Hydrochloric acid safe practices?

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cire

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10% HCl is right close to 2.9 Normal. AMS/CRS is right close to 3.66 Normal.

This is likely the wrong place to express this opinion, so my apologies to all and any who might be of that opinion, but here is a point tht separates chemists and British brewing. I have no disrespect for chemists, we wouldn't have reached the heights we have without them, but surely we must acknowledged that without brewing, chemists could not have held the status they do. I'll let you stew on that.

As a Brit, I cannot understand how so frequently we see percentages for acid strengths. In Britain we have acid strengths in percentages too, but for chemists in terms of weight/weight, volume by volume, weight by volume, even by assay, but in American, just percent?

No disrespect intended, I think "This is Great", then wonder by what measure is that percentage.

Titration is the best way.

Absolutely! So in Britain, brewers understand acids in terms of how much alkalinity they might neutralise rather than their strength. In the case of AMS/CRS we don't think of it in terms of molarity or percentages or normality, but that for home brewers 1 ml will neutralise (eliminate) 183 mg of alkalinity or in commercial terms, that a particular volume will reduce alkalinity by x amount after y addition in z volume.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Calculated dilution of 37.2% HCl to 10% HCl:
 

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cire

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Calculated dilution of 37.2% HCl to 10% HCl:


Thank you, but that might help a chemist, while it doesn't help a brewer. I don't want to be obtuse, but chemists never created beer. Brewers were in the English language, and probably others too, long before the word chemist or chemistry ever got there.

So let us for a moment think like a brewer before there were chemists, just like there were good beers before there was ever software telling you how to achieve a mash pH of 5.x, when he/she wants to use acid to lower the alkalinity that would otherwise make the beer astringent. The acid is hydrochloric, a gas, and the person making the beer is a brewer, a capable brewer, not a chemist and particularly not one who advises the use of software that mightn't exist in the period of concern, while their customer would choose the beer that tasted best to them. Might it not make better sense to use language a brewer understood rather than that familiar to a chemist?

I can follow what you say. The theoretical side was never a problem from my teens, but brewing good beer was something I would later learn.
 

jambop

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Just an opinion but for me the best method of adjusting brew liquor alkalinity is but using either sulphuric acid , hydrochloric acid or a combination of both at the correct concentration. The combination is particularly handy because this adds both chloric and sulphate ions beneficial to the brewing liquor while reducing the alkalinity .
I use titration to estimate my particular acid . I use a Salifert total alkalinity kit to firstly estimate my raw liquor alkalinity then titrate the raw liquor with the acid of choice to obtain the effective reduction in alkalinity per ml of addition. From this it is of course possible to get an approximate molar concentration for the acid we are using from the the reaction for the acid when added to calcium carbonate and from this calculate the increase in chloride or sulphate ion concentration in the brew liquor for a given addition of acid. For any home brewer this is an excellent way of improving their brewing. You can get a quite accurate estimate of the water alkalinity you are going to use on the day you brew and what you need to do to change that to get the profile you want. So you are not relying on a figure given to you by you water company , which will vary day to day. Of course all this methodology was passed to me by a very experienced brewer so I thank him kindly for that. It must be said that having had forty years plus working in research laboratories helps but I do not think the use of a Salifert alkalinity kit and some diluted acid is beyond anybody who has a mind to understand what they are doing and how it will improve their brewing .
 

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FWIW: Water with 100 mg/L (~ppm) Alkalinity (as CaCO3) is 2 mEq/L in Alkalinity. (1.99826 mEq/L if you want to be more precise)

10% HCl is 2.87 mEq/mL (2.87N) in Acidity.

If your desire is to (for example) bring 30L of 100 mg/L (~ppm) alkalinity water to approximately pH 5.4 via the use of 10% HCl, then:

30L x 2 mEq/L = 60 mEq of Alkalinity
60 x 0.9 = 54 mEq to be removed whereby to hit ~5.4 pH*
54 mEq/2.87 mEq/mL = 18.8 mL

Answer = Add 18.8 mL of 10% HCl

Edit: *If you forget to multiply 60 mEq by 0.90 you will hit ~4.3 pH instead of ~5.4 pH. ~4.3 pH is the point where Alkalinity becomes (or is generally considered, for all practical purposes) zero mg/L.
 
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JP_BeerFan

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I'd advise going for 10% too - it is neither very volatile nor very dangerous* at that concentration, but 30%+ is far worse. HCl has this peculiar property where it doesn't give off a whole lot of HCl vapor below its azeotrope (20.2%), but its volatility shoots way up when concentrated past it, so that the usual concentrated 37% stuff or the 31% hardware store variety both evolve a lot of nasty, corrosive fumes of hydrogen chloride.

*It is still quite dangerous to the eyes even at 10%. Safety glasses or goggles are absolutely required.
Late to this party... but yep, I would underline some of the good info here. The above is a good idea, and I see you went that way. Just safer stuff, and you only need a very small amount, starting with dilute stock isn't a bad storage idea.

Me, I've kinda casually (but with a lot of carefulness, and no accidents, knock on wood!) handle the 31.5% pool acid strength stuff regularly. It is really nasty stuff!! On a humid day you can see the fumes coming off of it, and I've learned to find the wind and stay up it, when I'm pouring out a pint or two into a big glass measuring cup, outside. Amazing how little of a whiff of that pure HCL gas coming off it will nail your nose and lungs.... so I avoid that. I've been 8-10' downwind from the poured container and caught some. One probably should pour it into a bucket of a few gallons of water, then pour that in the pool, but I get lazy and usually do a "stay upwind while I gently pour a non splashing stream in the pool as I walk around it" maneuver. I wouldn't recommend this to a new pool owner, if anyone asked...

It's probably one of the most dangerous chemicals that get sold to "everyday" folks... good to see you're going with the tamer stuff.
 
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whattabrau

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The acid arrived earlier this week. It was wrapped in clingfilm and shipped in a cardboard box ... and of course in a bottle too, not just clingfilm. The bottle had leaked a few drops during shipping, and I was wiping those off wearing nitrile gloves. Smelled a bit like when I was a new brewer and obsessed with touching cold-side things only with gloves that had been starsaned (not sure if that's a general smell with rubber and acid). The acid itself smelled pretty much like vinegar, though I didn't pour it into a snifter and do a complete olfactory analysis, or actually attempt to smell it at all. Being in the same shed didn't assault my nose e.g. the same way that sniffing vinegar would, so at 10% it *seems* pretty harmless, but I'm going to keep my guard up. I am a bit suspicious about the vinegar-like smell, as I don't think any other acids smell particularly like vinegar. Not sure if I should bother titrating to check that it actually is 10% HCl -- almost seems less work to just hope for the best and brew because the odds of them shipping the wrong product seem infinitesimal.

Not sure if I'll end up getting sodium sulfate to boost the sulfate, since the water is high in calcium (~80mg/L), almost at the limit of magnesium and pretty devoid of sodium and with chloride being maxed out by HCl table salt is, well, off the table. From a pure water perspective, as mentioned in this thread, I'd like to use sulfuric acid, but I'm not going to also for reasons mentioned in this thread.
 

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The acid arrived earlier this week. It was wrapped in clingfilm and shipped in a cardboard box ... and of course in a bottle too, not just clingfilm. The bottle had leaked a few drops during shipping, and I was wiping those off wearing nitrile gloves. Smelled a bit like when I was a new brewer and obsessed with touching cold-side things only with gloves that had been starsaned (not sure if that's a general smell with rubber and acid). The acid itself smelled pretty much like vinegar, though I didn't pour it into a snifter and do a complete olfactory analysis, or actually attempt to smell it at all. Being in the same shed didn't assault my nose e.g. the same way that sniffing vinegar would, so at 10% it *seems* pretty harmless, but I'm going to keep my guard up. I am a bit suspicious about the vinegar-like smell, as I don't think any other acids smell particularly like vinegar. Not sure if I should bother titrating to check that it actually is 10% HCl -- almost seems less work to just hope for the best and brew because the odds of them shipping the wrong product seem infinitesimal.

Not sure if I'll end up getting sodium sulfate to boost the sulfate, since the water is high in calcium (~80mg/L), almost at the limit of magnesium and pretty devoid of sodium and with chloride being maxed out by HCl table salt is, well, off the table. From a pure water perspective, as mentioned in this thread, I'd like to use sulfuric acid, but I'm not going to also for reasons mentioned in this thread.
Good you are getting moving with the water thing. Just my thoughts but plenty of beers need more than 80ppm Calcium. The salts you should be using are Calcium Sulphate and Calcium chloride . I make mostly English beers and as an example bitter needs about
150 Ca
10 Mg
40 Na
273 SO4
136 Cl

but I do realise you may be making US beers or other lesser beers 🤣 😁🤣:thumbsup:

Of course one way of getting the SO4 is with sulphuric acid in conjunction with Hydrochloric acid .
 
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whattabrau

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Good you are getting moving with the water thing. Just my thoughts but plenty of beers need more than 80ppm Calcium. The salts you should be using are Calcium Sulphate and Calcium chloride . I make mostly English beers and as an example bitter needs about
150 Ca
10 Mg
40 Na
273 SO4
136 Cl

but I do realise you may be making US beers or other lesser beers 🤣 😁🤣:thumbsup:

Of course one way of getting the SO4 is with sulphuric acid in conjunction with Hydrochloric acid .
I prefer more magnesium in a bitter. (them's fighting words ;-)

edit: my previous bitter (in mg/L) was about 150 Ca, 30 Mg, 30 Na, 190 SO4, 80 Cl, and I think it was the best I've ever managed.
 
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whattabrau

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So I've tried HCl with a few brews now, and compared to treating the water by precipitating temporary alkalinity out as CaCO3 the process is awesome. I can decide to brew a pale beer, directly use hot water from the solar heat exchanger, and be done in about 4 hours. The old model was deciding to brew and being able to start the actual brewing in 4 hours, or in a bit under 2 if I rushed the alkalinity removal, or the next day if I did it properly. I also hit my pH targets throughout much better. With alkalinity removal it was a bit uncertain how much chalk precipitated out and how much of the precipitate ended up in the brewing liquor -- the latter does not show up with a TDS meter and you notice it only during the mash (or by titration, but who titrates their water before every brew?).

The 10% HCl doesn't seem any more scary or harmful than my 75/80% phosphoric and lactic acids, as in I don't see fuming, and I don't feel it in my nose/lungs. I'm pretty sure I already got a drop on my hand because I absent-mindedly removed the gloves before rinsing the equipment that touched the acid, but I didn't notice any effect. The only downside with 10% is that you need a lot of it for a chloride-heavy beer where the mash is treated with just HCl. I needed >30mL for the mash of a 20L batch, and it was a bit painful to measure with a 5mL pipette, not to mention that I probably lost the integer count several times, but according to the pH meter my mistakes cancelled out. You of course don't have to use HCl alone, but I wanted to see what happens if I did; per a fermentor sample beer happens.

Once again thanks to everyone for sharing out their experience, and as a thread conclusion, if you have high-alkalinity water that's otherwise ~blank, consider adding food-grade HCl (E507 in Europe) in the strongest concentration that you feel comfortable handling to your brewing bag of tricks.
 

jambop

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So I've tried HCl with a few brews now, and compared to treating the water by precipitating temporary alkalinity out as CaCO3 the process is awesome. I can decide to brew a pale beer, directly use hot water from the solar heat exchanger, and be done in about 4 hours. The old model was deciding to brew and being able to start the actual brewing in 4 hours, or in a bit under 2 if I rushed the alkalinity removal, or the next day if I did it properly. I also hit my pH targets throughout much better. With alkalinity removal it was a bit uncertain how much chalk precipitated out and how much of the precipitate ended up in the brewing liquor -- the latter does not show up with a TDS meter and you notice it only during the mash (or by titration, but who titrates their water before every brew?).

The 10% HCl doesn't seem any more scary or harmful than my 75/80% phosphoric and lactic acids, as in I don't see fuming, and I don't feel it in my nose/lungs. I'm pretty sure I already got a drop on my hand because I absent-mindedly removed the gloves before rinsing the equipment that touched the acid, but I didn't notice any effect. The only downside with 10% is that you need a lot of it for a chloride-heavy beer where the mash is treated with just HCl. I needed >30mL for the mash of a 20L batch, and it was a bit painful to measure with a 5mL pipette, not to mention that I probably lost the integer count several times, but according to the pH meter my mistakes cancelled out. You of course don't have to use HCl alone, but I wanted to see what happens if I did; per a fermentor sample beer happens.

Once again thanks to everyone for sharing out their experience, and as a thread conclusion, if you have high-alkalinity water that's otherwise ~blank, consider adding food-grade HCl (E507 in Europe) in the strongest concentration that you feel comfortable handling to your brewing bag of tricks.

You need Murphy's sulphuric/ Hydrochloric acid mix 🤣
 

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