I have just entered two beers into a Real Ale Competition this Saturday and have no idea what to expect. I get great feedback on the beer that I do make and have been doing All Grain for about a year now. I have been brewing with RO water and adding a little Gypsum and Salt to my mash and sparge water.
Anyway, I am on a well since I moved in March and have no clue how to figure out the “quality” of my well water. Here is my profile from a test when we bought the house.
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 266
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.44
Cations / Anions, me/L 4.7 / 4.9
Sodium, Na 105
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 1
Magnesium, Mg < 1
Total Hardness, CaCO3 3
Nitrate, NO3-N < 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S < 1
Chloride, Cl 14
Carbonate, CO3 9
Bicarbonate, HCO3 259
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 227
“<” - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit
Should I keep using RO and learn how to build for styles?
Modify my well water?
I have pretty similar water at my house (except more Na and more bicarb). I usually use 5 gallons of my house water run through a carbon filter with 10 gallons of RO. I’ll add some Mg, Ca, and sulfate too. Maybe a splash of Lactic acid too if I’m making a really pale beer.
Looks to me that your water is going through a water softener - your sodium is very high, calcium very low and bicarbonate through the roof. Pretty much exactly what the water in my house looks like after it goes through the water softener. Terrible for brewing.
I use water from an outdoor faucet that does not go through softener, but I still use 60-100% RO water for most of my beers. The only thing I use a lot of my tap water for is something like a porter or stout. Then I will go about 80% tap water through carbon filter. 20% RO.
The biggest problem with your water is the very high bicarbonate. And, as I said - sodium indicates it is going through a water softener possibly.
My water doesn’t go through a softener and the Na is 252 ppm. Crazy, huh? All the more reason for me to dilute.
The city may be softening the water supply before its delivered to the customer. But, it seems they are softening the water too much since the Ca and Mg are so low. Most municipalities that perform ion-exchange softening or any other form of softening, don’t take the hardness as low as shown here. Is the OP really sure that there isn’t a home softener somewhere that this water made it through?
Is any case, the water is unsuitable for brewing. Plan on using another source or perform RO treatment. The sodium is far too high for use.
This is a well and yes it goes through a softener. Oh well, I have been using RO with good results, so I can keep that up.
If I add a small scale RO to this water, it will take the bad stuff out, right?
Plumbing the RO unit to receive softened water is actually a good thing for the membrane. The reduction in scaling potential due to using softened water should extend the life of the membrane. The resulting RO water will have a slightly elevated sodium content, but it should still be below 10 ppm. That is still excellent for brewing. The rest of the ions in the RO water will be even lower. The RO water profile that is included in Bru’n Water is from a unit fed from a water softener.