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rodwha

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Austin Homebrew Supply is out of calcium, but does have Burton's water salts. Reading about these it seems the can vary as far as the ingredients in them. Looking at various HBS's offerings I see different packaging. I'd think that calling it something very specific would lend credence to it being specific, but then again that would certainly differ depending on water used.

Because my bicarbonate levels are high (192) I'm planning on using 1/2 distilled water. But my magnesium is 21 (right in the middle), and my calcium is low at 38.

I need to know what I'm adding/doing.
 

J187

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Austin Homebrew Supply is out of calcium, but does have Burton's water salts. Reading about these it seems the can vary as far as the ingredients in them. Looking at various HBS's offerings I see different packaging. I'd think that calling it something very specific would lend credence to it being specific, but then again that would certainly differ depending on water used.

Because my bicarbonate levels are high (192) I'm planning on using 1/2 distilled water. But my magnesium is 21 (right in the middle), and my calcium is low at 38.

I need to know what I'm adding/doing.
Hi Rodwha...I'm not sure I'm perfectly clear on your question, but I'll start by telling you that those Burton salts are designed to be added to distilled water to give a final product that mimicks the burton-on-trent water profile. If you add them to your current water, even with dilution, I'd think you are going to end up with something you aren't looking for. Furthermore, the whole concept of mimicking water of famous cities is flawed since we have no idea what the brewers are doing with their water inside the brewhouse.

Two other thoughts - you'll get more advice in the brewing science section when it comes to water I would think, since there are some water people that peruse that section regularly. The other thought is, we probably can't help you much without knowing more about what you are trying to achieve with your water... what beer style, recipe, etc.
 

ram5ey

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Yeah no idea what you want to accomplish, but you can get calcium chloride at most grocery stores in the pickling section. It's list as pickle crisper or so,etching like that. Just look at the ingredients and it will only list calcium chloride.
 
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rodwha

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My water is extremely high in bicarbonates (192), and so I planned to use distilled water (~1/2) to bring it down, but I'm already low on calcium (38) with magnesium right in the middle (21). My sulfates are also low (25), which using calcium sulfate would be ideal, though AHS is out of in any amount, but they do have Burton's water salts. My chlorides are somewhat low (37), and so a bit more wouldn't hurt.

Does adding calcium chloride also bring up my calcium levels as calcium sulfate would?

And my question about Burton's water salts is that according to AHS there's only calcium sulfate and a little papaya stuff, yet others state there are a couple of other ingredients. Looking around I see there isn't one package offered by "the" company that sells it, and so I can see that product A that AHS sells may only have those 2 ingredients, whereas product B may very well include a couple of others. But I don't know this. My question is is Burton's water salts the EXACT same thing from product to product or can I sit comfortably with what AHS sells as only containing those 2 ingredients?
 

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My water is extremely high in bicarbonates (192), and so I planned to use distilled water (~1/2) to bring it down, but I'm already low on calcium (38) with magnesium right in the middle (21). My sulfates are also low (25), which using calcium sulfate would be ideal, though AHS is out of in any amount, but they do have Burton's water salts. My chlorides are somewhat low (37), and so a bit more wouldn't hurt.

Does adding calcium chloride also bring up my calcium levels as calcium sulfate would?

And my question about Burton's water salts is that according to AHS there's only calcium sulfate and a little papaya stuff, yet others state there are a couple of other ingredients. Looking around I see there isn't one package offered by "the" company that sells it, and so I can see that product A that AHS sells may only have those 2 ingredients, whereas product B may very well include a couple of others. But I don't know this. My question is is Burton's water salts the EXACT same thing from product to product or can I sit comfortably with what AHS sells as only containing those 2 ingredients?

You can probably just acidify your water rather than dilute it. That will spare the low ions that you do have and still reduce the bicarbonate effect - providing you calculate it and it's not too much acid.

Yes calcium choloride will raise calcium levels, calcium is part of the addition. The other thing is, it matters what you are brewing. Dark malts will bring down the PH of the mash and some styles would be better off with higher sulfates and others chlorides... you can opt to keep sulfate and chloride low and it won't matter all that much.

What are the sodium levels?

Burton salts at a HBS are likely that HBS's interpretation of what constitutes Burton salts - if they are telling you the ingredients, then I'd trust them. Other HBS shops likely interpret Burton's profile a little differently.
 
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rodwha

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According to the scale on How To Brew my water should be great for brewing an amber, which is what I intend on doing.

My sodium levels are rather low too (22).
 

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Rodwha,
I would personally stay away from Burton water salts, you dont really know whats in them. Also, dont worry too much about the total quantification of sulfates or chlorides in the water, the ratio of one to the other is what is really going to give you the flavor differences in the beer. Your ppm levels of the two are just fine. A water profile that favors chlorides over sulfates (2 to 1 chloride to sulfate ratio for example) will tend to favor a more full, round flavor in the beer, while a water profile that favors sulfates over chlorides will accentuate hop bitterness.
 

J187

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According to the scale on How To Brew my water should be great for brewing an amber, which is what I intend on doing.

My sodium levels are rather low too (22).
Ok... then I would think you can take your existing water, simply add about a gram of calcium chloride to the mash and the sparge, add 1ml per liter of lactic to the mash and have over 50ppm calcium, 20ppm mg, low sulfar, low chlroide, low bicarbonate - with a mash PH in the range of 5.5. This is for like 4 gal mash, 4 gal sparge or some generic thing. Try a calculator like BrunWater. You can find the exact amounts.

Dilution is a good solution if you are worried about not only high bicarb, but also high ions... when bicarb is your only issue, acidification is a good solution. And for dark beers, you'll have to acidify even less due to the darker grains and their acid contribution.
 
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rodwha

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Initially I was going to try to brew a stout, but it seemed more proper for a little lighter beer, and I'm already going to brew a brown. But an amber will also require much less ingredients, and I'm well beyond my brewing budget without this additional brew.
 

J187

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Rodwha,
I would personally stay away from Burton water salts, you dont really know whats in them. Also, dont worry too much about the total quantification of sulfates or chlorides in the water, the ratio of one to the other is what is really going to give you the flavor differences in the beer. Your ppm levels of the two are just fine. A water profile that favors chlorides over sulfates (2 to 1 chloride to sulfate ratio for example) will tend to favor a more full, round flavor in the beer, while a water profile that favors sulfates over chlorides will accentuate hop bitterness.
And actually to be honest, that effect won't even be noticed at his levels... Chloride to Sulfate of 5-1 won't matter at all if we are talking 10 to 2 or something... when sulfate and chloride are BOTH above 100ppm.
 

J187

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Initially I was going to try to brew a stout, but it seemed more proper for a little lighter beer, and I'm already going to brew a brown. But an amber will also require much less ingredients, and I'm well beyond my brewing budget without this additional brew.
Don't brew to your water. Brew what you want. Your water is fine for whatever style you want with some adjustment. Just pay attention to the alkalinity and keep your mash PH in check. The reality is, if you did nothing except acidify and cut your PH to the right range, the malt would provide you with enough Calcium to make up the difference. This would be true of light or dark beers. But you have the ability to add the Calcium Chloride, so why not.

IF you are going by Palmer's "How to brew", you should know that John has significantly revised his position on water since his last revision and he'd agree with the advice you'll get on here.
 

J187

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This is one of those situations where less is more... Get your PH right and make sure you've got close to the baseline ions- calcium and Mag. In your case, getting your PH means acid. Either from dark malts like brewing a stout, or from acid malts used specifically to acidify the mash, or simply using acid like lactic. Once that part is done, you can adjust your chloride a little higher for a maltier effect or your sulfate a little higher for a more bitter emphasis depending on style. If you are brewing a minerally beer, you can adjust the rest of the minerals up a little. Simple... if your water is too high in bicarbonate and specific ions, you'll need to dilute. Either cut it in half or start fresh with RO or DI water and build up. If your water is high in Bicarbonate but is otherwise pretty good for ion levels, acidify. Take the nomograph in How to Brew and draw a straight line through it, and another, and another...until it's completely crossed out. :)
 

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^^agreed. Brew what you want and keep it simple. Mash pH is the most important thing here, its what really drives the overall quality of the beer. Palmer has indeed changed up his water views since that book for sure.
 
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I found gypsum online and have ordered a pound.
 
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rodwha

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Because my calcium is very low (38). I'd like it to be 75 or so.

My sulfates are also low (25).
 

J187

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Because my calcium is very low (38). I'd like it to be 75 or so.

My sulfates are also low (25).
But to use gypsum to get calcium up to 75, you're going to have to spike your sulfates well above 100ppm. Whereas, if you used calcium chloride like I said before, you keep get Calcium up to 75 and only bump Chloride to 60 or so... in fact, you dont' need 75 calcium, so you could use Calcium Chloride to get to 50ppm calcium without doing much to chloride at all.
 
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rodwha

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Won't gypsum increase the sulfates as well (calcium sulfate)?
 
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rodwha

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I could still pick up calcium chloride at AHS when I get there.
 

J187

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Won't gypsum increase the sulfates as well (calcium sulfate)?
Right, that's what I am saying... using enough Gyspum.. which is Calcium Sulfate.. will also cause your sulfates to go above 100ppm. You don't want sulfates per se, unless you are using a little bit for flavoring, like to accentuate the bitterness of an IPA or something. You generally don't want more than 100ppm unless you have a very hoppy beer. I would be cautious of brewing a malty beer with 125ppm of sulfates, especially with low chlorides. I'm trying to figure out why you would rather use gypsum than Calcium Chloride though. Also.. a pound is a huge amount. That would last you over 100 hoppy beers!
 

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If you want to get into water adjustments, I really think you'll have to familiarize yourself with a spreadsheet like BrunWater. It's recipe specific. You also need to address the alkalinity issue you have, for which I'd acidify with lactic or acid malt. How much will depend on recipe and how much dark malts you are using. You are worrying about ions that contribute to yeast health and flavor, but your biggest and primary concern needs to be mash PH. Then, you can make some slight adjustments to flavor and such.
 
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rodwha

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I figured it made sense as my sulfates are quite low as well. Seemed a good thing all around.

I'm trying to understand what Palmer is stating in his chart about how various additions effect the water. I'm not sure if I'm understanding it correctly.

For instance he states that 1 gram per gal of gypsum will add 61.5 ppm of Ca and 147.4 ppm of SO4 (sulfate?). Does this mean that I'd add the 61.5 to my current calcium level and 147.4 to my current sulfate level if I used 5 grams in a 5 gal batch?
 
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rodwha

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I looked at the Bru'n Water download, but I'm not sure it's compatible with a Mac.

I did find another calculator that will show you how much additions will add. Is that basically the same thing?
 
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rodwha

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According to the chart my pH is slightly high for my amber, that it's closer to ideal for a light brown ale.
 

J187

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According to the chart my pH is slightly high for my amber, that it's closer to ideal for a light brown ale.
It's going to be too high for a beer without much dark malts, but again, you are thinking too much about brewing to your water. Brew what you want to drink, and adjust your water toward what you want to brew. Your water is FINE for a nice light beer, if you just use some acid. Depending on how much dark malt would be in the recipe, you may even want some acid there too.

Now, about the sulfate, you are right, they are low - where you want them. BUT.... when you start adding Calcium Sulfate, you will bring the sulfates up to high. The better choice in my opinion would be use calcium Chloride-that will ALSO raise two IONs, calcium and Chloride, but it won't raise the chloride that much at the levels you need to bring calcium above 50ppm where you want it. Unless you are brewing a really hoppy beer, then the sulfate addition might not be that bad of a thing, but In that case, I'd prob split my calcium additions BETWEEN calcium chloride and Gypsum, giving you a little of each - just favor it toward the gypsum a little. If you are brewing a balanced or a malty beer, you'd definitely rather your chlorides rise than the sulfates.

Don't look at the minerals like whatever is low should be raised. You need calcium and MG for yeast health, clarity, etc. But you also get a lot of what you need from the malts. Bringing Calcium up to 50ppm or thereabouts is a good idea, but after that, you really only need to worry about PH and you'll make great beer. If those things are met, you can also make small adjustments to chloride or sulfate depending on what flavor contributions you want.


I urge you to realize that the water info in John Palmer's How to Brew is NOT accurate. It's been significantly revised. In those days he was worried mostly about sulfate-chloride ratios at any level, and he was kind of obsessed with residual alkalinity -which doesn't matter as long as you hit your PH levels. That water info, including the charts and nomographs, is antiquated logic and not very applicable to present day. John has since written a water book with Collin Kominski and help for AJ Delange where he revises his position.
 
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rodwha

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I initially felt brewing close to the water was a good idea in that I wouldn't/shouldn't need to do anything (much). But now that I'm understanding (or thinking I am at least) and seeing that it's not as difficult as I thought. But even still, as is I'm a bit short on calcium and would want to up that a bit.

I greatly enjoy many styles from one end to the other, and so I'll be needing to know what to change and how a good way to do so is.

Looking it over I think I'll buy 2 oz of calcium chloride and maybe do a half n half with gypsum for my calcium bump.

Now that I'm understanding this better I think it appropriate to get a proper modern book I suppose...
 
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rodwha

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Since I'll be down there I intend on buying a few salts:
Calcium Carbonate
Magnesium Sulfate
Calcium Chloride

I have an IPA, a brown, a pale, and this all-grain test amber to brew this time with an ESB and Belgian something or other (pale or golden strong maybe) next month. But I also need to brew a good oatmeal coffee stout (my two stouts have failed).
 

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Since I'll be down there I intend on buying a few salts:
Calcium Carbonate
Magnesium Sulfate
Calcium Chloride

I have an IPA, a brown, a pale, and this all-grain test amber to brew this time with an ESB and Belgian something or other (pale or golden strong maybe) next month. But I also need to brew a good oatmeal coffee stout (my two stouts have failed).
Skip the calcium carbonate for sure- you will never use it. First, it's not needed and it's not a good choice if you need to raise alkalinity as it doesn't dissolve properly without extraneous measures. Baking soda is the first choice in that case.

Gypsum and calcium chloride are important. I don't use Magnesium sulfate (epsom salts), but there are a couple of brewers I know who do. You have to be cautious without because too much magnesium has a sour taste in the finished beer, plus has a laxative effect (remember the old "milk of magnesia" laxative on sale?). Anyway, I only use gypsum, calcium chloride, and phosphoric acid in my brewing and those are definite needs. The rest are options, if you know how to use them.
 
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rodwha

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Thanks!

I figured magnesium would be good for me as I'd likely be using distilled water to bring down my alkalinity, and with a mag of 21 diluted in half would barely have it at a nice level. With IPA's, pale and wheat beers often coming out of my fermentors I figured I'd use it. My jalapeño cream ale was rather awesome and so it really needs to be brewed more often too.

I've met a fellow at the river who is interested in checking out a brew day and has a friend who is obviously more experienced than I as he has a 3 tier setup. Maybe we can band together and brew a nice variety to keep things going.
 

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Thanks!

I figured magnesium would be good for me as I'd likely be using distilled water to bring down my alkalinity, and with a mag of 21 diluted in half would barely have it at a nice level. With IPA's, pale and wheat beers often coming out of my fermentors I figured I'd use it. My jalapeño cream ale was rather awesome and so it really needs to be brewed more often too.

I've met a fellow at the river who is interested in checking out a brew day and has a friend who is obviously more experienced than I as he has a 3 tier setup. Maybe we can band together and brew a nice variety to keep things going.
Malt has plenty of magnesium, so you don't need it in the mash. A few brewers use it for flavor, to bring out a flavor in IPAs, but be careful on how much you use. My Mg level is under 2 ppm, and I like it there but yeast flocculation is enhanced if you go with at least 5 ppm. If you like what it brings, by all means use it but make sure you know what it brings to the beer. At 30 ppm, it will be noticeable in the taste, and not usually in a good way except in certain beers.
 

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Wow... Having recently gotten into the water chemistry aspect of brewing (ex- chem teacher), I can add my thoughts.

1) skip the burton salts

2) forget that nomograph in the back cover of how to brew.

3) go to the brew science sub-forum and read the water chemistry- a primer stickie. Search there to find a ton of answers. Take note of the advice from several very knowledgable members: mabrungard, ajdelange and others. Your questions will be better addressed there.

4) familiarize yourself with Bru'n water ( I experimented with a couple of other calculators and recommend using it because it is relatively fool-proof)

5) read the directions and follow the tutorial page step by step in Bru'n water. There is a method to the madness, but once you figure it out, it gets easier every time.

6) skip the calcium carbonate as mentioned. Most of the time gypsum, pickling salt and lactic acid will be all you need.

7) cheers!


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Wow... Having recently gotten into the water chemistry aspect of brewing (ex- chem teacher), I can add my thoughts.

1) skip the burton salts

2) forget that nomograph in the back cover of how to brew.

3) go to the brew science sub-forum and read the water chemistry- a primer stickie. Search there to find a ton of answers. Take note of the advice from several very knowledgable members: mabrungard, ajdelange and others. Your questions will be better addressed there.

4) familiarize yourself with Bru'n water ( I experimented with a couple of other calculators and recommend using it because it is relatively fool-proof)

5) read the directions and follow the tutorial page step by step in Bru'n water. There is a method to the madness, but once you figure it out, it gets easier every time.

6) skip the calcium carbonate as mentioned. Most of the time gypsum, pickling salt and lactic acid will be all you need.

7) cheers!


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew

1) yes

2) agreed

3) uh huh

4) absolutely!

5) Highly recommended

6) for sure no CaCO3

7) Prost!

I highly agree with all of these points, with one minor exception. I prefer phosphoric acid over lactic, as lactic can have a sour taste if you use a little too much. I realize that phosphoric acid will precipitate some calcium, so when I acidify my sparge water I will double up on the calcium levels to account for the loss. That is pretty similar to how Sierra Nevada handles all of their brewing liquor.
 

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1) yes

2) agreed

3) uh huh

4) absolutely!

5) Highly recommended

6) for sure no CaCO3

7) Prost!

I highly agree with all of these points, with one minor exception. I prefer phosphoric acid over lactic, as lactic can have a sour taste if you use a little too much. I realize that phosphoric acid will precipitate some calcium, so when I acidify my sparge water I will double up on the calcium levels to account for the loss. That is pretty similar to how Sierra Nevada handles all of their brewing liquor.
Most people can't taste lactic below 400 ppm...he'd need 1/4 of that. I think he'd be good either way. It might be easier for him not having to worry about precipitating calcium.
 
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