A quick survey on Water Profiles

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Who among us actually believes in the mystique of what I generally refer to as canned (aka, published or made public by any means) "Water Profiles" as to their power to transform beer (or beer styles) from mediocre to delicious?

Personally, I've made beer recipes that were CaCl2 forward, and then brewed essentially the same recipes in CaSO4 forward water and not truly noticed any difference. So in going first, my answer is that I don't believe in any magical mystique as to water profiles, but rather I believe instead (I.E., it is my opinion) that the main benefit lies not in the mg/L or ppm balance (or imbalance) of ones chosen Anion(s), but rather in the achieved mEq's of extant Ca++ Cation.
 

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As a home brewer trying to improve his product, I have been reading and trying understand water profile. My last batch, still in fermenter, is my first adjusting my water profile. Of course it’s a beer I have not brewed before so I have no baseline to to judge against.

Your post has similar post referenced at the bottom which you had another post similar.


From that post, the three brewers made different beers using the exact recipe and exact water profile. You claim all three beers were different. The exception being how they treated the water. You clam they were all treated differently, no sparge, 1/4 sparge, and half sparge. Wouldn’t that be a different mash water profile and as expected by water treatment give different results. Hence proving that water treatment have an effect on the final results.

I’m no chemists and am not trying to argue with you, but you appear to be looking for one. I’m here for information. So what is this mEq’s of extent Ca++ Cation you speak of?
 
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Let's say that we added 5 grams of CaSO4.2H2O (Gypsum). How many mEq's of Ca++ did we add?

MW of CaSO4.2H2O = 172.17116 g./mol = 172.17116 mg./mmol
MW of Ca++ = 40.078 g./mol = 40.078 mg./mmol
Valence of Ca++ = 2
EQ Wt of Ca++ = 40.078 mg./Valence = 20.039 g./EQ = 20.039 mg./mEq

1st: How many mg. of Ca++ did we add?
5,000 mg. x 40.087/172.17116 = 1163.9 mg. of Ca++

So therefore:
1163.9 mg./20.039 mg./mEq = 58.082 mEq of Ca++ ions added

We could stop here, with 58.082 mEq of Calcium ions as our fully satisfactory answer, but the real relevance is in how many mEq of H+ ions (Acid Ions) this amount of mEq's of Calcium can be effectively liberated via Calcium's interaction with the phosphates extant within the grist.

Per Kolbach 3.5 mEq's of Ca++ ions liberate 1 mEq of H+ ions
Therefore:
58.082/3.5 = 16.595 mEq of H+ ions (acid ions) liberated

But per AJ deLange only about half of this acid ion liberation occurs within the mash, so:
1/2 x 16.595 mEq = 8.298 mEq of H+ ions (acid ions) liberated within the mash

8.298 mEq of acid liberated into the mash water via Ca++ is the mEq amount of acid you WILL NOT need to add via Lactic Acid, or Phosphoric Acid, etc... for the case of adding 5 grams (5000 mg.) of Gypsum.
 
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Note carefully that for mEq's the volume of the water never enters into the equation, as long as the water is DI or Distilled or very good RO.

But what if we had 30 liters of 'source' mash water with 50 mg/L (~ppm) of Ca++ in it. How many mEq's of Calcium ions would that be?

30L x 50 mg./L = 1,500 mg. of Ca++ ions in our water.

1,500 mg./20.039 mg./mEq = 74.85 mEq's of Ca++

But if half of our 30 L. of source water with 50 mg/L Ca++ was mash water and the other half was sparge water, we would be mashing in water containing only 37.43 mEq of Ca++ ions.

And it is ONLY the mEq's of Ca++ that matter as to the amount of H+ ions to be liberated. Source water mg/L's and ppm's only indirectly matter, albeit critically via respect to mash water volume. But the "Water Profile" generating people never mention this, nor do they suggest mash water volumes should matter at all. And thus (without conversion to mEq's) Water Profiles are useless to assisting in altering mash pH.

That's 'part' of why I answered the query as I did. The other part is explained within my OP.
 
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Your post has similar post referenced at the bottom which you had another post similar.


From that post, the three brewers made different beers using the exact recipe and exact water profile. You claim all three beers were different. The exception being how they treated the water. You clam they were all treated differently, no sparge, 1/4 sparge, and half sparge. Wouldn’t that be a different mash water profile and as expected by water treatment give different results. Hence proving that water treatment have an effect on the final results.
Yes, different as to Ca++ and Mg++ Cation mEq levels, and thus different beers. But much to perhaps most of the purported magic that lies within 'canned' (or so called) Water Profiles seems to be centered upon Anions. And in this latter view the Ca++ ppm's are only the ancillary means whereby to achieve magical levels of Anions. And more importantly, magical ratios of Anions in conjunction with magical mg/l (ppm) levels of Anions. I.E., in this latter view it is not the Cations that matter nearly as much as the Anions.

I agree that differing Cation levels lead to different beer styles, but I question the impact of Anions (such as Cl- and SO4--).

And as dmtaylor stated succinctly above, I mainly question whether the worship of Water Profiles will take ones beer to the next level.

That, plus I've shown that mg/l (ppm) based Water Profiles are critically defective in that they must be specified strictly in relation to ones water volumes, but they never are. They are instead clearly intended to work their magic regardless of ones brewing process and water volumes of choice.

Short version of my opinion: One should pay more attention to Cations in relation to mEq's than to Anions in relation to ppm's.

So if canned Water Profiles (in addition to being defective and misleading due to being ppm based as opposed to mEq based) are not likely to be the pathway to beer style Nirvana, what more likely is:

1) Getting rid of Oxygen, or alternately, getting rid of LOX, or both.
2) Targeting and controlling the mEq's of Ca++ and the mEq's of Mg++ for a given style.
3) Choosing the appropriate yeast for the Style.
4) Rigidly controlling the fermentation temperature.
5) Selecting the appropriate Hops for a given Style.
6) Adding the correct quantities of he appropriate Hops at the correct times during the boil.
7) Process control.
8) Stop being primarily ppm (mg/L) Anion-centric, and start being primarily mEq Cation-centric with respect to beer Style.
 

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One should pay more attention to Cations in relation to mEq's than to Anions in relation to ppm's.
Propose a process that shows how to do this. It's possible people may try it and may provide feedback.

Note that using phrases like "canned Water Profiles", "worship of Water Profiles", and "the pathway to beer style Nirvana" may cause your ideas to be ignored.

I mainly question whether the worship of Water Profiles will take ones beer to the next level.
While it's not "worship" nor is it "next level" thinking, there is a Palmer 2007 NHC presentation [1] where they brewed two styles of beers with two different water profiles.
  1. a pale ale with a "pale ale water profile"
  2. a stout with a "stout water profile"
  3. a pale ale with a "stout water profile"
  4. a stout with a "pale ale water profile"
tl;dr: it appears that "water profiles" matter.

Simple approaches to "water profiles" exist (e.g. Brewing Water Chemistry Primer [2] and the 'cliff notes' [3]).

tl;dr; it's either measuring spoons or very accurate gram scales to adjust no / low mineral water. And it works.

Similar approaches for tap water are built into most recipe software that people use.

In summary:
  1. consider proposing a process that provides a better way to make water adjustments that result in better beer.
  2. wait three to six months for people to report actual results
  3. adjust / refine / repeat



[1] exBEERiment | Water Chemistry: Impact Different Mineral Profiles Have on Dry Irish Stout | Brülosophy (link)
[2] A Brewing Water Chemistry Primer (link)
[3] Water Chemistry – How to Build Your Water (link)
 

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I have told this story before but here it is again. I moved in 2019. At my old house I never had a water report done and was able to brew decent beers with no water treatment. After a bunch of brews at the new house I found I could brew decent light beers and lager-ish beers but all my ipas and pale ale ales were seriously lacking. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had bought a pound pack of Cascade and thought maybe I got bad hops or something.

Then I got my water report from Ward Labs. Attached. When I see I have chloride (81) but almost no sulfate (15) it made sense. I’ve been adding gypsum for my ipas and pale ales and getting much better results.

Now I’m not going to say there’s any magic profile. But you do need to know whats in your water.
E6CD7AEA-D54E-43C1-A43F-5E454DB8256B.jpeg

[edit] I plan to send another sample to Ward later this year, like the end of June. I sent the sample for this test in March 2020 and was wondering if the high sodium and chloride could be due to salt runoff from roads and highways from the winter. I want to get a second sample to confirm this and we really didn’t have any snow this winter.
 
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Propose a process that shows how to do this. It's possible people may try it and may provide feedback.
I just did.

Note that using phrases like "canned Water Profiles", "worship of Water Profiles", and "the pathway to beer style Nirvana" may cause your ideas to be ignored.
I'm not expecting anything other than being ignored. People prefer to live in established comfort zones, and to ignore anything that may disrupt such comfort.
 

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I just did.
I'll accept that you did.

I'll assume that I missed it due to the extraneous phrases I mentioned earlier.

FWIW: I was looking for something similar to what's in the water chemistry primers - a process that is 'ready to use' with the right equipment.

I'm not expecting anything other than being ignored.
At this time, I'll politely leave this topic.
 

Niatras

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Once again I’m not a chemists, but am trying to grasps what you are saying. You don’t mention how this makes an impact on anything. What’s the end goal? Mash PH?
 
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Once again I’m not a chemists, but am trying to grasps what you are saying. You don’t mention how this makes an impact on anything. What’s the end goal? Mash PH?

Not mash pH. It hasn't even been explored. Again, the answer is in my OP.





Granted, there are a few Exbeeriments stating the opposite as to their mineral based conclusions, but on a score card basis... Hmmm? Clearly it is not clear cut.
 
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@Silver_Is_Money I wonder if you are familiar with the work of Alan Alda. Other than M*A*S*H, of course.

 
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Once again I’m not a chemists, but am trying to grasps what you are saying. You don’t mention how this makes an impact on anything.
Precisely! Because often enough (when Ca++ and Mg++ mEq's are held constant) there is no impact (as per Brulosophy)! Again I defer to my OP. YMMV, but many triangle tests seem to be in general agreement with my assessment. So ignore them, remain in your comfort zone, and instead, let the triangle test bashing begin.
 
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Niatras

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Ok. My level of intelligence is not on the same level as yours. I now see you just want to rant on a belief you hold but are not willing to elaborate to the extent how that belief impacts the final product your not also will to elaborate on the process to get there that was asked earlier. I guess I’ll just go back to using tap water.
 

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Who among us actually believes in the mystique of what I generally refer to as canned (aka, published or made public by any means) "Water Profiles" as to their power to transform beer (or beer styles) from mediocre to delicious?
Probably no one. I don't think I've seen it here anyhow.

Ever seen anyone say "black balanced" is perfect but "black full" will wreck your beer? I haven't.

Ever seen anyone say "Ditch that well water, start with RO, and make some additions to that instead. If you don't know how much to add, then consider looking at a "black full" profile for your stout, taste it, and go from there"? OK, I haven't seen this exact statement but I think it's the kind of thing that is indeed discussed here.

I'm not real sure what you're getting at. Certainly you're not saying water doesn't matter, or that some beers don't suck because of crappy water. If not that, then what exactly are you getting at?
 
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@Niatras , I understand. It's sort of like taking the blue pill or taking the red pill.

But when the entire scientific method has been presented I fail to see how it's all reducible to being merely a rant. I'm quite used to my offering of methodology being reduced to rant. It happens to me all the time. But then, this is the 'Brew Science' sub-forum, and at least I try to offer science.

PS: All scientific theories (such as my theory that Cation mEq's along with my 8 other important criteria are perhaps more significant than Anion ppm manipulation done for the sake of Anion ppm manipulation, whereby to conform and be comfortable with canned Water Profiles thereby) are falsifiable. You are free to provide such falsification. But then I must add that up to about 80% of medicine trial studies can not be independently verified, so get lots of falsification evidence.

Short version (as witnessed by Brulosophy leaning one way, and then another, as they beat the same ground over and over) is that it isn't always as cut and dried as the Water Profile experts may insist.
 
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I'm not real sure what you're getting at. Certainly you're not saying water doesn't matter, or that some beers don't suck because of crappy water. If not that, then what exactly are you getting at?
Anion ppm's vs. Cation mEq's.

Again I must inject (in loosely, if not succinctly quoting AJ deLange) that this is after-all the Brew Science sub-forum. And I'm merely attempting to present science. Falsifiable as it must be, wherein to be science.

Edit: Only myth presents itself as unfalsifiable. Do the Water Profile generators offer that their position is free to be falsified? And am I permitted to make such an effort in the name of science?
 
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Niatras

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I’ll say it. Your just regurgitating over and over and not disclosing how you fell your science impacts brewing. Ramble on. Out.
 
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I’ll say it. Your just regurgitating over and over and not disclosing how you fell your science impacts brewing. Ramble on. Out.
It was specifically you who brought in another of my threads and perceived that there was relevance. And it was also you who asked "So what is this mEq’s of extent Ca++ Cation you speak of?". I merely answered you.
 

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I have very soft water, and was making darker beers in the beginning. When I asked a certified judge about one batch's thin, watery malt flavor, he recommended trying some CaCl next batch, same recipe, and it helped tremendously. I do not adhere to profiles per se, but to a generally "more Cl for darker, more SO4 for APA hoppy, and nothing for pils/cream ales" idea.
 

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he recommended trying some CaCl next batch, same recipe, and it helped tremendously. I do not adhere to profiles per se, but to a generally "more Cl for darker, more SO4 for APA hoppy, and nothing for pils/cream ales" idea.
The approach sounds similar to the approach in Brewing Better Beer and Modern Home Brew Recipes. There are a couple of people, in various forums, who have extended this 'water adjustments' approach to include some of the simple reduced oxygen additions.
 
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All taste responses depend on calcium signals to generate appropriate responses which are relayed to the brain. Some taste cells have conventional synapses and rely on calcium influx through voltage-gated calcium channels. Other taste cells lack these synapses and depend on calcium release to formulate an output signal through a hemichannel. Beyond establishing these characteristics, few studies have focused on understanding how these calcium signals are formed. We identified multiple calcium clearance mechanisms that regulate calcium levels in taste cells as well as a calcium influx that contributes to maintaining appropriate calcium homeostasis in these cells. Multiple factors regulate the evoked taste signals with varying roles in different cell populations. Clearly, calcium signaling is a dynamic process in taste cells and is more complex than has previously been appreciated.

 

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Who among us actually believes in the mystique of what I generally refer to as canned (aka, published or made public by any means) "Water Profiles" as to their power to transform beer (or beer styles) from mediocre to delicious?

I think published water profiles have much in common with other published works such as books and music. Many, possibly most, are a waste space, time and effort, but some have merit and include the occasional gem. There are published profiles that don't balance, so are impossible to create, others, including one on this very forum this very day, have alkalinity at an excessive level in need of elimination to make a good beer.

Water treatment is important. I know of no natural water supply that cannot be improved for any beer style, except those insanely hopped or soured out of recognition, or with other additions that masks all that makes beer, a beer.

My water untreated is suitable only for brewing a rather mediocre stout. OK, that product is recognizable, even complimented by some, but I have no desire to repeat my early day brews.

There are many with belief distilled, RO or DI water makes the perfect the beer. Others are convinced water from their taps is all they would ever want. As long as they are happy, I don't want spoil their day, or waste my time.
 

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I do know that while spending two-years working up my Panther Piss series of fizzy yellow swill beers I made a huge advancement when I started hardening my water considerably and gained better results the further I leaned on gypsum. Ultimately, I hit a point where I started to get aspirin-like bitterness on the finish and I backed off the gypsum. So, yeah, I think water is important once you have the core recipe dialed in and you're chasing the last few tenths.

I could say the same for several recipes that I brew. Water *is* important, but water isn't going to help a crap recipe.
 

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I read this thread with humor since anyone with a bit of gypsum, calcium chloride, and a couple of cans of American mega lager can perform their own trials to personally learn that water profile certainly does make a notable difference in the taste and perception of beer. Beers like coors light and miller lite are fairly neutral and lightly mineralized. Adding a thin pinch of either of those salts to a glass of those beers will produce a notable shift in the perception. In that respect, water profile certainly does make a difference. But no one should assume that it’s the holy grail and answer to perfect beer.

The ionic content does make a difference, but it’s the management of brewing water alkalinity that makes the most profound difference. The typical water profile doesn’t include necessary adjustments to alkalinity that result in great beers. Assuming that starting with a “perfect” profile isn’t the end, but it helps. A “brewer” has to take the additional steps necessary to manage alkalinity and produce great beer.
 
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Everyone (both Cation-centric and Anion-centric alike) has to their favor the fact that added mEq's of Ca++ Cations (and ditto mEq's of Mg++ Cations) must inherently bring along with them Anions.

This thread never discussed alkalinity, nor was it intended to, as that subject, important as it is, clearly lies outside of this discussion. Literally dozens of my posts made to other threads discuss and assist in alkalinity management, along with detailed math-model "how too's". In retrospect though, such as to quell the humor, it should have been added to my post #7 above as beer improvement point #9.

Nor did this thread ever discuss that varying levels of Ca++ mEq's at certain magnitudes will not lead to the sensory perception of differing beer styles, but rather it affirmed that indeed it will.

This thread only introduces four points. Points perceived beyond these lie within the imagination of the reader.
Point 1) mEq's of Ca++ matter far more than ppm's of Ca++. I've detailed how to derive Ca++ mEq's.
Point 2) Ones Anions of choice matter generally less than most who take an Anion-centric approach envision. With this in regard to specifically Cl- and SO4-- as to the ions, as referenced in post #1.
Point 3) As a consequence of points 1 and 2, Water Profiles which evolve from a ppm perspective (Point #1), and/or an Anion-centric perspective (Point #2), are of questionable to dubious value.
Point 4) Each of my points #1 through #3 above are open to falsification. (A criteria necessary for any theory to lie within the realm of science, as opposed to the realm(s) of whim or desire or hope or fantasy or worship).

Read each of the Brulosophy links which I provided again for verification.
 
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I go back to the communication. It doesn't matter much how 'right' you are if you can't communicate it in a manner in which your audience will engage.

You had an interested layperson ask "What does it all mean?" You answered with more science-y science. They asked again and they were told you already laid it out in your OP.

You've got some seemingly smart ideas. Communicate them with the intent for your audience to want to understand. Yes, it's a science sub-forum, but your audience are still mostly lay people with an average American middle school science education.

Alan Alda. A rather famous actor who has devoted his life and fortune to improve communication. Especially for scientists. When asked why he founded his Center for Communicating Science, he tells a story of when he was at a remote observatory in the mountains of Chile. A Spanish-speaking doctor communicated very simply; "A part of your intestine is bad. I will cut it out and put the good parts together." That type of simple communication is missing with most Western, especially American, doctors. The Spanish-speaking doctor likely could have spoken in Latin. Another non-Spanish-speaking doctor probably could have understood the big Latin words. Mr. Alda was well-served with "Bad part out, good parts together."

Cheers.
 

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I go back to the communication. It doesn't matter much how 'right' you are if you can't communicate it in a manner in which your audience will engage.

Agreed, for what it's worth. Thread seems to be part rant, missed opportunity for education, and plain derailment. Not trying to scold anyone, just offer a view.

I'm reasonably smart, I'm an engineer and self taught in a lot of other areas as well. Water chemistry is not one of them. Always happy to learn more and hope I can here. Not yet though.

Maybe describe the issue, the effects on beer, the proposed solution and how to go about it?
 

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So, OP seems to say cations (esp. chloride and sulphate, I guess) matter more than anions (e.g. calcium, sodium) to beer flavor. This assertion seems clear/unremarkable/straightforward, potentially valuable, and "falsifiable", though we usually assess flavor very subjectively.

Also, OP finds that the amount/concentration of ions is best expressed in mEq. This strikes me as less interesting, maybe 'cuz my freshman chemistry recollection isn't great. It seems to me that we add these salts to our starting water (tap, distilled, RO) to achieve desired concentrations, and that it's simplest to use the same units that we find in water reports and brewing water profiles: mg/L and ppm.

OP also favors colorful language, which doesn't concern me if it's not abusive/trolling. I certainly respect the notion that using simple, straightforward language can improve communication. Even (especially?) when dealing with technical stuff.

Cheers.
 
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Calcium and Magnesium ions are Cations. Chloride and Sulfate ions are Anions.

All chemical reactions take place on an mEq to mEq basis. No chemical reactions take place on a ppm to ppm basis.
 

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Oops, got my charges' names reversed -- see what I mean about chemistry recall? Also, it seems I can't spell sulfate. Gotta say: surprising if chloride vs sulfate makes little flavor difference 'cuz, you know, sulfur! But intuition is not always a good guide.

Still kinda not excited about the measurement units thing. All chemical reactions take place without regard to how we name or measure the units. While we're getting ready for them to happen, we may have to do some arithmetic and/or communicate with other brewers (or chemists, I guess). That seems to me to be where the units come into play.
 

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I'm not big on water, as previously mentioned, but for whatever reason, I finally tried to understand what is being discussed. From a high level, I sort of almost understand it, but really kind of don't. Regardless, what I do know is...

This discussion seems to require deeper knowledge of chemical science. About 99.99% of us are not ready for this and will be unable to fully understand unless you can meet us a little closer to our level.

My initial thoughts, assuming your hypothesis might be true but requires further testing:

  • How much does "ratio" or relative amount of sodium, magnesium, etc. vs. calcium matter, if at all?

  • You briefly mention phosphate & phosphoric. In simple terms that an idiot can understand, how key is knowledge of this information? Is there a good way we can measure or estimate this at home?

  • Are ppm concentrations useful in any way, or do we need to consider only mEq and never ppm?

That's about the best my brain can do at the moment.
 

cmac62

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I use the canned water treatments because I can barely get my brain around a tsp of CaCL and a tsp of SO4 (or whatever gypsum is) and then try to get the Ca in line with some chalk or salt if it calls for some Na, K or Mg. Hey I'm almost talking like a chemist. LOL I have no clue about ppm vs mEq, I don't even know what mEq means, but I'm curious why the E is capitalized. Anyway thanks for the entertaining thread. Also, if @Silver_Is_Money can explain what the difference is and how to do it I'll give it a try. :mug:
 

whattabrau

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I use the canned water treatments because I can barely get my brain around a tsp of CaCL and a tsp of SO4 (or whatever gypsum is) and then try to get the Ca in line with some chalk or salt if it calls for some Na, K or Mg. Hey I'm almost talking like a chemist. LOL I have no clue about ppm vs mEq, I don't even know what mEq means, but I'm curious why the E is capitalized. Anyway thanks for the entertaining thread. Also, if @Silver_Is_Money can explain what the difference is and how to do it I'll give it a try. :mug:
If you'll accept my attempt at an explanation: ppm is [commonly] mg/L (parts-per-million itself is a poor term because it's not at all about "parts"). Different ions have different masses. So, to take an example with easy numbers, if the mass of A is 1mg and the mass of B is 2mg, at 2ppm you'd have one of B but two of A in a liter.

The other issue is different electric charges. If the charge of C is +1 and the charge of D is -2, you'd need two of C to create a neutral charge against one of D.

Milliequivalents (mEq[/L]) takes both the mass difference and charge difference into account and tells you how many actual parts you have which can react with other parts, hence equivalents. In analogy, if you need 4 screws to connect 2 pieces of wood, and you have 8 screws and 4 pieces of wood (2 equivalents), you know you can complete 2 connections, and don't have to worry about what the masses of screws or pieces of wood are.

I don't know why the E is capitalized, but the m is lower-case because it stands for "milli", and if you wrote it as equivalents-sans-milli it would usually be 0.0..x.
 
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