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My Tap Water Sucks

I sent in a sample to Ward labs so I could make adjustments on my next BIAB assignment.
I plugged in all the information into Brunwater and the only way to get everything into line was to dilute my water with 80% distilled water. So if I do a 3 gallon batch and I start with 5 gallons, 4 of them would be distilled.

Here is the report:
PH 7.5
TDS 870
Conductivity 1.45
Cations/Anions 15.2/16.4

Na 91
K 2
Ca 125
Mg 60
CaCO3 563
NO3-N 0
SO4-S 20
Cl 256
CO3 0
HCO3 479
Tot Alk 393

So with the distilled water added it looks like I’ll just need to add a little Gypsum, Chalk and Lactic Acid…

What do some of the water experts think?

Yep! You can’t ‘add’ your way out of that water. Too much mineralization already. The dilution is a good approach. I would base the amount of dilution on the amount of alkalinity your mash will need. So for most pale beers, you may effectively be at 100% dilution and darker beers may need less. This will help you avoid any need for chalk. This is a good thing since chalk DOES NOT work in adding alkalinity unless you are performing special measures to get it to dissolve. Baking soda and lime are effective in adding alkalinity.

Thanks for the tips. I played around with a couple different recipes and you are correct, better off playing with the water %…

On the bright side, 5 gallons of RO water from the grocery store isn’t too expensive. I’ll regularly splurge more on a more expensive yeast or grain if I think I can get better beer that way.

I guess my question is this: Are you unhappy with the beer you have made to this point? My water is similarly crappy but I went ahead a brewed my first all grain Hefe about six weeks ago with no adjustments at all. I tasted the first bottle yesterday and it was fantastic! I was rather concerned after reading about water adjustments (well after the fact) but it seems that good beer can be made without perfect water.

Not at all, I’ve been very happy with the beer I’ve been making but I just started doing all grain BIAB and want to make the best beer that I can. With the extract I would just use 100% distilled but knowing my water was crappy, for the first two batches of AG I used store bought spring and distilled water at about 50/50. I just wanted to see if it was possible to use my water and not really a money saver. I actually just sampled my first bottle at two weeks and its carbonated well and has excellent flavors and aromas, so different from the extracts I’ve brewed.

BTW, we’ve been in our house 18 years and I’ve replaced the water heater 6 times and I’m not putting in junk water heaters, or maybe they are… That’s how bad our water is…

[quote=“Brew1”]we’ve been in our house 18 years and I’ve replaced the water heater 6 times[/quote]That’s crazy, sounds like a water conditioner would pay for itself

Hi there brew 1 , here’s what I am doing lately with my water
1. two days before brew day I boil my mash water for 30 min to gat rid of chlorine and then let it cool. as it cools there should be a lot of white junk that settles to the bottom, and some times flouting on top. this is some of the hardness coming out. leave it at the bottom, skim it off the top, then run this water though a carbon filter. vary important for taste.
2 buy r.o. water for the Sprague, I’m at about a 50/ 50 ratio with the two waters when I’m done.
End results have been good for me.
if the mash ph is not low enough (5.3 to 5.6) in the mash with the boiled water you can add r.o. to it, say 25% on the next brew. (add r.o. to boiled water before you mash in). this is not necessary unless you are getting real low efficiency from high ph in the mash .( that’s a whole different subject though).
Most people just use r.o. and add to it. I too will most likely end up doing the ro thing , but until then this is what’s worked for me.
P.S. BUYING R.O. UNIT. with the bad water you have a r.o. filter would not work vary well so don’t waste your money on one of those.
hope this advise helps and good luck brewing.
pps as far as water heaters go, I have to flush mine out every 3 months or so to keep some of the hardness from building up . its not a cure all but may extend the life a little.

Wow. We are on a well with hard water, so we have a softener. Water heater is the original ~ 1986 - so it’s ~ 26 YO and going strong.

Water softener was not expensive, its been in since 1993 (replacing the original which was junk) and for two we use ~ 80# of salt a month.

But I don’t want to use softened water for brewing, too much sodium from what I understand. We have a small RO unit for that and other uses.


If you run the water through a softner first you can use a RO system. Softners remove calcuim and magnesium which damages the RO unit.

We have a water softener and an R/O unit for ice cubes, coffee and cooking.
Some believe that softened water is harder on water heaters than regular hard water. I think I believe it as we manage commercial office buildings in the area that have a lot of small 6 gallon water heaters suspended above the ceiling that we usually only get two to three years out of.

Forget showering without it as you’ll never get a lather up.

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