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Received my Wards Test back.....yuck

It looks like I’ll be sticking to brewing with 100% distilled and building up my values from there. From what I can tell my Magnesium is high, Bicarbonates is way high and even with 50/50 dilution I’d still only be able to brew darker beers.


pH 7.6
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 503
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.84
Cations / Anions, me/L 9.6 / 9.2
Sodium, Na 64ppm
Potassium, K 7ppm
Calcium, Ca 75ppm
Magnesium, Mg 35ppm
Total Hardness, CaCO3 333ppm
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 12ppm
Chloride, Cl 63ppm
Carbonate, CO3 < 1.0
Bicarbonate, HCO3 407ppm
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 335ppm
Total Phosphorus, P 0.02ppm
Total Iron, Fe 0.03ppm
“<” - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit

Yeah that’s some hard water there.

I can totally empathize with you. My water is similarly bad for brewing. At least it tastes good from the tap.

If you are interested, lime softening would be effective on that water. It would reduce the calcium and magnesium when performed properly. That would bring the water into a usable range. Then the only concern might be the sodium which is just a little high for some styles.

It is not a disaster, just more work.

Martin, do you really thing my water is salvageable? Wouldn’t my bicarbonate increase if I added pickling lime?

No, the lime raises the water pH and causes calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide to precipitate out of solution. The bicarbonate content will actually drop as the process occurs.

After you decant the clear water off the sediment, you can bubble air through the water to help get CO2 back into the water and that further reduces pH. Based on that water report, it appears that the bicarb content would be reduced to about 85 ppm, which is a significant drop from the original. At the reduced bicarb level, minor acid additions can bring the mash and sparge pH into line.

Lime softening is sort of a pain, but its not difficult. It just takes time. You only need a couple of large vessels, some lime, and a pH meter to perform it successfully.

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