RO Water

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Cregar

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Ok...I know this has been talked about before but I just want to make sure I understand. From what I have read RO water is null & void of anything in it, so you can't use it to mash unless you add minerals to it.

So here's my questions:

1. Can you just add 5.2 to it or do you need to add the rest of the minerals for it to be good to use in your mash? Is 5.2 just for your ph?

2. Is there any info out there that tell the correct mineral mixture to add for a specific style of beer?

Thanks
 

MrFebtober

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It's my understanding that drinking RO water can actually be dangerous because it leeches minerals from your body as it passes through. I can't imagine it would be very easy or worth while to add minerals back in. Also, RO water, I read somewhere that while technically free of all contamination, it is extremely susceptable to bacterial growth, more so than regular water.
 

cactusgarrett

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5.2 is just a buffer containing a select few (secret) materials that will hit your mash pH to 5.2. To get the desired minerals you'd have to add them yourself via various salts.

There are "recommendations" to match your water with certain styles. For example, some will say "for a stout, add some gypsum". This is kind of misleading, because it is making and unspoken assumption that you have "average" water (not hard to begin with). The important thing to know if you're going to travel down this path is what your beginning water profile is. A better thing, in my opinion, is to get info on specific cities' water profile (mineral content). There are databases for this (many brewing programs have this in it). Then your thought process goes something like: "I want to make an English bitter. I'll try to mimick Burton on Trent's water profile." Then you go from there in matching the mineral content.
 

Willie3

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Brewing just for hobby, water should be the last item to tweek. Adding salts can lead to a bad beer. Worry about Mash temps, Volume, Bitterness, and abv before messing with water salts.

Have to be careful because too much and you will end up with an astringent brew, and too little will be blah.

Just my .02$

- WW
 

weetodd

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5.2 adjusts your pH as a buffer. I've never used it and don't believe that they disclose what is in it, but it is likely a mixture of salts that help to keep your pH in line.

As for brewing with RO water, the problem is that there are no minerals in it, so if you want to try and replicate a particular style you should add back minerals to build your water to the particular style.

There are examples for water types all around that list the main types of ions that are found if you do some google searching. Here is a nice overview, there are many more out there (http://brewery.org/library/wchmprimer.html) Most of the brewing software programs will provide examples and do some calculating for you to allow you to add salts that will get you close to the type of water you want. There is also a stand alone program called BreWater 3.0 that also does this quite simply and it has a lot of styles built in.

I know that many people start from RO water and build up. I do it this way since I'm not too sure of my tap water and I like to start with a clean slate. I have found that it is helpful to my beers. For example, adding gypsum helps accentuate hop flavors, calcium helps for yeast health, etc... Like the others said, this was one of the last things that I messed around with but it's not too hard to figure out, just don't try to overdo it.
 

Schlenkerla

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Cregar - I am an Engineer by profession. I work for a national window company that makes insulated glass. We use Deionized water, Reverse Osmosis (RO) & Carbon Filtered,and soft water in our processes to make spot free glass.

I would NOT use RO for the reasons stated above. RO has a dissolved solids (DS) of 25 PPM which means its really near pure. Therefore it has minimal mineral content. RO can be near pure but it does not mean its free of biological infections. RO systems require periodic maintenance to flush membrane filters of minerals. This requires filter replacements or acidic or alkaline treatments. I have seen these become really bad if not maintained, worse than bad well water.

If you only have the RO water source, I would suggest buying brewing software to amp up the mineral content from a near distilled level to a desired target level. Either that or buy bottled water. Gallon jugs from wal-mart such as their spring water. ~ 180 PPM DS Not to mention really cheap at $.58/gal of good brewing water.

If you can find the RO system in your pad look for a bypass. Then collect water from that. This usually it has two ball valves to lock out the system. One for the inflow and another for the discharge. If these are not two-way directional valves then their might be four valves; one to open/close RO infeed and one for the open/close RO discharge and two bypass valves infeed & outfeed that open/close city water flow. Its very common to have system by-passes.

PM me if you have questions.
 
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Cregar

Cregar

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my reasoning for asking was I had bought some of those plastic 3 gallon water bottles and was going to the drinking water stores you see around to get my water for brewing (.25 cents a gallon). The owner told me that they use RO process on the water. I guess I am just trying to save a few bucks and to find out if I need to add anything to the water other then the 5.2.

thanks
 

Schlenkerla

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my reasoning for asking was I had bought some of those plastic 3 gallon water bottles and was going to the drinking water stores you see around to get my water for brewing (.25 cents a gallon). The owner told me that they use RO process on the water. I guess I am just trying to save a few bucks and to find out if I need to add anything to the water other then the 5.2.

thanks

I would definitely build up the mineral content if you choose to use RO. I have never done so and can't over much advice in that area. Papazian's book "The complete joy to home brewing" has a section on this. You need gypsum, table salt, Epsom salt, and calcium chloride flakes.

I would use carbon filtered tap water before buying RO water that needs treatment.
 

Schlenkerla

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Hey Promash has a water treatment section. Tell us what beer you are wanting to make. Its has the mineral contents of several famous brewing cities. I can tell how much you'd need to add, if thats the route you want to go.

You can also blend RO with city water. Is their something wrong with your water in the first place that prompted you not to use it?
 
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Cregar

Cregar

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I have read all that before. I guess Im not making myself clear so I will go another route.

My beer program (BeerAlchemy) has the ability to add in my city water profile. Since I am using the water from one of those water stores (Water N Ice), would I put all zeros in the fields for my water profile so then my program to adjust to what ever region the beer Im brewing is from?
 

Schlenkerla

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It sounds right! I would start with zero in everything. Determine what city water to use and beer style to make, then add the above mentioned ingredients to meet the target ppm levels.

Repeating,you need gypsum, table salt, Epsom salt, and calcium chloride flakes.
 

Brew-boy

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All I brew with is RO water and I highly recommend it. I add salts and minerals back into it for a profile I am trying to match. The water taste good and free of public containments and I have won many 1st place brew comps with RO water. I dont know why so many people bash the RO water, The drinking water here sucks and I wont even give it to my dog.
 
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Cregar

Cregar

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is there a online calculator that figures how much you need of each mineral depending on your water and the target water?

also, in a earlier post someone mentioned that drinking RO water was bad for you. If so, how can the water stores sell it?

It's my understanding that drinking RO water can actually be dangerous because it leeches minerals from your body as it passes through. I can't imagine it would be very easy or worth while to add minerals back in. Also, RO water, I read somewhere that while technically free of all contamination, it is extremely susceptable to bacterial growth, more so than regular water.
 

B-Dub

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Most of the water stores here in CA blend water with the RO that has been through the carbon, desal and depth filters. It adds back some minerals so the water tastes better.

The last brewery I worked at we used only RO water with the aforementioned filtered water for the minerals we wanted. For light brews with little to no specialty malts we would add some gypsum to the mash.

Use water that tastes good and you should do fine.
 

Schlenkerla

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In every case anyone that said don't use RO was talking about going just RO without adding minerals.

RO is OK if you add the minerals. Average drinking water w/ the chlorine removed is suitable for most brewing conditions.

DI & RO when stored out in the open are prone to bacterial infection. They have a molecular affinity to attract mold spores and wild yeast. (Think of static electricity) It'll attract just about any particulate matter in the area. Once boiled it doesn't really matter.

RO is safe to drink Culligan Water sells systems to homeowners across the country. Most hospitals use DI & RO.
 

weetodd

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Cregar check out BreWater 3.0 it is a standalone water program that is free. With RO water, you would start with all zeros and then add different salts to get to (or close to) a particular water type.

What you are suggesting is what I do with my water. I use RO from the grocery to start with a "clean slate" for my water. Of course, you could use the tap as others have said. If you want to build up a particular water profile, you need to know what minerals you are starting with.
 

T-Hops

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I have well water and it is very hard but does taste good. I use tap water with 5ml lactic acid to reduce the PH for my mash water. I then use R/O water for my sparge water. My beers have been great since I started doing it this way.

I would recommend playing with a mixture of tap water and R/O water.

I have also heard that you never want to use straight R/O water.
 
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