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It is not RO water

I can not use my well water to brew with so I buy what was advertised as RO water at a fill your bottle station at a big store. Here is the Ad.
Our systems provide four levels of filtration: sediment filters, carbon filters, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light. The quality of the water is terrific and it is more environmentally friendly and cheaper than buying bottled water.

Here is the test sent in to Ward Labs
pH 8.1
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 353
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.59
Cations / Anions, me/L 6.2 / 6.3
Sodium, Na 141
Potassium, K < 1
Calcium, Ca 1
Magnesium, Mg < 1
Total Hardness, CaCO3 3
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 6
Chloride, Cl 58
Carbonate, CO3 6
Bicarbonate, HCO3 244
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 211
Total Phosphorus, P 0.63
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01
“<” - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit
This is softned water not RO water. Ray Ward

I would not water my plants with that much Sodium and that much Bicarbonate will buffer most acid or salt adjustments. With all the filtering and back flushing involved with RO water are those little fill stations really RO?

It is common to soften the water using an ion water softener before running it through the RO membranes to make them last longer as the hardness will damage the membranes.
The problem with those in store RO units is you don’t know how often or when they are serviced. Membranes are only rated at a certain amount of gallons.
Sounds like that unit is in desperate need of a membrane change.

Sorry I know I already posted this. Since then I got a TDS meter. 3 out of 4 water stations had over 125 PPM. I am just upset and now just use distilled water. It is just sad we have to take a meter into the store.

Funny. I used to send samples of my tap water to Ward Labs 3-4 times per year. My reports fluctuated wildly during all seasons with no easily discernible pattern. I usually had to dilute my tap water with distilled to get the sulfate, chloride and/or sodium down to a level I could work with. In December I realized that it would only cost a tad more to use 100% distilled and skip the regular tests.

So I now use 100% distilled for my brewing water.

Yea that might be the way to go. I was just thinking years ago the advice was if the water taste good it was good to brew with.

I’ve been using 100% distilled for some time as well. A bit of an added expense, which can be minimized by shopping around and picking it up when you see it cheap, but has been well worth it for me. I’ve heard stories from many others about what they thought was RO water and figured paying a bit more for distilled made more sense, at least for me.

+1

I’ve heard that distilled is only good when brewing extract. Is this true? I’m trying to take my brewing to the next level and that is water chemistry which seems very important with all grain brewing. I been using the RO fill station at my local grocery store and it disturbs me to see that it may not be as advertised. Would like to get a sample of my tap water tested, just haven’t got around to it.

:cheers:

[quote=“brewmanchu”]I’ve heard that distilled is only good when brewing extract. Is this true?
[/quote]
Distilled and RO are both perfectly fine to use in AG brewing. You just have to use modifiers (gypsum, calcium chloride, etc.) to build the ions (calcium, sulfate, chloride, etc.) up in the water to match the beer style you’re brewing. If you brewed an AG batch using unmodified distilled or RO water, your beer would taste dull.

This is a great place to start learning about water for brewing: https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge. I highly recommend downloading the spreadsheet too.

[quote=“DUNNGOOD”]I can not use my well water to brew with so I buy what was advertised as RO water at a fill your bottle station at a big store. Here is the Ad.
Our systems provide four levels of filtration: sediment filters, carbon filters, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light. The quality of the water is terrific and it is more environmentally friendly and cheaper than buying bottled water.

Here is the test sent in to Ward Labs
pH 8.1
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 353
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.59
Cations / Anions, me/L 6.2 / 6.3
Sodium, Na 141
Potassium, K < 1
Calcium, Ca 1
Magnesium, Mg < 1
Total Hardness, CaCO3 3
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 6
Chloride, Cl 58
Carbonate, CO3 6
Bicarbonate, HCO3 244
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 211
Total Phosphorus, P 0.63
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01
“<” - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit
This is softned water not RO water. Ray Ward

I would not water my plants with that much Sodium and that much Bicarbonate will buffer most acid or salt adjustments. With all the filtering and back flushing involved with RO water are those little fill stations really RO?[/quote]
I feel your pain. I used to lug bottles of the “BULK RO” water home from the grocery store. They must assume that no one but nerdy homebrewers would send a sample to a lab. Well I did. Cost me $16.50 but you know what? My “RO” water still had plenty of TDS and Bicarbonate. This is why I keep telling people that not all RO is the same. At least with distilled you know you’re getting all zeroes. Right? Hopefully. I’m heading to the store to stock up on distilled water today! Cheers.

This thread makes me curious how many AG brewers use distilled. I think I’ll start a poll in the AG forum.

Edit: poll initiated: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=121407

[quote=“kcbeersnob”]This thread makes me curious how many AG brewers use distilled. I think I’ll start a poll in the AG forum.

Edit: poll initiated: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=121407[/quote]
I know I sound like a broken record but everytime I see someone say, “My water is not good so I use RO instead”, I have to tell them that they can’t be sure they’re RO water is low-ion. Clearly it’s VERY possible that they really DO have great RO water but it’s not a guarantee. Can you believe I had to send in a freaking sample just to find out that some crappy WATER ISLAND machine (or whatever it’s called) is advertising water as RO when it might as well be tap water?

Oh yea, I am really pissed off. The Helles I brewed with the bad RO water tastes like a tea bag. The RO water had a PH of over 8. I think I extracted tannins because my sparge water had a high PH.
I had brewed this same recipe many times and since my PH meter stopped working I just used my past water adjustments.
We will just have to bring a TDS meter and test the RO water or use distilled.
I still would like to know if those little water cabinets can support a high flow RO supply with a filter membrane big enough and all the back flushing needed to supply RO water at the full line pressure that they do.

[quote=“DUNNGOOD”]Oh yea, I am really pissed off. The Helles I brewed with the bad RO water tastes like a tea bag. The RO water had a PH of over 8. I think I extracted tannins because my sparge water had a high PH.
I had brewed this same recipe many times and since my PH meter stopped working I just used my past water adjustments.
We will just have to bring a TDS meter and test the RO water or use distilled.
I still would like to know if those little water cabinets can support a high flow RO supply with a filter membrane big enough and all the back flushing needed to supply RO water at the full line pressure that they do.[/quote]
Just went to the store today and picked up 20 gallons of distilled. :wink:

Has anybody thought to distill your own water? The thought just occurred to me - probably too big of a PITA, but that would really be taking homebrewing to a new level…

My wife’s uncle was just telling me the other day that his mom (my wife’s grandma, obviously) has distillation equipment that they purchased a couple years ago to create their own distilled water. Maybe I can make some type of deal with them.

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