Well water not suitable for brewing. What now?

New house has a well that is treated with salt monthly. It tastes horrible. I’ve read lots about RO and have seen arguments on both sides. I think it will be my only choice. Any problems starting with straight RO?

No problems at all, except maybe that you need to pay more for it. If you are brewing AG, you will need to add salts. Using strait RO actually makes that easier to manage.

I have an RO system (because I have pretty rough well water). My RO only yields about 2 gallons per day. I think my system cost about $1200.

I purchase bottled water for brewing. I did a review for best profile in bottled waters - based on providers’ websites.

I can purchase bottled water for about 79 cents per gallon and have been producing some very good beer - haven’t needed to make any water adjustments for the styles I’ve brewed. YMMV.

My plan is to go to the grocery store and fill two, 10gal bottles with the RO water machines. Shouldn’t need to test it right? Should basically be zeros across the board I believe.

Not exactly zero, but for all intents and purposes, close enough. Ion content of RO water is dependent on the ion content of the feed water and the quality, type and condition of the RO membranes, so take that into consideration when selecting a source. I know that Brewer’s Friend has an RO source water profile built in to their water calculations section, so if you trust that your source uses good quality membranes and maintains them regularly you can probably use their numbers with some level of confidence. They report the following ion concentrations for RO water:

Calcium = 1 mg/ml
Sodium = 8 mg/ml
Chloride = 4 mg/ml
Sulfate = 1 mg/ml
Bicarbonate = 16 mg/ml
pH = 8.0

I may go the grocery store RO route next time I brew a German lager such as Oktoberfest as my sulfate although good for IPA’s at 93 is already too high for malt forward styles. Makes adding mgso4 gypsum etc difficult

Before I would ever buy RO water from a ‘fill yourself station’ I would speak with the store manager and determine how often that machine is serviced. Many have used a TDS meter only to find out they are buying water that is essentially no different than their tap water. Even then I would purchase a cheap TDS meter and test it before filling.

I think I would seriously consider distilled water for the few extra cents per gallon before RO water, unless you’re sure of the profile and positive that the source water profile doesn’t ever change. The same goes for bottled “spring” water. Most of it merely comes out of a faucet somewhere, and there’s no way to know if that “somewhere” changes on occasion or not.

For my part, I know the profile of my well water and when appropriate, I use it with a proportion of distilled water and chemical additions to get the desired result. On occasion (such as when I’m brewing a pilsner or something else that requires a very “soft” water profile), I go with straight distilled plus chemical additions. Knowing exactly what I’m working with makes it well worth the extra couple of bucks per batch.

I agree Loopie, some say, but don’t deliver. Another way to HELP your water profile, is to gather your total quantity, then boil the day before cool covered then play with it…. add what you know to get to a profile… just been reading too much. :cheers: Sneezles61

In my town, we have a company that sells/installs water filtration systems. In addition, I can carry in jugs and fill them up with RO water at 50 cents/gal. You might call around to some local water filtration companies and see if they offer a similar service.


I assume treated with salt means a water softener? How bad is the water before it is treated? We have city water now but in out last home the well water was a little hard and had some iron content. I bypassed the softener and used the untreated well water for many styles of beer that were traditionally brewed where the water was hard. The iron content did not seem to make a difference in the beer but stained the sinks and toilets, hence the softener.

I never had the well water tested so I have no real data other than the beer did not go to waste.

Ya. Softener. Not sure how bad before treatment but the landlord said the 2 large bags of salt monthly are a must. They had a complete stop of water to the house due to buildup prior to the salt treatment. So I’m guessing bad.

Head to your local Walmart and use their RO machine in the back of the grocery dept. The last testing date should be written right on it for you to see. If you don’t trust the sticker, pick up a cheap TDS meter from Amazon.com for $15. All RO water I’ve purchased from the store is reading under 20.
You won’t be straight 0’s across the board, but you’ll be close enough… Brunwater has a setting for RO water.

Depends on what you brew I have an R.O. system for brewing lawn mower beer I use my well water
profile 7.9 potential hydrogen @300ppm for stout/barley wine or a combination of both for Red beer/IPA, hey that is what your in this hobby for I hope? Find your own flavor profile and not to copy someone else’s, for me as a past silver medal National AHA winner it is not the rush of winning it is the rush of jumping in to see what you can do with what you have on hand, trial and error chap! Have fun don’t worry and have a HOME BREW!!! I will get off my soap box now Sorry, rule of thumb if the water taste bad it will most likely not improve if you use it for beer as for my opinion on soften water did you install the system yourself?
if so or not you may need the setting adjusting on your softener, the suppliers like to sell salt even if you don’t need the brine cycle set higher than it needs to be.

Keep brewing you will get your brew were you want it in your new home, and by the way when is the house warming party I have some Barley wine/English ale/ Maple Bock/ and the ever present Lawn Mower beer just itching to get out if I’m invited?

One key note if you buy the water from a supplier I believe they must supply a water profile if you request it, and yes I have done that already in the past with no problem from the supplier, some times a person has to do what they have to when it comes to good home brew!! :cheers:

I agree with pulling your water off your tank before it goes to the softener. Many times people put softeners in and they are not needed. Big surprise. It may be perfectly fine brew water.