what will filtering water change?

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grrtt78

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Greetings once more! I havent been on in a while due to a very intense semester of chemistry but I am back to brewing and once again have questions. I was thinking of buying a water filter for my brewing but wondered if that would change things about my water i can not measure. I have a water report and know how to treat my water based on that but if i filtered it would it change or just be better quality? Should i filter it or not?
 

Jack

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As a chemist, I'm glad to hear that you took a chemistry class. :)

If I lived in the country and liked the taste of my tap water, I wouldn't filter it. Since I live in a city, I put all of the tap water I use for brewing through an activated carbon filter.

The Brita website says that activated charcoal will mainly remove chlorine, organic impurities, and heavy metals from your water. On the whole, I think this is a good thing. I wouldn't think that any additional water modification would be a good idea unless you live somewhere with highly unusual water chemistry. A water report just tells you the average mineral content at one point in time. The actual water chemistry, unless demonstrated otherwise, is likely to be variable. This variability would make it very difficult to correct for ionic deficiencies in your water.
 

ChemE

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Chemistry is powerful but then again I'm one of the only flavors of engineer that thinks so.

As Jack said it is still difficult to know at any given point in time what you have after your filter and what you need to add or downplay in your water. Unless you make it extremely easy and filter with a reverse osmosis dionizing filter which is what I've elected to do. I get water with no ions whatsoever so I can construct any water profile I want. Most people don't go to this extreme but it was trivial for me since another of my hobbies already provided the RO/DI.
 

missing link

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Being on a well, I can tell you some of the things my experience has taught me.

1. Started brewing with water straight from tap. This is water that has gone through a water softner.

2. After a year of OK beers, I switched to AG. My new system I started using water from the hot water tank to reduce heat times. My beers had a dry bitter after taste that my wife hated and it made me thirsty.

3. Added water filter and bypassed softner. This made a big improvement.

4. Upgraded filter to activated carbon, bypassed water softner and began using 5 star 5.2 buffer. On my first use. I checked the mash PH before adding the 5.2 and it was at 5.8. I only used half the recommended amount and got a perfect 5.2

As I progressed through these stages, my beers have gotten cleaner and cleaner in taste. I just wish I had learned this stuff a year ago.

Linc
 
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grrtt78

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glad to hear some love of chemistry as i am a chem major. Thanks for all the responses. I do all grain and have just been adjusting the ph of my water so if i switched to a filter and still adjusted ph it would just improve the quality?
 

ChemE

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If you filter the buffering ions out of your water you won't need to adjust the pH. My RO/DI water has no carbonate so the acidifying compounds in the grains get free reign. My pH during mashing and all the way through fly sparging never flinches from 5.2. This simply would not happen with a high concentration of carbonate ions.

Which chemistry course by the way? General, orgo, p-chem?
 

cactusgarrett

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It depends on what you're starting with. With city tap water a filter won't do too much of a noticable difference. Filters are more important for well water, or waters high in chlorine and heavy metals as stated above. As far as i know, the simple Brita filters don't remove ions important to constructing water profiles (such as carbonates, sodium, magnesium, etc.)

What make a BIGGER difference, and i know from experience, is bypassing the water softener as missing link stated. Madison, WI has some of the hardest water i've seen, but bypassing the softener has allowed me to start from a point at which i know the levels of the important components - eventhough it's much more work to "create" the water profile i need from city+RO water. After i realized this, i stopped using filtered softened water and by beers have become more crisp and have more "life".

To me, it's just another testimonial that water chemistry isn't an integral aspect to brewing, but it's WELL worth the time and effort to figure out.
 
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