Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Guess what?........Yup another water topic

After making a few batches of beer that I just haven’t been happy with I decided to finally take the plunge buy a Ph meter and send my water into ward labs. So what do you guys think?

pH 7.8
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 411
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.69
Cations / Anions, me/L 7.7 / 8.7

                                                           ppm

Sodium, Na 5
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 124
Magnesium, Mg 14
Total Hardness, CaCO3 368
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.6 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 3
Chloride, Cl 36
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 450
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 369
Total Phosphorus, P < 0.01
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01
“<” - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit

I hate to be the one, but your water is bad news bears my man.
400 ppm TDS is super hard water. Understanding alkalinity is the biggest key to brewing.
At/ around 369 it will be next to impossible to even dilute down to make medium to very light styles. Say anything under 15 SRM.
As is you can probably get away with deep ambers, browns, porters, stouts etc… It really starts to depend on the grist but darker is key for hard water without major adjustment.

If you brew alot it may be worthwhile to invest in a good high flow RO unit with a solid extra post main sediment/prefilter, then you can manipulate the water in whatever manner you need. You will want to look at bottled for the meantime. Have you looked at Brun water? Martins first page summary covers just about everything you will need to know to actually figger out what to do with the water you have and/ or add salts to RO/ Distilled.

[quote=“ITsPossible”]I hate to be the one, but your water is bad news bears my man.
400 ppm TDS is super hard water. Understanding alkalinity is the biggest key to brewing.
At/ around 369 it will be next to impossible to even dilute down to make medium to very light styles. Say anything under 15 SRM.
As is you can probably get away with deep ambers, browns, porters, stouts etc… It really starts to depend on the grist but darker is key for hard water without major adjustment.

If you brew alot it may be worthwhile to invest in a good high flow RO unit with a solid extra post main sediment/prefilter, then you can manipulate the water in whatever manner you need. You will want to look at bottled for the meantime. Have you looked at Brun water? Martins first page summary covers just about everything you will need to know to actually figger out what to do with the water you have and/ or add salts to RO/ Distilled.[/quote]

shit sandwiches

Any suggestions for RO systems?

Yeah, if I were you I’d start with 100% RO or distilled water and build from there. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy. Most of the time all you’ll need is gypsum and calcium chloride.

Bru’n Water is a great resource. I also like Kaiser’s spreadsheet; it’s a bit less complicated than Bru’n Water but also pretty accurate in predicting mash pH.

http://braukaiser.com/blog/blog/2011/03 ... et-update/

Have you read Brewing Better Beer? There’s some good info there on building water from RO for a variety of different styles.

That water isn’t really that bad. Its loaded with Temporary hardness (hardness paired with alkalinity), but not much else. Pre-boiling that water would produce a huge amount of sediment. Racking the clear water off that sediment would provide a very significant improvement to the water. Lime softening would also be very effective for this water.

Feeding this water to a RO unit might be tough. The calcium content would probably significantly reduce the life of the membrane due to scaling. If you do want to use a RO machine, I suggest inserting an ion-exchange softener upstream of the RO to remove the calcium. If your home already has a softener, hook the RO to that source.

Its really not that bad a water to brew with. A little acid could easily reduce the excess alkalinity. I suggest that phosphoric would be your preferred acid since it has less flavor impact.

Enjoy!

I used to try diluting my tap water with RO, adding acid, etc., but I found it to be much easier to just buy RO water from the grocery store and build from there.

[quote=“mabrungard”]That water isn’t really that bad. Its loaded with Temporary hardness (hardness paired with alkalinity), but not much else.

Feeding this water to a RO unit might be tough. The calcium content would probably significantly reduce the life of the membrane due to scaling. If you do want to use a RO machine, I suggest inserting an ion-exchange softener upstream of the RO to remove the calcium. If your home already has a softener, hook the RO to that source.[/quote]

Thanks as always for your input Martin, You summed up what I was thinking but was unsure if softening was ness. Would a stout/ large 10 micron pre unit/ post main or well filter do much to reduce the loading of the other prefilters and membrane? Or would it always be best to soften and then run through the unit?

Thanks for all the feedback guys.

[quote=“ITsPossible”]
Would a stout/ large 10 micron pre unit/ post main or well filter do much to reduce the loading of the other prefilters and membrane? Or would it always be best to soften and then run through the unit?[/quote]

Particulate filters are not capable of removing ionic constituents from water, even at a half micron rating. All ions dissolved in the water will make it through a particulate filter.

In the case of really hard water, softening the water with ion-exchange will definitely extend the life of RO membranes. In the large-scale facilities I have worked with, they don’t pre-soften the water. They tune their membrane operations to maximize their water production while reducing the potential for scaling. Every once in a while, they clean the membranes with a strong acid rinse to remove any scale build up. All of these things are not possible for the typical home RO system. Therefore, the pre-softening is a good idea.

Good info Martin,

On a second note, If one were to simply buy a membrane housing and assorted tubing to hookit up and an actual membrane. Could you or I then filter either lower (say <150ppm) alkalinity water or softened water directly and then maybe a activated charcoal post filter before it hits the kettle? Or vice versa If you recommend activated filter first then membrane filtration?

The reason I ask is to maybe plumb up an on the cheap system, but put the majority of the money spent into only the membrane instead of finding a whole 3-5 filter system?
So:
a. Membrane housing $20 or under.
b. Maybe a 50 GPD membrane with 2 GPM rate $50 or under.
c. Filter housing $20 “”
d. Activated charcoal filter $10 “”
Around $100 flat instead of $200-$400 for 3-5 stage retail systems.

So when it comes to the phosphoric acid is it better to use the 10% or 85% stuff?

You certainly can buy all the components needed to fashion a RO system yourself. However, I think you are overlooking some important components. You should have a particulate filter on the inlet side of the system. That is another filter housing and cartridge. On top of that cost, you would need the fittings and tubing to string it together. More costs.

I have seen 3 stage RO systems in the mid 100 dollar range, so I don’t think that you can really create a system for much less than a competitively priced system. Stay away from name brands since they sometimes have proprietary components that you will have to pay extra for to service. As long as you get a membrane from a quality manufacturer, you are good. The rest of the components are off the shelf.

PS: your 2 gpm flow rate is almost 3000 gpd, so you would have to have a huge system to deliver 2 gpm.

Regarding the phosphoric acid question, either strength is fine. 10% is easier to dose since you will be working with larger volumes of acid, but you will likely pay much more for the amount of acid delivered using 10% acid. The concentrated acid is cheaper to ship. For most homebrewers, a quart or 85% phosphoric should last a very long time. It doesn’t go bad as long as you keep it capped.

I have similarly alkaline water. It tastes good, but is no good for brewing a nice helles. I just spend the extra $7.50 for 15 gallons of RO water when I brew. There’s a “water store” in town and the guy has a really nice system. If my water tasted bad, I’d probably invest in an RO system.

If you get the 10% stuff you just bought a lot of water. But it’s more forgiving when it comes to acid additions to sparge or mash water.

If you get the 10% stuff you just bought a lot of water. But it’s more forgiving when it comes to acid additions to sparge or mash water.[/quote]
I’ve got water pretty similar to yours Golden and once you correct with 10% you’ll quickly see why 85% makes sense, 10% requires fairly large additions and you’d be buying solution often. You can buy 85% and just dilute it down to 10% to make it easier to measure but I find using a syringe to measure out the 85% addition works quite well.

Just to echo the others in this thread, my water is about 75% “as bad” as yours, insofar as mineral concentration and alkalinity. I still use it, though I dilute with store-bought RO at 25-75% depending on the recipe.

At $0.39 per gallon of RO, it didn’t make sense for me to purchase an RO system at costs in the $100s, not including the costs of maintenance, filter replacements, etc.

Even with the price of delivered bottled water that I typically use, I think the cost and maintenance of an RO system is something I will continue to debate in my mind, rather than buying and implementing, but I am only on the 2nd chapter of the Water Book, so you never know.

:cheers:

Thanks agian looks like I’ll be going with the 85% phosphoric acid.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com