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H2O: Help me choose the least of two evils

I’ve been brewing for years now, but am just now starting to look at water. I’ve begun to familiarize myself with Bru’n Water and look at how I might improve upon my tap water. The screen shot below shows 60% dilution to bring Sodium, Sulfate, Chloride & Bicarbonate under control along with some CaSO4 and CaCl2 addition to bring the Calcium/Hardness level up.

The Calcium/Hardness are still low and the Sulfate and Chloride are still high. What is the least of two evils?

  • Should I add more CaSO4 and CaCl2 to get the Calcium over 50 ppm and live with over 80 ppm Sulfate and over 90 ppm Chloride?
  • Should I back off the CaSO4 and CaCl2 additions to set the Sulfate and Chloride right, but then live with 30 ppm Calcium?

[attachment=0]MyWater.jpg[/attachment]

A few questions. What are you brewing and what is your predicted mash pH?

Back off Sulfate/Chloride and add Pickling lime to the mash to get the calcium up where you want it.

Cations/Anions don’t necessarily have to be equivalent (as displayed in the spreadsheet).

What you have will work, depending on what you’re brewing, calcium levels don’t really need to be too high.

Wow, lots of sodium in your water.

It really depends on what type of beer you are trying to make. If it’s a hoppy/bitter beer, boost it with Gypsum (Sulfate is desirable in bitter beers). If it’s more malt focused, use CaCl2. In fact I will never use both Gypsum and CaCl2 in the same beer.

Don’t worry about matching hardness as this is just a measure of how much Mg and Ca is in the water.

Also, there really isnt much of a need to actually “match” bicarbonate to a profile. This is just a measure of the alkalinity. For this column your concern is more the room temp mash pH on the next tab instead of just trying to match a specific number.

Also, you don’t appear to have any acid addition. Are you planning on using acidulated malt to control mash pH or just gonna wing it and take measurements and add as needed?

You’ve got plenty of Ca in there already. Don’t worry about more.

Thanks for all the responses so far.

This time around, I’m trying the La Petite Orange kit from NB. Based on the description, I believe it would be a balanced or malty amber as far as the Bru’n Water program is concerned. I haven’t begun to address mash pH yet, but that was the next planned step.

Thanks, Denny. I’ll take your word for that.

[quote=“jd14t”]Back off Sulfate/Chloride and add Pickling lime to the mash to get the calcium up where you want it.

Cations/Anions don’t necessarily have to be equivalent (as displayed in the spreadsheet).

What you have will work, depending on what you’re brewing, calcium levels don’t really need to be too high.[/quote]

[quote=“mattnaik”]Wow, lots of sodium in your water.

It really depends on what type of beer you are trying to make. If it’s a hoppy/bitter beer, boost it with Gypsum (Sulfate is desirable in bitter beers). If it’s more malt focused, use CaCl2. In fact I will never use both Gypsum and CaCl2 in the same beer.

Don’t worry about matching hardness as this is just a measure of how much Mg and Ca is in the water.

Also, there really isnt much of a need to actually “match” bicarbonate to a profile. This is just a measure of the alkalinity. For this column your concern is more the room temp mash pH on the next tab instead of just trying to match a specific number.

Also, you don’t appear to have any acid addition. Are you planning on using acidulated malt to control mash pH or just gonna wing it and take measurements and add as needed?[/quote]
If I can live with lower levels of Ca, that certainly helps a bit. I’m not sure why I hadn’t considered pickling lime (perhaps I was concerned about my Bicarbonate levels going through the roof). If I tried using pickling lime as my only addition it might look something like this:

  • 50% Dilution to put the Mg, Na, SO4, Cl2 “in the green”
  • Add 1/8 gram/gal Pickling Lime to bring Ca to roughly the level deemed acceptable by Denny
  • Continue on to learning about mash pH and how to work with bicarbonate levels around 100 ppm
    Does this look better?
    [attachment=0]MyWaterII.jpg[/attachment]

are you using water from a water softener?

[quote=“Brick1083”]Thanks for all the responses so far.

This time around, I’m trying the La Petite Orange kit from NB. Based on the description, I believe it would be a balanced or malty amber as far as the Bru’n Water program is concerned. I haven’t begun to address mash pH yet, but that was the next planned step.[/quote]

I’d recommend getting your mash pH in the required range, first, and then adjusting your ions as necessary. Your mash pH is going to be highly dependent on the quantity & type of grains used in your mash.

No water softener. These numbers come from the annual water reports for Wichita, KS. I checked the numbers for the past three years to make sure the were fairly consistent. To be honest everyone around here thinks we have relatively hard water.

The problem with adding pickling lime is you are also increasing your bicarb which you will in turn need to add even more acid to counteract this. If it were me, I would add enough CaCl to get the calcium and chloride at an acceptable level and then acidify to get the mash pH to around 5.3 or 5.4. The numbers don’t have to be exact.

No water softener. These numbers come from the annual water reports for Wichita, KS. I checked the numbers for the past three years to make sure the were fairly consistent. To be honest everyone around here thinks we have relatively hard water.[/quote]

you have hard water and don’t have a water softener?

That water is not that Hard for what people cosnider hard water… hard water is high in calcium.
That water is not very hard at all

Your bicarb isn’t all that high. Mine is 130ish and don’t bother diluting it. Martin did recommend that I do so recently for an Octoberfest.

I agree with a couple of others above who said concentrate first on your mash pH. I usually have to lower my pH unless I’m mashing pretty dark grains. I use Gypsum and calcium Chloride to lower my pH and depending on the beer to get the sulfates and Chloride to the levels I want. Then I use lactic acid to further lower the pH if needed. This will also lower you bicard levels.

I’m no expert but I think if you focus on getting your mash pH where you want it the rest will fall into place for you.

Since I’m getting so much great feedback, 3 more questions:

  1. Your favorite acid and best place to purchase.

  2. If I plan to remove chlorine and chloramine with Campden tablets, do I need to account for them on any of the Bru’n Water worksheets?

  3. On the Mash Acidification worksheet, it asks for the Mash Water Volume. I typically batch sparge with a mashout step. Should I only include the strike water volume, or the strike water and mashout water volume?

Answers below

[quote=“Brick1083”]Since I’m getting so much great feedback, 3 more questions:

  1. Your favorite acid and best place to purchase.
    Not sure its my favorite but its the only kind ive used but 88% lactic acid from NB

  2. If I plan to remove chlorine and chloramine with Campden tablets, do I need to account for them on any of the Bru’n Water worksheets?
    Nope, add away. I typically do about a quarter tab per 5 gallons

  3. On the Mash Acidification worksheet, it asks for the Mash Water Volume. I typically batch sparge with a mashout step. Should I only include the strike water volume, or the strike water and mashout water volume?
    I don’t use a mashout but I would guess you could add this volume to the sparge water. Since this water is not used for sugar extraction your only concern would be to prevent tannin extraction and final kettle pH. Use the sparge acidification tab for that

[/quote]

  1. My favorite acid but not for everyone… http://www.dudadiesel.com/choose_item.p … MgodaXkAXQ

I suggest you get the 10% solution until you learn how to properly handle corrosive stuff.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/phos ... ution.html

Get a baby oral syringe or fancy pipette to dose.

  1. My muni just has chlorine so I just use a filter, but you do not need to adjust BNW for the campden.

  2. I would input total water. No mashout for me either, I just heat the water to about 190F so that it raises the grain bed to 170F.

Personally, I think your water is fine for typical ales. Similar to mine but you have a sodium bump but it is within range. I would brew this beer without cutting the water, add acid to mash to hit mash pH of 5.3 and acidify sparge to same. Forget about the salt additions for now. Basically you need to get pH dialed in first and later you can add salts “to taste”. The effects of the salts have less of an impact than pH. I bet the resulting beer will be a large improvement from what you’re used to… :cheers:

[quote=“Brick1083”]Since I’m getting so much great feedback, 3 more questions:

  1. Your favorite acid and best place to purchase.

  2. If I plan to remove chlorine and chloramine with Campden tablets, do I need to account for them on any of the Bru’n Water worksheets?

  3. On the Mash Acidification worksheet, it asks for the Mash Water Volume. I typically batch sparge with a mashout step. Should I only include the strike water volume, or the strike water and mashout water volume?[/quote]

  4. Lactic…LHBS

  5. Nope

  6. Skip the mashout…it’s completely unnecessary.

when you are adding campden just remember one of those tabs treats like 20 or 30 gallons of water

Thanks again for everyone’s help. After considering your advice, I’ve updated my plan. I focused a little more on the acidification. I backed off on the dilution to just 2 gallons of distilled water. I’m using only Gypsum and Lactic Acid.
[attachment=1]MyWaterIIIa.jpg[/attachment]
[attachment=0]MyWaterIIIb.jpg[/attachment]

I really don’t think you could have lost by going with any suggestion here, pickling lime, CaSO4, CaCl, more dilution less salt.

All of those solutions require an addition of a minimum of around 2 ml - 3 ml of 88% lactic to get to a pH of 5.3-5.4.

Your current solution might have a little higher than expected pH @ around 5.5, with a little less acid to get there, but then again because you’re diluting less you also have more salt.

The less acid = more - ‘line of thought’ isn’t necessarily one to adopt.

It’s a game of balance. Let us know how it turns out.

After all this work, my pH test strips read around 5.0-5.1 after 15 minutes of mashing (my target was 5.4). Will there be any negative effects from going this low?

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