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Old 06-26-2013, 09:16 AM   #1
seanppp
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Default How do I treat this water??

I downloaded the EZ Water Calculator. http://www.ezwatercalculator.com/ and it hasn't turned out to be very EZ.

I can't seem to dial in a level where I have an acceptable pH (under 5.6) and an acceptable ratio of Chloride/Sulfate. Either I add a bunch of salts to bring the pH down (which plummets my Chloride/Sulfate) or else I have too high a pH.

Does anybody have experience who can help me out? If you're using the calulator, my water is:
14 11 41 16 53 114(alkalinity) for the A column
4.25 gallons mash water, 1.5 sparge water
Malts:
11lb Maris Otter
1 lb Crystal 40
0.75 lb Pilsner
0.25 lb Other

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


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Old 06-26-2013, 12:10 PM   #2
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You need to use some acid malt or lactic acid, and it probably wouldn't hurt to dilute your water with RO/distilled.


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Old 06-26-2013, 12:51 PM   #3
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afr0byte, thanks for the reply.

If I filter my water with a carbon filter, will anything change for this chemistry stuff or will it help?
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Old 06-26-2013, 01:00 PM   #4
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The carbon filter will remove a lot of the particulates, but then you don't know your starting point for water treatment.

Either go with your tap water and treat it, or go with RO water and treat it. It's easiest to start with water where you know the profile.
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Old 06-26-2013, 01:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanppp View Post
afr0byte, thanks for the reply.

If I filter my water with a carbon filter, will anything change for this chemistry stuff or will it help?
No, it won't change the calcium/sulfate/chloride/alkalinity/sodium.
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Old 06-26-2013, 02:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanppp View Post

I can't seem to dial in a level where I have an acceptable pH (under 5.6) and an acceptable ratio of Chloride/Sulfate.
You can't really rely on a spreadsheet to give you an accurate estimate of mash pH. It is a rather complicated problem. You really need to measure the actual mash pH realized in the mash tun using a properly calibrated meter. Also there really is no such thing as an 'acceptable ratio of Chloride/Sulfate' unless you are doing lagers in which case ∞ is desirable (i.e. no sulfate) and really even then it is a matter of personal taste.

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Either I add a bunch of salts to bring the pH down (which plummets my Chloride/Sulfate) or else I have too high a pH.
Calcium isn't really a terribly effective means of reducing mash pH though it can be used to trim it. Acid, in the form of sauermalz or lactic acid or phosphoric acid are much more effective and is required for most beers.

You didn't label any of the ions except alkalinity but that is definitely high and will require some action to reduce it. Dilution with RO is one thing that works (the Primer in the sticies here may be helpful).
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Old 06-27-2013, 04:15 AM   #7
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You've fallen into the trap of trying to use minerals to address your pH. Don't worry, even the book writers don't make this clear. You need to separate these two issues; taste gets addressed by minerals (drink some San Pelligrino and you'll see what minerals do to water!) while pH is addressed by adding phosphoric or lactic acid or acidulated malt. If your water is more alkaline, you need too use more acid or cut it with some distilled/RO water.

If you're using the Residual Alkalinity nomograph thing, ignore it -- because practically speaking it has nothing to do with pH and will lead you down the wrong path.
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Old 06-27-2013, 06:20 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies everybody. Great point SpeedYellow, I totally get what you're saying now.

So, if I run my tap water through a carbon filter, throw enough acid in there to bring my pH to the right spot, and mix in a few salts to get my ions in range, I'm good! Is this correct (mostly, I want to make sure I can use the carbon filter, as afr0byte said)?
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanppp View Post
Thanks for all the replies everybody. Great point SpeedYellow, I totally get what you're saying now.

So, if I run my tap water through a carbon filter, throw enough acid in there to bring my pH to the right spot, and mix in a few salts to get my ions in range, I'm good! Is this correct (mostly, I want to make sure I can use the carbon filter, as afr0byte said)?
Yes, mostly! You want to add enough acid to bring your pH to the correct level but not so much strong flavored acid that it makes an impact. If you have to use a ton of acid malt or lactic acid to get t your pH, try using phosphoric acid and/or cutting your water with distilled water to avoid a flavor impact.
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:55 AM   #10
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Don't go too crazy with the minerals unless you really fully understand the flavor impact. If you're not sure, i'd advise against it. Less is more here.

Your alkalinity of 114 means you'll definitely need a fair amount of acid or RO dilution. Guys here will suggest some RO dilution if alkalinity is over 50, but Chicago water is 107 and I don't think our breweries are cutting the water with RO. 2-3% acidulated malt typically gets me where I need to be. But you have some substantial other ions so some RO may do you good, depending on style.


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