water help!

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

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

hophashallday

New Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2021
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Hello, I recently moved to a new part of the country. The local water authority is really helpful with data on the water composition, but I'm having a little trouble making sense of it.

Here is the report with my the column from the source that serves my home circled:
1627864266023.png


According to calculations from Palmer's BYO, this is how it shakes out in terms of concentrations of important minerals:

1627864338382.png


Is this accurate? That is an insane amount of mg and, if accurate, not at all suitable for brewing, right? FWIW, my home tap water does appear to be ridiculously hard in everyday life. I'm thinking I will need to just go the RO route. Truth be told, I've never much messed around with tap water since I did not have access to good data about its composition. So, this is the first time I've actually tried to figure it out. Thanks in advance for any help or correction.
 

Golddiggie

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2010
Messages
12,999
Reaction score
1,211
Location
Living free in the 603
Get a sample tested by Ward Labs, THAT will give you the numbers that you can use.

I've got two kits coming so that I can have tested done against two different filter elements I have here. That way I can decide which to use and how it impacts the brewing water. I had a test done when I initially moved in here, but that was years ago and was right from the faucet. I am on well water, so I don't need to worry things like chlorine or other things bad for brewing. I also need it to actually get a better idea of how to adjust the mash water PH to be best for the recipes.
 

VikeMan

It ain't all burritos and strippers, my friend.
Joined
Aug 24, 2010
Messages
3,812
Reaction score
2,912
That is an insane amount of mg and, if accurate, not at all suitable for brewing, right?
Yeah, 272 ppm Mg would taste terrible and probably give you the runs. Fortunately, you don't actually have 272 ppm.

The molar mass of Mg is 24.305 g/mol
The molar mass of CaCO3 is 100.0869 g/mol

Because the Mg was stated "as CaCO3," i.e. as if each Mg ion were actually the mass of a CaCO3 molecule, you need to transform thusly...

66 ppm as CaCO3 x ((24.305 g/mol Mg) / (100.0869 g/mol CaCO3)) = 16 ppm Mg

It looks like you already knew this, or at least the transformation was done correctly for calcium. It looks like you flipflopped the numerator and denominator for magnesium.

Assuming your water company didn't screw up the testing, you can use these numbers. Ward Labs shouldn't give you a different result, beyond whatever variation is normal for your area.
 
Last edited:

Silver_Is_Money

Larry Sayre, Developer of 'Mash Made Easy'
Joined
Dec 31, 2016
Messages
5,857
Reaction score
1,806
Location
N/E Ohio
74 ppm Calcium hardness (as CaCO3) means 29.6 ppm Ca++ ion.
66 ppm Magnesium hardness as CaCO3 means 16 ppm Mg++ ion.

Cation and Anion mEq/mL balance would be a bit better if Alkalinity had been reported as 108 ppm as opposed to 120 ppm, but overall using 29.6 ppm for calcium and 16 ppm for magnesium should be fine. I'd stay with the presumption of 120 ppm Alkalinity though, particularly since other anions and cations are not listed on your report.
 
Last edited:

CascadesBrewer

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 24, 2013
Messages
1,508
Reaction score
1,147
Location
VA, USA
So overall it looks like pretty decent water for brewing. I am not sure how much experience you have with adjusting water. You could likely brew good beer using your tap as is (being sure to treat for any Chlorine or Chloramine). Your beers might improve if you adjusted your pH as needed for recipes (using acid or bicarbonate) or by adjusting mineral levels. Sulfate and Chloride get a lot of attention for their impact. For many styles, Calcium in the 50 to 100 range is often recommended. Your Sodium is lower than my tap, so maybe something to play with boosting.

It might also be worth looking at reports for other months, or see if your supplier provides average values. I know that my levels vary through the year, so my Sulfate might be 30 or it might actually be 70. For my tap water I had a report run by Ward Labs, but instead of using those exact values in my brewing software, I have tweaked them closer to what I expect to be the "average" value.
 
OP
H

hophashallday

New Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2021
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Thanks for the input! I have quite a bit of experience adjusting RO water via acidification and mineral additions (typically just sulfate and chloride for my IPAs), just never really messed around with tap water. RO water filling stations are harder to access where I currently live, so I thought I'd give tap a try. I have some campden tabs. So, using those or letting the water sit out for a day should be good on the chlorine/chloramine front, right? Thanks!
 

VikeMan

It ain't all burritos and strippers, my friend.
Joined
Aug 24, 2010
Messages
3,812
Reaction score
2,912
So, using those or letting the water sit out for a day should be good on the chlorine/chloramine front, right?
Personally, I would not rely on water sitting out for a day to get rid of all the chlorine/choramines.
 

CascadesBrewer

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 24, 2013
Messages
1,508
Reaction score
1,147
Location
VA, USA
So, using those or letting the water sit out for a day should be good on the chlorine/chloramine front, right?
That should remove Chlorine. Chloramine is much more stable (which is why it is used). I hear a good carbon filter will remove Chloramine, but I treat my water with a Campden tablet (half a tablet into my brew water).
 

Silver_Is_Money

Larry Sayre, Developer of 'Mash Made Easy'
Joined
Dec 31, 2016
Messages
5,857
Reaction score
1,806
Location
N/E Ohio
If you want to get your 120 mg/L (ppm) Alkalinity (as CaCO3) tap water down to an RO water "like" Alkalinity level, and at the same time bring it to about pH 5.4, do the following for every 5 gallons:

5 gal. = 18.927 Liters
MW of CaCO3 = 100.0869 g/mol
Ca Charge (valence) = +2
EQ_WT = 100.0869 ÷ 2 = 50.04345 g/EQ = 50.04345 mg/mEq

18.927L x 120 mg/L Alkalinity = 2,271.24 mg of Total Alkalinity (as CaCO3)

2,271.24 mg ÷ 50.04345 mg/mEq = 45.385 mEq's of Total Alkalinity (as CaCO3)

To reduce Alkalinity to zero requires targeting 4.3 pH via acidification with 45.385 mEq's of acid, but...
To reduce Alkalinity such that pH = 5.4 requires ~90% of this, or 0.90 x 45.385 = 40.85 mEq's of acid

Some acid 'strengths' at exclusively 5.4 pH:
10% Phosphoric Acid = 1.090 mEq/mL
30% Phosphoric Acid = 3.67 mEq/mL
75% Phosphoric Acid = 12.26 mEq/mL
85% Phosphoric Acid = 14.87 mEq/mL
80% Lactic Acid = 10.25 mEq/mL
88% Lactic Acid = 11.45 mEq/mL
AMS (CRS) = 3.66 mEq/mL
Citric Acid (Anhydrous) = 12.63 mEq/gram

If we 'randomly' pick 88% Lactic Acid from the above acid choices:
40.85 mEq's of Alkalinity to be removed ÷ 11.45 mEq's/mL = 3.57 mL of 88% Lactic Acid to be added

Answer:
Add ~3.6 mL of 88% Lactic Acid to 5 gallons of your tap water to bring it to ~5.4 pH (and ~12 ppm Alkalinity)

Or, to play it safe:
Since your Alkalinity might be as low as 108 ppm, add 3.4 mL of 88% Lactic Acid to 5 gal. of your tap water.
 
Last edited:

Green Gold

New Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2021
Messages
2
Reaction score
2
Your water looks pretty close to what I'm used to brewing with in the mountains of CO. Personally, I like to treat my own tap water but understand that RO/Distilled can be a safer route with great results.

My method is to fill up enough water through my sink's carbon filter the night before and add 1/4 campden per 5gal bucket. I've tested my water post-filter and found it to still have a small amount of chlorine residual (we only use chlorine for disinfection) which is why I like to let it rest overnight with the metabisulfite. I'm sure it's overkill but doesn't take much extra effort and will be one less thing to do on brew day. I will say, there are diminished returns of chlorine off-gassing over time and you may still have a small amount after it rests. I'll have to test this soon to see but I know concentrated bleach/NaOCl rapidly deteriorates over time, especially with heat and direct-light but will gradually settle in at a lower concentration.

As I'm heating up my water I will dose it with either lactic or phosphoric acid to neutralize my alkalinity depending on the style I'm brewing. I've been leaning towards lactic and occasionally adding a bit of phosphoric if I'm reaching high levels of lactate that may affect flavor. Lately, if I'm reaching the flavor threshold I'll just dilute my water 50:50 with store bought RO or Distilled. Once I fill my mash tun I will add a touch more acid and epsom/gypsum/cacl2 to hit my mineral profile and mash pH. I use brewersfriend's "water chemistry advanced" calculator to determine acid and salts to add to hit my pH.

FWIW my water fluctuates drastically through the year with runoff. Below is a chart that I put together from the water utility I work at from 2019. Ca and Mg hardness are as CaCO3 but I refer to ca2+/mg2+ ppm. We just started running sulfate and chloride so I don't have much data but it seems like they're around 30ppm and 10ppm at the moment.

image.png
 

Silver_Is_Money

Larry Sayre, Developer of 'Mash Made Easy'
Joined
Dec 31, 2016
Messages
5,857
Reaction score
1,806
Location
N/E Ohio
Calcium Hardness (as CaCO3) = 2.5 * Ca++
Magnesium Hardness (as CaCO3) = 4.12 * Mg++
Total Hardness (as CaCO3) = (2.5 * Ca++) + (4.12 * Mg++)
 

bernardsmith

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2012
Messages
5,494
Reaction score
1,930
Location
Saratoga Springs
That should remove Chlorine. Chloramine is much more stable (which is why it is used). I hear a good carbon filter will remove Chloramine, but I treat my water with a Campden tablet (half a tablet into my brew water).
Campden tablets can neutralize chloramine? I thought it was effective only against chlorine.
 

oakbarn

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 23, 2011
Messages
1,627
Reaction score
298
Location
Bartonville
We use the blue + filter.

Really made for organic gardening but super filter for Chlorine and Chlorimides. Has Standard garden hose fittings. We just leave in the line at all times as it has a 45,000 gal rating.

 

jerrylotto

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
333
Reaction score
214
Location
North Chelmsford
We use the blue + filter.

Really made for organic gardening but super filter for Chlorine and Chlorimides. Has Standard garden hose fittings. We just leave in the line at all times as it has a 45,000 gal rating.
Ion exchange is also going to remove a lot of your divalent cations (Ca++, Mg++). Did you test the output? Do you add anything back to the water after you filter it?
 

oakbarn

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 23, 2011
Messages
1,627
Reaction score
298
Location
Bartonville
we did not but guess we should.

According to Boggie Brew:
" ... no, the boogie blue filter will not remove “salts”, (i.e. dissolved solids), ..."
 

jerrylotto

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
333
Reaction score
214
Location
North Chelmsford
Ion exchange typically will release monovalent cations like Na+ or K+ and retain divalent alkali earths.
 

IslandLizard

Progressive Brewing
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
17,828
Reaction score
7,941
Location
Pasadena, MD
Personally, I would not rely on water sitting out for a day to get rid of all the chlorine/choramines.
Neither would I!
It's easy to test that it doesn't suffice.

A carbon block filter doesn't remove it all either, especially chloramines, even if it's trickled through.

Campden is the simplest, most straightforward method that will remove all chlorine and chloramines for 100% in mere minutes. Sulfite is an amazing oxygen sequesterer, becoming sulfate in the process.
 

jerrylotto

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
333
Reaction score
214
Location
North Chelmsford
Campden is sodium metabisulfite Na2S2O5:
For Free Chlorine:
Na2S2O5 + 3H2O + 2Cl2 --> NaHSO4 + 2HCl
For Chloramines:
Na2S2O5 + 9H2O + 2NH3 +6Cl2 --> 6NaHSO4 + 10HCl + 2NH4Cl
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Top