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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: Wort-H.O.G. on February 13, 2013, 07:13:56 PM

Title: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: Wort-H.O.G. on February 13, 2013, 07:13:56 PM
too many bicarbs and high alkalinity and PH in my well water. im going to try a starter using light DME at 1.040 wort SG, .5gal.

should i be adding calcium chloride (50ppm) and adjusting around 5.0-5.2ph also to make sure its optimal for yeast growth?
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: guido on February 13, 2013, 07:29:16 PM
Wouldn't it be easier just to use Spring Water instead that would have some mineral content?
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: Wort-H.O.G. on February 13, 2013, 07:33:26 PM
spring water varies from bottle to bottle on mineral content. might have 2ppm calcium or 60ppm. distilled is neutral starting point, so you can then control what you want to add - that's my thought process.

otherwise, if i use my well water, i have to bomb it with lactic acid to drop the ph, and add calcium.
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: Hokerer on February 13, 2013, 07:37:52 PM
too many bicarbs and high alkalinity and PH in my well water. im going to try a starter using light DME at 1.040 wort SG, .5gal.

should i be adding calcium chloride (50ppm) and adjusting around 5.0-5.2ph also to make sure its optimal for yeast growth?

The DME will give you all the minerals you need.  Only thing you might want to think about adding is a bit of yeast nutrient.
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: hoser on February 13, 2013, 07:41:53 PM
too many bicarbs and high alkalinity and PH in my well water. im going to try a starter using light DME at 1.040 wort SG, .5gal.

should i be adding calcium chloride (50ppm) and adjusting around 5.0-5.2ph also to make sure its optimal for yeast growth?

The DME will give you all the minerals you need.  Only thing you might want to think about adding is a bit of yeast nutrient.

This^^^^
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 13, 2013, 07:44:20 PM
The malt extract will have some minerals from the mash it was made from. How much is the question?

You can add a little CaCl2 if you want. Yeast benefit from some calcium. A little energizer is not a bad idea either, as it will have trace minerals.

Hmmm, what is the pH optimum for yeast growth? Something around 5.2-5.5 is good for the mash, as you need to get it working in a range for the enzymes. You are not mashing here, just trying to grow yeast. A quick search says 4-4.5 is good for growth. Dr. Tom, any wisdom?
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: Wort-H.O.G. on February 13, 2013, 07:48:13 PM

that was my question - i couldnt figure out the mineral content in dme.

i do add yeast nutrient (not energizer), so will stick with that as usuall.

so i guess the plan would be distilled water and DME, and keep the calcium chloride addition to make sure i have enough for optimal yeast health and growth (greater than 40ppm) - adjusting PH if not 5.0-5.2.
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: a10t2 on February 13, 2013, 08:12:58 PM
I think you're over-thinking this. You don't need to worry about pH since you aren't mashing, and you don't need to worry about flavor since you won't be drinking the starter. Biologically, I think it would have to be better to use the hard water since it's closer to being isotonic.
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: cheshirecat on February 13, 2013, 08:18:23 PM
I think you're over-thinking this. You don't need to worry about pH since you aren't mashing, and you don't need to worry about flavor since you won't be drinking the starter. Biologically, I think it would have to be better to use the hard water since it's closer to being isotonic.

+1
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: Wort-H.O.G. on February 13, 2013, 08:36:31 PM
i actually don't have hard water - its temp hardness hence the ability to manipulate it.

anyway, i'm just curious about starter PH - seems some out there say starter PH is an important thing to yeast growth - as is calcium. just wondering if the scientists out on the forum can comment.
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: a10t2 on February 13, 2013, 08:48:07 PM
No matter how high in alkalinity it is, the buffering capacity of water is poor compared to the extract. Even if the wort pH ended up as high as 7 (which I seriously doubt), yeast do very well on pH-neutral growth media.

As far as micro-nutrients, the extract should have everything you need. If you want, you could also add some yeast nutrient as insurance.
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: BrewArk on February 13, 2013, 08:59:55 PM
For a starter, I too wouldn't use distilled.  I think there's too much opportunity to over/under adjust.

RDWHAH
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: Wort-H.O.G. on February 13, 2013, 09:03:15 PM
"No matter how high in alkalinity it is, the buffering capacity of water is poor compared to the extract. Even if the wort pH ended up as high as 7 (which I seriously doubt), yeast do very well on pH-neutral growth media."

i understand your point that yeast do very well at ph-neutral, but if they do even better at a lower ph of 4.5-5.0, then why wouldn't you want to do that. i'm reading this is the case, but i'm curious if anyone has experimented with the starter ph and can speak to the results.
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: denny on February 13, 2013, 09:18:09 PM
"No matter how high in alkalinity it is, the buffering capacity of water is poor compared to the extract. Even if the wort pH ended up as high as 7 (which I seriously doubt), yeast do very well on pH-neutral growth media."

i understand your point that yeast do very well at ph-neutral, but if they do even better at a lower ph of 4.5-5.0, then why wouldn't you want to do that. i'm reading this is the case, but i'm curious if anyone has experimented with the starter ph and can speak to the results.

It could be a case of "reverse experiment".  For instance, I don't worry at all about minerals or pH of my starters and I get great yeast growth from them.  It certainly isn't gonna hurt to experiment with what you're talking about, but you might want to give it try without the adjustments first and then compare the "easy way" with adjusted water for a starter.
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: Wort-H.O.G. on February 13, 2013, 09:31:13 PM
Denny-

you've seen my water report. i have almost no calcium and a higher PH than many. would you expect that that doesn't matter, and that the DME and yeast nutrient lowers my Ph and adds enough for a healthy starter?
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: denny on February 13, 2013, 09:49:31 PM
Denny-

you've seen my water report. i have almost no calcium and a higher PH than many. would you expect that that doesn't matter, and that the DME and yeast nutrient lowers my Ph and adds enough for a healthy starter?

Yeah, that would be my guess.  You won't know til you try, though.  Truthfully, if I was in your position and worried about it, I'd go the distilled water route.  When extract is made, the grain is mashed with the appropriate minerals for the mash.  They're still there in the extract and extract brewers are often encouraged to use distilled water for just that reason.  I think you may be overthinking things based on the slow starter you just had.  I appreciate your desire to get the best performance possible, but by my pragmatic thinking I'd start with the easiest thing you can do, evaluate that, and work from there.
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: Wort-H.O.G. on February 13, 2013, 09:51:48 PM
guilty of thinking too much..the nerd and love of science in me. ::)

Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: denny on February 13, 2013, 09:56:57 PM
guilty of thinking too much..the nerd and love of science in me. ::)

Dude, I SO understand!  ;)
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: a10t2 on February 13, 2013, 10:21:30 PM
Nice to meet you pots. I'm kettle. ;D
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: denny on February 13, 2013, 10:56:34 PM
Nice to meet you pots. I'm kettle. ;D

Yeah, I was thinking of you (and a couple others here!) when I wrote that!
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: Jimmy K on February 14, 2013, 02:20:52 PM
The pH of your water doesn't matter - it's the pH of your prepared starter that matters. Seems to me the path of least resistance is to test the pH of your starter to see if this is a problem at all. It's not clear that you did that (though if you did, just ignore me).
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: Mark G on February 14, 2013, 02:45:55 PM
My water is similar to yours, with over 100 ppm Na, and very high alkalinity as well. There are hardly any other minerals present. My municipality clearly softens the water. For starters, I just use straight tap water, DME, and some nutrient. No problems doing this whatsoever. Don't overthink it.

For brewing, I dilute with distilled water, about 50/50. Then add gypsum and CaCl to achieve desired mineral levels. Add phosphoric acid to hit my pH.
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: Wort-H.O.G. on February 14, 2013, 05:59:23 PM
right -when i refer to PH being high, i mean the ph of my wort. when you start with high ph and high alkalinity in water, the dme or mash does very little to bring into desired PH range.

i used my well water this morning, added calcium and magnesium and lactic acid and yeast nutrient. PH of wort settled in at about 5.4. this starter responded much better than my others without water adjustments.
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: BrewQwest on February 17, 2013, 05:29:07 PM
Option One: One 12 ounce bottle of malta goya , 12 ounces distilled water, add yeast..... done!! no boil, no muss, no fuss !!!
Option Two: DME, distilled water, shake violently, put on stir plate if you have one, add yeast.....done!! no boil, no muss, no fuss!!
Sometimes we make things wwwwaaaaaayyyyyy too hard... cheers!!
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: Hokerer on February 17, 2013, 06:58:41 PM
Option One: One 12 ounce bottle of malta goya , 12 ounces distilled water, add yeast..... done!! no boil, no muss, no fuss !!!
Option Two: DME, distilled water, shake violently, put on stir plate if you have one, add yeast.....done!! no boil, no muss, no fuss!!
Sometimes we make things wwwwaaaaaayyyyyy too hard... cheers!!

One mason jar canned wort leftover from previous batch, add yeast.... done!!
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: erockrph on February 17, 2013, 07:00:43 PM
Option One: One 12 ounce bottle of malta goya , 12 ounces distilled water, add yeast..... done!! no boil, no muss, no fuss !!!
Option Two: DME, distilled water, shake violently, put on stir plate if you have one, add yeast.....done!! no boil, no muss, no fuss!!
Sometimes we make things wwwwaaaaaayyyyyy too hard... cheers!!

I've been thinking about going no-boil for my starters, but there's always that nagging voice in the back of my head saying that you need to boil/sanitize everything that touches your beer. I'm assuming you've never had a contamination issue with your no boil starters?
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: guido on February 17, 2013, 09:07:06 PM
Option One: One 12 ounce bottle of malta goya , 12 ounces distilled water, add yeast..... done!! no boil, no muss, no fuss !!!
Option Two: DME, distilled water, shake violently, put on stir plate if you have one, add yeast.....done!! no boil, no muss, no fuss!!
Sometimes we make things wwwwaaaaaayyyyyy too hard... cheers!!

I've been thinking about going no-boil for my starters, but there's always that nagging voice in the back of my head saying that you need to boil/sanitize everything that touches your beer. I'm assuming you've never had a contamination issue with your no boil starters?

I do a very short boil--10 minutes, if that.  I figure that I'm way above pasteurization temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Title: Re: making a yeast starter with distilled water
Post by: BrewQwest on February 18, 2013, 01:28:35 AM

I've been thinking about going no-boil for my starters, but there's always that nagging voice in the back of my head saying that you need to boil/sanitize everything that touches your beer. I'm assuming you've never had a contamination issue with your no boil starters?

My reasoning:  distilled water should already be safe from contamination...malta goya is already safe from contamination....when was the last time you had a contaminated soft drink beverage from either a bottle or a can?...malta goya is a barley malted beverage that comes in a bottle...As long as the flask is sanitized when you put the ingredients in there should be no worry of contamination and I have never had any...Same goes for the DME and the distilled water... when was the last time you had contaminated DME? cheers!!