then pump it over to my mash tun and HLT. Then I adjust my pH (phosphoric acid - buy the concentrated stuff from Dudadiesel - way cheaper the from a LHBS)
I know that AJ has even explained it, and I'm starting to get a grasp on it. But I'm no chemist and find that I don't even really know where to start!

But I will start this when I start brewing again in March, so I have lots of time for research!

so, you do in the BK, which has a diptube, so you can pump it over to the HLT from there and leave the precipitate behind. Then adjust the water, and use it. It sounds simple enough, so that even my little brain can grasp it.
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Old 01-19-2012, 10:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
Wow- thanks for letting us know. Can you give more details, like how you decided to do this? I'll be really waiting to hear how the beer comes out!

I'm buying RO for a portion and treating with lactic or phosphoric acid, and have been considering lime.

Just like pjj2ba, I did not want to buy any water from the store and at I wanted to know more about the science of brewing so I decided to explore treating my water with lime. The article that I posted has some pictures that give you a step by step of how to do it. I followed it exactly, with the exception that I did not add gypsum to the water before adding lime. I decided to leave that step out since it indicated that it was not necessary. While treating with lime, the pH shot up to ~9.7 and is down to about 8.5 after 24 hours. I've been reading some people talk about how its not the most important thing in the world to have your pH close to 7 before brewing, but I still need another week of research to determine if i need to add an acid to it or if this step is even necessary. Like I said this is my first go around doing this treatment. I'll keep posing updates as I brew my beer with this water and any modifications I make.

BTW Thanks ajdelange!
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Old 01-20-2012, 05:50 AM   #7
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...I did not add gypsum to the water before adding lime. I decided to leave that step out since it indicated that it was not necessary.
Extra calcium will precipitate more calcium carbonate and thus remove more alkalinity. For this reason I always tell people that if you are planning to add calcium chloride or calcium sulfate to make up for the calcium dropped in the decarbonation that you should do it before lime treatment, not after. I also advise adding some chalk to the water being treated to serve as nucleation sites for the precipitating CaCO3.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drcast128 View Post
While treating with lime, the pH shot up to ~9.7 and is down to about 8.5 after 24 hours. I've been reading some people talk about how its not the most important thing in the world to have your pH close to 7 before brewing, but I still need another week of research to determine if i need to add an acid to it or if this step is even necessary.
The pH will continue to drop as the treated water absorbs CO2 from the air. It is very important to get the water off the precipitate ASAP so that the CO2 does not redissolve any of it.

The pH of the water you brew with is not very important. The alkalinity is. The goal of lime treatment is to reduce bicarbonate alkalinity.

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BTW Thanks ajdelange!
Delighted you find the stuff useful.
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Old 01-20-2012, 06:14 AM   #8
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I brew in a San Antonio and the water is perfect for light beers. I only brew light beer and I put 5.2 at boil and have had no problems. This city is famous for light beers (lone star). The Germans came here for beer.
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Old 01-20-2012, 12:53 PM   #9
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5.2 would, if it buffered to 5.2, hold the kettle pH higher than you want it to be. But in fact it buffers to a higher pH and is thus definitely detrimental especially when you consider that it adds a lot of sodium. And it can strip calcium.
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Old 01-20-2012, 02:45 PM   #10
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AJ, you make a good point regarding 5.2. Since it is apparently a phosphate buffer, the potential to complex with calcium could be a possibility. Do you know that that precipitation reaction would or could occur?


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