Another water report

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JPBowden

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I received my Ward Labs brewers test results a few days ago, and based on my limited knowledge its not pretty. This water is from my well, which feeds a cistern that then feeds the cabin.

pH 8.2
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 1050

Sodium, Na 334
Potassium, K 4
Calcium, Ca 81
Magnesium, Mg 30
Total Hardness, CaCO3 328
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.3 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 240
Chloride, Cl 17
Carbonate, CO3 < 1.0
Bicarbonate, HCO3 298
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 248

I have an RO system on its way to me, but based on that TDS number its going to eat RO membranes fairly quickly. I've used Brewfather to play with diluting my well water with RO water but haven't come up with anything workable, so its RO water plus chemicals for every batch.

If anyone has any helpful ideas I'd appreciate them.
 

AlexKay

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As for helpful ideas … I can’t see a good way to help. Hardness, magnesium, and sulfate are all very high, beyond the point I think it would be productive to dilute. And the sodium is an order of magnitude above a taste threshold. Bottled water, or just replace the RO membrane when you need to.
 

day_trippr

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Woof. There's a lot going on there. The sodium, sulfate, bicarbonate, magnesium and RA numbers are crazy high.

That water actually needs a softener in front of an RO system for any longevity of the latter's membrane.
I would run the actual report by HBT member Russ @Buckeye_Hydro and see what he suggests...

Cheers!
 

TheCache

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When I lived in a house with well water I had a 20 micron whole house filter. Actually I had both 20 and 5 micron filters for a while, but eventually got rid of the 5. Those filter were in front of a softener and then I had an RO system for drinking water. The big filters before the RO and softener helped protect them from straight well water.

We had a good local water system company that helped us get the water into a reasonable state, but at the time I was not brewing so not sure if it would have made the grade.
 
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JPBowden

JPBowden

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Unfortunately that's what most of west central Montana's water looks like. I'd just buy RO water if the nearest Walmart/grocery wasn't a 130 mile round trip.
 
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Ugh. Yes - the easy answer is RO. You'll want a whole house softener or you'll have problems with your water heater, plumbing pipes, washing machine, ro membrane and dishwasher due to the hardness. We can help with any/all of that.

Russ
 
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When I lived in a house with well water I had a 20 micron whole house filter. Actually I had both 20 and 5 micron filters for a while, but eventually got rid of the 5. Those filter were in front of a softener and then I had an RO system for drinking water. The big filters before the RO and softener helped protect them from straight well water.

We had a good local water system company that helped us get the water into a reasonable state, but at the time I was not brewing so not sure if it would have made the grade.
Those are simply sediment filters - meaning they will filter out UNdissolved grit. That's a fine thing to do as well water can be high in sediment. But a sediment filter does nothing for the dissolved substances in the water.

Russ
 
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JPBowden

JPBowden

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I had considered a softener and whole house RO, but my problem is where to put it. My "basement" where all the well, cistern and cabin plumbing sits is only 32 sq. feet, most of which is taken up by the stairs leading down to it.
 

bwible

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Sodium is ridiculous. Calcium and magnesiun are decent. Sulfate is very high and Chloride is ridiculousy low. (High Chloride to low Sulfate favors lagers and “malty” beers.)

You need to not use this water and brew with all RO water or distilled water and edit the minerals to what you need. Or just throw all this out and start over.
 

renstyle

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Is the RO system you ordered for brewing exclusively?

I ask as I recently purchased an "RO Buddie" 4-stage RO system for around $60 on Amazon to use exclusively for brew water.

The literature was stating that the RO filter under "average" conditions would need to be replaced after about 1500 gal passed thru the system. That's RO+waste combined. With my water pressure the membrane runs at a less-than-stellar 4:1 ratio. This means I'm looking at replacing the RO membrane after I've collected about 300 gal of water for brews, with the carbon, sediment, and DI filters as well along the way.

Optimistically, it's $0.20/gal if all of the filters last 1500 gallons, then get replaced. Perhaps a few cents more if the filters get replaced more frequently.

I compare this to needing to head to that (hopefully) nearby store and fill individual 1 gal jugs for $0.35.

You may need to do more frequent backflushing of the RO filter with your TDS levels as high as they are, but it will still get you where you need to be.

Good water is always gonna cost a little bit, even replacing the membrane more frequently will be outweighed by the convenience of having the ability to produce on demand brew water IMHO.
 
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Is the RO system you ordered for brewing exclusively?

I ask as I recently purchased an "RO Buddie" 4-stage RO system for around $60 on Amazon to use exclusively for brew water.

The literature was stating that the RO filter under "average" conditions would need to be replaced after about 1500 gal passed thru the system. That's RO+waste combined. With my water pressure the membrane runs at a less-than-stellar 4:1 ratio. This means I'm looking at replacing the RO membrane after I've collected about 300 gal of water for brews, with the carbon, sediment, and DI filters as well along the way.

You may need to do more frequent backflushing of the RO filter with your TDS levels as high as they are, but it will still get you where you need to be.

Good water is always gonna cost a little bit, even replacing the membrane more frequently will be outweighed by the convenience of having the ability to produce on demand brew water IMHO.
Those itty bitty systems are to be avoided, IMO. We have, and have had for ~25 years, all the components necessary to build and sell RO systems with that type of configuration, but we don't. Those systems are expensive to operate because when you need to replace a filter you also have to pay to replace its housing. The filters have very low capacity - they were never intended for use in that way. I could go on. But unfortunately, the low purchase price relative to systems configured properly continue to snag unsuspecting, and typically first-time buyers.
 

renstyle

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Those itty bitty systems are to be avoided, IMO. We have, and have had for ~25 years, all the components necessary to build and sell RO systems with that type of configuration, but we don't. Those systems are expensive to operate because when you need to replace a filter you also have to pay to replace its housing. The filters have very low capacity - they were never intended for use in that way. I could go on. But unfortunately, the low purchase price relative to systems configured properly continue to snag unsuspecting, and typically first-time buyers.

I get your point, and agree with it.

I was laying out results of somebody (me) that went the budget route, and my rationalizations for that choice. Mostly to offer dollar comparisons that illustrate your point! ;)

Living in a rental, I knew there would be compromises. The kit saves me from lugging 300 gallon jugs home, which makes up for a bit of its inefficiency.

Once I am in a more perm living arrangement a better system will be utilized.
 
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JPBowden

JPBowden

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Is the RO system you ordered for brewing exclusively?

That was my original plan, but that was also before I received the water report. Now I'll keep the one I ordered while I attempt to find a plumbing company that handles water softeners and RO systems that's also willing to send someone out to the cabin to take a look.
 
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