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Measuring pH

So, I’m making the switch from 5-gal extract and PM down to 2-3 gallon AG. As of now, I have no way of measuring my water pH, but i’m getting it’s a factor I can’t ignore anymore.

So what does everyone use? test strips or meters or what?

The strips always read brown. I used a $30 meter for years, upgraded to a $50 as a Christmas present. I like the $50 model because it has two calibration points. Works great.

Just to be clear, you’ll want to get a water report to see what’s in your water that will drive PH, and ultimately you want to measure the mash PH. You may want to measure sparge water PH at some point, but that’s a secondary concern IMO, mash PH is where you want to focus.

Get a good feel for your tap reports and/ or send in a wards lab panel for a baseline. Every good municipal will list and/ or provide the elements you need if you ask.

Then firstly just come to understand how brunwater or brewers friend aka Kai’s calculators work and many times you will be within 0.10-0.30 points of targeted pH which is more than ample for the beginning to advanced all grain brewer. Now of course you need to be consistent with how you personally interact with the app/s to get this type of performance, but it is super easy to understand the principles needed in regards to correctly entering grist types and salts/ acids depending if needed etc…

Secondly if your water is too far out of whack, you can simply start with distilled and build the water you need for each brew type easily.

Third the best route is a good pH pen ( skip the papers of any type )if you want to start understanding each brew day more dynamically. I personally used a Milwaukee 55 for a long time and just upgraded to a Milwaukee 56 a few years ago and could not be happier. The key is having good buffers and using them to calibrate the pen on each use and always keep it stored in solution and it is simple simon. Another key is calibrating the pen at room temp/ 25c and also testing samples at this same temp for best results.

I would also add that an automatic temperature control adjustment means only that the device adjusts automatically for its temperature - the solution being tested should be at the correct temperature, so don’t test hot wort or mash.

I normally use both a pH strip and a meter. Since the meter is supposedly supposed to be calibrated so often, in a pinch I’ll just use a pH strip. I’ve found these to be pretty consistent when comparing to my meter readings.

I have the ones in the 4.0-7.0 range. ... oduct=1391

colorpHast strips for me too. I cut them in half to get more uses. They do read 0.3 low per Kai but they work great for my needs. Definitely check out the link above as they are a bit cheaper (and free shipping) compared with NB or other homebrew supply stores.

Before using the colorpHast strips, here’s a good test to test your color acuity.

Back when I was using the cheap strips I would just stare at the dang thing trying to figure out where it would be on the scale. I made the mistake of asking my roommate what he thought the pH was according to the test strip. Apparently people who are color blind don’t take to kindly to that. :mrgreen:

It’s just for fun really. I took my time and got a perfect score. And I’m a male, 43 yrs old.

The strips that dsiets linked to are great and that’s the cheapest place I found them. I used those strips for years but eventually gave out and picked up an entry-level meter, the Milwaukee PH55. You have to keep the probe submerged in storage solution or drinking water at all times and not let the probe dry out. You need calibration solutions (4.0 and 7.0) so you can calibrate the meter from time to time and you also need to cool the mash sample to room temp to get a good, accurate read.

A slight merge off the OT: The other day while waiting for my mash water to heat, I poured some fresh calibration solutions and just stuck my meter in there. 4.0 read 4.0 and 7.0 read 7.0. Check. The meter is ready to go. Later in the brewday while the wort was boiling, just for giggles I put my meter in the 4.0 and it read 3.6. The 7.0 read 6.5. WHAT!? Can I assume that solutions that are left out for any length of time get totally futzed up so that their pH is not the same anymore? It was probably 30-40 minutes that those solutions were left out. I cleaned both glasses, poured fresh solutions again the meter read them at 4.0 and 7.0. I’ll be honest, owning a meter is a bit of a pain which is why I waited so long to get one. But I do like knowing exactly what the pH of the mash, sparge and kettle wort is when I’m brewing. Also, my tap water is ALWAYS a pH of 6.6 so sometimes I use that as a measuring tool as well. Just get some tap water and measure… if it’s 6.6, I’m good. Cheers.

colorPHast strips for me too. A lot less hassle than maintaining ph meters.

You have to let the wort cool to room temp for the pH strips too correct? or is there a calc for adjusting temp like with a hydrometer. I use Brunwater and just assume that it’s getting me where I need to be based on my original water report.

However, I’ve only had one well water sample tested almost a year ago and some have mentioned on here that you really should do it a few times per year to be sure it’s consistent.

You don’t - at least not with the Colorphast pH strips. I don’t know if it’s because they cool to room temperature as soon as you pull them out of the mash or what, but I’ve tested it out, and they read the same regardless of the sample temperature.

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