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chrisrush

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I want to find out what my water profile is like in NW Austin. I know we have very hard water, but we have a water softener. I use RO water for brewing but since I am getting into AG, I would like to start off with a good quality water. I am going to send a sample or two into Ward labs. Would sending in an RO sample and a tap sample be a good idea? With having both results, I could customize my water profile depending on the style that I am brewing, correct? Say, 50/50 RO/tap, etc.
 

JVD_X

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Yes. You can send both in.

However, you should not be using softened water for brewing because it adds sodium to the water.

Is your RO water first run through the softener?
 

Rushis

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The water straight from RO system should be completely void of any salts, you should be able to treat it like distilled water for the purposes adjusting water chemistry.

I'm sure there are most experiences individuals out there, but for what it's worth, I wouldn't bother sending in a water samplefrom your RO, unless you want to see what a sheet of 0's looks like. ;)

As an alternative to lab testing you could check your RO water with a multimeter, the conductivity of pure water should be 18 megaohms*cm anything lower and you still have some salts dissolved in the water.
 
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chrisrush

chrisrush

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Yes. You can send both in.

However, you should not be using softened water for brewing because it adds sodium to the water.

Is your RO water first run through the softener?
I believe the RO water is first run through the softener, but I'll have to check to see.

I'm using KCl for the water softener, so it won't add Na, but K instead. I wonder if this will be a problem.
 
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chrisrush

chrisrush

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The water straight from RO system should be completely void of any salts, you should be able to treat it like distilled water for the purposes adjusting water chemistry.

I'm sure there are most experiences individuals out there, but for what it's worth, I wouldn't bother sending in a water samplefrom your RO, unless you want to see what a sheet of 0's looks like. ;)

As an alternative to lab testing you could check your RO water with a multimeter, the conductivity of pure water should be 18 megaohms*cm anything lower and you still have some salts dissolved in the water.
I have a TDS meter on the RO filter and it reads in the 100ppm for TDS. I don't have a multimeter, might try and see if Ward Labs can test for conductivity.
 

Bobby_M

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I would want to know the makeup of the incoming tap water before the softener or RO filter. RO alone can't strip all the ions out but it gets pretty close.
 

Rushis

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I would want to know the makeup of the incoming tap water before the softener or RO filter. RO alone can't strip all the ions out but it gets pretty close.
How efficient are home RO systems? At the laboratory level, the reverse osmosis systems are used to get a 18 Mohm water from distilled water. As you pointed out, the RO system can only do that because the input water is already distilled.

Hmmm, I must research some more...

@chrisrush

I obviously don't know much about home RO systems. ;) The TDS meter is measuring the conductivity of the solution and converting that into a reasonable measurement (ppm). The MilliQ systems used in labs only report the resistance. Good to know for the future. Thanks for the lesson! :D
 
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chrisrush

chrisrush

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I would want to know the makeup of the incoming tap water before the softener or RO filter. RO alone can't strip all the ions out but it gets pretty close.
Thanks Bobby. I'm not sure if I can get some water before the softener, perhaps the outside tap isn't prefiltered with the softener.
 

Bobby_M

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Just follow the input side of the softener back until it disappears into the foundation wall. If there are no tees/taps off of it, I think you'd probably want one installed at some point.
 
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chrisrush

chrisrush

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Just follow the input side of the softener back until it disappears into the foundation wall. If there are no tees/taps off of it, I think you'd probably want one installed at some point.
I would have installed one if this was my house, unfortunately, it is a rental. I'll see what I can do.
 
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chrisrush

chrisrush

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Got my water profile. Please let me know what you think.

pH 8.0
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 294
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.49
Cations / Anions, me/L 5.0 / 5.0
ppm
Sodium, Na 27
Potassium, K 4
Calcium, Ca 43
Magnesium, Mg 19
Total Hardness, CaCO3 187
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.6 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 9
Chloride, Cl 42
Carbonate, CO3 6
Bicarbonate, HCO3 184
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 161
 

ian-atx

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That is pretty interesting looking at your report and comparing what is available on the austin city water page. Of course their info is based off the water coming directly out of the treatment plants near town lake. I am waiting for my tubes from ward labs so i can test my water (east austin) and see how far off it is.

Looking at the ezwater calculator, your base tap water isn't too bad aside from really low sulfate and low calcium.
 
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chrisrush

chrisrush

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Thanks Bobby. I'll get an order for some gypsum soon.

Ian, Leander water is much harder than Austin water for some reason. My water sample was using water post softener as well. I was hoping to use it pre softener, but I could never find a tap to take a sample from.

Let me know how your sample turns out.
 
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chrisrush

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So my next brew day will be a Munich Helles. From Palmers website, the ideal Munich water is as follows:

Ca - 75
Mg - 18
Na - 2
SO4 - 10
Cl - 2
CO3 - 148

If I use my water listed above, and add 4.1g of Baking Soda and 2.5g of Chalk, I will get the following:

Ca - 75
Mg - 19
Na - 63
SO4 - 10
Cl - 42
CO3 - 148

Obviously, my Na and Cl are way off the Munich profile, but unless I use straight RO water, I am very unlikely to get those low Na or Cl #'s.

Will this severely affect the taste of my Helles? Should I start with RO water and build up from there? Also, what concerns me is the SRM. With THs calculator, I get an RA of 119, which has a much higher SRM than what I am looking for.
 

snail

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I think you will want to bring down your RA down alot. A Munich Helles has an SRM of 3-5 and with an RA of 119 you are looking at an SRM range of 15-20. Also a Munich Helles is more malty than bitter so you'll want your chloride to sulfate ratio to accentuate that. I'm new to adjusting water, but that's what I would do anyway...
 

Bobby_M

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Munich Helles should actually closer to a Pilsen profile. What I'd do if I were on your water is dillute with 50% RO/distilled water and do this:

This page can be used for copying and pasting

Starting Water (ppm):
Ca: 43
Mg: 19
Na: 27
Cl: 42
SO4: 9
CaCO3: 161

Mash / Sparge Vol (gal): 5 / 4
Dilution Rate: 50%

Adjustments (grams) Mash / Boil Kettle:

CaSO4: 3 / 0
CaCl2: 3 / 0
MgSO4: 1 / 0


Mash Water / Total water (ppm):
Ca: 101 / 66
Mg: 14 / 12
Na: 14 / 14
Cl: 97 / 63
SO4: 114 / 65
CaCO3: 81 / 81

RA (mash only): 0 (5 to 10 SRM)
Cl to SO4 (total water): 0.98 (Balanced)


I made assumptions on your strike/sparge volumes but the basic idea is that you flood the mash with RA lowering salts and leave them out of the boil so that you get your mash pH correct but don't overload anything else. There's no point in using baking soda or Chalk in a light beer.
 

snail

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I was wondering if that Munich target profile was right or not....
 
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chrisrush

chrisrush

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Thanks for the help Bobby and snail. I'll go forward with these suggestions.

Eric (Saccharomyces) told me the following:

I use gypsum for hoppy beers, calcium chloride for malty beers, a mixture of both for balanced beers, chalk for stouts, and treat my sparge water with lactic acid (about 2mL per 5 gallons).

and

SRM >15 I use straight tap. 7 < SRM < 15, I mix 1:1 RO-tap. SRM < 7 I use all RO and build up.

Since our water is similar, this is good information for me.
 

ian-atx

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FYI,

Just got my ward labs report for my part of austin.

pH: 9.5
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est: 221
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm: 0.37
Cations / Anions, me/L: 3.5 / 3.6

ppm

Sodium, Na : 26
Potassium, K: 4
Calcium, Ca: 14
Magnesium, Mg: 19
Total Hardness, CaCO3: 114
Nitrate, NO3-N: 0.2 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S: 12
Chloride, Cl: 44
Carbonate, CO3: 21
Bicarbonate, HCO3: 53
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3: 79
Fluoride, F: 0.78
Total Iron, Fe: 0.02
 

ian-atx

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East Austin, regular city water straight out of tap.

The report is somewhat in line with what the city reports from the two main treatment plants. Both show PH in the 9.5 range. I haven't had too many problems, as the total alkalinity or bicarbonates are not too high. Typically I end up having to add some gypsum to the mash or boil for any hoppy beer, since the sulfates are so low. I always treat my water with campden tabs as well, to remove any chloramines.
 
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