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Which water test to get from wards

I’ve got a few all grain brews under my belt and was wondering which tests to get. Is wards the place to get it.

The W-6 test suite is all you need. The W-5 test is only needed if you are worried about your water having excess iron, but that should be apparent from tasting or by staining on your plumbing fixtures.

Just beware that a Wards lab test is good for a certain period of time due to changes in ground water, unless of course you have a very stable source of water.

Also Wards lab does not calculate carbonate and bicarbonate accurately, though they may have modified their procedures in recent times.

IMHO, save your money, purchase a basic RO system w/ a TDS meter and work from that. Perhaps even go for a basic RO/DI system.

Bitter, don’t know what your talking about ro system and tds meter what does the meter do. I also forgot to mention I have well water.

are you taking under counter units if I were to get one what do I do next.

You got well water so I assume you have a softner? If you go RO hook it up post softner as it will increase the life of your filters.

I have RO and love it as I simply build my own water profile via Bru’n Water (Martin’s program from first post). Not only do I think its the best its ACCURATE.

All water changes over time, how much depends on the make up of the aquifers feeding your well. A RO system gives you consistent water every time (As long as you maintain the filters and such…)

Yes, you could purchase a basic under counter unit:

http://theh2oguru.com/drinking-water-sy ... 50gpd.html

You don’t have to literally put it “under the counter” you could leave it on your counter top and use the faucet adapter when you need it unless you really want a drinking water system.

Other good systems:

http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/brs-4-sta ... gpd-2.html http://spectrapure.com/index.php?route=common/home

Stores like Home Depot and Lowes also sell system made by GE and others. Personally I avoid those systems and stick with makers of systems for Reef Tanks.

Shop around until you find one you like in your price range, but honestly it shouldn’t be more than 100-150 bucks.

A TDS meter is a device that tells you how many “Total Dissolved Solids” are in your water. Generally they read high when on the input end of the RO system and lower on the output end. It’s one method to determine how well your RO system is performing. Of course it’s not necessary, just a convenience.


After you have a RO system, download the Bru N Water spreadsheet. Don’t worry about inputing your water profile use 100% distilled water on the mash water page. Good RO water will be very close to distilled. You could have your RO water tested by Ward Labs… if you’re really interested.

This link contains some more information on where to buy a RO system, but the systems linked above should be sufficient and acceptable.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/inexpen ... em-312102/

[quote=“Bitter”]

IMHO, save your money, purchase a basic RO system w/ a TDS meter and work from that. Perhaps even go for a basic RO/DI system.[/quote]

It is quite premature to punt the tap water and go to RO. That is easily approaching a $200 decision that may or may not be needed. The only way to know is to get the tap water tested. That IS the proper first step, not buying a RO system.

PS: NOT all tap water changes over time and most do not. And even if they do change, it is often only a few ppm. That is nothing to worry about in the context of brewing.

PS: PS: I see that you have been paying attention to AJ’s posts on Ward’s lab errors. Unfortunately, AJ is a stickler for minutia and he gets bent out of shape when something isn’t exactly as he expects it to be. In reality, the magnitude of error in Ward’s carbonate and bicarbonate calculations is tiny…like a ppm or so. Definitely not worth worrying about.

Well I can’t compete with Martin but IMHO if you want to ensure consistency then get a RO system.

The wells and city water systems that I’ve been a part of have all changed with the amount of precipitation, drought, weather in general, etc… Perhaps the cities have different wells that they draw from.

$200 would buy a nice system indeed. Though I don’t know you’d have go that fancy.

I would and have followed Martin’s advice without qualm. Get your water tested first.

I brew with private well water and it has been tested a few times in the last year. The pH changed by a couple tenths of a point…every thing else by a few ppm as Martin said. That’s consistent enough for my brewing.

Why spend money for a water system that may be unnecessary? You may test your water and find that you could use that money for other brewing equipment.

thanks guys for all the quick responses. got another ? if and when if needed. got a ro system how do you know what to add to the water or not to add until it would be tested. sounds like a person needs to be a chemist, I just want to have fun brewing and all this water stuff is going to stress me out. maybe making a big deal about it. is it easier than it sounds.

no I don’t have a water softener should I have one to brew.

If you are on a well and don’t have softner then have the water checked. It could be that its very good water.

I have a RO unit and build my water up from scratch. I’m going to quit using it for brewing when I get my water report back. It’s tiresome to have to start collecting water hours before brewing as it takes ~4 hours for an average 5.5 gallon batch. It really becomes a pain in the ass doing 10- 20 gallon batches.

[quote=“srharrison”]thanks guys for all the quick responses. got another ? if and when if needed. got a ro system how do you know what to add to the water or not to add until it would be tested. sounds like a person needs to be a chemist, I just want to have fun brewing and all this water stuff is going to stress me out. maybe making a big deal about it. is it easier than it sounds.

no I don’t have a water softener should I have one to brew.[/quote]

Like folks are saying here, get your well water tested first, then you’ll have a baseline to make a decision from. There’s a good chance your water will be fine, and may just need some occasional additions depending on the style of beer you’re brewing. The water thing really isn’t that hard once you know what your water is like, just download Brun Water and use it to make adjustments, if needed. You may indeed need to use ro or distilled water (and probably some other chemical additions) to adjust your well water, at least for some recipes, but there’s no way of knowing if, how much, or what adjustments might be needed until you know what you have in the first place. Spend the $$ for the water test before investing in ro systems or any other such equipment. I guarantee it’ll be worth the investment. :cheers:

Thanks again guys, getting a water test done first and then if I need more help once I get the results ill be back .

What I do is collect water daily and save it in water jugs. This way if I decide to do an impromptu brew I have the water ready. I have enough water jugs to do two 10gal brews.

How does one send the water in to wards? Post office asks if its anything “liquid, fragile, or perishable”?

You order the test from them and they will send you a sample jar with a mailing label. You follow their directions in collecting the sample, put it in the shipping box or envelope, attach the mailing label, and send it back. If the post office asks, just tell them it’s a water sample you’re sending to a lab.

Also, if you order the test online, they will email the results to you as soon as they have them.

Thanks so much!

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