Water correction question

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Sep 9, 2012
Reaction score
I've punched the following tap water specs into various water tools, and can make adjustments without needing to dilute for various beer styles. Curious about the experts thoughts on managing this level of bicarbonates with acid (phosphoric 85%). A typical adjustment for and 5 gallon IPA might be 3ml in the mash plus some Gypsum and Calcium Chloride and 5-6ml for sparge water .

Am I trying to make too big of an adjustment? I'd like to use tap water, but diluting with distilled or RO is an option and added expense.

pH 7.8

Calcium, Ca --- 75
Magnesium, Mg --- 24
Total Hardness, CaCO3 --- 288
Sulfate, SO4-S --- 20
Chloride, Cl --- 5
Carbonate, CO3 --- < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 --- 317
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 --- 260
That is a lot of alkalinity to neutralize and the magnesium is a little higher than I prefer in most cases. I agree that you should be able to use this water and acidify as needed, especially if phosphoric acid is in your tool chest. I assume the sodium is around 20 ppm, so its not too bad. But the magnesium and sulfate may be a little high for some styles and a good option for moderating those levels is dilution. Acidification is still viable for many beer styles and I think you can be successful with that approach.

Jay, I'm hoping you are joshing with your comment ;-)

Jay, I'm hoping you are joshing with your comment ;-)


No not really... But I was just talking about the PH. And although the PH for an IPA is ok there it can be better. Because I am no "expert" (sorry just read that in the OP thread looking for experts) on water quality I was simply talking about PH and nothing more, since PH is such a major factor in the mashing process and in the to be honest I didn't look to far past that. mabrungard said it looks like your sulfate levels are high but shouldn't he be shooting for about 100 to 125 PPM there for the IPA ? It looks like you really need to raise your sulfate level if doing an IPA and yes of course lower your total Alkalinity and I personally think dilution is going to be the best place to start there. But there again like I said I am no "expert"
Sorry I should have gone into greater detail....

That's quite a bit of alkalinity. Keep in mind that for each mval of alkalinity (you have 5.2) approximately an equal number of mval of the acid anion will replace the bicarbonate ions. 5.2 mval is a lot of acid anion but then one can tolerate a lot of phosphate (I don't know how much that is) before one begins to taste it. An approach to dealing with alkalinity is to neutralize it to the point where the water pH is at the target mash pH. You should be able to reduce the pH of this water to 5.4 using about 5.75 mL of 85% phosphoric acid for each 5 gallons of the water treated. This will take you pretty close to the saturation level for apatite but not quite to it so you won't lose any calcium by doing this (theoretically).

As the beer is an IPA an obvious approach is to use sulfuric and hydrochloric acids (CRS or the individual acids) but as I assume you do not have easy access to any of these I won't go into it further.

RO dilution is also a fine way to dispose of alkalinity (and everything else). There are many ways to skin this cat.

Phosphoric acid is H3PO4. The 5.2 product is mostly NaH2PO4. The phosphoric acid thus contains, per molecule, an extra proton and no sodium and is thus a much better choice (stronger acid) than 5.2. There are few who are unaware that 5.2 isn't all its cut out to be but there are still some.