Newbie water chemistry help

Hi all,
Brewing my first all grain, using biab method. Brewing NB’s Dead Ringer IPA.
I had my filtered tap water tested at Ward labs. I want to learn more about water chemistry and put my numbers into Brewers Friend water calculator, but I have no idea what any of it means and I thought the calculator would tell me what stuff to add to get my water closer to a proper profile for an american ipa.
But I just want to get some suggestions here hopefully so I can get brewing. Ive been using my water and made lots of good beer, but as I understand, my sulfate to bicarbonate ratio is going to support a malty profile. Which makes sense cuz some of my beers I felt tasted malty to me… good but a bit malty.
my water test results are:
Sodium 170
potassium <1
calcium .7
magnesium <1
hardness 3
nitrate .6 safe
sulfate 9
chloride 68
carbonate <1
bicarbonate 274
total alkalinity 227
total phosphorus .07
total iron <.01

So, are there any additions I can make to get me closer to a typical balanced American IPA water profile?
I realize there’s lots to learn, but looking for a helping hand for this batch.
Or maybe i just go buy 7 gallons of spring water?
Or distilled water and add the required products?

Thank you!


Well what you do is plug in your profile in the calculator then load a target profile I generally use theirs. Then play around adding different amounts of salts to get what you want. You won’t be able to get exactly but that’s not important. For a west coast IPA strive for about 3:1 sulfate: chlorides. Looks like you could add gypsum. You could change your water profile by adding different ratios of distilled and calculate your numbers. For example 50% distilled divide by 2. Your sodium looks high but if it hasn’t been a problem for you I’d just play with the gypsum. Watch your ph it will change with your grain bill and brew salt addition. After you put all your ingredients in them adjust with lactic acid

Oh by the way with BIAB for water volume put in your total water you need. I treat a tank of water and just use that to brew so even if you need top up its already treated. Dont go crazy with additions.

Sodium… hhhmmm perhaps it enhances the malt.
The bicarbonate looks like you have water drawn from artesian well. Clam butts, Clam guts and Clam nutts… ancient calcium… odd that the actual calcium is that low… More acid to correct, or is it over power the alkalinity?
Chloride to sulfate should be around 200 ppm to balance an APA… Look at some recipes that also give you the ppm’s.
Tell us what you find out about yer recipe as you do more research…

Is this softened water that was tested? Those sodium levels are pretty high. You have some opinions.
Run an RO system or cutting the water with distilled.
I’ve used Brewers friend and Bru’n Water. I have had MUCH better luck with Bru’n Water. As @brew_cat said, you don’t have to be a chemist. Enter your water profile into the program, and play around with the salts to hit the profile you want.

Brew_Cat, sneezles61 and loopie_beer,
Thanks everyone for your replies!

Sorry, I should have added in my story that I had my filtered AND SOFTENED tap water tested. Research has taught me that this is the cause of my elevated sodium and bicarbonate levels… and maybe it will move some other numbers too, but I wouldn’t know which ones or how much.
According to my city water report (unsoftened) my sulfates would be 23 ppm, sodium 11ppm. They don’t list bicarbonates but I believe it will be vastly lower than 274. So, there’s potential to use my unsoftened tap water BUT the hardness is 300 mg/L or 13 grains per gal. I’ve read that some beers might be OK with that others not so much.

Next, I couldn’t find a water profile for this beer so I used Brewer’s Friend’s “Light and Hoppy” profile since I believe it mostly describes my beer.
I feel like one easy option would be as you mentioned to dilute my water by 50% with distilled water. So I entered those diluted (/2) values into the basic calculator on brewers friend. I got 3 green stars and two blue; calcium and sulfate were lower than normal. Since you guys mentioned gypsum, I guessed and added 10 grams. Just like that I got 5 green stars. I tweaked it to 7 grams and that got me real close to the Light and Hoppy profile numbers. This profile has a SO to CI ratio of 3:1
Did I miss anything as far as a real basic water profile?

Now I need to research PH level… The softened water PH is 7.9 Maybe i should send out a non-softened sample and get tested. Or and I like this better, take the 35 bucks and buy a PH meter! :slight_smile: I’ve never checked PH on any of my extract brews. So more to researching and learning ahead.

Thanks again everyone and let me know if I missed anything.


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I figured with those numbers it was softened water. You could try calling your municipal supply and see if they have the numbers for your program. You might be surprised. Depending on the report you might not need to worry about anything other than chlorine/chloramines (no diluting). I think you’ll be surprised that building water profiles don’t stray much from beer to beer, other than something really light (American lager) or something really dark (stouts). For the most part they’re very similar. Don’t over think it.
I too am on a muni supply but use a softener to save my RO membranes. This way I can start from scratch and really fine tune my profile.
Seeing how you’re doing BIAB I’m assuming the 10g of gypsum if for the entire water amount?

Wait a minute… your first post sez BIAB… this last one sez extract… or am I missing something? Maybe you’re doing a mini-mash and adding extract?
That would change alot… could you straighten me out?

Thanks! Yeah, the gypsum was based on 7.5 gallons. Planned on that amount to start with and keep a gallon to sparge maybe.

The extract comment was referring all my prior batches I’ve brewed and never checked PH.


pH is of concern for enzymes in the mash. Using extract, the mash has been done.

Got it! Thanks :blush:

BTW, any thoughts on measuring ph? Paper or electronic? I’d guess I only brew 4-8 batches a year.

Electronic and testing solution… maybe look at a low end one? Milwaukee instruments… even a couple test pouches to see if the meter has drifted off target…

yeah ive never had any luck with those strip style

I’m color blind… /:

Strip styles are highly inaccurate.