Cold or Hot Water for Brewing Liquor

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Jeremy W

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So I've recently moved to electric brewing on my 3-vessel HERMS and for the first few batches I thought I was being smart by using hot water to filly my Mash Tun and HLT, cutting down on the time it takes to heat to strike temperature. I then read somewhere this week that you should be really only starting with cold water as you don't know if your water chemistry is changing at all within your hot water heater (minerals precipitating out?). I currently use my municipal water report for a starting point in my salt addition calcs which is obviously based on cold water from the city.

Does everyone else that's starting with tap water, strictly using cold water?
 

day_trippr

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I brew with "cold" RO water.
If you've ever drained a hot water heater and saw what comes out from the bottom you'd likely not use it for brewing ;)

Cheers!
 
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Jeremy W

Jeremy W

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I brew with "cold" RO water.
If you've ever drained a hot water heater and saw what comes out from the bottom you'd likely not use it for brewing ;)

Cheers!
I have not! and based on that I will now brew with cold water! haha
 

Franktalk

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Yes, use cold water to brew (and cook) with. The hot water heater will "condition" the water in a way that might make it okay for bathing or washing dishes, but not for eating and/or drinking.
 

seatazzz

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I'm going to disagree here, although many will think I'm insane (and maybe I am). I fill my HLT from my hot water heater for every brew, for a couple of reasons; my brewtime is limited to Saturday mornings and I don't want to sit around for an hour or so waiting for the strike to heat. 2nd reason; propane isn't cheap. Also the hot water heater is in my garage right next to where I brew so it's convenient.

Okay, do I have water issues? Nope. I treat every batch with campden, and add some water salts as well. We're lucky enough to have very good water here, although the chloramine level can be high in the summer. And our water heater is less than 3 years old, so the chance of anything leaching out of it are fairly low.

Maybe some will say I'm taking chances; but I've made some award-winning beer with that very hot water. Starting from dead cold water, my system takes 7+ hours from starting the strike heating to putting the fermenter to bed; using hot water from the start, I'm done in 5.5 hours including all the cleaning. I do love my brewdays but I've got other things to do on the weekends. Bonus, as well; the pressure from the hot water heater is GREAT for completely rinsing out the pump and plate chiller, leaving them perfectly clean for the next brewday.
 

Vale71

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I brew with "cold" RO water.
If you've ever drained a hot water heater and saw what comes out from the bottom you'd likely not use it for brewing ;)

Cheers!
That stuff is in all the pipes in the house as well. If that bothers you than you should only use bottled water even for brushing your teeth...
 

Vale71

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Yes, use cold water to brew (and cook) with. The hot water heater will "condition" the water in a way that might make it okay for bathing or washing dishes, but not for eating and/or drinking.
The only "conditioning" a water heater performs is making the water hotter. Water heaters that have a reservoir have a so called sacrificial anode that's simply a rod made of pure mangnesium. The anode will corrode over time preventing corrosion of the water tank itself. Since the amount of magnesium released is really minuscule and your water already probably contains a lot more magnesium than what will be added by the anode you can rest assured that the water coming out of your water heater is basically identical to the water that went in, minus the temperature difference of course.
 

InspectorJon

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I would guess that the effect your water heater has on your water chemistry would depend on your starting water profile. With very soft water (low mineral content) it would not likely change it much. If there is a lot of other things in your water besides H2O water chemistry can change when heated.
 

day_trippr

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Drain a few gallons from the bottom of a water heater some day to pull out the build up of lord knows what. Then decide...

Cheers!
 

Jim R

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So the cold water was mountain pure but then the water heater magically added gunk? Where did it come from?
 

InspectorJon

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I live in an area with rain water/snow melt as the water utility supply source. There is virtually no sediment in the bottom of water heaters around here. What ends up in the bottom of a water heater varies depending on the characteristics of water going into it.
 

day_trippr

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"Mountain pure"? Wth does that mean? I lived up in the High Divide above Vail and our water was loaded with all kinds of minerals that would dry up in the shower and leave a nice white coating. Not something I'd want to brew with :D

Cheers!
 

Franktalk

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The only "conditioning" a water heater performs is making the water hotter. Water heaters that have a reservoir have a so called sacrificial anode that's simply a rod made of pure mangnesium. The anode will corrode over time preventing corrosion of the water tank itself. Since the amount of magnesium released is really minuscule and your water already probably contains a lot more magnesium than what will be added by the anode you can rest assured that the water coming out of your water heater is basically identical to the water that went in, minus the temperature difference of course.
Can't you get a Fenton reaction from the copper that lines the HWH?
 

Vale71

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Sure, if your water heater dates back to the 20th Century... :p
I would expect a modern water heater to be either stainless steel or resin coated in all parts that have direct contact with water.
 
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So I've recently moved to electric brewing on my 3-vessel HERMS and for the first few batches I thought I was being smart by using hot water to filly my Mash Tun and HLT, cutting down on the time it takes to heat to strike temperature. I then read somewhere this week that you should be really only starting with cold water as you don't know if your water chemistry is changing at all within your hot water heater (minerals precipitating out?). I currently use my municipal water report for a starting point in my salt addition calcs which is obviously based on cold water from the city.

Does everyone else that's starting with tap water, strictly using cold water?
So many of you already seem to have hot water so why do you need a hot water heater when a water heater should do the job?
Secondly, I use water directly from my water heater but I use a carbon filter that’s rated for hot water for filling my MLT. You should fill slowly so that the filter can do its job. Using a filter also eliminates any concerns of “dregs” from the water heater getting into your MLT.
 

Dland

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So I brew with well water that happens to have pretty good chemistry and pH for the brews I make. I would never use water that has been through all the extra plumbing and hot water heater.

The same low pH that makes my water good for brew also works on the copper plumbing and solder joints in system, as evidenced by the green staining in shower stalls(but not cold water toilets). Over the last 25 years I've replaced two water heaters, and in both cases the gunk that came out of the bottom when I drained to remove, I would not want traces of that in my food or beer.

I'm pretty sure my situation is not a stand alone case, for instance, it is pretty common knowledge/practice in food industry that water out of the hot water tap is not to be used for cooking. And that is coming from very time/profit motivated sector.

Maybe mineral content is not changed, but I think in many cases it may be, chemical reactions are usually sped up and facilitated by heat. And there are plenty of chemicals in most water supplies, municipal ones probably usually the worst. At the very least & best, the water heater may have a concentrating effect on what is already there.

That said, if using hot water helps someone's brew day, and they think their beer is good, there is nothing wrong with that. I suppose it is possible somewhere, someones water is coditioned by heater in such a way as it helps the chemistry of their brew.

Ok, break over, time to go out into the cold wind and vorlauf....later.
 

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For one legionnaire's disease. For two water heaters are not stainless, they are glass lined steel. The lining breaks down and you are eroding steel into the water. There is an anode in the tank to help to extend the life of the steel tank, the anode is made from aluminum and magnesium, you are adding those to your beer. https://denverwatertap.org/2017/12/13/psa-dont-drink-cook-hot-water-tap/ Do what you want but using water from your home water heater is a colossally lazy and bad idea.
 

Sundy

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Can't you get a Fenton reaction from the copper that lines the HWH?
Copper pipes have a green coating in them just like a copper roof. A sufficiently acidic solution would remove that protective coating. That is why RO systems don't use copper. The pure water will etch the pipes and put copper in the water.
 

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Ok so here is an interesting question - I have well water that goes through a sediment filter, UVc filter, and then a softener before it hits anywhere in the house including the water heater. Would it really matter then? (BTW water heater brand new). I agree cold is better, but I was just curious as to what folks think?
 

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Too many opinions to get a consensus...personally I would say no due to the water softener. Some will say no due to other or additional reasons
 

Vale71

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Ok so here is an interesting question - I have well water that goes through a sediment filter, UVc filter, and then a softener before it hits anywhere in the house including the water heater. Would it really matter then? (BTW water heater brand new). I agree cold is better, but I was just curious as to what folks think?
I would think that your water will be equally unsuitable both cold and hot because of the softener.
 

Vale71

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For one legionnaire's disease. For two water heaters are not stainless, they are glass lined steel. The lining breaks down and you are eroding steel into the water. There is an anode in the tank to help to extend the life of the steel tank, the anode is made from aluminum and magnesium, you are adding those to your beer. https://denverwatertap.org/2017/12/13/psa-dont-drink-cook-hot-water-tap/ Do what you want but using water from your home water heater is a colossally lazy and bad idea.
Legionnaire's disease requires that you breathe in the water (as water mist obviously). The chances that you might do that are much greater when taking a shower or washing your car than when brewing with it.
The sacrificial anode takes dozens of years to show significant corrosion, the amount of salts that will be released in the water is negligible compared to what is already in the water.
 

Sundy

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Legionnaire's disease requires that you breathe in the water (as water mist obviously). The chances that you might do that are much greater when taking a shower or washing your car than when brewing with it.
The sacrificial anode takes dozens of years to show significant corrosion, the amount of salts that will be released in the water is negligible compared to what is already in the water.
Do what you want. If the anode takes dozens of years to sacrifice why do water heater manufacturers recommend checking the anode every year?

"A traditional tank-type water heater lasts an average of eight to 12 years.
Inside the tank, an anode rod protects the interior lining by attracting all corrosive particles to itself through a process called electrolysis. When the rod has corroded to such an extent that it can no longer do its job, those particles settle at the bottom of the water tank, where they eventually destroy the lining. Once corrosion starts inside the tank, the water heater has entered into its final stage of life." Solved! How Long a Water Heater Actually Lasts
 

Vale71

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That's a wildly oversimplified explanation for the average layman and it's also mostly wrong. Here is a much more scientific one:


Sacrificial anodes have a higher corrosion potential and will corrode faster than the tank (i.e. they will "sacrifice" themselves) but will not fully prevent other metals from being corroded. It just ameliorates the issues but does not fully solve it. That means the tank will still suffer corrosive damage and eventually require replacement even if the sacrificial anode is still not completely used up.
 

Pappers_

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Alright, @Sundy and @Vale71 , please step back and take a breath. You've both made your point, no need to reply again. Your posts have both been reported. People like information, but not arguing, if that makes sense - its makes it unpleasant to read. Thank you both for your information, leave it to others to decide what they want to do.
 
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