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Tap water infection

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goswell

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Many of the instructions for kits say to boil around 2 gallons of water for the wort and then top off the carboy with tap water to the 5 gallon mark. Is unbloiled tap water a possible source of infection? It seems it wouldn't be as many people rinse the sterilized equipment in tap water.
 

Funkenjaeger

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Yep, it's a risk. But it's a matter of how big a risk.

Rinsing sanitized equipment is a risk for just this reason. (On a terminology note, 'sterile' and 'sanitized' are two very different things, and in homebrewing, pretty much nothing is ever 'sterile') This is one of the biggest reasons (aside from convenience) that homebrewers use no-rinse sanitizers such as starsan, iodophor, and many others.

If your tap water is pretty decent, you're probably relatively safe. Of course, it's safer to boil and cool it before using, but MANY homebrewers have used plain tap water to top off with without ever having an infection as a result - myself included. But that doesn't mean it's not risky. Some people use bottled water, which is probably less likely to lead to infection than most tap water, but still not perfect.

IMO, it's one of those things where I go ahead and do it but if I ever had a problem with infected batches, it would be one of the first things I would change about my brewing process to try and stop the infections.
 

cheezydemon

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I say don't boil it, do everything els by the book. If your water is bad(which I bet it's not) it would be best to know now rather than boiling thousands of gallons needlessly.
 

BrewDey

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I had a few batches this summer that had the same bad taste. Both of them were extract batches topped off with untreated tap water. I've also followed the same method and had them taste fine. When I brought the best example of it to one of the local gurus-he identified it as likely chloro-phenol from chlorine in the tap water. We had a very hot, nasty summer so most likely there was more chlorine in the water than normal. I've since bought a charcoal filter and have had no problems.
 

Donasay

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Infections from tap water are unlikely if you are using city water, that stuff is treated with lots of chemicals and chlorine etc. If you are using well water though, it might be an issue, I wouldn't worry much about it though... I top off carboys with water directly from my garden hose and have never had a problem.
 

Funkenjaeger

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:off:
Donasay said:
I top off carboys with water directly from my garden hose and have never had a problem.
I'm sure you've seen this said a thousand times, but I figured I'd mention it just in case you hadn't heard... Garden hoses (other than those specifically rated for drinking water) are generally really bad for use with potable water because they often contain a bunch of lead...
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/babies-kids/child-safety/outdoors/garden-hose-safety/get-the-lead-out-of-the-garden-hose-503/overview/
 

Donasay

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Funkenjaeger said:
:off:
I'm sure you've seen this said a thousand times, but I figured I'd mention it just in case you hadn't heard... Garden hoses (other than those specifically rated for drinking water) are generally really bad for use with potable water because they often contain a bunch of lead...
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/babies-kids/child-safety/outdoors/garden-hose-safety/get-the-lead-out-of-the-garden-hose-503/overview/
Oh I read that thread when someone first posted it, and I don't think that it is enough of a problem that I need to worry about it. It is nice that someone put it out there so individuals can make an informed decision about using the garden hose, but it works well for me and they didn't report lead in my water when I sent a sample to be tested, so if it is in my hose it has to be a very very small amount.

Just so everyone knows, and this water question comes up frequently, the plant and animal sciences laboratory at UMASS Lowell will test your water for you, and it is fairly cheap.
 

jvh261

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Tap water is fine, but if you're going to use it (and I do about half the time), a nice charcoal filter is a good investment for your brew (as well as for drinking water). One of those Brita pitchers with the removable/replacable filters is just fine.
 

adx

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Funkenjaeger said:
:off:
I'm sure you've seen this said a thousand times, but I figured I'd mention it just in case you hadn't heard... Garden hoses (other than those specifically rated for drinking water) are generally really bad for use with potable water because they often contain a bunch of lead...
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/babies-kids/child-safety/outdoors/garden-hose-safety/get-the-lead-out-of-the-garden-hose-503/overview/
There is probably more lead in the pipes brining the water to your house then there is in a garden hose. That is why most municipal water supplies jack up the pH of their water.
 

ajf

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jvh261 said:
Tap water is fine, but if you're going to use it (and I do about half the time), a nice charcoal filter is a good investment for your brew (as well as for drinking water). One of those Brita pitchers with the removable/replacable filters is just fine.
Filters can be great, but they can also be a source of infection. The problem occurs when the filter is only used occasionally. Under these circumstances, the filter can be left for long periods filled with stagnant water which allows nasties to breed in the stagnant water trapped in the filter.
The solution to this problem is very simple. Just flush the filter for about 10 seconds before collecting any water if the filter has not been used recently.

-a.
 

Bellybuster

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I recently brewed a batch with all tap water that I neglected to treat with hydrogen peroxide to rid it of chlorine (will not remove chloramines). The resulting beer tastes like burnt rubber, I can only figure it to be the high chlorine levels in my water.
For those who doubt the ability of Hyd peroxide to remove chlorine just pour a glass of water and sniff, then add a coupledrops of hydrogen peroxide and sniff.....chlorine gone
 

sirsloop

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Pull your water out of your bathtub spicket... cleanest place... much better than the kitchen sink.
 

yezzo

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I have used tap water before with no problems but I started using spring water from the bottle, it's only about .64 cents a gallon and works well. I don't know how true it is but I read somewhere that if your tap water has a noticeable taste to it then it might change the taste of your brew.
 
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