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Help with water salts

after browsing around the internet and going to my citys water web page - i came up with a rough water report, that i’m hoping is close enough. im pretty new to tweaking my water and i am using EZ water calculator.

Ca: 4ppm
Mg: 4ppm
Na: 6ppm
Cl: 2.4ppm
SO4: 14 ppm (after multiplying by 3)
Alkalinity: 24ppm

im making a beer using 12.5# maris otter, .2# roasted barley, 1# carafoam, .75# C60, and .25# C120.

ez water says my mash ph will be 5.73 which is a little high. to get my mash ph down, i could add 5oz of acid malt to get my ph 5.52, then 5 grams of epson salt to reach paulmers recommendation for magnesium, and 5 grams of gypsum and 3.9 gypsum to the sparge to get my calcium level into paulmers recommendation; and my mash ph too 5.47. but it says my cloride/sulfate ratio is .01…

resulting water profile according to EZ: ca=62, mg=17, na=6, cl=2, so4=212

i’ll also be boiling or filtering my water to remove chlorine

my questions: that seems like a lot of salt, does my water report seem off?
what can i do for a more balanced chloride/sulfate ratio?
how will acid malt affect the flavor of my beer?
im still trying to understand the whole water profile thing, am i speaking nonsense in all of this?

any help is greatly appreciated. i really need to get a formal water report done.

You have some damn nice water, soft and low in sulfate and chloride. You have enough magnesium, just need a little calcium and whatever flavor salts needed to make the pH right.

You don’t mention the hop level of your beer. That makes a big difference in whether you want chloride (malty) or sulfate (hoppy) to dominate.

Personally I’d use a heaping teaspoon of calcium chloride and call it good (no acidulated malt). If you are making a pale ale (hoppy), cut the calcium chloride in half and add a teaspoon of gypsum. I’m considering a teaspoon to be around 5g.

wow thanks for the quick reply.its going to be a hoppy beer about 70 IBU’s but i want a good malt character, although lots of late addition hops. kind of an attempt at a dark hoppy winter beer. about 16.5 SRM

so i’m thinking something like 3g calcium chloride and 5g gypsum? according to ez water that would put my ph at 5.65, is that too high?

should i add it to the infusion mash water, the mash, or to the sparge water or all three?

[quote=“S.Scoggin”]ez water says my mash ph will be 5.73 which is a little high.[/quote]On the EZ Calc, that is an estimated pH, and it tends to come out low when actually measured. So aim for about where you had it and it will come out spot on most of the time.

sound good. thanks!

brewing on friday with dennys 1450. ill end up boiling my water to remove chlorine. then i will add 3g calcium chloride and 4 or 5g gypsum to get my ‘estimated’ ph at 5.65 which i can assume will actually be in range.

edit: with no acid malt. and no Epsom salt even tho my magnesium is pretty low

sorry for all the questions.

but 5g looks like a lot more than a teaspoon, it looks more like a tablespoon on my scale

my calcium chloride package says it contributes 297ppm chloride at 1tsp/gal. and 1 tsp=1.8g. for a darker hoppy beer would you recommend heavier on the chloride over the gypsum? or visa versa? i just want to make sure i dont over-do it with my salts

I have similarly soft water after finally getting a lab report on my well water.

For 4-6 gallon batches, I’ve gone with 1/2 teaspoon CaCl2 and 1/2 teaspoon CaSO4 in my mash, and then added 1/2 teaspoon CaCl2 and 1/2 teaspoon CaSO4 and 1/2 teaspoon yeast nutrient to my boil with good results. Less gypsum (CaSO4) in less hoppy ales and lagers, more gypsum and a touch of Epsom (1/4 teaspoon MgSO4) in IPAs. And generally 2% acid malt in lager mashes.

Seems to work for me, and to me helps emphasize being careful with water salts. A tablespoon is a lot of anything (except hops) to add to the kettle in my brews…

well i’m confused. some of you say use upwards of 5g and others say fractions of teaspoons. i would prefer to weigh my salts… i’m also concerned with my high ph, am i adding salts to correct ph? or correctly flavor my water? any help or clarification would be greatly appreciated

I admit to embracing a workable oversimplification of water chemistry, and after a year of improved brewing I can report good results.I picked up the following information from another brew forum written by AJ DeLange:

"A Brewing Water Chemistry Primer

By Ajdelange

One of the first things a beginning brewer is told is that beer is typically 95% water and that, as a consequence of this, getting the water one brews with “correct” for the style is very important. He is also told that most beer styles evolved the way they did because of the nature of the water with which they were originally brewed. Those statements are true enough but the process of understanding what is “correct” and the process of going between the water one has and the “correct” water is, to many, one of the most daunting aspects of brewing.

Many beginning and advanced brewers assume that it is necessary when brewing, for example, a Munich Helles, to duplicate Munich water and there are many places where one can find ion profiles for Munich water and spreadsheets into which one can insert those profiles and details of one’s own water and be given advice on what minerals to add to duplicate Munich. There are multiple potential problems with this approach. First, published water reports are very often wrong. Second, it is not enough to know what Munich water is like, You must also know what the brewer did to make the beer with the existing water. In the case of Helles, for example, the water needs to be softened. Finally, the spreadsheets often calculate salt additions based on simplifications of the chemistry involved, consideration of things that are essentially irrelevant (beer color, chloride to sulfate ration) and reliance on models of things (e.g. effects of dark malt on mash pH) that really can’t be modeled very well. When all the approximations are good the result can be fine but when they aren’t the result can be salt addition recommendations that can have a detrimental effect on the beer,

In this note we are going to take a very simple approach to brewing water preparation. In tailoring water we seek 2 goals. The first, arguably more important than the second, is to be sure that the water properties are consistent with mash pH in a suitable range (5.1 – 5.5). The second is that, on the one hand, the mineral content not add or cause flavors which the drinker may not like and on the other that minerals which have a positive effect on the beer, be available in adequate quantity, The first goal cannot be achieved by the use of water treatment alone. Acid is usually required. This is traditionally supplied in German brewing by the use of lactic acid in the form of sauermalz (acidulated malt) or sauergut (wort fermented by lactic bacteria) while in British practice a blend of mineral acids is usually empoyed. Thus the recommendations that follow also specify acid additions.

The following recommendations apply to “soft” water. Here we will define soft as meaning RO or distilled water or any water whose lab report indicates alkalinity less than 35 (ppm as CaCO3 – all other numbers to follow mg/L), sulfate less than 20 (as sulfate – Ward Labs reports as sulfur so multiply the SO4-S number by 3 to get as sulfate), chloride less than 20, sodium less than 20, calcium less than 20 and magnesium less than 20. If your water has numbers higher than these, dilute it with RO or DI water. A 1:1 dilution reduces each ion concentration to 1/2, a 2:1 dilution to 1/3 and so on. If your water contains chloramines add 1 campden tablet per 20 gallons (before any dilution)

Baseline: Add 1 tsp of calcium chloride dihydrate (what your LHBS sells) to each 5 gallons of water treated. Add 2% sauermalz to the grist.

Deviate from the baseline as follows:

For soft water beers (i.e Pils, Helles). Use half the baseline amount of calcium chloride and increase the sauermalz to 3%

For beers that use roast malt (Stout, porter): Skip the sauermalz.

For British beers: Add 1 tsp gypsum as well as 1 tsp calcium chloride

For very minerally beers (Export, Burton ale): Double the calcium chloride and the gypsum.

These recommendations should get you a good beer if not the best beer. To get the best you should vary the amounts of the added salts noting carefully whether a change benefits or detriments your enjoyment of the beer. Additional sulfate will sharpen the perceived hops bitterness. Additional chloride will round, smooth and sweeten the beer. Add or decrease these in small amounts.

Those serious about getting the best possible results should buy a pH meter and check mash pH increasing or decreasing the amount of sauermalz to get pH around 5.3. Unfortunately the strips don’t seem to work very well."

thank you. that info was very helpful. i really need to get myself a ph meter

looks like im going to shoot for a mix of the soft water option and the british option. 1tsp of each calcium chloride and gypsum with less than 2% acid malt (i am inclined to believe my ph is rather high). with info like that im having a hard time understanding what the point of EZ water calculator is; if i’m not shooting for the recommended ranges of minerals. i guess ill just have to see how it goes…

if i were to blindly follow EZ waters recomendations i would have added 2grams of gypsum and 5grams of calcium chloride to get my calcium and my sulfate in range over 50ppm each. i would have added 3 grams of epsom salt to get my magnesium in range over 10ppm. all that would make a chloride/sulfate ratio of .90 (balanced). and i would have used 4oz of acid malt to get my ph at 5.49. which to me seems excessive

It wouldn’t be that excessive really, but theres certainly a range of acceptable pH so you can always err on the low side of a recommendation. When you brew, watch for a good hot break. That lets you know you’re in the right pH range.

I’m told the last thing you want to do is over-salt your beer.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]When you brew, watch for a good hot break. That lets you know you’re in the right pH range.

I’m told the last thing you want to do is over-salt your beer.[/quote]

over-salting is what i am worried about. i always get a good hot break, without adjusting the mash. my city water report claims my water has a 7.9ph. i guess ill just have to experiment a little and find what works

The pH of water is an insignificant number. There are no significant buffers in water, especially soft water like yours. You could add a very small amount of acid or base and see a big jump in pH. Its how the salts interact with the malt that creates the buffering compounds.

Your water is very similar to mine this time of year. Usually for my beer in the 6-10 srm range, I’ll add 1-4 grams gypsum to the mash to get around 5.2-5.3 pH. When I first started messing with my water, I definitely got a little too into it. I’d definitely start on the low end as over-salted beer is hard to remedy. Mash pH is the bigger consideration. I’m still trying to dial in my pH for darker beers using slaked lime. BTW, you can get the Colorphast strips considerably cheaper here. Keep in mind they consistently read 0.3 low (per Kai): ... ategory=72

Good Luck!! :cheers:

Sorry to add another question, but what does a good hot break look like compared to a poor one.

Lots of white protein pieces churning in the boil. A really good break looks like egg drop soup with long strings and clumps of protein.

I guess I have only seen that when I am cooling and not during the boil.

[quote=“Beerginer”]I guess I have only seen that when I am cooling and not during the boil.[/quote]Sounds like you might have a pH problem… :wink:

Hi to all, I just joined and this is my first post on this site. I’m fairly new to all grain brewing and like most have become confused with water profiles. If anyone can help I would like some info regarding mash Ph and residual alkalinity. I have been trying to brew a belgian strong golden ale using only pilsner malt and sugar. The problem (if it is a problem) is when i get the mash ph in range the RA is way off the charts low -222. Whats more important, maintaining mash ph or residual alkalinity.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Lots of white protein pieces churning in the boil. A really good break looks like egg drop soup with long strings and clumps of protein.[/quote]

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