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Bring down 8 pH

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masskrug

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So my tap water is ~8 pH. I'd like to get it down to 5.1-5.4. I've tried to read the water chemistry threads and I've even tried the Bru N Water software.

Is there any simple answer; "just add 2 tbsp of gypsum, calcium, dynamite, etc."?

I brew mostly pale ales, IPAs, DIPAs:

~12 pounds base
~1 pound Vienna/Munich
~1 pound Cara_____.

What could I add to my tap water to get down to a more acceptable pH? Should I invest in an RO system?
 

Hopper5000

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Grain is a pretty powerful buffer (it's acidic) and it depends on what types you are using. The only way to really know what your pH is would be to purchase a pH meter and test your mash. You can get a good quality meter for about 100 bucks. Your base water profile would be quite helpful too so folks can see what you are working with. The calculators and spreadsheets are ok for pH but I havent found them to ever hit the correct theoretical pH before. Sometimes they are close but other times they are not.
 

mabrungard

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Water pH is nearly meaningless. It is water alkalinity that largely determines what the mash pH will be for a given grist. As Hopper said, having your tap water profile is an important component in being able to estimate what the mash pH might be. A meter is the most accurate way of assessing mash pH, but that may be an expense some brewers don't want to accommodate. I find that for many brewers, once they correlate how their water quality interacts with mash grists, the need for a pH meter diminishes. They are a good tool to assist brewers in finding that correlation, but not absolutely necessary. In the absence of a meter, a reputable mash pH program could be a viable option...still have to have that water report though!
 
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masskrug

masskrug

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Well, here is the report. I can't make heads or tails of it:

Water Report.jpg
 

jakenbacon

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Water pH is nearly meaningless. It is water alkalinity that largely determines what the mash pH will be for a given grist. As Hopper said, having your tap water profile is an important component in being able to estimate what the mash pH might be. A meter is the most accurate way of assessing mash pH, but that may be an expense some brewers don't want to accommodate. I find that for many brewers, once they correlate how their water quality interacts with mash grists, the need for a pH meter diminishes. They are a good tool to assist brewers in finding that correlation, but not absolutely necessary. In the absence of a meter, a reputable mash pH program could be a viable option...still have to have that water report though!
What this guy here is getting at is that you should find out what that PH is after mash in, not necessarily out of the tap, but it is a good place to start, if you want an easy remedy, just use 5.2 stabilizer in the mash. And don't listen to the BS about it changing the taste in your beer like some of these crazy folks here on HBT (like the people who fear the foam of star san LOL). 5.2 stabilizer will not add to flavor.... Just lock in that beautiful PH....
 
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masskrug

masskrug

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What this guy here is getting at is that you should find out what that PH is after mash in, not necessarily out of the tap, but it is a good place to start, if you want an easy remedy, just use 5.2 stabilizer in the mash. And don't listen to the BS about it changing the taste in your beer like some of these crazy folks here on HBT (like the people who fear the foam of star san LOL). 5.2 stabilizer will not add to flavor.... Just lock in that beautiful PH....
I use 5.2 Stabilizer, but I heard it was snake oil BS.
 
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What this guy here is getting at is that you should find out what that PH is after mash in, not necessarily out of the tap, but it is a good place to start, if you want an easy remedy, just use 5.2 stabilizer in the mash. And don't listen to the BS about it changing the taste in your beer like some of these crazy folks here on HBT (like the people who fear the foam of star san LOL). 5.2 stabilizer will not add to flavor.... Just lock in that beautiful PH....
If I had to name the top two non-craziest people on HBT, it would probably be Martin and AJ. They bring a ton of science with their explanations....

As someone who once defended "5.2," I can now say in my discussions with AJ, Martin, and other chemists/scientists, that "5.2" is junk.
 
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masskrug

masskrug

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Which brings me back to...what do I need to add to my mash? Calcium, gypsum, magnesium, daffodils or jasmine?

To bring my 8.0 tap water down to "good", not great, brewing levels?
 

peter78

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My water ph is 7.9 .When I mash, it comes down to 5.3-5.4. Buy yourself those ph strips and test it. Cost you couple bucks
 

ajdelange

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You really should obtain a water report (the one you have is useless to a brewer - send a sample to Ward Labs) and you really should obtain and use a pH meter - at least initially and preferably on a continuing basis but there are a couple of things you can do blind. One is to acidify the water to pH 5.4 - 5.5. Test strips should be accurate enough for this purpose. As has been commented on here the pH of the water isn't what is important - it is the alkalinity. If you acidify it to mash pH, however, it doesn't matter what the alkalinity was - it will have no effect on your mash. The down side of doing this is that if your alkalinity is high it will take a lot of acid to get the pH to 5.4 - 5.5. The amount used is actually a measure of the alkalinity so you are actually determining the alkalinity and then neutralizing it but doing it implicitly rather than explicitly. If a lot of acid is used there will be a lot of anion of that acid in the beer. If this is phosphoric you can get away with using quite a bit but there has to be a limit beyond which flavor is effected and I don't know what that is.

Another blind approach is to use RO water either by itself or to dilute the tap water. If used to dilute to the extent that it takes about 0.6 mL of phosphoric acid to reduce pH to 5.5 then the alkalinity is about 30 at which level you can assume that the conditions in the Primer apply and use the guidelines there with respect to salt additions. Note that additional acid in the form of sauermalz or lactic acid are also called for.

As for the 5.2: it's a subject I'm getting a little tired of. I did promise to write up a sticky on it which I did in part. Maybe I'll try to get that finished up. I have laboratory data that says it doesn't do what it says it does and can back that with sound theory. I always invite those who say that it does work to post their experimental data. No one has ever taken me up on that invitation. We have said before, with tongue firmly implanted in cheek, that it works well for people who don't own pH meters but does not work for those who do.
 

Wynne-R

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Hey AJ, How about that 5.2 stuff? My neighbor’s cousin’s dog says it cured his allergies. It’s also dandy for potpourri. Keeps the ants away.

I have laboratory data that says it doesn't do what it says it does and can back that with sound theory. I always invite those who say that it does work to post their experimental data. No one has ever taken me up on that invitation.
Money quote. Good job. To me that says it all, though you’ll probably go on about Pka and stuff.

For the OP, the easiest way to start is to use RO and add a little CaCl, per the sticky. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/brewing-water-chemistry-primer-198460/

I started with RO sparge and that got me interested in water chemistry. Now I acidify tapwater for the sparge and the mash is good on it’s own.
 
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masskrug

masskrug

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My beer is good. I'm just wondering how much greater it could be if I changed my water, and is it worth the expense (bottled or RO water). I will try a batch with distilled water to see if there is any difference.
 
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