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uwmgdman

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Hey everyone,

I recently moved to a new house, not far from where I was before, my water is even more alkaline that it was previously, a lot of carbonate without enough calcium to balance.

Here is the water report, I am mainly served from well 5, but also from well 4.
WELL# 5 WELL# 4 WELL # 3

Chloride- 3.6 mg/l 8.9 mg/l 3.4 – mg/l
Calcium- 63.8 mg/l 67.2- mg/l 63.8- mg/l
Alkalinity- 277 mg/l 274- mg/l 275 – mg/l
Hardness- 295 mg/l 315- mg/l 298- mg/l
Magnesium- 33.9 mg/l 35.8 mg/l 33.8- mg/l
Sodium – 2.9 mg/l 3.8- mg/l 3.0 – mg/l

This weekend I was pickeling some spicy green beans and there was a fair amount of Calcium carbonate precipitated in my boiling water where I sterilized the empty jars. I don't really recall this happening at my old house, brewing or pickeling, it happens when I boil water for spaghetti too. Should be concerned about this as far as brewing water? The water tastes just fine. I'll be brewing this weekend at the new house for the first time. As I did with my previous house, I'll plan on using pH 5.2 in my mash. I've also got some calcium chloride I will add to my water. For light brews I'll continue to dilute my water with distilled water.

Any water chemistry gurus have an opinion?
 

Piotr

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I have silimar water. To get rid of bicarbonates I just boil it the day before brew day, adding a spoon of chalk to encourage precipitation, and when it is cold I decant it - on the bottom of the kettle there is usualy a layer of white CaCO3.

But don't do it when you brew dark beers - it this case bicarbonates are helpful.

Your water is pretty hard - I would't add any calcium salts to it.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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I would dilute with distilled and then add CaCl and/or CaSO4. Your report doesn't show SO4 (Sulphate) and it would be nice to know that. In addition to high alkalinity you also have quite a bit of Mg. Diluting with distilled will reduce your alkalinity and Mg (along with everything else)...then by adding CaCl and/or CaSO4 you can get your Calcium back and also adjust your Cl and SO4.

The spreadsheet at the bottom of section 15.3 in Palmer's How To Brew (online) is very useful imo.
 

cactusgarrett

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Madison water (east side) has me so frustrated with how hard and carbonat-y (?) it is. Every brew i do i cut the city water by at LEAST 50% with DI, then add the appropriate salts to get everything closer to target.

By actually paying attention to this, the quality of my beers has drastically improved.
 

Lil' Sparky

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We've got almost twice as much bicarbonate in our water here. I dilute heavily w/ RO water, use the 5.2 buffer, and get good results.
 
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uwmgdman

uwmgdman

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Thanks guys. I'll continue to use the distilled/tap water blend, added CaCl if needed (lighter brewers) as well as pH 5.2 for all brews.

I was most concerned about the precipitate coming out of my water when I boiled it. I hadn't seen that before. I actually drained the water and tasted the precipitate (CaCO3 I believe), it had no taste, so I'm sure it is fine.
 

pjj2ba

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I use pickling lime to reduce my carbonates. I don't have the time to boil my water ahead of time. I set up my water a day ahead of time and add ~1 tsp of pickling lime. This reacts with the carbonates to make insoluble CaC03. I do this in a bucket with a spigot so I just drain the water off of the precipitate. The only precaution with this is you have to be careful with your pH as the lime is very alkaline. The first few times I did this I was very careful about checking my pH at mash in. I've got it pretty well down now to know how much to add to my water so I don't have to do any additional pH adjustments
 

jbford

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As a chemist, I do not agree with some of the replies.

Addition of an acid such as citric or lactic will effectively remove the carbonate and get the pH down without adding extra salts

Gypsum (CaSO4) or Calcium chloride will lower the pH and add salts.

Addition of lime (CaCO3) or slaked lime [ Ca(OH)2] will not be productive as they will raise pH

Addition of a Calcium compound and pH 5.2 together will be somewhat counterproductive. The 5.2 is a phosphate buffer and it will precipitate some of the calcium as calcium phosphate.

Dilution with purified water is not necessary with your water as it is not too high in salts.
 

cactusgarrett

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As far as dilution, it's not the salts one tries to curb, it's the hardness. This is the route i go, because the salts of my water are fine, but the hardness is off the charts. After dilution, i actually add certain salt back to the brew water to match the target profile.

I also use 5.2 stabilizer as extra insurance AFTER i've made the appropriate dilution. Also as a chemist, i feel this gets ME to where I need to be.

Just some suggestions.
 

pjj2ba

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As a chemist, I do not agree with some of the replies.

Addition of lime (CaCO3) or slaked lime [ Ca(OH)2] will not be productive as they will raise pH
I beg to differ. If one is heavy handed with the slaked lime, then yes you have a pH problem. However, if you are careful with how much you add, the buffering compounds naturally present in the malt will bring the pH right back to where it needs to be. There are equations out there that can be used to calculate how much lime to add in order to avoid pH issues
 

SpanishCastleAle

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As far as dilution, it's not the salts one tries to curb, it's the hardness. This is the route i go, because the salts of my water are fine, but the hardness is off the charts. After dilution, i actually add certain salt back to the brew water to match the target profile.
Could you explain this further? In the context of brewing and brewing water...I think of the salts as 'whatever we add to the water' (the word 'salt' has several meanings).

So when you say 'the salts of my water are fine but the hardness is off the charts' it doesn't really make sense to me.:eek:

My problem is never too much hardness but rather too much alkalinity. My dilution with distilled is purely to reduce alkalinity...I actually usually WANT the hardness (which is why I add salts after diluting). I'm typically trying to reduce alkalinity AND increase hardness so that lighter beers have the proper mash pH (i.e. so my residual alkalinity is low enough for proper mash pH). Very generally speaking: hardness lowers mash pH (and residual alkalinity) and alkalinity raises it (and residual alkalinity).
 

SpanishCastleAle

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That's what I use too conpewter. Playing with that nomograph was a learning experience for me too...the visual aid helps you 'see' some things.

I plotted my water on that nomograph...then tried to make my water have a really high residual alkalinity...then I tried to make my water have a really low residual alkalinity. Just doing that and plotting each attempt was a worthwhile exercise imo.
 

conpewter

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I should look at the nomograph sometime. I've been working in excel sheets the past two months or so getting an idea of what reactions happen when adding acids, or what the different brewing ions do in conjunction with each other.
 

cactusgarrett

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My problem is never too much hardness but rather too much alkalinity. My dilution with distilled is purely to reduce alkalinity...I actually usually WANT the hardness (which is why I add salts after diluting). I'm typically trying to reduce alkalinity AND increase hardness so that lighter beers have the proper mash pH (i.e. so my residual alkalinity is low enough for proper mash pH). Very generally speaking: hardness lowers mash pH (and residual alkalinity) and alkalinity raises it (and residual alkalinity).
Yup, sorry. I misspoke. It's the ALKALINITY i have problems with, not so much the minerals causing hardness. Diluting reduces my alkalinity prior to me adding back salts.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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...or what the different brewing ions do in conjunction with each other.
Def try it. You'll quickly see that just shifting the RA line right or left doesn't really help that much...but by changing the slope of the RA line you really start to get some results.
 

Piotr

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Addition of an acid such as citric or lactic will effectively remove the carbonate and get the pH down without adding extra salts
I agree it helps with pH, but I doubt it will bring the temporary hardness down (reduce carbonates).
 

Kaiser

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If you can afford it, invest in a R/O filter system and build your brewing water from the ground up. This will give you the most flexibility. If not, look into the slacked lime treatment and/or diluting with DI or R/O water. I find the latter more predictable when it comes to using spreadsheets.

Kai
 
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uwmgdman

uwmgdman

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As a chemist, I do not agree with some of the replies.

Addition of an acid such as citric or lactic will effectively remove the carbonate and get the pH down without adding extra salts
jbford, I find this interesting and most straightforward. Can you point me to a reference or maybe comment on the calculations necessary. I suppose given a water profile (Ca, Mg, and Carbonate at minimum) and water volume, you can treat water with say lactic acid to a desired Residual Alkalinity.

So I need to determine my desired RA for which ever beer I will brew and then determine the amount of lactic acid needed to achieve that RA based upon my water profile?

Thanks for the feedback!
 

Kaiser

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While the addition of acids is more efficient way to bring down the residual alkalinity, it does add anions (negative ions) to the water just like salts would. Which type of anions depends on the type of acid used. It basically changes the temporary hardness, which causes the alkalinity, to permanent hardness. It does not make the water softer, I.e. you are not able to create Pilsner water by adding salts. To make the water softer you need to precipitate salts or dilute with much softer water.

Kai
 

jbford

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uwmgdman

uwmgdman

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Kai and jbford,

Thanks for your inputs. Kai, good point about Pilsen water. I think I would go with distilled water dilution for something like that. For other lighter to maybe amber beers I'll go with an appropiate lactic acid addition or continue with my pH5.2

An interesting experiment would be to brew two identical batches, one using acid to achieve proper pH and another using brewing salts (assuming not too many salts would have to be added) and see if there any taste differences.

The difficult thing with an experiment like that is it's not like the process is identical and you're just using different yeasts, but you would have to recreate the entire process down to mash details, boil vigor, etc.
 

Aspera

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As a chemist, I do not agree with some of the replies.

Addition of an acid such as citric or lactic will effectively remove the carbonate and get the pH down without adding extra salts

Gypsum (CaSO4) or Calcium chloride will lower the pH and add salts.

Addition of lime (CaCO3) or slaked lime [ Ca(OH)2] will not be productive as they will raise pH

Addition of a Calcium compound and pH 5.2 together will be somewhat counterproductive. The 5.2 is a phosphate buffer and it will precipitate some of the calcium as calcium phosphate.

Dilution with purified water is not necessary with your water as it is not too high in salts.
Also beg to differ. Adding SMALL amounts of slaked lime to high bicarbonate/high magnesium water is a common practice. The water is then usually filtered through a sand bed to removed carbonate precipitates. Following this, the water pH may then adjusted with lactic, sulfuric, or phosphoric acid. pH adjustment is not usually necessary if an appropriate amount of lime is used).

All water salts should be added BEFORE boiling, all dilution with distilled water should be done after the tap water has been boiled, cooled and decanted (ideally). The above water will be good for many a great many styles of beers if it is simply boiled, cooled and decanted. I would not recommend any water salts unless you are planning to dilute with distilled water post boil. An acid rest may be useful to you with many continental style lagers and hybrid beer. Extract beers, of course, are best brewed with very low mineral waters.
 
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