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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: redzim on March 11, 2014, 07:04:08 PM

Title: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: redzim on March 11, 2014, 07:04:08 PM
This question is aimed at folks who use BrunWater, but possibly other people can chime in too...

I've been noticing that when I have a water built on partially-distilled water with a lot of additional salts/minerals in it, the suggested amount of lactic acid from BrunWater (Adjustment Summary tab, cell H25) does not seem to be enough to drop the pH of my sparge water to 5.5.  When however I used my own water with no added minerals (for other beers) the suggested amount of lactic acid drops the sparge pH as predicted by BrunWater. 

Here's my guess, but tell me if it's correct: is BrunWater somehow including the minerals I'm adding to the mash & sparge in its calculation of what the pH will be, and therefore how much lactic acid to add?  I stir in minerals at dough-in, and then when sparging, I also add them to the mash at the same time as the sparge water as it seems more accurate than dissolving them in my sparge water and then adding all that to the mash tun. So my pH reading is off because the minerals BrunWater is expecting are not present in the sparge water.  Is this a correct assumption? If so, do I need to change my procedure, or can I just relax, knowing that when the acidified sparge water hits the mash together with the minerals, the pH will all work out fine? Or do I need to start dissolving the sparge minerals directly in the sparge water with the lactic acid?

(FWIW I add lactic acid when the sparge water is less than 70F, as suggested by Martin, although I can't remember exactly where I first saw that)

thanks
red
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: reverseapachemaster on March 12, 2014, 01:21:30 PM
I'd venture a guess that by adding the minerals to the mash you're not giving them an opportunity to dissolve into the sparge water and have their intended effect.
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: mabrungard on March 12, 2014, 01:40:15 PM
As mentioned, adding minerals to the mash and hoping that you are mixing them in AND dissolving AND distributing those ions throughout the mash is a tall order. I'd say its very unlikely unless you are running a RIMS or HERMS and the flow will distribute the ions effectively.

Brewers are FAR better off adding minerals to the water and letting them dissolve BEFORE mixing that water with the grist. 

In the case of using water that has very low alkalinity...like distilled water, the need for acidification is reduced. pH is not really a problem. But alkalinity is. Water with a pH of 9 and alkalinity of nearly zero is much better to brew with than a water with pH of 5.5 and alkalinity of 200 ppm.
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: beersk on March 12, 2014, 03:15:07 PM
Martin, what makes the pH so high if the alkalinity is low? For instance, my tap water has a pH of 9.1 but an alkalinity of 34. All the other ions are fairly low as well.
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: mabrungard on March 12, 2014, 04:36:01 PM
Alkalinity and pH are only vaguely related by their interaction.  But alkalinity is a measure of the buffering power of water. In the vast majority of cases, alkalinity is comprised of carbonate ion species (bicarbonate and carbonate) in drinking water. The pH of the water affects how much of each of those species is present. In drinking water, alkalinity is the derived from the concentrations of the bicarbonate and carbonate ions in the water.

pH is a measure of the hydrogen ion concentration in water. Since the hydrogen ion concentration is so very low, chemists use the pH designation to give it a more usable form. For instance, pH 7 is equal to 0.0000001 moles of hydrogen ion per liter of water. Pretty clunky, yes? So pH 7 is a lot cleaner way of expressing that teeny concentration.

So, you should be more able to understand that alkalinity is based on the concentration of those carbonate species and pH is based on the concentration of hydrogen ions.
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: morticaixavier on March 12, 2014, 04:46:32 PM
Alkalinity and pH are only vaguely related by their interaction.  But alkalinity is a measure of the buffering power of water. In the vast majority of cases, alkalinity is comprised of carbonate ion species (bicarbonate and carbonate) in drinking water. The pH of the water affects how much of each of those species is present. In drinking water, alkalinity is the derived from the concentrations of the bicarbonate and carbonate ions in the water.

pH is a measure of the hydrogen ion concentration in water. Since the hydrogen ion concentration is so very low, chemists use the pH designation to give it a more usable form. For instance, pH 7 is equal to 0.0000001 moles of hydrogen ion per liter of water. Pretty clunky, yes? So pH 7 is a lot cleaner way of expressing that teeny concentration.

So, you should be more able to understand that alkalinity is based on the concentration of those carbonate species and pH is based on the concentration of hydrogen ions.

that's a very concise explanation thanks again martin.

so, let's see if I begin to understand.

Alkalinity relates to pH in brewing because in order to change the pH (up OR down or just down?) you first have to overcome the alkalinity since the acid additions and the carbonate ions essentially cancel each other out until all the carbonate is cancelled out. at which point the addition of more H+ ions will actually begin affecting the pH of the wort/water/mash. is that even close to right?
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: redzim on March 12, 2014, 05:56:47 PM
As mentioned, adding minerals to the mash and hoping that you are mixing them in AND dissolving AND distributing those ions throughout the mash is a tall order. I'd say its very unlikely unless you are running a RIMS or HERMS and the flow will distribute the ions effectively.

Brewers are FAR better off adding minerals to the water and letting them dissolve BEFORE mixing that water with the grist. 

In the case of using water that has very low alkalinity...like distilled water, the need for acidification is reduced. pH is not really a problem. But alkalinity is. Water with a pH of 9 and alkalinity of nearly zero is much better to brew with than a water with pH of 5.5 and alkalinity of 200 ppm.

For my dough-in, I am dissolving all minerals in the strike water before adding grains. It's at sparge time where I am currently dissolving them in only a cup or so of water, and mixing that into the mash tun at the same time that I add strike water.

You're saying if I mix & dissolve the sparge minerals into the full volume of sparge water, and with whatever lactic acid I may need, that is better... and that if I check the pH of that liquid, it should match up to what Brun Water predicts.... right?
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: quattlebaum on March 12, 2014, 09:27:21 PM
As mentioned, adding minerals to the mash and hoping that you are mixing them in AND dissolving AND distributing those ions throughout the mash is a tall order. I'd say its very unlikely unless you are running a RIMS or HERMS and the flow will distribute the ions effectively.

Brewers are FAR better off adding minerals to the water and letting them dissolve BEFORE mixing that water with the grist. 

In the case of using water that has very low alkalinity...like distilled water, the need for acidification is reduced. pH is not really a problem. But alkalinity is. Water with a pH of 9 and alkalinity of nearly zero is much better to brew with than a water with pH of 5.5 and alkalinity of 200 ppm.

For my dough-in, I am dissolving all minerals in the strike water before adding grains. It's at sparge time where I am currently dissolving them in only a cup or so of water, and mixing that into the mash tun at the same time that I add strike water.

You're saying if I mix & dissolve the sparge minerals into the full volume of sparge water, and with whatever lactic acid I may need, that is better... and that if I check the pH of that liquid, it should match up to what Brun Water predicts.... right?

I had the exact same issue!  I started adding my salts and acid to my "cold" sparge and mash water the day before brewing and have been hitting my mash PH at room temp EVERY time. Really my last 4 batches have been dead on to the hundredths deciaml! Great job martin
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: HoosierBrew on March 12, 2014, 09:37:41 PM
As mentioned, adding minerals to the mash and hoping that you are mixing them in AND dissolving AND distributing those ions throughout the mash is a tall order. I'd say its very unlikely unless you are running a RIMS or HERMS and the flow will distribute the ions effectively.

Brewers are FAR better off adding minerals to the water and letting them dissolve BEFORE mixing that water with the grist. 

In the case of using water that has very low alkalinity...like distilled water, the need for acidification is reduced. pH is not really a problem. But alkalinity is. Water with a pH of 9 and alkalinity of nearly zero is much better to brew with than a water with pH of 5.5 and alkalinity of 200 ppm.

For my dough-in, I am dissolving all minerals in the strike water before adding grains. It's at sparge time where I am currently dissolving them in only a cup or so of water, and mixing that into the mash tun at the same time that I add strike water.

You're saying if I mix & dissolve the sparge minerals into the full volume of sparge water, and with whatever lactic acid I may need, that is better... and that if I check the pH of that liquid, it should match up to what Brun Water predicts.... right?

I had the exact same issue!  I started adding my salts and acid to my "cold" sparge and mash water the day before brewing and have been hitting my mash PH at room temp EVERY time. Really my last 4 batches have been dead on to the hundredths deciaml! Great job martin

+1.  Same here. I add my salts to my mash and sparge water first via Bru'nWater and it predicts my pH pretty much spot on. It's pretty invaluable software.
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: narcout on March 12, 2014, 09:50:01 PM
What is the case for adding minerals to the sparge water rather than in the kettle (or rather than adding all the minerals to the mash water, provided the additional calcium isn't pushing your mash pH too low)?
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: mabrungard on March 13, 2014, 12:38:50 AM
What is the case for adding minerals to the sparge water rather than in the kettle (or rather than adding all the minerals to the mash water, provided the additional calcium isn't pushing your mash pH too low)?

Already covered. Look at the WHEN TO ADD WATER ADDITIVES on the Bru'n Water facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brun-Water/464551136933908

Enjoy!
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: narcout on March 13, 2014, 03:03:07 AM
Ok, I see why you are advocating adding minerals to the strike water rather than to the mash tun but what about adding to the sparge water rather than during the boil?  Is there any compelling reason why one is favored (or why you wouldn't just add all minerals to the strike water and none to the sparge)?
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: mabrungard on March 13, 2014, 12:36:43 PM
I've never really thought about that approach before, but it could have merit. Adding all the calcium and magnesium minerals to the mash could help with lowering the mash pH. As long as the brewer is still knocking down the alkalinity in the sparging water, this approach could work. It could also offer the opportunity to reduce the overall levels of Ca and Mg in the brewing water since the sparging water content would be lower.

I'll look in to this!
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: jeremy0209 on March 13, 2014, 02:11:24 PM
Here's another question for the water guru's:  If I'm brewing a 'double strength' batch (5 gal), then topping it off with water to dilute and make 10 gal of beer, should I be treating my top off water?  If so, how would I calculate the final profile?
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: quattlebaum on March 14, 2014, 03:13:34 PM
Here's another question for the water guru's:  If I'm brewing a 'double strength' batch (5 gal), then topping it off with water to dilute and make 10 gal of beer, should I be treating my top off water?  If so, how would I calculate the final profile?

Good ? But my thought is dont dilute :). If you treat your entire water volume prior to brewing that should help i would think. I think its most important not worry about all the "mineral" addition and to just concentrate on the mash PH until one gets a better understanding of brewing/water chemistry.
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: Steve L on May 09, 2014, 04:13:59 PM
Sorry to resurrect an older thread but I have a Bru'n water question about acidifying sparge water. My water typically has an alkalinity of about 170. When acidifying my sparge water I know I have to input the Alkalinity amount into the spread sheet including any dilution (with Distilled usually), Do I just measure the sparge water PH with my meter before acidifying and input the measured PH amount or is PH not as important? My water PH is about 7.8 without any treatment.

Thanks
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: mabrungard on May 09, 2014, 05:44:07 PM
You will find that the actual water pH prior to acidifying is relatively meaningless. It has only minor effect on the resulting calculations. I suggest you play with the calculator a bit to see the effect of initial pH. Maybe move the initial pH value by about 1 (up or down) and you should see that the amount of acid required will not change greatly. It is the initial alkalinity that is the elephant in the room!
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: Steve L on May 09, 2014, 05:51:46 PM
You will find that the actual water pH prior to acidifying is relatively meaningless. It has only minor effect on the resulting calculations. I suggest you play with the calculator a bit to see the effect of initial pH. Maybe move the initial pH value by about 1 (up or down) and you should see that the amount of acid required will not change greatly. It is the initial alkalinity that is the elephant in the room!
LOL, I've had skeletons in my closet but this will be my first elephant in the room. :D
Thanks for the help and guidance!
Title: Re: lactic acid to acidify sparge water
Post by: Steve L on May 24, 2014, 12:19:55 AM
Thought of another question involving sparge water acidification. I typically do not add a mineral addition to my sparge water, opting instead to add it directly to the kettle. As a result I figure my sparge acidification using the pre-adjustment level of alkalinity. This results in having to use more Lactic acid obviously. Am I better off adding my mineral addition to the sparge water and reducing the amount of lactic acid I'm using? I did a search about whether or not to adjust sparge water and seemed to get somewhat mixed results...