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PH 5.2 Buffer

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JVD_X

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Hi folks,

I have two questions about usage of PH 5.2 I am hoping you guys could help with.

When I mash I usually put my hot strike water in my mash tun and wait for the temp to come down to my target strike before mashing in. Do I add the PH 5.2 buffer to the water before I mash in or do I wait until the grain is already in the cooler?

2nd... the instructions says to use 1 TBL for each 5 gallons... does this refer to the mash water, the mash + sparge, the initial boil volume, or the final volume?

Thanks!
 

BarleyWater

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I usually sprinkle it in the mash right before I stir everything in.

And it's 1 TBL for a 5 gal batch, 2 for a 10 gal batch. It doesn't matter how much water you mash or sparge with, if your final volume is to be 5 gal, then 1 TBL goes in the mash, at the beginning of the mash.
 

beerthirty

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I usually add to the strike water. Never checked it after. I use about a 60/40 split between drinking water(ph8.2)/RO water(ph6.0) then add the buffer. I have no idea how the math works in this, but I have gotten better extraction and beer since going to the water split over just DW with buffer. The grain is supposed to buffer itself during mash but 5.2 does seem to help.
 
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I was under the impression that you needed to use 1 TBL for 5 wallons of water if you strike w/ 5 gallons thats TBL if you sparge w/ 5 gal that water also needs to be treated. This is what I do. I also add it to my water and mix it in before I mash in, the reason I do this is because I am treating the "water" not the mash.

Cheers
JJ
 

Blender

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I was under the impression that you needed to use 1 TBL for 5 wallons of water if you strike w/ 5 gallons thats TBL if you sparge w/ 5 gal that water also needs to be treated. This is what I do. I also add it to my water and mix it in before I mash in, the reason I do this is because I am treating the "water" not the mash.

Cheers
JJ
This is what I thought too. I add it to the mash water and a little less to the sparging water.
 

BarleyWater

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I was under the impression that you needed to use 1 TBL for 5 wallons of water if you strike w/ 5 gallons thats TBL if you sparge w/ 5 gal that water also needs to be treated. This is what I do. I also add it to my water and mix it in before I mash in, the reason I do this is because I am treating the "water" not the mash.

Cheers
JJ
Not according to Five Star. Actually, adding to your sparge water can have adverse affects apperently (like a mineraly flavor in your beer). It is just for the mash, and doesn't matter on the volume of water aside form the final volume.
 
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Not according to Five Star. Actually, adding to your sparge water can have adverse affects apperently (like a mineraly flavor in your beer). It is just for the mash, and doesn't matter on the volume of water aside form the final volume.
OK, so I just read the jar and your right, they say to calculate it for FV leaving the kettle. All this time I have been adding it to my sparge water too.
So you just saved me some $$$$ (no you can't have it):D


I just love this forum its amazing how much you can learn from just hanging around here :rockin:
Cheers
JJ
 

pjj2ba

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I add it to my sparge water and will continue to do so. 5.2 helps to insure that the pH is correct for optimal starch conversion. They also say it helps with hop isomerization in the boil kettle. Once you drain off your first runnings you've also drained off a bunch of the buffering capacity. If you have really hard water, then when you add the sparge water, the pH can get high enough that when combined with high mash out temperatures can lead to tannin extraction. This is more of a problem if you fly sparge. I break my 5.2 additions into two, one for the strike water, and one for the sparge. I don't go over 1 Tbsp for a whole batch. If you don't have hard water, this is much less an issue. I have water loaded with carbonates that I treat for.

It will only taste minerally if you add too much, not if you add a proper amount to the sparge water. Once it gets to the fermenter, it doesn't matter when it was added as far as tasting the 5.2 itself.

I add the 5.2 after I mash in and check the pH. If I don't need it, I don't add it.
 

Saccharomyces

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Until very recently I had water very high in bicarbonates. When I started mixing in RO water, my pH improved and my beers improved a LOT. Based on my experience I would say use 5.2 in the mash, and monitor your pH at the end of your sparge. If it gets over 5.8 at your last runnings, consider softening the water with RO water the next time you brew.

5.2 is a tool, not a panacea, if your water sucks it will still suck even with 5.2; high bicarbonates do not make for good hoppy beers, and will give a harsh aftertaste to ligher brews.
 

pjj2ba

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5.2 is a tool, not a panacea, if your water sucks it will still suck even with 5.2; high bicarbonates do not make for good hoppy beers, and will give a harsh aftertaste to ligher brews.
+1 Treating my water to reduce the carbonates has made a huge improvement in my hoppy beers. The bitterness used to be harsh, it would eventually mellow, but it took a LOT longer.
 

Saccharomyces

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+1 Treating my water to reduce the carbonates has made a huge improvement in my hoppy beers. The bitterness used to be harsh, it would eventually mellow, but it took a LOT longer.
I tried a bottle from my first batch a few weeks ago (40 IBU all-Ahtanum pale ale) and it was still harsh after all this time. :)
 
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JVD_X

JVD_X

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Have you ever checked your PH without the use of 5.2?
Yep... I only get wonky mashes when I brew very dark or heavy beers... I have extremely soft water... perfect for brewing pilsners but not so great for the final sparge of a stout.
 

conpewter

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+1 Treating my water to reduce the carbonates has made a huge improvement in my hoppy beers. The bitterness used to be harsh, it would eventually mellow, but it took a LOT longer.
Hi! How were you able to reduce the carbonates? Did you boil it and then add back calcium?
 

BarleyWater

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You can dilute with RO or distilled water to dilute the minerals in your water. Then add back whatever you need to achieve your prefered water chemistry.
 

pjj2ba

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Hi! How were you able to reduce the carbonates? Did you boil it and then add back calcium?
I've been using pickling lime (in the canning section of grocery stores).

I found the articles on alkalinity on this website very useful and explained in detail the various methods for removing carbonates. It is very technical.

http://ajdel.wetnewf.org:81/

I find I've been using about 1 tsp of lime per 6 gal. of water. I don't added calcium back for most of my beers (except my alt) as my water is pretty high in calcium. I carefully check my mash pH as the lime really raises the water pH.

You can boil the water, but I don't want to take the time (or the propane) to do that.

One of these days I'll set up an aeration experiment, as that will reduce carbonates too. The article didn't spell out how long it takes though, but I suspect it takes at least a couple of days if not longer
 

giligson

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I add to mash water and to sparge water but I only add half the amount since my water is pretty good to begin with.
I like to control the pH of the sparge b/c I understand that it helps in reducing tannin/polyphenol extraction.
 

Nyxator

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I wish I could find it, but I remember kaiser posting an interesting analysis of how pH affects tannin extraction of grain husks. I believe the conclusion was that pH has a huge impact, and having a high pH can cause grainy or astringent flavors. The point of his research was to show why a decoction mash didn't result in tannin flavors. Decoction mash requires the grains to be boiled, but since the mash is at or around 5.2 pH, minimal tannins are extracted.

The point of all this? I add 5.2 to my sparge water as well to ensure that I get minimum tannin extraction. While mashes will buffer themselves, the sparge water (especially if you're batch sparging) will not have that benefit since most buffering ability will have gone out with your first runnings.

EDIT: Giligson beat me to the punch. :mug:
 

AN_TKE

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While brewing on Saturday I forgot to bypass my water softner before starting to heat my strike water. I was really pressed for time so I deciced to keep going instead of start over. I then began to add 5.2 to adjust my heating water from 8+ down. After adding about 10 tsp. over 30 minutes I still had a neutral + pH, not anything close to 5.2. I am a little worried about how this beer is going to turn out.

I thought the 5.2 was supposed to lower pH in the water to allow enzymes to work better, resulting in better extraction, etc. If the buffer doesn't act like a buffer after adding 10 tsp to water, and my pH only started around 8, what the heck is going on? Am I using this improperly? I know what the label says, but I'm not sure the 1tbs is for everyone.

Any thights?
 

boo boo

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While brewing on Saturday I forgot to bypass my water softner before starting to heat my strike water. I was really pressed for time so I deciced to keep going instead of start over. I then began to add 5.2 to adjust my heating water from 8+ down. After adding about 10 tsp. over 30 minutes I still had a neutral + pH, not anything close to 5.2. I am a little worried about how this beer is going to turn out.

I thought the 5.2 was supposed to lower pH in the water to allow enzymes to work better, resulting in better extraction, etc. If the buffer doesn't act like a buffer after adding 10 tsp to water, and my pH only started around 8, what the heck is going on? Am I using this improperly? I know what the label says, but I'm not sure the 1tbs is for everyone.

Any thights?
I think everyone has misconceptions about the 5.2 buffer.
It is a BUFFER not a reducer of PH like an acid would be. It needs the acidity of the malt to reduce the PH to the ideal point. It is then that the chemical takes effect by stopping the further reduction of acidity in the mash, unless enough acid is added to overcome the buffering capability of the 5.2 buffer.

You add it to the mash as it needs the minerals contained in the mash to activate it.

If you need to keep your sparge water at a pH level consistant with good brewing practices, then adding 5.2PH buffer don't do any good, ( IMO ) and that's where you need acid like ( insert your favorite ) latic acid.
 

AN_TKE

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i keep thinking back to chemestry class where titration is used to demonstrate the effect of a buffer on an acid or base solution. The buffer is useless until it overcomes a threshold concentration where it has the ability to reduce or increase...buffer....the solution to the level dictated by the buffer solution. If the 5.2 is a true buffer, you would think that you could titrate your water tank to get the desired pH. That is pretty much what i was trying to do over my half hour addition period. but, since i added a lot of 5.2 and pretty much nothing happened, I've got to believe i have it all wrong. Any chemestry buffs out there?

How come we never learned about brewing in chemestry class?
 

TeleTwanger

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^^^My Chem teacher said she tried making wine once and it came out really sour, so she gave up.
I hydrate it in water and add it to the grain like the bottle says, 1tbs.
 

pjj2ba

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Were you adding the 5.2 to the mash or just to the water with no grains? I assume, just the water. If your water has a naturally high buffering capacity, it will take more 5.2 to counteract that. When you add the grain to the water, the organic acids, etc. in the grains bring the pH down (or up depending on your water). Depending on the buffering capacity of your water there may or may not be sufficient compounds in the malt to obtain the proper mashing pH.

If you want a chemistry analogy, here's one. Making up number here.

Say your water has the buffering equivalant (buf. eq.) of a 50 mM solution, pH 8. Let's say 3 gal. worth

Say your malt when dissolved in 3 gal of water has a buf. eq. of a 100 mM solution, pH 5.2.

In this case when mixed, your mash pH will be 5.2, no matter the original pH of the water (you've exceeded the buffering capacity of the water - 100mM > 50 mM, that is all that matters)

Now lets reverse it, 100 mM for the water and 50 mM for the grains. In this case the pH or your mash will be 8*. Now you have to add enough buffer 5.2 such that the concentration of the (malt buffer ions + the 5.2) is greater than 100 mM. Then your pH will drop to the proper range. If you don't add the malt, it will take a lot more 5.2, as you don't have the help of the buffering compounds in the malt. This is why you should always add the grains, mix, and then check the pH.


One can add either acid or buffer to lower the pH. If only acid is used, you will lower the pH of the mash but also lower it's ability to resist further pH changes (like while sparging). You have "used up" some of the buffering capacity of the mash. By adding the 5.2, you will lower the pH and increase the buffering capacity of the mash (or at least not lower it as much as if an acid is used)(lactic acid and phosphoric acid do have some buffering capacity, but the pH range is lower than that of the mix of phosphate salts in 5.2).

Acids and Bases will raise or lower pH, and the function of buffers is to resist pH changes, but you can use buffers to change pH too. If one tries to tirate a strong acid with a strong base it is very hard to hit a particular pH somewhere in between the two. It will go from one extreme to the other very quickly, often with one drop of either. Now if one uses weak acids and bases, the change is much more gradual (in the pH range of the buffer). It will take a lot more to make the pH move much. Now, once you exceed the buffering capacity, these too will quickly go to the extremes

*This is what would happens when you mix standard buffers in the lab. In the real world it will probably be less than 8 as the natural buffers in water aren't real good at it - ie. some buffers resist pH change better than others at an equal concentration (phosphate is better than carbonate).
 

giligson

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I found this if anyone is interested:
BYO - Buffers: Advanced Brewing

This is the bottom line from this author:

"The pH of your brewing liquor does not determine your mash pH. In fact, almost all brewing waters will yield a mash pH in the low to mid 5 range, regardless of water pH. For this reason, adjusting your water pH is of little use (unless you know from experience that adjusting your water to a certain pH yields a given pH in the mash). Likewise, the pH of your sparge water does not determine the pH of the wort you collect. Even near the end of wort collection, the weak wort in your grain bed is more heavily buffered than your water.
 

AN_TKE

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so it sounds like the way to achieve a good mash pH is to mix with the water and then adjust as necessary. I have done this in the past, and it definately took less of the 5.2 to get a good pH. I'll keep doing it this way - thanks for the help.

The other thing that I found interesting after adding so much 5.2 to the strike water was that I still had to add 5.2 to the mash after taking a pH reading 10 minutes after doughing in. If i decreased he buffering potential of the water by adding 5.2, then it wasn't enough to weaken it to the point where the grain could finish the job.

huh....
 

piperbrew

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I've just started to pay attention to my water profile, and was wondering if the 5.2 Stabilizer added/effected any other minerals in the water? I can provide the water profiles if need be, but for sake of simplicity I'll say I'm adding 1.8g Calcium Chloride and .2g of Gypsum to reach an RA of -71 and Chloride to Sulfate ratio of about 4:1.

The water profile I'm shooting for is the Antwerp, Belgium profile in Beersmith, which has an RA of -71 and Chloride to Sulfate ratio of 5:1.

So to get back to my original question, how/will the 5.2 Stabilizer effect my water minerals, RA, etc?
 

pola0502ds

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You read this thread and the major questions are not even really answered. Has it been determined exactly how much 5.2 you add? Is it per your final volume or is it how much water you brew with. How much water you brew with is way more than your final volume.

Do you add it directly to the mash or strick water.

Do you also add it to your sparge water.

I'd like to see some solid answers from people who have the experience of using this product.
 

Tyru007

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Anyone have issue with precipitation in the water? I use Poland Spring Water and add about 4 grams of gypsum. If I add 5.2, I get a white flaky precipitate when I heat up the water.
 

pola0502ds

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Anyone know if they sell this stuff in bigger containers. I brewed 2 batches yesterday and almost blew right through the whole container.

This stuff is great, got a reading of 5.4-5.6 for both beers. Not 5.2 though.
 

mabrungard

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Anyone know if they sell this stuff in bigger containers. I brewed 2 batches yesterday and almost blew right through the whole container.

This stuff is great, got a reading of 5.4-5.6 for both beers. Not 5.2 though.
I'm assuming you measured your pH with strips? If so, the actual mash pH is about 0.2 to 0.3 units higher than you measured. That would put the result right where both Kai Troester and AJ Delange indicate that the 5.2 Stabilizer ends up at (5.8). That is higher than desirable and leads to a very dull flavor in the finished beer profile. In addition, if you're using a bunch of that stuff in your brewing, you're adding a huge amount of sodium to your beer. Again, not good for beer taste and crispness.

Forget 5.2 Stabilizer, it does not do what it is supposed to do. Learn to use acids in your brewing if you want better beer.
 

pola0502ds

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Thanks for the pointer, I am using the hanna prep 5 for testing. I think instead of buying another jar of this stuff I need to just do what you said and use acids and salts.

My only problem is that I don't understand this stuff and have not found a thread that is cut and dry. If you can make a recommendation on a good read I would be all about it.

Does anyone know of a good chart that will list the recommended PH levels for each different beer type. A PH of 5.2 is not whats needed for each beer style.
 

tasq

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Thanks for the pointer, I am using the hanna prep 5 for testing. I think instead of buying another jar of this stuff I need to just do what you said and use acids and salts.

My only problem is that I don't understand this stuff and have not found a thread that is cut and dry. If you can make a recommendation on a good read I would be all about it.

Does anyone know of a good chart that will list the recommended PH levels for each different beer type. A PH of 5.2 is not whats needed for each beer style.
Read this document / tool. https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

It will take some time to absorb it all, but I promise it is worth it! :ban:
 

Reno_eNVy

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Sorry to do a necrothread but I didn't want to be that guy who makes a copy of a copy of a copy of a thread.

I'll be making a Belgian Witbier soon and I haven't made anything of low-SRM or with tons of wheat since I started messing with brewing water. I want to do it with this one because all of my other styles have shown improvements since doing salt additions and I'm wondering if this will be the same.

So after plugging all the values in I'm getting a mash pH of 6.02 before additions (this has confirmed to be accurate before with other brews.)

In order to achieve a mash pH of roughly 5.2 - 5.4 I need to add an uncomfortable amount of salts and lactic acid. I'd like to try my hand at 5.2 pH Buffer. I'll still add salts to balance my water profile but I want a proper pH so I can ensure this brew stays super light in color and tastes the best it possibly can.

I was just wondering if I could actually benefit from using it. From what I understand, the buffer will keep my pH from getting too high but, as others have said, won't bring it up from say 4.8 to 5.2 (which is fine because my water is pretty fracking awesome for brewing.)

So what do you think?

Base Water Profile (units ppm)
Ca -- 11.2
Mg -- 3.41
Na -- 14
Cl -- 11
SO4 -- 4.1
Alkalinity (CaCO3) -- 52

Grain Bill
6# White Wheat Malt
2# Belgian Pilsner Malt

Water Volumes
4 gallons strike water
4.2 gallons batch sparge

Proposed Salt/Buffer Additions (all in strike water, no sparge additions)
CaCl2 -- 3 grams
MgSO4 -- 3 grams
CaCO3 -- 1 gram
5.2 Buffer -- 1 Tbsp

Projected Water Profile (strike/strike+sparge) (units ppm)
Ca -- 92/50
Mg -- 22/12
Na -- 14/14
Cl -- 107/58
SO4 -- 81/42
 

Yooper

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The problem with the 5.2 is that your sodium will go way up, but the pH won't go down anyway.

I'd take out the MgSo4, and use some acid malt or lactic acid or phosphoric acid in the water. You can use up to 2-3% acidulated malt without any flavor issues I've found.
 
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