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Salting and pHing RO Water Help?!?

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TEWNCfarms

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Any good articles or threads discussing this, I’m not talking about a calculator, I do Not have analytics of the water I’m using not have money to send it off for testing.

I’m using water that is sourced from local supply but buying it from a vending machine to fill my own bottles and it used Reverse Osmosis, Carbon Filters, and Ultra-Violet Light to clean the beer. I’m waiting on my new pH meter so I don’t know the pH, and I believe from using for gardening years before the PPM is like 8-10 at most. I might have my ppm meter laying around somewhere I’ll throw up the results if I find it.

So let’s pretend for now the pH is 7.

I have calcium chloride, gypsum, and epsom that I can add. What would I need to add for a 5 gallon batch? Also am I adding it before I mash or after?

I appreciate your help thanks so much.
 

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Firstly, the pH of the water itself is largely irrelevent. It's the alkalinity (bicarbonate) that we are concerned with. If by 'PPM is like 8-10 at most' you mean a TDS of 8-10ppm at most, then alkalinity is very low (as it should be for RO water).

What you add will mostly depend on the beer you're brewing. You can go very simple:
3g per 5 gallons of Calcium chloride for pale styles (eg. pils, helles, hefeweizen);
2g per 5 gallons of Calcium chloride and 4g per 5 gallons of Gypsum for hoppy styles (eg. bitter, APA, IPA);
Or you can decide beer-by-beer what you want. I typically decide roughly how minerally I want a beer to be and decide on a Calcium level to match (eg. Helles 30ppm; English Bitter 80ppm; APA 60ppm) then the ratio of Chloride to Sulphate I want (1:1 for most styles, 1:3 for bitter styles), then work out how much Calcium chloride and Gypsum I need to make that work. I also add some table salt (Sodium chloride) as I believe Sodium really helps lift beer flavours. Most brewers don't do things this way though - they put their water data into a calculator and set a target profile, to find out what they need to add.

I suggest you treat your entire brewing water with salts. You can just add them to the mash, which helps lower pH, but I think it's easier to keep pH in check through the entire brewing process if all of your water is treated the same way.

EDIT: Another thing you can try is brewing with a minimal amount (about 3g/5 gallons) of Calcium chloride, then (when the beer is packaged and ready to drink) pour a glass and add very small amounts of other salts (gypsum, epsom, table) to see what effect they have on the beers flavour. From that, you can decide what you want to add to the water next time you brew the same style. All tastes are different so it's a bit of a personal thing.
 
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TEWNCfarms

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Firstly, the pH of the water itself is largely irrelevent. It's the alkalinity (bicarbonate) that we are concerned with. If by 'PPM is like 8-10 at most' you mean a TDS of 8-10ppm at most, then alkalinity is very low (as it should be for RO water).

What you add will mostly depend on the beer you're brewing. You can go very simple:
3g per 5 gallons of Calcium chloride for pale styles (eg. pils, helles, hefeweizen);
2g per 5 gallons of Calcium chloride and 4g per 5 gallons of Gypsum for hoppy styles (eg. bitter, APA, IPA);
Or you can decide beer-by-beer what you want. I typically decide roughly how minerally I want a beer to be and decide on a Calcium level to match (eg. Helles 30ppm; English Bitter 80ppm; APA 60ppm) then the ratio of Chloride to Sulphate I want (1:1 for most styles, 1:3 for bitter styles), then work out how much Calcium chloride and Gypsum I need to make that work. I also add some table salt (Sodium chloride) as I believe Sodium really helps lift beer flavours. Most brewers don't do things this way though - they put their water data into a calculator and set a target profile, to find out what they need to add.

I suggest you treat your entire brewing water with salts. You can just add them to the mash, which helps lower pH, but I think it's easier to keep pH in check through the entire brewing process if all of your water is treated the same way.

EDIT: Another thing you can try is brewing with a minimal amount (about 3g/5 gallons) of Calcium chloride, then (when the beer is packaged and ready to drink) pour a glass and add very small amounts of other salts (gypsum, epsom, table) to see what effect they have on the beers flavour. From that, you can decide what you want to add to the water next time you brew the same style. All tastes are different so it's a bit of a personal thing.
Awesome thanks for your help! Yeah and I cook for a living and found out 6 years ago Salt is the key to flavor for food, so I like to salt and make it flavorful. Thanks for mentioning try out small amounts of salts. Could I try a sample during fermentation and then decide to salt?

And I assume sour beers would fall under the paler side that you mentioned?

Should I be adding 5 pH stabilizer to my water too or will the salts lower pH enough?

So you monitor the pH the entire time? My meter says don’t go over like 150f...

And yes I meant a TDS meter
 

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that 5.2 buffer doesn't work, except in rare circumstances, and using RO water is not one of those circumstances. Monitoring pH is done with cooled samples, at room temperature.
You can use a brewing spreadsheet if you want to get a projected mash pH. I like Brewer's Friend and Brun'water. But Brun' water does have a bit of learning curve.
 
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TEWNCfarms

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that 5.2 buffer doesn't work, except in rare circumstances, and using RO water is not one of those circumstances. Monitoring pH is done with cooled samples, at room temperature.
You can use a brewing spreadsheet if you want to get a projected mash pH. I like Brewer's Friend and Brun'water. But Brun' water does have a bit of learning curve.
Swoo thanks for saying that and that I didn’t buy any today! I assume lactic acid would be my best bet if the salts don’t lower it enough?
 

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There’s really two reasons to ‘salt’ brewing water; flavor and mash pH.

You can add salts to a glass of beer to see how they affect flavor. After a few brews, you can get a handle on amounts, just like cooking.

How much of which salts and/or acids/alkalinity you add to mash water vs sparge water vs kettle should be decided based on desired mash pH and your grist.
Calculators are king here.

As a matter of fact, calculators are great for keeping track of the flavor aspects too.
Especially if you desired flavor profile doesn’t line up with the required mash profile.
Not sure why you’d want to steer clear of one.
 
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TEWNCfarms

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There’s really two reasons to ‘salt’ brewing water; flavor and mash pH.

You can add salts to a glass of beer to see how they affect flavor. After a few brews, you can get a handle on amounts, just like cooking.

How much of which salts and/or acids/alkalinity you add to mash water vs sparge water vs kettle should be decided based on desired mash pH and your grist.
Calculators are king here.

As a matter of fact, calculators are great for keeping track of the flavor aspects too.
Especially if you desired flavor profile doesn’t line up with the required mash profile.
Not sure why you’d want to steer clear of one.
Because I thought every calculator was figured off my knowing the waters makeup.? I like calculators, but I also like doing the math myself
 
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TEWNCfarms

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There’s really two reasons to ‘salt’ brewing water; flavor and mash pH.

You can add salts to a glass of beer to see how they affect flavor. After a few brews, you can get a handle on amounts, just like cooking.

How much of which salts and/or acids/alkalinity you add to mash water vs sparge water vs kettle should be decided based on desired mash pH and your grist.
Calculators are king here.

As a matter of fact, calculators are great for keeping track of the flavor aspects too.
Especially if you desired flavor profile doesn’t line up with the required mash profile.
Not sure why you’d want to steer clear of one.
Also I’m happy to use them, but my point is I don’t even know how much of what equals what. So I’d just be adding numbers not knowing why
 

FunkedOut

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when you cook, you measure your salt/spices in teaspoons or tablespoons.
when you salt water for beer, measure in ppm.
you have to learn what 75ppm of a particular salt tastes like just like when you learned what a teaspoon of salt per cup of rice tastes like.

brunwater comes with suggested profiles for beers of different color and whether you desire them to be full, balanced or bitter. they’re at least a starting point.
brew a blonde ale with the full profile.
brew the same recipe only changing to the bitter profile.

good luck and enjoy the journey.
this one takes forever.
 

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I wrote this three part article a long time ago, but it's still pertinent to answering some questions about the salts.
https://www.brewersfriend.com/2017/11/19/brewing-water-basics-part-1/
https://www.brewersfriend.com/2017/11/19/brewing-water-basics-part-2/
https://www.brewersfriend.com/2018/02/13/brewing-water-basics-putting-it-all-together/

I'm not at all trying to be lazy and avoiding answering the question. It's just a deep subject, and requires some lengthy explanations to make sense. I tried to be as non-technical as possible in that article, because I'm a non-techie myself. As much as I love having water gurus explain technical things on this forum, I'm more of a 'plain language' person so I tried to do that in this article.

If you're starting with RO water, and want a really simple explanation, there is also this article I have from HomebrewSupply.com: https://www.homebrewsupply.com/learn/intro-reverse-osmosis-brewing-better-beer.html This article doesn't discuss mash pH or adding lactic or phosphoric acid, so you will still need to consider that. This article is geared 100% to brewers brand new to RO water and is more of an 'easy button'.
 
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TEWNCfarms

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I wrote this three part article a long time ago, but it's still pertinent to answering some questions about the salts.
https://www.brewersfriend.com/2017/11/19/brewing-water-basics-part-1/
https://www.brewersfriend.com/2017/11/19/brewing-water-basics-part-2/
https://www.brewersfriend.com/2018/02/13/brewing-water-basics-putting-it-all-together/

I'm not at all trying to be lazy and avoiding answering the question. It's just a deep subject, and requires some lengthy explanations to make sense. I tried to be as non-technical as possible in that article, because I'm a non-techie myself. As much as I love having water gurus explain technical things on this forum, I'm more of a 'plain language' person so I tried to do that in this article.

If you're starting with RO water, and want a really simple explanation, there is also this article I have from HomebrewSupply.com: https://www.homebrewsupply.com/learn/intro-reverse-osmosis-brewing-better-beer.html This article doesn't discuss mash pH or adding lactic or phosphoric acid, so you will still need to consider that. This article is geared 100% to brewers brand new to RO water and is more of an 'easy button'.
Thanks so much! Got a lot of reading to do, again... I’ve been only getting like 4-6 hours of sleep every night for the past two weeks getting sucked into learning everything I can about brewing!

Just saw on the bottles of calcium chloride and gypsum it says “up to 1tsp” and then “up to 1-2tsp” per 5 gallons. So I guess I didn’t even need to ask I could have just started out at .5tsp and moved from there kind of like everyone is saying.

How many ppms are in a teaspoon of calcium chloride and gypsum?
 

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If you really REALLY wanna go in depth (bad pun), you can buy the book "Water" by Palmer & Kaminski online.
There's a companion book written by Chris White of White Labs for yeast. Once you are on the forums here you will see a few other homebrewing luminaries contributing their expertise and opinions on chemistry, pH, and homebrew methods along with math and software they've compiled over the years.
 

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Thanks so much! Got a lot of reading to do, again... I’ve been only getting like 4-6 hours of sleep every night for the past two weeks getting sucked into learning everything I can about brewing!

Just saw on the bottles of calcium chloride and gypsum it says “up to 1tsp” and then “up to 1-2tsp” per 5 gallons. So I guess I didn’t even need to ask I could have just started out at .5tsp and moved from there kind of like everyone is saying.

How many ppms are in a teaspoon of calcium chloride and gypsum?
A teaspoon is about 5 grams, but it really should be measured with a scale in grams. My kitchen scale was about $14, and it measures grams/ounces/kg/pound accurately.
Those instructions on the bottles should be ignored, unless they know magically what you are brewing and how much sulfate/chloride you want.
 

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How many ppms are in a teaspoon of calcium chloride and gypsum?
4g (approximately a teaspoon but is variable) in 5 gallons gives:
Calcium chloride dihydrate: 58ppm Calcium and 102ppm chloride.
Gypsum: 49ppm Calcium and 118ppm Sulphate.
 
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TEWNCfarms

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4g (approximately a teaspoon but is variable) in 5 gallons gives:
Calcium chloride dihydrate: 58ppm Calcium and 102ppm chloride.
Gypsum: 49ppm Calcium and 118ppm Sulphate.
Awesome thanks so much, that’s exactly what I was lookin, I couldn’t find that anywhere.
 
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TEWNCfarms

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8E940B8A-CEA7-4BF0-B1C5-31FD9BFE5EB8.png

So not much on the report, only chlorine and some other weird chemicals, copper and lead.

But wait what’s this... an Unregulated substance at high levels... a substance linked to cancer... and we can’t brew our beer to sell to those who want it?! Or pretty much do Anything without it being regulated to the gills, requiring NSF materials, and licenses, and permits, etc... Get the Fack out of here!
 

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4 grams = .94 teaspoons, so I basically round up and assume 4:1 and throw in 1/4 teaspoon for 1 gram and 1/2 teaspoon for 2 grams. It's quicker than measuring on my scale and I don't really think extreme accuracy is that important for brewing salts. If I'm shooting for 150 SO4 and end up with 130 or 170, doubt I'll notice. And quite frankly, I'm not even sure how precise these cheap scales even are when measuring smalls amounts like a gram. Just my 2 cents though, to each their own.
 

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Steel measuring spoons, hydrometer, small weight scale for hops and grain ... I hide them all in a drawer with all my other goodies because no one ever puts things back in my house. The steel spoons are tough, won't melt, and sanitize easily.
I'm also lazy.
I measure out the salts, calculate mash water volume plus absorption per pound of grain, and add. Boom, strike water ... done.
 

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I didn’t realize that book was free online!
It's the 1st edition (circa 2000).

It can be a very useful reference if you know which sections are not out of date. "Manufactured products" (like DME/LME, dry yeast, ...) have changed, for the better, over time.

Brewing salts, on the other hand, probably haven't changed much in the last 20 years.
 

Lefou

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Those instructions on the bottles should be ignored, unless they know magically what you are brewing and how much sulfate/chloride you want.
Very true.
The lighter-colored, malty styles like Helles or Kolsch ale may require different levels of adjustment than a pale ale or IPA depending on your starting water. Everyone likes to assume distilled or reverse osmosis water as perfect baseline, but not everyone uses those waters to brew due to personal preference or water availability.
 
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TEWNCfarms

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Firstly, the pH of the water itself is largely irrelevent. It's the alkalinity (bicarbonate) that we are concerned with. If by 'PPM is like 8-10 at most' you mean a TDS of 8-10ppm at most, then alkalinity is very low (as it should be for RO water).

What you add will mostly depend on the beer you're brewing. You can go very simple:
3g per 5 gallons of Calcium chloride for pale styles (eg. pils, helles, hefeweizen);
2g per 5 gallons of Calcium chloride and 4g per 5 gallons of Gypsum for hoppy styles (eg. bitter, APA, IPA);
Or you can decide beer-by-beer what you want. I typically decide roughly how minerally I want a beer to be and decide on a Calcium level to match (eg. Helles 30ppm; English Bitter 80ppm; APA 60ppm) then the ratio of Chloride to Sulphate I want (1:1 for most styles, 1:3 for bitter styles), then work out how much Calcium chloride and Gypsum I need to make that work. I also add some table salt (Sodium chloride) as I believe Sodium really helps lift beer flavours. Most brewers don't do things this way though - they put their water data into a calculator and set a target profile, to find out what they need to add.

I suggest you treat your entire brewing water with salts. You can just add them to the mash, which helps lower pH, but I think it's easier to keep pH in check through the entire brewing process if all of your water is treated the same way.

EDIT: Another thing you can try is brewing with a minimal amount (about 3g/5 gallons) of Calcium chloride, then (when the beer is packaged and ready to drink) pour a glass and add very small amounts of other salts (gypsum, epsom, table) to see what effect they have on the beers flavour. From that, you can decide what you want to add to the water next time you brew the same style. All tastes are different so it's a bit of a personal thing.
How much NaCl do you add?
 

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Personally, I don't bother adding table salt to beer because I'd rather taste it in my food. There is a beer style called gose for those who like the taste, but isn't for me. The salt modifies the perception of acidity. I don't like it in beer but it does wonders with fresh tomatoes.
 
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TEWNCfarms

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Personally, I don't bother adding table salt to beer because I'd rather taste it in my food. There is a beer style called gose for those who like the taste, but isn't for me. The salt modifies the perception of acidity. I don't like it in beer but it does wonders with fresh tomatoes.
Haha yeahhh dats right! I’m actually growing 500+ plants of wild boar farms tomato seeds, the best tasting varieties out there today! If you like growing your own tomatoes you should check out his dark galaxy tomato it’s insanr! Hands down the best most flavorful tomato I’ve ever had, it tastes like a steak. Anyways back to brewing
 
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TEWNCfarms

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Typically a couple of grams per five gallon batch. It definitely doesn't taste salty.
Thanks. So like rough estimate for cleaned water, oh and checked my PPM it is 4. And my tap is like 120ppm or so! But so add like 3g calcium chloride and 2g kosher salt to 5 gallons for most of the sours id be brewing, like saisons, lambics, Gose, etc? I just still can’t wrap my head around the calculators, I understand them more, but still having trouble.
 

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I don't know for sours. I rarely brew them. I think Gose might use more salt?
 
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