High Na from Water Softener

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alooper86

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I recently moved into a new house where the water was extremely hard. To combat this problem, I installed a water softener. I have since conducted a Ward Laboratories water report and the Na ppm is 219. In trying to do a little initial research, I have found that this water is not conducive at all to brewing and I should probably just go out and purchase distilled water for brewing at this point in time until I get a RO system. Any thoughts on this?
 

hottpeper13

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That's what I did. they take out the hardness but leave the alkalinity.
My system is over 20 years old and needs to be replaced. I'm thinking of going the citric acid cartridge route as it supposedly takes out the alkalinity. I just want a system that doesn't need to be back flushed.
 

CascadesBrewer

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I recently moved into a new house where the water was extremely hard.
Hard water is fine for brewing many beers (especially if you are just talking about the definition of "hard water" which is the level of Calcium and Magnesium). Often it is the level of other ions in the water or the alkalinity that is a bigger issue. Did you have your pre-softened water tested or do you have information on the water?
 

hotbeer

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If you are doing all grain or partial grain, then I don't think you want distilled water or un-modified RO water.

If you are going to add all the minerals and other things needed to give you a water more suitable for the beer you are brewing then I suppose distilled or RO is fine.

But since you are going to buy water anyhow, why not just buy water that has a known analysis close to what you want and not have to do major chemistry adjusting of your water?

There are plenty of bottled waters out there, spring water, filtered water, distilled and re-mineralized or RO and re-mineralized water that provide you a known analysis of what they are.

Then you might only need to stockpile one or two chemicals to adjust it to what you ultimately want. I'm not quite there yet with wanting to make such adjustments. So I just use a bottled water that's close enough in its analysis.

Or... if you can get water from your house supply prior to being softened, then see what it brews up like or get an analysis on it. Your municipality or whomever provides your water service probably will have one for you.
 
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But since you are going to buy water anyhow, why not just buy water that has a known analysis close to what you want and not have to do major chemistry adjusting of your water?

There are plenty of bottled waters out there, spring water, filtered water, distilled and re-mineralized or RO and re-mineralized water that provide you a known analysis of what they are.

Then you might only need to stockpile one or two chemicals to adjust it to what you ultimately want. I'm not quite there yet with wanting to make such adjustments. So I just use a bottled water that's close enough in its analysis.
A good approach - buy water with a known mineral content.

I wonder, though, if this is a "regional thing" - when I went looking for sources of bottled water 5-ish years ago, I couldn't find bottled water with a complete analysis. Maybe that has improved with time?
 

hotbeer

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A good approach - buy water with a known mineral content.

I wonder, though, if this is a "regional thing" - when I went looking for sources of bottled water 5-ish years ago, I couldn't find bottled water with a complete analysis. Maybe that has improved with time?
Maybe regional for what available in your area. However most of the brands of water that are nationally sold will have an analysis available. I think that some years ago they even gave a number on the bottle to call for that info. Many even 10 or more years ago kept a current analysis posted on their websites. But you had to sometimes take obscure links or do a site search to find it.

Bottled waters that are re-built from distilled or RO, that are touting taste for their sales pitch probably keep a pretty tightly controlled water analysis so that every bottle of water tastes the same. Minerals, ph and alkalinity are everything when the taste of water comes in to play.

So even if they don't publish it, you could use it and if it results in good beer, then be confident that your next beer won't be bad due to water. Or, send it off for analysis to be sure if it needs some additions or not. And if its a big name in water, I'd bet the analysis 5 or 10 years from now will be pretty much the same.
 

youngdh

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I always start with distilled water which gives me a blank palette to add the minerals in for the water profile I want for the style of beer I’m brewing.
 

Yooper

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Ro or distilled water is ideal for brewing. You can add a few things (gypsum or calcium chloride) to make it better, but even 100% RO water is suitable. It's just that those ions (chloride and sulfate) are like seasonings for the beer, just like salt and pepper are for food. You can get by with very little in the way of additions, though. The only time I'd think differently is when making a very dark beer when the acidic grains might push the pH a little low. Then, some baking soda can be used to bring the mash pH back up to 5.5 or so.
 
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So even if they don't publish it, you could use it
But using bottled water with unknown mineral content has the same troubleshooting problems as tap water with unknown mineral content.

And when starting out with 'extracts', when DME/LME is made, they take just the water out. So adding back just the water is an excellent option.
 

hotbeer

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But using bottled water with unknown mineral content has the same troubleshooting problems as tap water with unknown mineral content.

And when starting out with 'extracts', when DME/LME is made, they take just the water out. So adding back just the water is an excellent option.
That's true. Not knowing what it is doesn't mean you can't use it and see what the result is.

And as the OP's concern seemed to be sodium, then most bottled waters won't have that to the extent old style water softeners add sodium to water.
 
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Not knowing what it is doesn't mean you can't use it and see what the result is.
When I troubleshoot things, I find it's best for me to remove as many "unknowns" as possible.

Distilled/RO water (plus known adjustments) removes one of those unknowns when trying to identify off or unexpected flavors. :mug:
 

hotbeer

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When I troubleshoot things, I find it's best for me to remove as many "unknowns" as possible.

Distilled/RO water (plus known adjustments) removes one of those unknowns when trying to identify off or unexpected flavors. :mug:
I use water with a known analysis too for the same reason.

You do realize the point you quoted me on was the least desirable of the options I presented to the OP don't you.

I wasn't suggesting that they willy nilly just use water of an unkown analysis. However if the OP finds a bottled water, and the analysis is not readily available, they can try that water and if it makes a decent beer, then they can probably be confident the analysis for the next time they use that brand will be the same as before... if that was re-built water from distilled or RO.

However for the bottled waters sold in my area, everyone I've checked on provides the analysis of on their website. Some you have to look at where the water was bottled and be certain you are looking at the correct report. But that is more common for spring waters and water that is simply filtered.
 
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You do realize the point you quoted me on was the least desirable of the options I presented to the OP don't you.
The option was "bad enough" (my opinion) that I felt a little "push back" was appropriate.

You made some a number of interesting points on brewing with bottled water that has known mineral content. It's an idea that isn't seen much, so it seemed worthy of some additional discussion.

:mug:
 

mabrungard

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Yes, ion-exchange softened water is not very beneficial to beer brewing. But it is a great feedwater for a RO system. In the mean time, importing distilled or RO water is a good approach to brewing. Adding some salts to those waters does help with beer flavor.
 

wstumper

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Didn't your water softener system come with a by-pass valve? Our system is installed near the hot water heater and AFTER the outside faucets. That way I'm not treating outdoor lawn and garden plants.
 

neale

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I'm not sure about advice in the US but here in the UK we are recommended to always have a 'non-softened' faucet to use as drinking water. We have the main kitchen cold water feed un-treated and use this for drinking and cooking water.

If you are drinking your softened water on a regular basis you are increasing your sodium intake significantly and thats not great for general health..... or brewing.
 
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