Water Chemistry - Explain it like I'm 5

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mattman91

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The final frontier for me is water chemistry and closed keg transfers. I plan on conquering both of these things on my next batch, which will be brewing this Saturday.

Water chemistry has always been intimidating for me, so I usually just use tap water with campden tablets or bottles of spring water. I plan on using distilled water and adjusting the profile on my own. My (3 gallon batch) recipe calls for 4.46 gallons of water (3.46 mash and 1 gallon for sparge).

I am brewing a hefeweizen. I have Calcium chloride, epsom salt and gypsum.

Now, what the hell do I do with it?

:)
 

VikeMan

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Now, what the hell do I do with it?
My advice: Read the Water Knowledge page on the Bru'n Water site. Then read the Intro to Brewing Water Treatment presentation at this site:

That'll give you enough knowledge to be dangerous and ask specific questions.

And, if you don't have one already, get a water/mash calculator. I recommend MpH. Or, if you need an all in one brewing software, try my BrewCipher, which also has the MpH models built in. Both are free:
BrewCipher: Library
MpH: MpH Water Calculator v4.2
 

Bramling Cross

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Barny the Brewer is a brewer that likes to make beer. Barny the Brewer has two friends. One friend is called Patty the pH Meter, the other friend is called Alice the Acid Bottle. One magical brew day, Barny the Brewer started making a beer and he asked his friend Patty the pH Meter if she'd like to share in all the brewing fun. Patty the pH Meter was so excited! Barny the Brewer calibrated her and then placed her in a cooled sample of the mash. Barny the Brewer became very cross and started saying very naughty words about Beersmith's pH prediction software. In a rage, Barny the Brewer grabbed Alice the Acid Bottle and pulled her head right off her body, shoved a pipette down her neck stump, and extracted 3ml of Alice the Acid Bottle's internals. This terrified Patty the pH Meter, Alice the Acid Bottle tried to scream, but her decapitated head couldn't make a sound. Barny the Brewer squirted Alice the Acid Bottle's precious internals into the mash and stirred it up really good. Barny the Brewer then asked Patty the pH Meter if she'd like to have more brewing fun, but Patty the pH Meter was very scared because she'd seen what Barny the Brewer did to poor Alice the Acid Bottle. Even though Alice the Acid Bottle's decapitated head was still staring lifelessly at Patty the pH Meter, she decided to be brave and she told Barny the Brewer that she would like to continue sharing in the magical brewing fun. Barny the Brewer took another sample of cooled wort and boy golly was he ever relieved! Barny the Brewer was so happy he healed Alice the Acid Bottle by screwing her head back on, then he cleaned up Patty the pH meter and they all lived happily ever after (except Alice the Acid Bottle, she remained traumatized for the rest of her life).

The End.
 

Jim R

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I think I spent 2-3 hours one day reading everything I could find and taking notes from John Palmer about water chemistry (short of his long water book). I probably learned about 85% of what I needed to know to make good beer in that time. It isn't that complicated if one is willing to spend some time learning.
 

hotbeer

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Save the calcium chloride, epsom salt and gypsum. It might be better in your garden.

Use a water that you know you will have the same analysis with for the future batches you'll brew. After you've tasted this batch, then you will have a better idea what might need adjusting, and by what means.

If you just arbitrarily go correcting your water for PH, hardness and other things, then you won't really know if that is doing anything for you. You'll just be under the impression that it did.

If correcting the water makes it more fun, then by all means do it. But then you have to know that your water will also have the same analysis next time. Can you test for everything before each batch?
 
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mattman91

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My goal was to start from distilled water and go from there. I thought that was the easiest route?
 

VikeMan

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My goal was to start from distilled water and go from there. I thought that was the easiest route?
It's certainly the most flexible and the most foolproof way. Flexible, because you can build any valid profile from it. Foolproof, because it's not subject to change seasonally like most tap water.
 

hotbeer

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I'd just pick a brand of bottled water and stick with it. Certain brands are already RO water or evaporated and distilled with the minerals and stuff added back and at what they consider the perfect PH.

They'll likely be the same today as they are next year and were two years ago. Read their analysis info that many have on their website.

If it is known that a certain amount of something makes a particular beer better, it'll be easier just to adjust that as opposed to trying to make correct measurements of many other things every time.

Again, if doing such stuff is part of what interests you, that's fine. I just like the KISS methods in general. I'm not going to competitions.
 

mabrungard

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OK, I really liked Barny the Brewer. But back to the brewing question.

The bottom line is that ALL brewing requires acid. It could come from the water or the grist. If the water has a lot of alkalinity, then even more acid will be needed.

If you start with distilled or RO water, that simplifies one aspect...you’ll know what’s in the water (nothing). Then you can safely just add stuff to the water to make it more suitable for brewing.

The thing that makes the whole water thing so infuriating is that the requirements change with every recipe.
 

deuc224

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My goal was to start from distilled water and go from there. I thought that was the easiest route?
I do this. But I use a RO system with a deionization filter at the end. Gives me 0, and i build from there.
 

Culinarytracker

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My goal was to start from distilled water and go from there. I thought that was the easiest route?
Yea, that's a good way to go. The easiest way to start is to get the Bru-n-water spreadsheet, find the pre made profiles (yellow hoppy, dark malty etc...) and recreate those water profiles. That will at least get you building water. Then you can get more specific with your goals as you go.
 

Karn

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The final frontier for me is water chemistry and closed keg transfers. I plan on conquering both of these things on my next batch, which will be brewing this Saturday.

Water chemistry has always been intimidating for me, so I usually just use tap water with campden tablets or bottles of spring water. I plan on using distilled water and adjusting the profile on my own. My (3 gallon batch) recipe calls for 4.46 gallons of water (3.46 mash and 1 gallon for sparge).

I am brewing a hefeweizen. I have Calcium chloride, epsom salt and gypsum.

Now, what the hell do I do with it?

:)
Water chemistry is not for five year olds lol.
I'd use tap water if it doesn't have too much chlorine. If it does have a lot of chlorine you could give it a good stir and most of the chlorine will be bye-bye after 30 minutes.
 

artichoke

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Use RO and follow the instructions in AJ Delange's water primer. Seriously, it's very simple guidance that works.

- Artichoke
 

VikeMan

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If it does have a lot of chlorine you could give it a good stir and most of the chlorine will be bye-bye after 30 minutes.
That would take a lot of stirring.

But besides that, a lot of tap water has chloramines, and you can't get rid of them by stirring or boiling. Campden tablets take care of both chlorine and chloramines.
 

Karn

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That would take a lot of stirring.

But besides that, a lot of tap water has chloramines, and you can't get rid of them by stirring or boiling. Campden tablets take care of both chlorine and chloramines.
Depends upon how much chlorine there is and how bound up it is. I have never found overwhelming amounts of chlorine in several different water processes that I used to analyze. Still new at beer brewing but make wine. Don't know anything about chloramines. Would like to think that tap water adds character to brews.
 

VikeMan

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I have never found overwhelming amounts of chlorine in several different water processes that I used to analyze.
It doesn't take much chlorine to harm beer. It's not because of the aroma/flavor of chlorine itself, it's because it reacts with phenols from grains and hops, forming chlorophenols. Chlorophenols have a taste threshold that's much lower than the threshold for chlorine. So a little chlorine goes a long way.

If I were relying on evaporation to remove chlorine, I'd be letting it sit for days. Plenty of aquarium enthusiasts have learned that the hard way. But fortunately, brewers have campden.
 

Brewdogs

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My advice: Read the Water Knowledge page on the Bru'n Water site. Then read the Intro to Brewing Water Treatment presentation at this site:

That'll give you enough knowledge to be dangerous and ask specific questions.

And, if you don't have one already, get a water/mash calculator. I recommend MpH. Or, if you need an all in one brewing software, try my BrewCipher, which also has the MpH models built in. Both are free:
BrewCipher: Library
MpH: MpH Water Calculator v4.2

Master, Master...take me as your disciple!!!
🥺🥺🥺
🙏🙏🙏

I'm about to brew my first batch,an American Pale Ale.. yeah yeah..I know, fresh meat on the ole forum, lol !!!
I was looking for good brewing calculators and water treatment resources as I'm a noob.

I'm from India and tap water here is just, you said it, chlorine laden filth.
My friend got a RO recently and I was wondering what are the additions I need to prep the RO water for brewing.
It is our best bet, as the RO wil give us a consistent water profile everytime and is essentially a blank canvas to tweak to our needs.

Therefore, I have accepted you as my Beer Master Guru and will follow you everywhere, carrying your BIAB setup for you..
(Which basically means "thanks a metric **** ton" in Hindi!!!)

Love, thanks and regards from India.
Dr Ankur Baruah.
 

Brewdogs

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Barny the Brewer is a brewer that likes to make beer. Barny the Brewer has two friends. One friend is called Patty the pH Meter, the other friend is called Alice the Acid Bottle. One magical brew day, Barny the Brewer started making a beer and he asked his friend Patty the pH Meter if she'd like to share in all the brewing fun. Patty the pH Meter was so excited! Barny the Brewer calibrated her and then placed her in a cooled sample of the mash. Barny the Brewer became very cross and started saying very naughty words about Beersmith's pH prediction software. In a rage, Barny the Brewer grabbed Alice the Acid Bottle and pulled her head right off her body, shoved a pipette down her neck stump, and extracted 3ml of Alice the Acid Bottle's internals. This terrified Patty the pH Meter, Alice the Acid Bottle tried to scream, but her decapitated head couldn't make a sound. Barny the Brewer squirted Alice the Acid Bottle's precious internals into the mash and stirred it up really good. Barny the Brewer then asked Patty the pH Meter if she'd like to have more brewing fun, but Patty the pH Meter was very scared because she'd seen what Barny the Brewer did to poor Alice the Acid Bottle. Even though Alice the Acid Bottle's decapitated head was still staring lifelessly at Patty the pH Meter, she decided to be brave and she told Barny the Brewer that she would like to continue sharing in the magical brewing fun. Barny the Brewer took another sample of cooled wort and boy golly was he ever relieved! Barny the Brewer was so happy he healed Alice the Acid Bottle by screwing her head back on, then he cleaned up Patty the pH meter and they all lived happily ever after (except Alice the Acid Bottle, she remained traumatized for the rest of her life).

The End.

This should be in preschool curriculum.
Kids need to know what good storytelling is.
 

bkboiler

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I used to build from RO...but was probably not doing something right...beers were way off.
Brewed a few beers with (carbon filtered) tap water and campden (just a little for insurance) that were closer to where they should be.
Started going halfway...
I use Bru'N water...but just blend distilled and tap(filtered tap plus tiny bit of camden) at a ratio to get close to where I want to be minerals wise.
Then I add acid to mash and sparge waters as necessary.
Is less error prone for my talent level.
 
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