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pH Strips

I just bought some pH strips from my LHBS. I asked him how to use them, he wasn’t sure. I do know from reading posts on here that they are for testing to see if your mash is right. Can anyone here please tell me how to use them, what I am looking for? They read from 4.6 to 6.2. I’m about to do my 6th AG this Saturday.

#1 I’ll be honest with you, those strips are pure junk. For certain PH needs that may not be so dynamic those work fine. But in brewing we are targeting around 5.3-5.7 PH and when I used them years ago I found they always showed my mashing PH was 4> when it was definitely above 5. There is plenty written about this topic.

Sure test now that you have them. Just dont rely on the reading and add tons of salts or acids etc…

#2 Do you have your local water mineral report?
#3 If yes, Use the latest version of brunwater to estimate mashing PH etc… and do not worry about checking PH for now. You may have seen other threads where I mention this but its an accurate statement that you can pretty much see 0.1-0.2 -/+ PH when using the free suite. Depending on user of course, but it is really quite simple to use and understand. Now that I have used the suite with many different mashes I can manipulate the spreadsheet to my will and make the predicted mash PH either within 0.05 PH units or right on the money. I still check with a good meter but its not a necessity it once was without Kai, Martin and many other brewing scientists work/s in making tools/ info like this available that weren’t even a dream 10 years ago.

#4 Irregardless, if you do not have a complete mineral assessment at hand this weekend read Martin’s “water knowledge” page for a good run down of the complete answers to most of your questions on the whole topic. Many other authors/sites etc… make for a good read, but I find his recent condensed rundown to be very informative for new brewers that just need the main brass tacks.

Thanks, ITs. I’ll try a strip this weekend, but will keep your advice in mind.

I just found the water report for Cheyenne. Most of it is Greek to me, but I copied the link, if anyone would like to interpret. Any advice is very welcome.

Paul ... /View/4695

I bought those strips once. Tried to use them and found them to be absolutley worthless. No matter what I did to them, they never once changed color, even hen dipped in tap water with a PH of 8.5. I finally took them back to Northern Brewer and told them about the strips. The only way they ever got them to change color was by dipping the strips in 10.01 PH buffer solution. In the end I got my money back. I suggest you do the same and return them to your LHBS.

The strips you want are the ColorpHast brand, BTW. Poke around online and you can find 100 for ~$20.

The cheap strips just tell you the color of the wort, IME.

[quote=“a10t2”]The strips you want are the ColorpHast brand, BTW. Poke around online and you can find 100 for ~$20.
Agreed. Have to adjust for the known .3 offset but I get very good agreement to my pH meter once I do that.

All the information I’ve gathered over the years suggests that the cheap paper pH strips do not work very well in brewery application. The much more expensive Colorphast plastic pH strips do seem to work, but they typically have a consistent bias of reporting the pH about 0.2 to 0.3 units too low. Since the Colorphast pH is relatively consistently reported as low, a brewer could just add that offset to their strip readings to estimate where the pH probably is. A calibrated pH meter is better, but the Colorphast strips with proper adjustment could be OK.

The report doesn’t give much information that you need. You will need to write them an email and ask for Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Chloride, Sulfate, Bicarbonate/HCO3 and Alkalinity these are the minerals we are concerned with. Or you may need to pickup a wards lab test of your own, most cases the utility will have the info available to the public though.

With what info we have I can tell you that most beers ranging in SRM from 6-14 will mash in the optimal zone without manipulation usually with the softer water that you have.

Since my beer over the last 4 years (mostly extract with a few partial mashes) has been really good, I never questioned my water. I think it tastes great. I must say I’m a little disappointed that I bought S**t pH strips. I’m going to try one tomorrow morning during my mash just to see what it says. I’ll eventually get a meter, but my beers are all turning out pretty good, and pretty darn clear, even the AG. This is what happens when I read a lot. I start doubting everything I’m doing. I really do appreciate the feedback and advice.

Obviously, “better” is subjective. I would submit that for someone who only brews once or twice a month, the expense and maintenance of a pH meter isn’t justified, given that ±0.1 pH precision is sufficient for a mash.

On the other hand, I think that “I want a new toy” is always a perfectly reasonably justification… :wink:

On the other hand, I think that “I want a new toy” is always a perfectly reasonably justification… :wink: [/quote]

Damn straight. That’s exactly what I’m going to do…as soon as I get permission…

After making the initial purchase of the meter the cost of maintianing it really isn’t that much. I’ve been very pleased with mine and it has served me well.

True, but it is relatively labor intensive.

Well, y’all were right. The strips don’t work. I’m in the middle of the boil now. I’ll maybe ask for one for father’s day.

Right, it’s probably 1-2 minutes to take a reading with ColorpHast strips (take a drop, dip in the strip, blot it dry, make the reading, add 0.3) and 5-10 minutes to take a reading with a pH meter (take a 5-10 mL sample, cool it down while you calibrate the meter, take the reading, rinse off the electrode, place the electrode back into storage buffer).

I like the speed of the strips during the mash, myself, as well as the fact that they don’t add another fragile piece of equipment for me to drop on brew day. I strive to have every piece of equipment I need to make great beer in my brewery, and nothing I don’t. I’m definitely not a toy collector.

Well, I’m not sure I’m even going to get a pH meter or better strips… All of my beers have tasted pretty damn good to me so far, so I’m thinking right now, I’m not going to over complicate it. My Viking ale is now in the primary, I hit 1.060, so I’m happy about that. In 3 weeks I’ll bottle it. Next, a Fat Tire AG clone. I do appreciate the feedback.

More like 3-4 min. I use a Hanna 98127 and there is no need to recalibrate the meter everytime it is used if it has been cleaned and stored properly. I only recalibrate mine about 8-10 times a year and its always on everytime. Cooling takes very little time and a reading takes less than 5 sec.

Besides., if you ever want to broaden your horizons and venture into cider, mead, or wine. You’ll wish you had a meter. :wink:

For most home brewers, that would be calibrating every time.

That’s impressive, in my experience. I’ve used a lot of reasonably high end pH meters for the last 30 years, and I’ve rarely had one that would pass a 2-point calibration test after sitting unused for any length of time.

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