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Old 10-16-2012, 04:38 PM   #1
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Default Water softener...brewing water

Not sure where to put this topic so sorry if there is a better place:

I am building my brewery in my garage and I am about ready to install a water line over to my sink area. I have well water and we use a softener for everyday use mainly due to dissolved iron in the water, at the time we had a hardness at about 8 (not sure if that means anything to anyone). I also have a pre-softener valve that we use for gardens.

I know softened water has a small amount of sodium in the water...so my question is: which would be better/worse for brewing...my water with a small amount of sodium or with some iron in the water.

The reason I ask: I can run my water line either from pre-softener or after the softener as where I plan on making a connection is only a difference of 10ft. I had planned on adding a carbon water filter either way. Currently when I brew, I purchase bottled water for mashing and use a small amount of softened water if I need extra, usually about 1 gal.

So, which would you do...people with water softeners or people that have well water....use the softened water or not for brewing.


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Old 10-16-2012, 04:52 PM   #2
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Do you happen to have a water report for your well water? Water softeners typically work by replacing magnesium and calcium ions (which you want in brewing water) with sodium (that you typically don't want). So my hunch would be use the well water as is, but couldn't say for sure. Also carbon filters are good for removing chlorine (which you probably have very little of) and organic material (which would be more of a problem in surface water) so that might not be needed either.

Anyway, your water report will help with the answers.


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Old 10-16-2012, 05:28 PM   #3
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I have a softener for the same reason, iron in my well water. I didn't listen to the advice and brewed a couple batches with it. They came out cloudy and astringent. I didn't bother trying my pre-softened water because it looks like light ice tea. My advice is to use good water. Maybe one of your brewing buddies is on city water that works well that you can grab a couple buckets. Or just keep buying bottled water. Or try it for yourself and see what works best.
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:13 PM   #4
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For some reason when I used pre-soften water for cleaning/soaking with PBW I got a white film on equipment, never got that again with softened water.

I suggest softened cold water to a sink area with a T in the piping with a valve ending in a male garden hose thread fitting for an RO unit (similar to link below). Hot water (softened) is probably optional but is nice.

http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/brs-4-...tem-75gpd.html

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Old 10-17-2012, 01:22 AM   #5
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Isn't an RO system going to take out everything even the minerals I want to keep??
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by New_Climber View Post
Isn't an RO system going to take out everything even the minerals I want to keep??
Yes, but there is far more you DON'T want! It's easy to add a teaspoon of calcium chloride to 5 gallons of brewing water to make up for the removal of the ions. An RO system gets rid of excess magnesium, sodium, alkalinity, etc. That's good.
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:00 PM   #7
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Your 8 is likely in grains per gallon. Multiply by 17.1 to get your hardness in Mg/L, or ppm. I came up 136.8; that is close to what we run out of our water plant. But if you are dealing with iron, then I concur to buy water or get a few of the 5 gallon jugs and fill them at a buddies house.
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Old 10-19-2012, 01:25 PM   #8
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When I first started brewing I used water that was softened for several batches. They all came out fine. Perhaps my softener is not adding much salt. I currently bypass my softener for my brewing water. I don't think my batches are coming out much different. I really need to get my water analyized pre and post softner to see what's in there.
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Old 04-05-2013, 05:43 PM   #9
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my house softener is setup to remove iron from the water, i dont think it will have much residual sodium, and i am about to test it in a bit...

can I just add some extra calcium to my water and call it a day?? I am sick of buyin large amounts of water for brewing, the stuff should just be free!!
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Old 04-06-2013, 02:19 AM   #10
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My softened water has plenty of calcium (we still get scale) and was still lousy brew water. It's not just about calcium. You need to know ions, residual alkalinity, and pH before you can decide if it's good to brew with or what to do to make it good. It would be best to get your softened water tested at Ward Labs. Or you can just try it and see. But don't be surprised if it doesn't turn out well.


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