200 mg/l sodium in city water

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moinkyschmoink

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Like the title says...200 ppm of sodium in my city water. I just brewed a Kolsch as my first brew in this new town and yeah, not so good.
I had great water where I was I before and took it for granted. I had no idea how bad this would be as it's less than 10 miles from my old place.
To top this, we have a water softener, which helps with how the bad the water is on other fronts, but I'm not ok with brewing with this water again.
So begins my crash course in water chemistry, but I definitely need some advice for dummys.

I'm trying to determine my best options with this mess. Do I dilute with distilled water? Dilute with purified drinking water? Buy an RO filtration system and build water? Build from distilled?

brew water stats from the plant:
Ph 9.3
Calcium hardness 77
Magnesium hardness 95
Sodium 200
Sulfate 311
Bicarbonate 53

Thanks anyone for the help!!!
 

Sammy86

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I start my reply as I only have simple knowledge of water chemistry and a water softener and RO system and literally had the same experience as you...if you can afford it get the RO...building your water from scratch is far easier IMO then diluting.

I have SUPER hard well water out here in the boonies of CT...the softener and more importantly the RO system have made significant tasting differences in my brews. My lagers are cleaner and crisper and my ales are just better. Can't recommend RO more!
 
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moinkyschmoink

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I start my reply as I only have simple knowledge of water chemistry
I start my reply as I only have simple knowledge of water chemistry and a water softener and RO system and literally had the same experience as you...if you can afford it get the RO...building your water from scratch is far easier IMO then diluting.

I have SUPER hard well water out here in the boonies of CT...the softener and more importantly the RO system have made significant tasting differences in my brews. My lagers are cleaner and crisper and my ales are just better. Can't recommend RO more!

Did you go for the whole house RO or something smaller? I'm considering a 50 gpd type system for mostly brewing. How difficult is building the water from your RO? Do you test first or just consider it blank canvas? Is ph easier to manage that way as well?
 

cire

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For years I've treated my water successfully while witnessing many brewers convinced into fit an RO system, when in truth they only needed to learn a little chemistry and treat their water supply with acid and salts. In your case, unless you wish to make only variations on a very rudimentary style of dark beer, fit an RO system.
 
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In your case...yes, an RO is the way to go. Assuming your Ca and Mg number are ppm, then I believe you'll have about 279 ppm sodium in your softened water. An RO will take care of that.
 
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cire

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I'm going to guess that your Chloride ion is within the ballpark of about 165 ppm.

Yes, my rough estimate was 170 ppm.
So we have a supply of 31 ppm Ca, 23 Mg, 200 Na, 311 SO4, 170 Chloride with alkalinity as 63 ppm as bicarbonate then passed through a water softener, which should all but eliminate the calcium and magnesium to boost the sodium to near 280 ppm. That won't make a good beer without significant quantities of other flavors present. Little chance to make a delicate beer.
 

Toxxyc

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200mg/l seems a bit on the unsafe side, actually. Hell, maximum daily intake of sodium is considered to be no more than 2,300mg per day. Salt is 39% sodium, so a teaspoon (5000mg) of salt per day and 2l of water and you're exceeding your recommended daily sodium intake levels.
 

Sammy86

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Did you go for the whole house RO or something smaller? I'm considering a 50 gpd type system for mostly brewing. How difficult is building the water from your RO? Do you test first or just consider it blank canvas? Is ph easier to manage that way as well?

Softner is whole house. RO has a separate faucet in the kitchen next to the kitchen sink for drinking water. I attach some tubing and fill my fermentors with how much I need and put it into my Brewzilla/Digi Boil.

Building water is fairly simple when you have a program to help you out. I use Brun' Water. I base my water on style of beer and then input into Brun' Water and it tells me everything I need!
 

Silver_Is_Money

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200mg/l seems a bit on the unsafe side, actually. Hell, maximum daily intake of sodium is considered to be no more than 2,300mg per day. Salt is 39% sodium, so a teaspoon (5000mg) of salt per day and 2l of water and you're exceeding your recommended daily sodium intake levels.

Technically one could drink 22 metric pints a day and not exceed the maximum safe intake level. The high Sodium here is a problem, but not likely a health problem. IMHO, at 200 mg/L it would make the beer seem dull and lifeless, with a flavor profile rather loosely akin to that of having been decarbonated (while still being fully carbonated). At the very least, hop expression would be seriously muted. With malt expression likely muted as well.
 

doug293cz

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In your case...yes, an RO is the way to go. Assuming your Ca and Mg number are ppm, then I believe you'll have about 279 ppm sodium in your softened water. An RO will take care of that.
Do you recommend feeding the RO system with untreated or softened water? What are the trade-offs?

Brew on :mug:
 

doug293cz

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so 23, atomic mass of sodium...isn't that far off from water's 18? wouldn't it matter how it was bound too though?
Sodium is seldom bound in aqueous solutions. Also, ppms in water are usually understood to be weight fractions, not molecular fractions.

Brew on :mug:
 

bracconiere

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Sodium is seldom bound in aqueous solutions. Also, ppms in water are usually understood to be weight fractions, not molecular fractions.

Brew on :mug:


just saying sodium carbonate is 105g/mol, and has two atoms of sodium, at 22 atomic weight each, and sodium chloride is only half that and only adds one atom of sodium....and sodium carbonate, is like an ion or something, and easier to break....


i'm think flavors would be diferent...on bonding methods...if you get a lot of carbonate it could be chaulky, but if you neutrilize the carbonate, and the sodium turn into sodium hydroxide or some reacting with the water, maybe not so bad? just mess with your mash ph?

edit: and yes, i JUST realized this is brew 'science'..... :( not brew 'art'
 

Silver_Is_Money

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ppm = weight per million like units of weight (as in 200 mg. of sodium in every 1 million mg. of your water)

mg/L = milligrams per Liter (or weight per unit volume) [as in 200 mg of sodium in a 1 Liter volume of water]

As @VikeMan stated, they are not actually the same, despite our general desire that they are.

If you dissolved 200 mg. of sodium in 1 Liter of Ethanol (presuming solubility here), you would have 200 mg/L sodium, but you would also have ballpark 253 ppm sodium.
 
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doug293cz

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just saying sodium carbonate is 105g/mol, and has two atoms of sodium, at 22 atomic weight each, and sodium chloride is only half that and only adds one atom of sodium....and sodium carbonate, is like an ion or something, and easier to break....


i'm think flavors would be diferent...on bonding methods...if you get a lot of carbonate it could be chaulky, but if you neutrilize the carbonate, and the sodium turn into sodium hydroxide or some reacting with the water, maybe not so bad? just mess with your mash ph?

edit: and yes, i JUST realized this is brew 'science'..... :( not brew 'art'
But once dissolved in water the ions are just that - ions. They are no longer bound to other oppositely charged ions. You can't tell which sodium ions came from salt (NaCl) and which came from sodium carbonate. All you can say is there is this much sodium, this much chloride, this much carbonate, this much bi-carbonate, this much calcium, etc. Doesn't matter where the ions came from, just how much of each there is.

Brew on :mug:
 

doug293cz

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ppm = weight per million like units of weight (as in 200 mg. of sodium in every 1 million mg. of your water)

mg/L = milligrams per Liter (or weight per unit volume) [as in 200 mg of sodium in a 1 Liter volume of water]

As @VikeMan stated, they are not actually the same, despite our general desire that they are.
And as I showed with the math, the actual difference, in almost all cases, is less than the uncertainty in the measurements that you are making/getting. I doubt your everyday Wards Lab analysis can differentiate 200 ppm from 200.4 ppm.

Brew on :mug:
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Silver_Is_Money

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As the Ethanol content of the fermenting beer increases, and the density heads back toward 1.000, the discrepancy between mineral ppm's and mineral mg/L's decreases.

The greater the density deviation of the carrier liquid is from 1.000 g/CC (the nominal density of water), the greater the disparity between mg/L and ppm.
 
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bwible

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So that leads me to the question - what is the cutoff or high value allowable for Sodium in your water profile? Most of the profiles I see have a low number, like teens or twenties. I’m sure it could be variable by some beer styles. Mine says 57 and I thought that was too high.
 

VikeMan

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So that leads me to the question - what is the cutoff or high value allowable for Sodium in your water profile? Most of the profiles I see have a low number, like teens or twenties. I’m sure it could be variable by some beer styles. Mine says 57 and I thought that was too high.

Palmer says (in the original "How To Brew" anyway) 0-150 ppm. But I think the answer depends on what you're brewing and your personal preferences.

For example, I'll C&P from an old post...

---------------------------
Several years ago, I (with a small group) did a taste test, adding salt to a smaller (not imperial) stout, namely Young's Double Chocolate stout. Maybe the notes will help. (The reference to a chocolate covered pretzel was because I was contemplating just such a recipe at the time.)
-------------------

Added NaCl to cold (about 45F) samples of stout to get Na at four concentrations...

119 ppm Na: Slightly more intense chocolate/malt flavor as compared with control (estimated at 20 ppm IIRC), but not identifiably salty.

237 ppm Na: Even more intense flavor, just slightly subjectively salty. But I'm not completely sure I would have said salty if I didn't know what the test was about.

356 ppm Na: Clearly has a salty flavor component now, but not overwhelming by any stretch

475 ppm Na: More salty, but still not overwhelming or unpleasant at all. Complements the chocolate nicely, but not as salty as an actual chocolate covered pretzel.
--------------------------------------
 

cire

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So that leads me to the question - what is the cutoff or high value allowable for Sodium in your water profile? Most of the profiles I see have a low number, like teens or twenties. I’m sure it could be variable by some beer styles. Mine says 57 and I thought that was too high.

In Britain (and maybe in South Africa if I read a previous post correctly) the maximum level of sodium in water supplies is 200 mg/L, so marginally less than 200 ppm. This is for reasons of health, but not sure about other countries.

Through time many beers have been made with higher sodium levels, not necessarily from the water supply, but from salt additions that improved flavor. The problem of a high level in the water supply is that of limitation to the styles of beers that can be made.

Sodium is highly soluble in water, so unlike calcium and magnesium when calcium is present in greater quantity, therefore is not retained in substantial proportion in the grist or break in the kettle.
 

bwible

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Palmer says (in the original "How To Brew" anyway) 0-150 ppm. But I think the answer depends on what you're brewing and your personal preferences.

For example, I'll C&P from an old post...

---------------------------
Several years ago, I (with a small group) did a taste test, adding salt to a smaller (not imperial) stout, namely Young's Double Chocolate stout. Maybe the notes will help. (The reference to a chocolate covered pretzel was because I was contemplating just such a recipe at the time.)
-------------------

Added NaCl to cold (about 45F) samples of stout to get Na at four concentrations...

119 ppm Na: Slightly more intense chocolate/malt flavor as compared with control (estimated at 20 ppm IIRC), but not identifiably salty.

237 ppm Na: Even more intense flavor, just slightly subjectively salty. But I'm not completely sure I would have said salty if I didn't know what the test was about.

356 ppm Na: Clearly has a salty flavor component now, but not overwhelming by any stretch

475 ppm Na: More salty, but still not overwhelming or unpleasant at all. Complements the chocolate nicely, but not as salty as an actual chocolate covered pretzel.
--------------------------------------
But is adding salt to a finished beer the same as starting with a high level of sodium and carrying it through the mash, boil with hops, and fermentation with possible effects on yeast into the finished beer?
 

Brewdog80

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The one HUMONGOUS thing that EVERYONE here has MISSED from the Original Poster is that NOT ONLY does he have 200mg of sodium coming into his house, but he has a water softener. What does a water softener use and ADD to the water? SALT, Sodium Chloride. In a big way. It totally makes the original water profile coming into his system irrelevant.
I'm not really one to usually suggest a RO, but the OP should either get his brew water prior to his softener, eliminate the softener, or get an RO....
 

cire

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Not everyone.

So we have a supply of 31 ppm Ca, 23 Mg, 200 Na, 311 SO4, 170 Chloride with alkalinity as 63 ppm as bicarbonate then passed through a water softener, which should all but eliminate the calcium and magnesium to boost the sodium to near 280 ppm. That won't make a good beer without significant quantities of other flavors present. Little chance to make a delicate beer.
 

VikeMan

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But is adding salt to a finished beer the same as starting with a high level of sodium and carrying it through the mash, boil with hops, and fermentation with possible effects on yeast into the finished beer?

Good question. I can add that the yeast for my pastry stouts, WLP001, see ~100 ppm sodium. If it's affecting the yeast negatively, I can't tell. I ferment them at 61F and am getting the attenuation I'm expecting, given the grain bill, mash temp, mash length, and yeast strain.
 

VikeMan

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The one HUMONGOUS thing that EVERYONE here has MISSED from the Original Poster is that NOT ONLY does he have 200mg of sodium coming into his house, but he has a water softener. What does a water softener use and ADD to the water? SALT, Sodium Chloride. In a big way. It totally makes the original water profile coming into his system irrelevant.
I'm not really one to usually suggest a RO, but the OP should either get his brew water prior to his softener, eliminate the softener, or get an RO....

Could you please speak up?
 

mabrungard

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The World Health Organization (WHO) at one time set the limit for sodium in potable water at 250 ppm. That was strictly based on aesthetic concerns (it tends to 'taste' salty above that level). The water in my city comes out of the tap right around that limit and I don't mind it for drinking. But I wouldn't use it for brewing! It would be OK to brew some beers with if the city didn't perform partial ion-exchange softening on it. But they need to soften or their pipes would be clogged shut with lime scale. So, it is what it is.

For the OP, accept the fact that you'll need to employ another source for brewing. RO is a good option. Do feed it with the softened water for your house softener and the membrane will last a good long time.
 

Brewdog80

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Could you please speak up?
I made my point, all the GUESSES that you guys make about the OP water is irrelevant. adding salt to finished beer? Really? Guesses on the sodium and chloride levels along with other minerals based on nothing. You guys know nothing about how well or not his softener works treating the water. actually pretty funny. Get the water pre softener, or RO. Your beer will taste like beer.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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As a child I watched my Dad and others sprinkle salt into their beer. I tried it once a few years ago on one of my Bohemian Pilsner recipes, drinking a glass with a bit of salt added alongside a control with no added salt. The hops and malt were muted via the salt and it tasted dull and uninteresting. I've never tried it since then.

But I have come across some peer reviewed Brewing Science Of Yore (circa 1950's) literature that proclaimed salt to be a net positive at about 50 ppm in the general likes of Pilsner Lagers, and 100 ppm in darker beers.

What I shook into a glass of beer when it dulled it was likely well more than 50 ppm.
 
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A1sportsdad

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I always use distilled and build the profile I want. If you have an RO system, that’s great, but I’ll spend the 0.89 per gallon for distilled. I don’t trust my water always be consistent and I know at times I can smell an odor I associate with algae blooms, so I prefer using a consistent blank canvas and building it up to what I want for the specific brew.
 
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