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RO vs Distilled water for brewing?

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tieflyer

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Ok I imagine this will cause a bit of a debate but here goes:
Currently I have been going to spring water dispenser where I can get 5 gallons for a buck.

but reading recipes, books, articles etc I am leaning towards using RO or distilled water and doing the adjustments.
since I have well water, I have both a water softener and an RO.
output of RO is not huge since my wife fills bottles to put in fridge for drinking.

do u guys recommend starting two weeks ahead of time stockpiling a qt here and a qt there each day in my fermenters (bottles) or fermentation bucket until I get 9 gallons or buying distilled water.

which is better for adjustments and brewing?
 

bnut

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I don't think there's much of a difference.

You can get larger RO tanks if you have room to put them. I have two 14 gallon RO tanks and even with that I have to start collecting water in buckets 4 days in advance.
 

ScrewyBrewer

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do u guys recommend starting two weeks ahead of time stockpiling a qt here and a qt there each day in my fermenters (bottles) or fermentation bucket until I get 9 gallons or buying distilled water.

which is better for adjustments and brewing?
I started out running to the store and buying gallons of distilled water for brewing. It worked fine until one brewday the store had only half the amount of water I needed. That's when I installed an RO filter capable of producing 45 gallons per day. Since then no more running around trying to find distilled water.
 

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I know these machines are debatable, but I use them. It’s $1.30 for 5 gallons, I bought some water cubes off Amazon and get 10 gallons.

 

Sammy86

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RO and Distilled are pretty much the same...we just got an RO system installed here capable of producing 600 gallons over the life of the filters...wouldn't go any other way
 
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tieflyer

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I know these machines are debatable, but I use them. It’s $1.30 for 5 gallons, I bought some water cubes off Amazon and get 10 gallons.

Yeah that glacier is like spring water machine I’ve been buying from. Wish I could get water report from them but I know that won’t happen.
 

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With the softener, keep in mind then if you pull from the hot or cold line. They are normally installed on the hot line only. You probably know this but if you hadn't thought of it it's worth checking on.

Although, with an RO system, maybe it doesn't matter anyhow, the mineral swaps may just get pulled out.

It's not a bad idea at all to pull RO here and there and stockpile it. Then use the calculators to get the profile you want with additions. CaCl, MgSO4, and so on. A scale and some additives aren't expensive, and you can use stuff you already have for the water and avoid trips to the store which is just 1 more thing to add work to the brew day and is always nice to eliminate.
 

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Spring water is usually untreated water that comes from a natural spring. It is usually bottled or comes in large jugs. If you are getting it from a kiosk then it is very likely RO. If what you are getting is actually spring water, then the minerals in this water can vary greatly from very soft to very hard depending on the source. It may be good for brewing a specific style of beer or it may not. Often the company will provide the mineral composition. Without the report, you don't know how to treat it so it is not the best option if you want to get into treating your brewing water.

Companies produce distilled water by boiling water and then condensing the collected steam back into a liquid. This process removes impurities and minerals from the water. It will provide a water profile that has zero minerals and will provide a very good clean slate to build a water profile. The issue with distilled is that it is expensive as the process requires significant energy to make.

RO water is municipal water that is passed through an RO membrane and sometimes additional filters, that essentially removes all minerals and impurities. Trace minerals may still remain but for all intent and purpose it is just like distilled. Glacier and those windmill kiosks are good examples. It is easy to determine if the machine's filters are up to date by getting a TDS meter and checking for near 0 ppm. RO membranes do not remove many impurities like chloramines so additional filters are often paired with the RO membrane to remove these other impurities. It can make a great pallet for building a water profile. It is also fairly inexpensive.

Water softened water is not RO. A water softener merely replaces the calcium, which is important to brewing, with sodium, which is not bad for brewing at appropriate levels. It is not recommended to use softened water for brewing.

My thoughts are that if your municipal water is not suitable for brewing, or that you just want to start with a clean pallet, RO is the most economical and best water to use.

Does your home RO system have the additional filters to remove the chloramines and other impurities that could affect your beer? If not, it may be better to buy your water from one of those kiosk. It is up to you on if the level of effort to put away one quart a day is worth the savings against the convenience of using a kiosk. I own two 5 gal plastic water jugs and I just fill these up for $1.50 each prior to brew day - easy peasy.
 
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tieflyer

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Isn't the glacier RO water, not spring?
watched the video, found out glacier was taken over by primo water, but it looks like minerals are added into it so not pure RO water. grocery stores by me have distilled for .89 a gallon, and if you want a bigger bottle, 2.5 gallons, its 2.99 so if I buy distilled, i'll buy the individual gallon bottles.
 

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watched the video, found out glacier was taken over by primo water, but it looks like minerals are added into it so not pure RO water. grocery stores by me have distilled for .89 a gallon, and if you want a bigger bottle, 2.5 gallons, its 2.99 so if I buy distilled, i'll buy the individual gallon bottles.
Are you sure they add minerals back in? I don't remember reading/hearing that.
 
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tieflyer

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I have a well, so my whole house water goes thru water softener and sink has an ro so I guess I will stick to distilled gallons of water. Problem is now I am trying to figure out how to adjust the water using some settings from Recipes
 
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tieflyer

tieflyer

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Are you sure they add minerals back in? I don't remember reading/hearing that.
if i put in glacierwater.com(from their video) it took me to Primowater.com

Says they have machines at walmart and lowes to refill the bottles.


edit: if you buy their exchange bottles it has minerals added, but if you refill at machine it looks like it is just ro so who knows, now I have to talk with them. If it is just ro at refill then I am good to go I believe if I can just figure out how to adjust the water using the EZ Water Calculator to get this profile:
Hoppy
Profile: Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=50, SO4=275
 
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Jim R

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Our local big box hardware store (Menards) sells 4 gal jugs of bottled water for $3-4. It is not R/O water but the company has the detailed water profile online which makes it easy to adjust for any beer. I can get 5-6 jugs in a shopping cart and wheel it directly to my trunk so it is pretty handy. That is another cheap option.
 

day_trippr

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An inexpensive TDS meter would be a good thing to have when considering water from a store machine...

Cheers!
 

bnut

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An inexpensive TDS meter would be a good thing to have when considering water from a store machine...

Cheers!
Indeed. Even if you have a RO system at home. Most membranes last much longer than advertised. Use a TDS meter to see when it's time to replace.
 

day_trippr

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Agreed. I test my RO system output every brew day for my BS3 record just on GPs, though tbh I have a Filmtec 100gpd element that basically serves just my brewing needs plus the kitchen ice maker/water dispenser, so as long as I don't abuse it it could well outlive me ;)

Cheers!
 
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tieflyer

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VikeMan

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If it is just ro at refill then I am good to go I believe if I can just figure out how to adjust the water using the EZ Water Calculator to get this profile:
Hoppy
Profile: Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=50, SO4=275
That exact profile isn't actually possible (the ion charges don't balance). But you can get close. For example, if you're willing to accept Ca~100.

I don't use EZWater, but the process would look something like:
- Add NaCl to hit Na=16
- Add MgSO4 to hit Mg=18
- Add CaCl2 until total Cl=50
- Add CaSO4 until total SO4=275
- CA should be at 99 or 100, depending on rounding along the way

Deciding the order can be a little tricky at first, because each salt adds two different ions, and because each ion has more than one salt that can add it, but once you get the hang of it, it's a piece of cake.
 
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Spivey24

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Well water should not have chloramine. Most well systems just use chlorine. Almost all RO systems have additional filters that would remove the chlorine and other impurities. I just stick a 5 gallon bucket in the kitchen sink and turn it on overnight. It will fill overnight.
 

mabrungard

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Unless you're planning on treating most 'spring waters', you'll likely find that it does not perform well for many brews. Spring water is a red herring that is otherwise meaningless. If they provide info on the spring water profile, you should be able to treat the water to meet your brewing needs for many styles.

RO vs distilled?? They are similar and brewing does not need or want the purity of distilled water. Distilled water is typically more expensive too. So, distilled water is a loser all around, compared to RO water. The real differentiator is if the RO water really has RO quality. That's where having a TDS meter and checking the RO water quality is of paramount importance.
 
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tieflyer

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That exact profile isn't actually possible (the ion charges don't balance). But you can get close. For example, if you're willing to accept Ca~100.

I don't use EZWater, but the process would look something like:
- Add NaCl to hit Na=16
- Add MgSO4 to hit Mg=18
- Add CaCl2 until total Cl=50
- Add CaSO4 until total SO4=275
- CA should be at 99 or 100, depending on rounding along the way

Deciding the order can be a little tricky at first, because each salt adds two different ions, and because each ion has more than one salt that can add it, but once you get the hang of it, it's a piece of cake.
Do u use a different calculator? I just looked at that one because it was part of the article and I was able to get their balanced profile figured out but once I started on caso4 addictions it knocked the others way off. Wish there was a reverse calculator that u put in final profile and said RO water and it told u salt additions.
 

VikeMan

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Do u use a different calculator?
I use MpH, or more accurately, I use the version of MpH that's embedded in BrewCipher. If you're in the market for a free integrated brewing software solution that includes an excellent water model, that's what I'd recommend.

Full disclosure: I happen to be the the author of BrewCipher. D.M. Riffe is the author of the MpH model that's in BrewCipher.
 

ScrewyBrewer

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Do u use a different calculator? I just looked at that one because it was part of the article and I was able to get their balanced profile figured out but once I started on caso4 addictions it knocked the others way off. Wish there was a reverse calculator that u put in final profile and said RO water and it told u salt additions.
The upcoming release of ezRecipe 3.01 uses your final water profile to calculate the required salts and acid amounts for you. Look for it at the end of Fall 2020.

ez-1.jpg
 

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I'm still using tap water for my brewing, and the results I get are plenty satisfactory so far.
I am considering getting a relatively inexpensive RO machine and building water that way. Split 2 or 3 ways - my dad and my brother-in-law are both into tropical fish and both complain about the water they use when they change it out - it could be pretty easy to work. Have each of them get a couple carboys or whatever and fill as needed for them.
 

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Hi all !, I'm new to making Beer, a couple of years now. I love it much better than store bought, I keep it simple and cheap so my question is why not use boiled water? I make extract beer, it's an Ale. I boile 4 1/2 gallons for at least 20 minutes then add the 6.6 pounds LME for a 10 Gallon batch. When time comes for the cooling. I use 6 gallons of refrigerated water that was saved from using the chiller on the previous batch, that was also boiled for 20 minutes and in my opinion it's better than if I use tap water, I was told that the LME had all the minerals I needed. Am I wrong in doing this?
Any input on this would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks
 

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I go to the supermarket by my house (Publix) and use the Glacier R/O water machine. I fill up 5, five gallon jugs for $8.75 and my beer tastes great after I add calcium chloride, calcium sulfate, or both depending on the recipe. I haven't used distilled water but it would be interesting to brew the same beer and use one with R/O and the other with distilled, to see if there really is a difference and if one tastes better. Anyway R/O filled at the supermarket works for my needs.

John
 

Holden Caulfield

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Hi all !, I'm new to making Beer, a couple of years now. I love it much better than store bought, I keep it simple and cheap so my question is why not use boiled water? I make extract beer, it's an Ale. I boile 4 1/2 gallons for at least 20 minutes then add the 6.6 pounds LME for a 10 Gallon batch. When time comes for the cooling. I use 6 gallons of refrigerated water that was saved from using the chiller on the previous batch, that was also boiled for 20 minutes and in my opinion it's better than if I use tap water, I was told that the LME had all the minerals I needed. Am I wrong in doing this?
Any input on this would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks
Yes, LME has the all the nutrients from the original mash so the yeast will be happy.

However, boiled water is not a substitute for RO or distilled. Boiled water will cause some of the carbonates and calcium to precipitate out, reducing the alkalinity, which may be very important for mashing all grain. It will also boil off chlorine. However, it will leave behind all other salts as well as it will not boil off Chloramines which are now used by many municipalities to help sanitize tap water. 1 Camden tablet per 20 gallons can neutralize chloramines. The Chloramines and other remaining salts may result in undesirable flavors and off flavors, depending your water supply. If you have good water use it. If not RO is the lowest cost and easiest to build a profile from.
 

VikeMan

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I was told that the LME had all the minerals I needed. Am I wrong in doing this?
LME does contain the minerals from the manufacturer's mash. Because of this, a good argument can be made that the best approach for extract batches would be to use distilled or RO water, with so salts added. The counter to that is since we don't know what specific mineral profile was in the manufacturer's water, it's impossible to say whether anything should be added for a given style/preference. Of course, brewing all grain makes that dilemma disappear.
 

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I go to the supermarket by my house (Publix) and use the Glacier R/O water machine. I fill up 5, five gallon jugs for $8.75 and my beer tastes great after I add calcium chloride, calcium sulfate, or both depending on the recipe. I haven't used distilled water but it would be interesting to brew the same beer and use one with R/O and the other with distilled, to see if there really is a difference and if one tastes better. Anyway R/O filled at the supermarket works for my needs.

John
I use the supermarket Kiosk (not prepackaged) water for every batch I make and check it with a TDS meter before using. After 40+ batches, never had a reading above 6 ppm. For all intent and purpose it is the same as distilled and all things being equal, the beers will come out the same. One batch will just cost about 5 bucks more.
 

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.... why not use boiled water? I make extract beer, it's an Ale. I boile 4 1/2 gallons for at least 20 minutes then add the 6.6 pounds LME for a 10 Gallon batch. When time comes for the cooling. I use 6 gallons of refrigerated water that was saved from using the chiller on the previous batch, that was also boiled for 20 minutes and in my opinion it's better than if I use tap water, I was told that the LME had all the minerals I needed.

Am I wrong in doing this?
It works for you, so keep doing it.

Your approach may not work for others, as their water has different "attributes" (minerals, alkalinity, ...) than your water.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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LME does contain the minerals from the manufacturer's mash. Because of this, a good argument can be made that the best approach for extract batches would be to use distilled or RO water, with so salts added. The counter to that is since we don't know what specific mineral profile was in the manufacturer's water, it's impossible to say whether anything should be added for a given style/preference.
Brewing Engineering, starting at about p 197, offers insights into manufacturers water. p 198 has a "Salt Adjustments for Style" for one of the manufacturers - I've used it and it works (for me anyway). Following "water gurus" into other home brewing forums will yield additional information on manufacturers water.

There is this idea of adding salts in the glass to "dial in" the flavor profile for a beer. I've found that it works for beers made with DME and with all-grain.

I'll concede that one may not be able to know in advance the specific mineral profiles that are necessary to do PPM calculations.

I'm able to "season to taste" with various brands of DME. It's not hard.
 

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I use a countertop RO filter run off the bathroom sink cold water tap. Unscrew the aerator and attach the filter. It can be wasteful (2.5 : 1) wastewater : RO, but I save the wastewater and use it in the garden or wash basin or swimming pool - anything but drinking really. It produces about 1 gal/hr so on brew day, I run it and refill my two clean 5 gal carboys with new RO water for my next batch. Always have 8-10 gal on hand.
 

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Hmm, maybe you are. But coffee, just like beer, benefits from certain minerals and hardness, etc. Pure RO or distilled water really isn't the best for it.
 

IslandLizard

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and refill my two clean 5 gal carboys with new RO water for my next batch. Always have 8-10 gal on hand.
How long is that sitting there?
I know you're boiling it on brew day. For some reason I don't think drinking water should sit still or stored for very long without UV treatment, a sanitizer or other preservative added. Doesn't it get stale and musty over time?
 
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