A few words of warning regarding the use of Ca(OH)2 (Calcium Hydroxide) in mash water or in the mash

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Larry Sayre, Developer of 'Mash Made Easy'
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1) Calcium Hydroxide should only be used to both add Ca++ calcium ions and raise water pH if you are using DI, RO, or Distilled water as your source. If your source water contains Bicarbonate ions (HCO3-) the bicarbonate ions will bind to the Ca++ ions and remove them as a highly insoluble precipitate of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) which mostly drops out. Until most of your bicarbonate is removed via precipitation as CaCO3 you will not accomplish the adding of Ca++ ions to your water.

Ca(OH)2 + HCO3- → CaCO3↓ + H2O + OH-

2) If you are thinking about adding both Baking Soda (NaHCO3) and Calcium Hydroxide whereby to both add calcium and sodium, and also raise your waters pH, the very same issue will hinder and bite you, so never mix these two minerals as part of your mineralization routine, even if you are starting with DI, RO, or Distilled water as your source.

Ca(OH)2 + NaHCO3 → CaCO3↓ + H2O + NaOH

3) Any dissolved CO2 within your water, even if it is sourced from DI, RO, or Distilled, will combine with the calcium in Ca(OH)2 to form CaCO3 and drop out the calcium until nearly all CO2 is removed.

Ca(OH)2 + CO2→ CaCO3↓ + H2O

All of the above has me questioning the overall viability of using Ca(OH)2 whereby to add Ca++ calcium ions to your brewing water or to raise its pH. It does not appear to me (subject to correction) that any current mash pH assistant software is factoring in any of the above reactions. It's probably best to simply avoid using Ca(OH)2. Certainly don't use it if your water source is not DI, RO, or Distilled. It is not easily or readily predictable as to the actual outcome of its use.
 
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Larry Sayre, Developer of 'Mash Made Easy'
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I spend a lot of time reading peer reviewed brewing literature of a technical nature, and I can't recall seeing much (if any) advice recommending the use of Ca(OH)2 in the mash. There is however a load of advice in peer reviewed literature for it in regard to "Lime Softening".
 

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Personally I prefer the taste and texture of dark beers brewed with RO and Calcium Hydroxide additions (plus other Ca salts) to those brewed with baking soda. IMHO it’s the best way to add alkalinity if you need to.
 
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Personally I prefer the taste and texture of dark beers brewed with RO and Calcium Hydroxide additions (plus other Ca salts) to those brewed with baking soda. IMHO it’s the best way to add alkalinity if you need to.
I agree that CaCO3 is fine for use as long as your waters bicarbonate mg/l is close to zero, as would be the case for decent quality RO water. However, some of us often prefer the presence of a moderate amount of sodium ions, albeit that these can also come from adding NaCl (such as for non iodized table salt).

But to claim it's the "best way" should (in my opinion) be prefaced with a warning that covers points 1 and 2 in this threads first post. Warning 3 being minimal in impact...
 

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However, some of us often prefer the presence of a moderate amount of sodium ions
Do people have a general sodium range they prefer? I have been meaning to play around with sodium levels, but have not done so. My water report lists 49 ppm, but based on county data and other people's reports, I suspect it varies from 20 to 35 most of the time. I don't add Sodium. In the rare instance that I need to raise the pH, I have used Baking Soda. I am not sure if pushing my Sodium up to 60 to 70 ppm is anything to worry about. My beers taste fine, but it is hard for me to pick out the impact of some Sodium in a big roasty stout.

I have thought about getting some Pickling Lime (Calcium Hydroxide) because I like the idea of separating pH adjustments and Sodium adjustments...though based on this thread that sounds like a bad idea with my tap water.

I am also curious of the shelf life of Pickling Lime. I use maybe 10 grams of Baking Soda a year in brewing, but I use it in the kitchen as well. A 1 lb bag of Pickling Lime would last me several lifetimes.
 
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Do people have a general sodium range they prefer? I have been meaning to play around with sodium levels, but have not done so. My water report lists 49 ppm, but based on county data and other people's reports, I suspect it varies from 20 to 35 most of the time.
As mentioned above, I review a lot of older peer reviewed documents on brewing, and I can say that opinions on sodium have changed from the 1920's-30's to today, with its addition being progressively lowered over time. I'm not of the opinion that this lowering has been done to improve flavor. Rather I believe it to have more likely been done in regard to concerns for the health aspects of sodium. Most older documents tend to tout its beneficial flavor aspects.

One 1963 journal stated that up to 500 ppm NaCl (which would mean 196.7 ppm Na+ and 303.3 ppm Cl-) was beneficial in ales, with 250 ppm (as NaCl, and not as broken down into constituent ions) being for mild lagers "acceptable", and with (again I presume for mild lagers) 75-150 ppm (again as NaCl) being "ideal". See page 328 in the upper right hand column of the attached document.

https://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/j.2050-0416.1963.tb01933.x
 
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In the above post, the Na+ considered "ideal" for mild ales would equate to ~30 to ~60 ppm. I presume the noticeably higher levels specified as [upper level] "beneficial" were more intended for darker ales. I also presume that up at least 1963 the concern for sodium levels as regard to health were not much of a factor, and taste was the main factor.
 
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According to this 'Scientific American' article the war on salt began in circa 1977. And it (the article, not me, as my disclaimer*) argues that there is no basis for it.

*Don't shoot the messenger....

 

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ne 1963 journal stated that up to 500 ppm NaCl (which would mean 196.7 ppm Na+ and 303.3 ppm Cl-) was beneficial, with 250 ppm (as NaCl, and not as broken down into constituent ions) being for mild ales "acceptable", and with (again I presume for mild ales) 75-150 ppm (again as NaCl) being "ideal". See page 328 in the upper right hand column of the attached document.
Interesting. I assume that "in the copper" means in the boil kettle. It makes sense as to not lose some of the additions to the grain. I have been trying to focus my learning/understanding on Sulfate, Chloride and pH, but I keep feeling I should pay more attention to Sodium levels. It should be fairly easy to dose some beers to play around with different levels.
 
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New problem for Ca(OH)2 in the mash.

Now that the concept of RA is teetering on the brink of destruction, if it fails to be a constant, and becomes instead a variable, there will be no means by which to project the downward shift impact of the Ca++ ion portion of Ca(/OH)2 from one grist to the next.

In order to know how much Ca(OH)2 to add whereby to move a grist to a desired mash pH both the degree of upward pH movement of the two OH- ions and the downward pH movement of the Ca++ must be known and fixed. For the OH- this is pretty much a slam dunk, but for the Ca++ this relationship must remain true:

mEq's_RA = mEq's_Total_Alkalinity - [(mEq's_Ca++/3.5) + (mEq's_Mg++/7)]

If the 3.5 is not constant, but rather varies with the components of the grist, then the above equation loses its validity and meaning, and research chemists Barth and Zaman have already detonated this equation. They ran repeated test batches where the 3.5 denominator ranged in actuality from 7.2 to 14.8 depending upon which base malts were being tested, and never got close to 3.5. Therefore the impact of Ca++ upon pH shift is not predictable, and therefore the impact of Ca(OH)2 as a whole upon mash pH shift gets dragged into unpredictability right along with it.
 
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It turns out to be that if you add Ca(OH)2 under the presumption that Kolbach is always 100% correct as applied to the mash, then you must add calcium hydroxide at a ratio of 0.617 grams Ca(OH)2 to 1 gram of Baking Soda, whereby to allow for more OH- in order to counter the Ca++. And if you think oppositely that calcium has zero impact upon mash pH, then you must add Ca(OH)2 at a ratio of 0.441 grams of Ca(OH)2 to 1 gram of Baking Soda, since there is no need to fight OH- against Ca++ (or more properly against H+ liberated by Ca++). And if we really don't likely know the impact for Kolbach within the mash (as we have learned from Barth and Zaman), we can never know where between these two extremes of ratio that our grist resides whereby to determine in advance how much Ca(OH)2 to add.
 
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