Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: bigdan on June 30, 2010, 11:56:33 AM

Title: Water and RO system
Post by: bigdan on June 30, 2010, 11:56:33 AM
My wife and I just moved and I am in the process of setting up my new brewery.  I have some water questions.  I am planning on installing an RO system.  I brew 12 gallon batches so it need so make enough water in two days to do that.  What systems do you guys use?  Do you filter before or after the softener? How do you store the water if the pressure tank is to small?  Here is my water profile (before softener and UV): 
pH 7.5
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 228
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.38
Cations / Anions, me/L 4.4 / 3.9
Sodium, Na 3
Potassium, K < 1
Calcium, Ca 79
Magnesium, Mg 3
Total Hardness, CaCO3 210
Nitrate, NO3-N 1.9 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S < 1
Chloride, Cl 4
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 223
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 183
"<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit

Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.
Title: Re: Water and RO system
Post by: richardt on June 30, 2010, 04:33:52 PM
I'm a little confused:  are you planning on using a Reverse Osmosis system, a water softener (salt exchange, i.e., exchanging NaCl for Ca and Mg), or both?

Title: Re: Water and RO system
Post by: bigdan on June 30, 2010, 05:36:30 PM
I already have softened water and a UV light.  I want to use the RO system for my brewing water only.  I know that sometime the membranes are best used before the softener and sometimes after depending on the starting water.  I am just curious what other do.
Title: Re: Water and RO system
Post by: Matt B on June 30, 2010, 06:25:14 PM
I don't think you should bother with the softened water, the way water softeners work is to replace the various ions that contribute to hardness with salt ions. Obviously for brewing this isn't what you want, you need many of those minerals and definitely not all of that salt.

Whether you pump tap water or softened water into your RO system probably won't matter.

But I'm looking to get my own RO system and was thinking about using a 15g keg as a larger storage vessel for the RO water for brew day, however I haven't gone so far as figuring out how to do that yet.
Title: Re: Water and RO system
Post by: richardt on June 30, 2010, 07:20:31 PM
If you haven't yet bought the RO system, you may want to consider this approach (it may be cheaper and easier).

I bought two 4 gallon, BPA-free, plastic  (PET) carboys from Sam's Club for 7 bucks each.  I also have two 6 gallon Better Bottle Carboys which cost around 30 bucks each.  And two 5 gallon Homer Buckets from Home Depot which cost around 3 bucks each.  Those are my water transport vessels.

I can buy RO water at the local grocery store (vending machine style--just put my bucket or carboy under the nozzle) for just 30 cents a gallon.  It is a lot cheaper when the store/vendor doesn't have to supply the packaging.

I brew 10 gallons at a time, which often requires close to 17 gallons of Hot Liquor to start.  I use the water calculators and just use local water that's been filtered with the activated charcoal RV in-line filters that you can get at WalMart for 20-25 bucks.  That takes the sediment and chlorine/chloramines out but does not alter the ions like resin exchange filters (e.g., Brita or Pur) or water softeners (whichremoves Ca and Mg and increases Na and Cl--that is NOT what you want to happen to your brew water).  Dependent on the style desired and the results of the water calculator, I can then add "x" gallons of filtered local water, "y" gallons of RO water, and "z" grams of one or more brew salts (which cost under $4 each for the 5 major brew salts) to create the desired water profile.

How much does the RO unit cost?  Will you use it for anything other than brewing? 
Title: Re: Water and RO system
Post by: euge on June 30, 2010, 07:34:57 PM
I installed an undersink Whirlpool RO unit from Lowes for about $150 which is used in conjunction with a Whirlpool whole-house water softener. I measured the ppm of the RO water and it is about 15 ppm of sodium. Not something I'm going to worry about with that concentration.

The RO water gets used to dilute my local water in varying percentages. Since I can only get 2 gallons at a whack out of the storage tank, buckets are used to store the water until the desired volume is reached.

The flip-side is that the RO unit is only about 9% efficient so for every gallon filtered 6 goes down the drain as effluent.

Still cheaper than buying gallon bottles of bottled water from the store.
Title: Re: Water and RO system
Post by: boulderbrewer on July 03, 2010, 03:18:11 PM
If you have no iron in your water then it shouldn't matter. If you have iron in your water take it from the softened water side. Iron fouls up RO pretty fast. A TDS meter for you system would be a good idea, you should be able to find an in-line meter fairly cheap.