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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 10:21:02 am

Title: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 10:21:02 am
I know we have a few of these threads going so please bear with me or avert your eyes.

I have been mildly questioning my meter lately and also going over multiple Ward Labs reports I have gotten.  Years ago I got a Ward report that showed my water's pH (filtered Lake Michigan tap water) at 6.6.  I also remember being at a commercial brewery where the brewer told me that the water pH was 6.6 and I was also helping a friend in another commercial brewery (long story) and he asked about the pH of the water and I told him it was 6.6.  There was [what looked like] a very high-end pH meter there and he measured the pH and it was 6.6.  My latest report from Ward Labs (August 2020) shows the pH at 7.9.  I have taken the pH of my source water a few times since then including today and I am always right around 6.7 each time.  I have to assume that Ward's pH equipment is excellent, right?  So is my meter wrong?  Was the sample that I sent to them somehow compromised?  I filtered some water into an empty, dry water bottle (like AquaFina, etc).  Could the pH of the sample have changed somehow?  If someone were to take a sample of the water would it be necessary to let the water run for a bit assuming that the pH of the water still in your plumbing could be different than the ground water?  I'm just trying to figure out if my meter is telling me the truth or if there is some user error here or what.  Thanks Beerheads.

EDIT:  I also just got some new calibration solution (4.0 and 7.0) and the 4.0 label actually said that at cooler temps (70°) it would read 4.02 and at higher temps (80°) it would read 4.00.  My meter read it in the cooler basement temps at 4.02.  That seems pretty solid. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: hmbrw4life on June 22, 2021, 10:51:49 am
I know we have a few of these threads going so please bear with me or avert your eyes.

I have been mildly questioning my meter lately and also going over multiple Ward Labs reports I have gotten.  Years ago I got a Ward report that showed my water's pH (filtered Lake Michigan tap water) at 6.6.  I also remember being at a commercial brewery where the brewer told me that the water pH was 6.6 and I was also helping a friend in another commercial brewery (long story) and he asked about the pH of the water and I told him it was 6.6.  There was [what looked like] a very high-end pH meter there and he measured the pH and it was 6.6.  My latest report from Ward Labs (August 2020) shows the pH at 7.9.  I have taken the pH of my source water a few times since then including today and I am always right around 6.7 each time.  I have to assume that Ward's pH equipment is excellent, right?  So is my meter wrong?  Was the sample that I sent to them somehow compromised?  I filtered some water into an empty, dry water bottle (like AquaFina, etc).  Could the pH of the sample have changed somehow?  If someone were to take a sample of the water would it be necessary to let the water run for a bit assuming that the pH of the water still in your plumbing could be different than the ground water?  I'm just trying to figure out if my meter is telling me the truth or if there is some user error here or what.  Thanks Beerheads.

EDIT:  I also just got some new calibration solution (4.0 and 7.0) and the 4.0 label actually said that at cooler temps (70°) it would read 4.02 and at higher temps (80°) it would read 4.00.  My meter read it in the cooler basement temps at 4.02.  That seems pretty solid.

My question would be, why are you chasing your waters pH?
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Silver_Is_Money on June 22, 2021, 10:55:58 am
Agreed!  Waters pH is quite highly irrelevant.  Waters Calcium, Magnesium, and Alkalinity (as CaCO3) are what matters. 

For example:  My almost neutral pH well water (which tests at between 7.2 and 7.7 pH via a handful of sources) has a whopping 377 ppm of Alkalinity per Ward Labs.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 11:00:44 am
I'm not chasing my water's pH.  I'm trying to determine if my meter is properly reporting *ANY* pH properly.  If my meter can't tell me the pH of my water then it can't tell me the pH of my mash.  What I want to do is get my strike water to a pH of 5.5 and I can't know if its 5.5 if my meter seems dodgy. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: rburrelli on June 22, 2021, 11:10:57 am
I'm not chasing my water's pH.  I'm trying to determine if my meter is properly reporting *ANY* pH properly.  If my meter can't tell me the pH of my water then it can't tell me the pH of my mash.  What I want to do is get my strike water to a pH of 5.5 and I can't know if its 5.5 if my meter seems dodgy.
You could use the Sparge acidification sheet in Bru’n Water as a test. Enter your report value and enough acid to reach 5.5 then test your meter.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 11:14:36 am
I'm not chasing my water's pH.  I'm trying to determine if my meter is properly reporting *ANY* pH properly.  If my meter can't tell me the pH of my water then it can't tell me the pH of my mash.  What I want to do is get my strike water to a pH of 5.5 and I can't know if its 5.5 if my meter seems dodgy.
You could use the Sparge acidification sheet in Bru’n Water as a test. Enter your report value and enough acid to reach 5.5 then test your meter.
Thank you.  I have done that and I have used my pH of 6.6 to try that test and the BNW results were very close.  I did not try it on the 7.9 pH report that I got and I should try that.  I am just trying to understand how Ward could show a pH of 7.9 when that does not align with anything that I have ever seen with my water.  But I find it hard to argue with assuming their equipment is top-notch and well-maintained.  So could my sample just have been bad somehow?
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: goose on June 22, 2021, 11:14:47 am
I'm not chasing my water's pH.  I'm trying to determine if my meter is properly reporting *ANY* pH properly.  If my meter can't tell me the pH of my water then it can't tell me the pH of my mash.  What I want to do is get my strike water to a pH of 5.5 and I can't know if its 5.5 if my meter seems dodgy.
When I calibrate my pH meter (Milwaukee SM-102). I get 7.01 and 4.01.
How old is the probe in the meter?  My guess is if it calibrates properly, the probe is OK.  If it takes a while to read one of the buffer solutions or stops calibrating, it's a time for a replacement probe.

FYI to the group, I always check my sparge water and add acid to get between 5.2 and 5.6.  I need to know where it starts so I don't overshoot. Granted the untreated water sometimes takes a while to get a stable reading, but I usually get there.

Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 11:25:14 am
I'm not chasing my water's pH.  I'm trying to determine if my meter is properly reporting *ANY* pH properly.  If my meter can't tell me the pH of my water then it can't tell me the pH of my mash.  What I want to do is get my strike water to a pH of 5.5 and I can't know if its 5.5 if my meter seems dodgy.
When I calibrate my pH meter (Milwaukee SM-102). I get 7.01 and 4.01.
How old is the probe in the meter?  My guess is if it calibrates properly, the probe is OK.  If it takes a while to read one of the buffer solutions or stops calibrating, it's a time for a replacement probe.

FYI to the group, I always check my sparge water and add acid to get between 5.2 and 5.6.  I need to know where it starts so I don't overshoot. Granted the untreated water sometimes takes a while to get a stable reading, but I usually get there.
Omega PH7011 meter here with a new probe in the last 12 months.  Sometimes it does take awhile to get a stable reading and sometimes I take a sample of tap water and get a reading (say 5.78) and then go grab another sample but let the water run longer so I am getting true ground water and then I'll get a reading of 6.71.  This suggests that I really need a lesson in the proper way to get a sample and how to take a reading.  I know things "stratify" and I know that the pH is variable throughout the process so I'll assume there is some user error.  I'm not trying to beat this topic to death and get overly detailed about it but I feel like I need to trust my instruments and then when I see a pH of 7.9 from Ward... I start to question everything. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: RC on June 22, 2021, 11:27:31 am
If your meter is reading fresh calibration solutions correctly, I'd be inclined to trust your meter over the Wards value. Who knows what could have happened; 6.6 vs. 7.9 is a big disparity.

If a difference of 1.3 pH units was translating to your mash pH, it would be way out of whack and your beers would probably be suffering for it. How have they been turning out? That's sort of the ultimate test of a pH meter.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 11:34:23 am
If your meter is reading fresh calibration solutions correctly, I'd be inclined to trust your meter over the Wards value. Who knows what could have happened; 6.6 vs. 7.9 is a big disparity.

If a difference of 1.3 pH units was translating to your mash pH, it would be way out of whack and your beers would probably be suffering for it. How have they been turning out? That's sort of the ultimate test of a pH meter.
I have been having some issues lately, mainly with clarity, haze, etc. and I am trying to simplify some things.  I agree that discrepancy is big so then it makes me wonder about a water bottle with 4 ounces of tap water in it, going through the mail or UPS or whatever and what impact could there be on the water and its pH as it travels and gets to the lab.  Or... would the sample not be impacted by that?  I agree though that if my meter is reading brand new calibration solutions correctly then I have to trust it.  Which means that I have to throw out the Wards number which seems unbelievable to me.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: denny on June 22, 2021, 12:07:12 pm
If your meter is reading fresh calibration solutions correctly, I'd be inclined to trust your meter over the Wards value. Who knows what could have happened; 6.6 vs. 7.9 is a big disparity.

If a difference of 1.3 pH units was translating to your mash pH, it would be way out of whack and your beers would probably be suffering for it. How have they been turning out? That's sort of the ultimate test of a pH meter.
I have been having some issues lately, mainly with clarity, haze, etc. and I am trying to simplify some things.  I agree that discrepancy is big so then it makes me wonder about a water bottle with 4 ounces of tap water in it, going through the mail or UPS or whatever and what impact could there be on the water and its pH as it travels and gets to the lab.  Or... would the sample not be impacted by that?  I agree though that if my meter is reading brand new calibration solutions correctly then I have to trust it.  Which means that I have to throw out the Wards number which seems unbelievable to me.

I would have to be shown how shipping would affect pH before I'd think it possible.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: hmbrw4life on June 22, 2021, 12:26:34 pm
If your meter is reading fresh calibration solutions correctly, I'd be inclined to trust your meter over the Wards value. Who knows what could have happened; 6.6 vs. 7.9 is a big disparity.

If a difference of 1.3 pH units was translating to your mash pH, it would be way out of whack and your beers would probably be suffering for it. How have they been turning out? That's sort of the ultimate test of a pH meter.
I have been having some issues lately, mainly with clarity, haze, etc. and I am trying to simplify some things.  I agree that discrepancy is big so then it makes me wonder about a water bottle with 4 ounces of tap water in it, going through the mail or UPS or whatever and what impact could there be on the water and its pH as it travels and gets to the lab.  Or... would the sample not be impacted by that?  I agree though that if my meter is reading brand new calibration solutions correctly then I have to trust it.  Which means that I have to throw out the Wards number which seems unbelievable to me.

I would have to be shown how shipping would affect pH before I'd think it possible.

Degassing of water (removal of co2 in this case) will drive carbonic acid out, thus raising ph. If putting in a large container, and not much volume, will promote a larger headspace thus more disassociation/equilibrium.
When degassing water with N2 its not uncommon to see a very large spike in pH, due to replacing the co2(acidic) with N2, much less acidic.


If the probe calibrates (short of buying a few more probes and calibrating), thats all you got.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: denny on June 22, 2021, 12:28:32 pm
If your meter is reading fresh calibration solutions correctly, I'd be inclined to trust your meter over the Wards value. Who knows what could have happened; 6.6 vs. 7.9 is a big disparity.

If a difference of 1.3 pH units was translating to your mash pH, it would be way out of whack and your beers would probably be suffering for it. How have they been turning out? That's sort of the ultimate test of a pH meter.
I have been having some issues lately, mainly with clarity, haze, etc. and I am trying to simplify some things.  I agree that discrepancy is big so then it makes me wonder about a water bottle with 4 ounces of tap water in it, going through the mail or UPS or whatever and what impact could there be on the water and its pH as it travels and gets to the lab.  Or... would the sample not be impacted by that?  I agree though that if my meter is reading brand new calibration solutions correctly then I have to trust it.  Which means that I have to throw out the Wards number which seems unbelievable to me.

I would have to be shown how shipping would affect pH before I'd think it possible.

Degassing of water (removal of co2 in this case) will drive carbonic acid out, thus raising ph. If putting in a large container, and not much volume, will promote a larger headspace thus more disassociation/equilibrium.
When degassing water with N2 its not uncommon to see a very large spike in pH, due to replacing the co2(acidic) with N2, much less acidic.

How large a container do you think he's gonna send to Ward Labs?  You theory and need to be right seem to be interfering with your common sense.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 12:29:57 pm
Degassing of water (removal of co2 in this case) will drive carbonic acid out, thus raising ph. If putting in a large container, and not much volume, will promote a larger headspace thus more disassociation/equilibrium.
When degassing water with N2 its not uncommon to see a very large spike in pH, due to replacing the co2(acidic) with N2, much less acidic.
So it could be possible for Ward to measure the pH and have it show high because of the way I packaged it?  I would conclude that my choice of container and the way I packaged it could cause an issue.  It's also possible that on earlier samples I used a smaller bottle and filled it all the way to the top.  Pretty sure Ward measured my water at a pH of 6.6 numerous times prior to this last one in August 2020. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 12:31:03 pm
If your meter is reading fresh calibration solutions correctly, I'd be inclined to trust your meter over the Wards value. Who knows what could have happened; 6.6 vs. 7.9 is a big disparity.

If a difference of 1.3 pH units was translating to your mash pH, it would be way out of whack and your beers would probably be suffering for it. How have they been turning out? That's sort of the ultimate test of a pH meter.
I have been having some issues lately, mainly with clarity, haze, etc. and I am trying to simplify some things.  I agree that discrepancy is big so then it makes me wonder about a water bottle with 4 ounces of tap water in it, going through the mail or UPS or whatever and what impact could there be on the water and its pH as it travels and gets to the lab.  Or... would the sample not be impacted by that?  I agree though that if my meter is reading brand new calibration solutions correctly then I have to trust it.  Which means that I have to throw out the Wards number which seems unbelievable to me.

I would have to be shown how shipping would affect pH before I'd think it possible.

Degassing of water (removal of co2 in this case) will drive carbonic acid out, thus raising ph. If putting in a large container, and not much volume, will promote a larger headspace thus more disassociation/equilibrium.
When degassing water with N2 its not uncommon to see a very large spike in pH, due to replacing the co2(acidic) with N2, much less acidic.

How large a container do you think he's gonna send to Ward Labs?  You theory and need to be right seem to be interfering with your common sense.
May have been a standard 16.9 ounce water bottle that I filled 1/3rd of the way up... something like that. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: hmbrw4life on June 22, 2021, 12:47:04 pm
If your meter is reading fresh calibration solutions correctly, I'd be inclined to trust your meter over the Wards value. Who knows what could have happened; 6.6 vs. 7.9 is a big disparity.

If a difference of 1.3 pH units was translating to your mash pH, it would be way out of whack and your beers would probably be suffering for it. How have they been turning out? That's sort of the ultimate test of a pH meter.
I have been having some issues lately, mainly with clarity, haze, etc. and I am trying to simplify some things.  I agree that discrepancy is big so then it makes me wonder about a water bottle with 4 ounces of tap water in it, going through the mail or UPS or whatever and what impact could there be on the water and its pH as it travels and gets to the lab.  Or... would the sample not be impacted by that?  I agree though that if my meter is reading brand new calibration solutions correctly then I have to trust it.  Which means that I have to throw out the Wards number which seems unbelievable to me.

I would have to be shown how shipping would affect pH before I'd think it possible.

Degassing of water (removal of co2 in this case) will drive carbonic acid out, thus raising ph. If putting in a large container, and not much volume, will promote a larger headspace thus more disassociation/equilibrium.
When degassing water with N2 its not uncommon to see a very large spike in pH, due to replacing the co2(acidic) with N2, much less acidic.

How large a container do you think he's gonna send to Ward Labs?  You theory and need to be right seem to be interfering with your common sense.


Not a fan of those ad-hominem attacks.

He stated:
" I filtered some water into an empty, dry water bottle (like AquaFina, etc)."

It got shook up all along the ride, who knows. I didn't say it happen, only the mechanism of which is could, which I am not mistaken you asked for.


Have you ever degassed water? I have, and I took the pH, it changed. What have you seen?
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 12:51:59 pm
Okay, no need for anyone to get prickly, kids.  I could potentially solve this by asking Ward about the best possible way to package the sample and send them another one sometime in the near future.  Also, my neighbor's wife is heavy into gardening and I wonder if she has a pH meter.  If so, I could borrow it and test a sample of my tap water with my meter and hers and see what happens.  I have multiple Thermapens in case I start to distrust one of them but I only have one pH meter.  I also have some old test strips but I'm not sure I would trust them to cross-check my meter. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 01:28:35 pm
What about the sample-taking part?  What if I wanted to measure the pH of my tap water so I go to my kitchen sink and just open the tap and get a small sample and measure it.  Then I did it again but I let the water run for a minute so I'm not getting water that is sitting in the pipes.  Could the measurement be different?  Yes, no, maybe but not enough to matter?

What is the latest information for how long into the mash to wait to take an accurate pH measurement?  I have heard a number of brewers say they wait until about 20 minutes into the mash.  But once I set my mash cap and close up the mash, I really don't want to muck around in there to get a sample?  How and when are most of you measuring mash pH?
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: RC on June 22, 2021, 01:30:28 pm
If your meter is reading fresh calibration solutions correctly, I'd be inclined to trust your meter over the Wards value. Who knows what could have happened; 6.6 vs. 7.9 is a big disparity.

If a difference of 1.3 pH units was translating to your mash pH, it would be way out of whack and your beers would probably be suffering for it. How have they been turning out? That's sort of the ultimate test of a pH meter.
I have been having some issues lately, mainly with clarity, haze, etc. and I am trying to simplify some things.  I agree that discrepancy is big so then it makes me wonder about a water bottle with 4 ounces of tap water in it, going through the mail or UPS or whatever and what impact could there be on the water and its pH as it travels and gets to the lab.  Or... would the sample not be impacted by that?  I agree though that if my meter is reading brand new calibration solutions correctly then I have to trust it.  Which means that I have to throw out the Wards number which seems unbelievable to me.

I would have to be shown how shipping would affect pH before I'd think it possible.

Degassing of water (removal of co2 in this case) will drive carbonic acid out, thus raising ph. If putting in a large container, and not much volume, will promote a larger headspace thus more disassociation/equilibrium.
When degassing water with N2 its not uncommon to see a very large spike in pH, due to replacing the co2(acidic) with N2, much less acidic.

How large a container do you think he's gonna send to Ward Labs?  You theory and need to be right seem to be interfering with your common sense.
May have been a standard 16.9 ounce water bottle that I filled 1/3rd of the way up... something like that.

For grins and giggles I did my own pH tests on regular and degassed water samples. A 100 mL water sample straight from the tap was pH 6.96. I then shook the sample very vigorously for 30 seconds (it was in a 250 mL mason jar). pH was 6.92. I then took a reading in the Brita filter, just to be thorough. It was 6.98. All very similar.

Interestingly, my Wards water report shows a pH of 7.8, which is consistent with my city water report. So I have a similar, albeit smaller, disparity.

In summary, I have no idea what's going on, but I will continue trusting my pH meter until weirder stuff happens.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 01:43:24 pm
For grins and giggles I did my own pH tests on regular and degassed water samples. A 100 mL water sample straight from the tap was pH 6.96. I then shook the sample very vigorously for 30 seconds (it was in a 250 mL mason jar). pH was 6.92. I then took a reading in the Brita filter, just to be thorough. It was 6.98. All very similar.

Interestingly, my Wards water report shows a pH of 7.8, which is consistent with my city water report. So I have a similar, albeit smaller, disparity.

In summary, I have no idea what's going on, but I will continue trusting my pH meter until weirder stuff happens.
Thank you for that.  I appreciate it.  That is very strange.  I wonder how many other brewers see a difference between what their meter says and their Ward report.  I do agree... my meter is reading brand new calibration solution properly so I have to trust it.  I also reached out to a brewing bud who lives about 15 minutes from me and asked if I could borrow his meter.  It would be great to see two meters agree on the same sample or at least be close. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: hmbrw4life on June 22, 2021, 01:51:16 pm
Thanks for testing, but thats not degassing. You just shook o2 in it (if that was the case we would see pH shift when oxygenating for brewing).  If you degassed with co2 (or yeast) it would lower the pH of the medium, conversely if you degas with N2 it raises pH.

Maybe they were flown? Maybe the pressure did something? Maybe probably none of the above?
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 01:55:08 pm
It just seems unreal that a place that is all about measuring could have bad numbers.  But it also seems unreal for my meter to read calibration solution properly at the same time.  Every time I check the pH of my water I end up in the 6.6 to 6.7 range and my meter does go to two spots to the right of the decimal so anywhere from 6.60 to 6.72 very consistently.  That small window is why I asked about the proper way to get a sample. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: hmbrw4life on June 22, 2021, 01:58:33 pm
It just seems unreal that a place that is all about measuring could have bad numbers.  But it also seems unreal for my meter to read calibration solution properly at the same time.  Every time I check the pH of my water I end up in the 6.6 to 6.7 range and my meter does go to two spots to the right of the decimal so anywhere from 6.60 to 6.72 very consistently.  That small window is why I asked about the proper way to get a sample.

Did you follow this?

Water Sampling Procedure
Use a clean plastic container for submitting your sample. Any clean plastic bottle will work. Bottles can be obtained from the laboratory.
Let water run for five minutes.
Rinse the container several times with water that is being sampled and then fill the sample bottle. Send at least one-half pint of water to be tested.
If it is not possible to send the sample to the lab immediately after collection, refrigerate until it is sent.
Once you’ve sent your sample, your results will be emailed once completed. Turnaround time varies by analysis and season, but most sample results will be sent within 1-3 days of the samples arriving at the lab.  You will receive an invoice with the results, payable by check, credit card or through our online portal.


From here:
https://www.wardlab.com/submit-a-sample/water-analysis/household-brewery-water-sampling-procedure/
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 02:17:20 pm
Thanks for that.  You know, that "five minutes" part may be the issue.  I don't think I let the water run for 5 minutes.  But I did everything else properly with the clean water bottle, rinsed with the sample water and I sent it out immediately so no refrigeration came into play.  I would have filled the bottle halfway which would have fulfilled the half-pint part.  When I filter my water I let it run through the filter for about a minute before I start collecting it.  I wonder if I need to take a sample where the water has run for 5 minutes and then wait 5 minutes before collecting for brewday. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: erockrph on June 22, 2021, 05:49:38 pm
Did you take a pH reading of the exact same sample? If not, maybe there was something affecting the source water at the time you drew the sample you sent to Ward. Does your town ever switch to a secondary source? Was there recent heavy rainfall? The outlier seems to be the Ward Labs sample, so that is where I would assume the issue is.

Maybe Ward Labs got their samples crossed up? Did the other levels fall in line with your expectations,  or were they off too?

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

Title: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: BrewBama on June 22, 2021, 08:32:18 pm


FYI to the group, I always check my sparge water and add acid to get between 5.2 and 5.6.  I need to know where it starts so I don't overshoot. Granted the untreated water sometimes takes a while to get a stable reading, but I usually get there.

Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk

^^ I do the same to all my brewhaus liquor.

Hey Ken — maybe Ward labs made a mistake and mixed up your sample with someone else’s. I’d give them a call and tell them what you’re seeing.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 09:09:31 pm
Did you take a pH reading of the exact same sample? If not, maybe there was something affecting the source water at the time you drew the sample you sent to Ward. Does your town ever switch to a secondary source? Was there recent heavy rainfall? The outlier seems to be the Ward Labs sample, so that is where I would assume the issue is.

Maybe Ward Labs got their samples crossed up? Did the other levels fall in line with your expectations,  or were they off too?

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
I did not take a pH measurement of the sample but that's a good point.  Also, my area is served by a wide-reaching water distribution network and the numbers (from Ward) have always been very much in the same neighborhood.  Heavy rainfall or sever drought does not seem to alter the water as the water treatment center must control it pretty well.  The water is heavily chlorinated which is why I send it through a carbon-block filter.  The numbers on this latest test were all very close to numbers in the past except for the pH. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 09:15:28 pm
Hey Ken — maybe Ward labs made a mistake and mixed up your sample with someone else’s. I’d give them a call and tell them what you’re seeing.
What might be fun is to take another sample doing the five minute thing and the rest of the sample-taking steps, take a pH measurement with it and then send it off to Ward and see what happens.  In the 4-5 times I have ever had a Ward analysis (in 21+ years), the pH has always been around 6.6.

Here's another data point although it's fuzzy and old just like me:  Years ago before I had decent pH control I would attempt to make pale lagers and they would not come out well because I was either mashing or sparging at a pH higher than 6.0.  However, in those days my amber and dark beers came out nicely.  If the pH of the water was 6.6 I could see this being possible because the darker malts might lower the pH but 7.9?  Seems unlikely but I'm spitballing. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 22, 2021, 09:31:16 pm
Okay, no need for anyone to get prickly, kids. …

It’s easy to get sucked in. 

Based on a recent exchange, I had to take a step back, reevaluate, and, realizing who I was dealing with, just resigned the exchange as an impasse and stopped posting regardless of whatever was said next.

I realized it’s just not worth the energy to get sucked in anymore and so I’ll just do my thing based on sources I trust.  I’ll just ignore the BS.
You know that thread about "simplifying things"?   ;)  :D
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 23, 2021, 01:44:08 pm
An update:  I went over to my bud's house last night and borrowed his meter.  It's an Apera 60 that he said he got on Amazon.  Not sure I have ever heard of the brand.  He is currently on a brewing hiatus because of work so he told me to keep it as long as I need and he gave me the whole case... meter, solutions, little plastic cups for measuring, etc.  I also have my Omega meter and I calibrated both of them.  I also have the solutions with the Apera meter and new Biopharm 4.0 and 7.0 solutions I just got from Amazon.  In addition to that I have 4.5-to-9.0 pH test strips just to see if they help.  I calibrated both meters prior to testing them.  I grabbed a sample of my tap water right from the faucet.  Apera says 7.59, Omega says 6.6 and the test strips looked like 6.0 to 6.25.  Not sure what to say about that one.  Then I measured the Apera 4.0 solution with the Apera meter.  4.0.  Then the Apera 7.0 solution with the Apera.  7.0.  Then I measure the Biopharm 4.0 with the Apera.  4.0.  Then the Biopharm 7.0 with the Apera.  7.25.  :|  Then the Apera 4.0 solution with the Omega.  3.85.  Then the Apera 7.0 solution with the Omega.  6.69.  Omega seems to be reading low.  Then the Biopharm 4.0 solution with the Omega.  3.85.  Then the Biopharm 7.0 with the Omega.  6.93.  Omega seems to be lagging behind.  The test strips don't go down to 4.0 so I measured both 7.0 solutions with the strips and they both lined up pretty accurately with the 7.0 squares on the key.  I have no issue calibrating the meter prior to every use but I calibrated both here right before the test (the Apera calibration process is different but relatively simple) and the Omega seemed to be out of calibration.  Anyone have any thoughts?  Anything that looks like I missed something?  I might use this other meter for my brew session this weekend and then return it to my bud and pick one up on Amazon if it looks to be working properly.  It's currently $79.  Also, here is another thing I noticed:  The Apera reads much quicker than my Omega.  It gets into the range very, very quickly while the Omega takes FFOORREEVVEERR to finally stop.  Maybe another sign that it's failing.  Cheers.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: BrewBama on June 23, 2021, 01:49:15 pm
Sounds like your probe may be starting to go.



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Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 23, 2021, 02:38:24 pm
Sounds like your probe may be starting to go.
That would stink because it hasn't been long since I replaced it.  Insider of a year.  Are they only supposed to last a year?  It doesn't go long without being used and I always store it in the storage solution and in an upright position.  But... I agree, the Omega doesn't seem to be reading properly at this point. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 23, 2021, 02:54:44 pm
WHOA!  You would NOT believe what just arrived in my mailbox.  My village 2020 water quality consumer confidence report!  Did they HEAR me wondering about my water?!  There are no numbers for things we look at like calcium, chloride, sulfate, etc. but I already know those numbers.  But the pH is right here and it says the range is 7.6 to 7.8.  Huh.  And this Apera meter showed it as 7.59 in my test today.  Now that's information I can use.  Turns out the Ward number was correct-ish.  So this weekend when I brew I am going to filter my water and get it to a pH of 5.5 prior to using it based on Strong's suggestion.  BNW calculated that I needed 4ml to get to a mash pH of 5.4 so I will start with less than that so I know how much I need to get from 7.6ish to 5.5ish.  Oh and my hardness (as CaCO3) shows an average of 130 which is close to my Ward numbers (140 this last time and 138 the time prior) so all of that checks out.  I consider that a very timely piece of mail.  :D
Title: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: BrewBama on June 23, 2021, 03:00:08 pm
I think you’re the only one in the country that can use the term ‘timely’ in the same sentence with the US Postal Service.



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Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 24, 2021, 02:33:15 pm
Turns out that another brewer I know who has/had the Omega meter also ran into trouble with it and got a new meter and... it turned out to be this same meter... Apera PH60.  It appears that the storage of the meter is slightly different than my Milwaukee meter I had (long ago) and also the Omega where you fill the cap with storage solution and store the meter upright.  I sent an email to Apera after looking at the documentation and for this meter they suggest just using a couple drops of 3M KCL solution.  Those drops just keep the environment inside the meter's cap "humid" which keeps the probe in good shape.  You can also store the meter in any position... vertical or horizontal.  If you go 30+ days without using the meter, you can "soak" the probe in the same solution to "refresh" the probe and get it into good shape.  That's very different from other meters that just use a "storage solution" and I wonder if that approach means a longer life and a more accurate probe.  The 3M KCL solution has a distinct smell to it that normal storage solution does not have.  My order for the Apera PH60 has been placed. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: BrewingRover on June 27, 2021, 11:18:40 am
WHOA!  You would NOT believe what just arrived in my mailbox.  My village 2020 water quality consumer confidence report!  Did they HEAR me wondering about my water?!  There are no numbers for things we look at like calcium, chloride, sulfate, etc. but I already know those numbers.  But the pH is right here and it says the range is 7.6 to 7.8.  Huh.  And this Apera meter showed it as 7.59 in my test today.  Now that's information I can use.  Turns out the Ward number was correct-ish.  So this weekend when I brew I am going to filter my water and get it to a pH of 5.5 prior to using it based on Strong's suggestion.  BNW calculated that I needed 4ml to get to a mash pH of 5.4 so I will start with less than that so I know how much I need to get from 7.6ish to 5.5ish.  Oh and my hardness (as CaCO3) shows an average of 130 which is close to my Ward numbers (140 this last time and 138 the time prior) so all of that checks out.  I consider that a very timely piece of mail.  :D

Hadn't seen this thread until today, I was going to post a link to those on the City web site, Ken.
https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/water/supp_info/water_quality_resultsandreports/comprehensive_chemicalanalysis.html

Those are pretty consistently in the 7.6-8.0 range.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 28, 2021, 02:08:44 pm
WHOA!  You would NOT believe what just arrived in my mailbox.  My village 2020 water quality consumer confidence report!  Did they HEAR me wondering about my water?!  There are no numbers for things we look at like calcium, chloride, sulfate, etc. but I already know those numbers.  But the pH is right here and it says the range is 7.6 to 7.8.  Huh.  And this Apera meter showed it as 7.59 in my test today.  Now that's information I can use.  Turns out the Ward number was correct-ish.  So this weekend when I brew I am going to filter my water and get it to a pH of 5.5 prior to using it based on Strong's suggestion.  BNW calculated that I needed 4ml to get to a mash pH of 5.4 so I will start with less than that so I know how much I need to get from 7.6ish to 5.5ish.  Oh and my hardness (as CaCO3) shows an average of 130 which is close to my Ward numbers (140 this last time and 138 the time prior) so all of that checks out.  I consider that a very timely piece of mail.  :D

Hadn't seen this thread until today, I was going to post a link to those on the City web site, Ken.
https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/water/supp_info/water_quality_resultsandreports/comprehensive_chemicalanalysis.html

Those are pretty consistently in the 7.6-8.0 range.
Thank you for that.  You know, sometimes you just need a stable starting point.  I had too much conflicting data but this local report I just got was enough to pinpoint something so I knew which meter to trust.  Thanks again & cheers.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: denny on June 28, 2021, 02:42:26 pm
Reminds me of the old saying "a man with 2 watches never knows what time it is"
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 28, 2021, 03:51:18 pm
Reminds me of the old saying "a man with 2 watches never knows what time it is"
Right.  I have two Thermapens, multiple dial thermos and a number of glass thermos so if I needed multiple opinions I have access to that.  But with one pH meter, I either have to trust it or else use pH strips just to try to verify it or have another pH meter.  TBH, I do not want two pH meters but this Omega meter I have has clearly $h!t the bed.  Taking proper care of a pen-style pH meter is not for the squeamish. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: chumley on June 29, 2021, 12:05:59 pm
I have been brewing for 31 years, all-grain the last 25.  About 10 years ago, I bought a pH meter and used it for a few batches. It confirmed that my practices for adjusting mash pH, namely adding set amounts of acid malt or lactic acid of very pale beers like pilsners and helles, and very small additions of calcium carbonate for stouts, were working. I haven't pulled it out of the box for years.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 29, 2021, 01:37:58 pm
I have been brewing for 31 years, all-grain the last 25.  About 10 years ago, I bought a pH meter and used it for a few batches. It confirmed that my practices for adjusting mash pH, namely adding set amounts of acid malt or lactic acid of very pale beers like pilsners and helles, and very small additions of calcium carbonate for stouts, were working. I haven't pulled it out of the box for years.
I hear that.  We all have different processes and different water and we all have to deal with whatever variables we have.  I do know that the pH of my water increased from earlier Ward Labs reports so that's one reason to check the water occasionally (unless you're always using RO or distilled in which case it would not be necessary).  With the goal just getting my strike water to a pH of 5.5 prior to brewing I should be able to bypass the meter as well but occasionally it's nice to make sure nothing has changed without you knowing. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: chumley on June 29, 2021, 05:04:03 pm
Well, if you live in Chicago, you probably never know where your city water is coming from, day to day, I suspect.

I live in Helena, Montana, and know my city water is coming from the Tenmile reservoir system 98% of the time, so I don't have to worry about it.

Now, on occasion, when the Tenmile water treatment plant is out of commission, my tap water comes from the Missouri River. I instantly know it from the mossy smell (I don't need a pH meter to tell me i have different water). I refuse to brew with that water, I can drive up to the Continental Divide where the highway department has developed a spring where I can fill plastic carboys. And that water has virtually the same cation/anion balance as my Tenmile city water.

I admire you guys who brew in less pristine parts of the country. I would brew with RO water if i lived in the Deep South - their tap water tastes terrible.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: BrewBama on June 29, 2021, 05:29:57 pm
…I can drive up to the Continental Divide where the highway department has developed a spring where I can fill plastic carboys. And that water has virtually the same cation/anion balance as my Tenmile city water.

…. I would brew with RO water if i lived in the Deep South - their tap water tastes terrible.

I envy guys like you. When i was stationed in Italy we were at the foothills of the Dolomites. The owner of the house we rented had a pipe tapped into a spring that ran with beautiful water.

I can definitely tell my filtered fridge water from unfiltered tap water that’s for sure. I have been noodling an RO system but I dunno. I use distilled to brew.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: RC on June 29, 2021, 06:18:48 pm
…I can drive up to the Continental Divide where the highway department has developed a spring where I can fill plastic carboys. And that water has virtually the same cation/anion balance as my Tenmile city water.

…. I would brew with RO water if i lived in the Deep South - their tap water tastes terrible.

I envy guys like you. When i was stationed in Italy we were at the foothills of the Dolomites. The owner of the house we rented had a pipe tapped into a spring that ran with beautiful water.

I can definitely tell my filtered fridge water from unfiltered tap water that’s for sure. I have been noodling an RO system but I dunno. I use distilled to brew.

Speaking of clean water, my water comes from Folsom Lake, which is fed by snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada. It's about as close to distilled water as a natural water source can be. It's so pure that it has caused corrosion and pinhole leaks in copper piping in hundreds (maybe thousands) of homes in the city of Folsom.

I am very lucky that I have not had to contend with hard and/or high-alkalinity water in my brewing career (although I did contend with pinhole leaks, and that wasn't fun). However, this will may change soon given how dry we are out here...
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Richard on June 29, 2021, 09:18:04 pm
…I can drive up to the Continental Divide where the highway department has developed a spring where I can fill plastic carboys. And that water has virtually the same cation/anion balance as my Tenmile city water.

…. I would brew with RO water if i lived in the Deep South - their tap water tastes terrible.

I envy guys like you. When i was stationed in Italy we were at the foothills of the Dolomites. The owner of the house we rented had a pipe tapped into a spring that ran with beautiful water.

I can definitely tell my filtered fridge water from unfiltered tap water that’s for sure. I have been noodling an RO system but I dunno. I use distilled to brew.

Speaking of clean water, my water comes from Folsom Lake, which is fed by snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada. It's about as close to distilled water as a natural water source can be. It's so pure that it has caused corrosion and pinhole leaks in copper piping in hundreds (maybe thousands) of homes in the city of Folsom.

I am very lucky that I have not had to contend with hard and/or high-alkalinity water in my brewing career (although I did contend with pinhole leaks, and that wasn't fun). However, this will may change soon given how dry we are out here...

The last picture I saw of Folsom Lake there was a long walk from the boat dock to the water. Once a reservoir starts getting shallow and the water warms there are all kinds of bad things that can happen. I hope you don't have to deal with that. I get Hetch Hetchy water, which is Sierra snowmelt like yours and is going to be OK for this year, but next year could be scarce if we don't have a wet winter.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 29, 2021, 10:05:53 pm
Well, if you live in Chicago, you probably never know where your city water is coming from, day to day, I suspect.
In my area, the water comes from what they call the Northwest Water District and it covers a very wide area and there are multiple water plants.  This is Lake Michigan water that has been treated with chlorine and it's actually very good brewing water and it's also relatively consistent.  I have spoken with other brewers and also people whose work relied on water for various things and they like the fact that the water has been so consistent so they don't have to play with it prior to using it for their uses.  Ca 34, Mg 12, Na 13, Cl 21, SO4 27 and then Bicarb of 138ppm.  All of those numbers are modest except the bicarbonate so I use lactic acid to bring the pH down.  But a shift in pH could cause an issue so I like to be able to look at it occasionally.  Cheers.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: hopfenundmalz on June 30, 2021, 05:37:33 am
Well, if you live in Chicago, you probably never know where your city water is coming from, day to day, I suspect.
In my area, the water comes from what they call the Northwest Water District and it covers a very wide area and there are multiple water plants.  This is Lake Michigan water that has been treated with chlorine and it's actually very good brewing water and it's also relatively consistent.  I have spoken with other brewers and also people whose work relied on water for various things and they like the fact that the water has been so consistent so they don't have to play with it prior to using it for their uses.  Ca 34, Mg 12, Na 13, Cl 21, SO4 27 and then Bicarb of 138ppm.  All of those numbers are modest except the bicarbonate so I use lactic acid to bring the pH down.  But a shift in pH could cause an issue so I like to be able to look at it occasionally.  Cheers.

Compare that report to Detroit, Lake Huron water,  and you will see that they are very similar. A while ago I found that there is not much difference in the water from the Great Lakes.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: HighVoltageMan! on June 30, 2021, 05:48:34 am
Why the worry about the pH of water? Aren't you worried more about it's buffering capabilities? That would be determined by the overall hardness, mainly bicarbonates, which are the main source of alkalinity and buffering capabilities. Distilled water often shows a pH below 7, but has zero buffering and moves as soon as any ions are added or removed, tap water doesn't move as quickly as distilled if it has any hardness.

It's seems to be a distraction and not important, it may be a misleading data point. The main drivers for pH in beer are the grain, water salts, buffering capabilities of the water and yeast. Measuring the pH of water really isn't necessary because it doesn't tell you anything you don't already know.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: goose on June 30, 2021, 07:33:20 am
Why the worry about the pH of water? Aren't you worried more about it's buffering capabilities? That would be determined by the overall hardness, mainly bicarbonates, which are the main source of alkalinity and buffering capabilities. Distilled water often shows a pH below 7, but has zero buffering and moves as soon as any ions are added or removed, tap water doesn't move as quickly as distilled if it has any hardness.

It's seems to be a distraction and not important, it may be a misleading data point. The main drivers for pH in beer are the grain, water salts, buffering capabilities of the water and yeast. Measuring the pH of water really isn't necessary because it doesn't tell you anything you don't already know.

It is important for me to know since I treat my sparge liquor (RO water) with phosphoric acid to get the pH in the range of the mash.  Yes I know the buffering power of the mash will hold the pH somewhat constant until much of the wort are diluted by the sparge during the runoff, but I like to be on the safe side to keep the pH in the mash bed from climbing above 6.  Call me anal retentive, but that is bow I do it.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 30, 2021, 07:59:27 am
Why the worry about the pH of water? Aren't you worried more about it's buffering capabilities? That would be determined by the overall hardness, mainly bicarbonates, which are the main source of alkalinity and buffering capabilities. Distilled water often shows a pH below 7, but has zero buffering and moves as soon as any ions are added or removed, tap water doesn't move as quickly as distilled if it has any hardness.

It's seems to be a distraction and not important, it may be a misleading data point. The main drivers for pH in beer are the grain, water salts, buffering capabilities of the water and yeast. Measuring the pH of water really isn't necessary because it doesn't tell you anything you don't already know.
That was covered on page 1.  I do agree with you to a point but having a consistent starting point batch after batch is important.  Not only that but my meter was acting wonky and I had no way to address it because I only had one pH meter.  If I take the pH of my water and it shows 6.6 but it's really 7.9 and then I take the pH of my mash and it shows 5.5 then it could actually be 6.8 or something.  There is more to this issue than just the pH of the water but that's a part of it. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: BrewBama on June 30, 2021, 08:46:41 am

It is important for me to know since I treat my sparge liquor (RO water) with phosphoric acid to get the pH in the range of the mash.  Yes I know the buffering power of the mash will hold the pH somewhat constant until much of the wort are diluted by the sparge during the runoff, but I like to be on the safe side to keep the pH in the mash bed from climbing above 6.  Call me anal retentive, but that is bow I do it.

I do the same with distilled. I treat total brewhaus liquor, withhold sparge, and add Brewtan B to the strike liquor to mash in.



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Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 30, 2021, 10:13:55 am

It is important for me to know since I treat my sparge liquor (RO water) with phosphoric acid to get the pH in the range of the mash.  Yes I know the buffering power of the mash will hold the pH somewhat constant until much of the wort are diluted by the sparge during the runoff, but I like to be on the safe side to keep the pH in the mash bed from climbing above 6.  Call me anal retentive, but that is bow I do it.
I do the same with distilled. I treat total brewhaus liquor, withhold sparge, and add Brewtan B to the strike liquor to mash in.
You probably have a bit of a shortcut there assuming that you're always starting with a consistent pH and knowing that X amount of acid will get you where you want to go.  I used to assume that with my source water because it was always pretty consistent (and really... it still is) but the spike in pH is new.  I know I have a Ward analysis showing my water at 6.6 pH and now 7.9.  The reason that's important is because that would change the amount of acid I need to get my water to around 5.5 prior to the mash and... if I can't trust my meter... now I'm working blind. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: chumley on June 30, 2021, 10:26:39 am
Cool thing about the Great Lakes is that most of the water is 10,000 year old glacial meltwater.

When I was young environmental consultant, I spent a good portion of time in the field developing and sampling groundwater monitoring wells. One of the biggest pains in the neck was using field pH meters. Sometimes you couldn't get them calibrated, other times they would calibrate only to drift in short time, sometimes that flat out wouldn't work. Ten years of working with pH meters gave me a healthy distrust of them for life.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: BrewBama on June 30, 2021, 10:32:12 am

You probably have a bit of a shortcut there assuming that you're always starting with a consistent pH and knowing that X amount of acid will get you where you want to go….

. Simplicity.



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Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 30, 2021, 10:57:12 am
Cool thing about the Great Lakes is that most of the water is 10,000 year old glacial meltwater.

When I was young environmental consultant, I spent a good portion of time in the field developing and sampling groundwater monitoring wells. One of the biggest pains in the neck was using field pH meters. Sometimes you couldn't get them calibrated, other times they would calibrate only to drift in short time, sometimes that flat out wouldn't work. Ten years of working with pH meters gave me a healthy distrust of them for life.
Yeah, they are NOT very user-friendly devices and I feel like many of these $80 jobbies are poor performers at best.  I assume that there are MUCH better meters that labs use but I'm not into spending more money on brewing at the moment.  I did order one of these Apera meters and I will continue to watch to see how it performs on the cal solutions and also on my water.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on June 30, 2021, 10:57:49 am
Simplicity.
Hey, I'm getting a vibe here.  :D

Another thing I have to remind myself is that this is a hobby and I have no formal training.  It's also a science-heavy hobby and my science isn't that great nor do I have a desire to get in up to my knees in formulas, etc.  I have experience which I rely on but I have always been a "by-the-numbers" brewer and when I need something extra I have no formal training to fall back on.  Things happen in brewing that we can't see (enzymatic activity, various water ions, the pH of anything when our meter is acting up) and so issues sometimes come up.  As a result I have been trying to simplify as much as possible. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: jjflash on July 10, 2021, 07:50:19 am
My water is from a community well and will vary from 6.0 to 7.6 depending upon the day / season.
I have relied upon the Milwaukee 101 meter for many years.
I use and recommend the Milwaukee Cleaning Solution has been helpful in maintaining the electrode performance.
The sign to me the electrode is going bad in different pH readings from the same sample.
I have needed to replace the electrode a coupe times over the years.
Despite the best of care I think they just wear out over time.




Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: dmtaylor on July 10, 2021, 11:16:53 am
I just checked calibration on my cheap 3 or 4 year old Chinese meter yesterday and it measured perfect, no adjustment required.  Usually it has to be adjusted so I was pleased.  YMMV
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: mabrungard on July 11, 2021, 08:23:33 am
I have needed to replace the electrode a coupe times over the years.
Despite the best of care I think they just wear out over time.

Just like the tires, belts, or battery on your car, a pH probe is a ‘wear item’ that will always require periodic replacement. It is a electro-chemical cell that eventually wears out. That’s why I recommend getting a pH meter with an industry-standard, BNC-cabled probe. That helps reduce the costs of ownership.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: goose on July 11, 2021, 11:14:49 am
I have needed to replace the electrode a coupe times over the years.
Despite the best of care I think they just wear out over time.

Just like the tires, belts, or battery on your car, a pH probe is a ‘wear item’ that will always require periodic replacement. It is a electro-chemical cell that eventually wears out. That’s why I recommend getting a pH meter with an industry-standard, BNC-cabled probe. That helps reduce the costs of ownership.

^^^This.  that is why I have a Milwaukee SM-102.  I can order a new probe when it no longer calibrates properly and it doesn't break the bank!
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on July 11, 2021, 11:28:24 am
I have needed to replace the electrode a coupe times over the years.
Despite the best of care I think they just wear out over time.

Just like the tires, belts, or battery on your car, a pH probe is a ‘wear item’ that will always require periodic replacement. It is a electro-chemical cell that eventually wears out. That’s why I recommend getting a pH meter with an industry-standard, BNC-cabled probe. That helps reduce the costs of ownership.

^^^This.  that is why I have a Milwaukee SM-102.  I can order a new probe when it no longer calibrates properly and it doesn't break the bank!
I think my Omega was like that and this new Apera is that way too.  Not sure if I mentioned this but this Apera does not use "storage solution" (as we know it) in the cap to keep the probe wet.  It uses something called 3M KCl solution which has a distinct smell to it.  The directions call for just a couple drops which keeps the environment in the cap moist.  Not sure if that will prolong probe life or not.  I brewed on Friday evening and while I was waiting for strike water to come to temp I grabbed a small sample of my tap water (pH 7.9) and the meter read it perfectly so I was happy I didn't have to calibrate it.  I know it's been mentioned in this thread "why worry about the pH of your water?" and I understand that but over the past month or so I had absolutely no bearing on pH.  My Omega read my source water pH much lower than the 7.9.  Ward showed the pH of my water at 7.9 (which I should have believed) and this new meter also shows it that way.  With some BrewBama/Gordon Strong "simplicity" and just getting the pH of my strike water to 5.5 prior to mashing I could conceivably live without a meter going forward as long as the pH of my source water does not change.  As mentioned by others here... the Great Lakes water composition is very consistent and my water processing entity is also very consistent. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: purduekenn on July 14, 2021, 12:34:19 pm
I just checked calibration on my cheap 3 or 4 year old Chinese meter yesterday and it measured perfect, no adjustment required.  Usually it has to be adjusted so I was pleased.  YMMV

What brand is it? I thought about purchasing one.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: dmtaylor on July 14, 2021, 01:08:11 pm
I just checked calibration on my cheap 3 or 4 year old Chinese meter yesterday and it measured perfect, no adjustment required.  Usually it has to be adjusted so I was pleased.  YMMV

What brand is it? I thought about purchasing one.

Only $7.99 on Amazon.  If you're worried about them being cheap junk, buy 2 or 3 or 15 of them.  Still cheaper than anything else.  And effective.  Mine has lasted at least 3 years now, still on my first one, no problems.  AND I measure in the hot ~150 F wort.  YMMV.

https://www.amazon.com/IDEALHOUSE-Accuracy-Measurement-Household-Drinking/dp/B07Z9DY1CV/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=homebrew+ph+meter&qid=1626289489&sr=8-5

But don't listen to Dave, he's friggin crazy.  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on July 14, 2021, 02:28:11 pm
One thing that occurs to me is:  If you have one pH meter, how do you know if your meter is correct?  Do you just have a sense when it's not correct because you're making the same beer you've made 10 times with all the same ingredients and you know what the mash pH should be and so... you calibrate the meter?  I ask this because my old meter (even with a calibration) was NOT reporting my water's pH accurately.  Only my Ward report from last fall and a timely piece of mail from my village with my water consumer report were able to make me understand that my meter was not cooperating.  I mentioned earlier that I have multiple thermometers in case I have that issue but only ONE pH meter. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: purduekenn on July 14, 2021, 02:47:51 pm
I just checked calibration on my cheap 3 or 4 year old Chinese meter yesterday and it measured perfect, no adjustment required.  Usually it has to be adjusted so I was pleased.  YMMV

What brand is it? I thought about purchasing one.

Only $7.99 on Amazon.  If you're worried about them being cheap junk, buy 2 or 3 or 15 of them.  Still cheaper than anything else.  And effective.  Mine has lasted at least 3 years now, still on my first one, no problems.  AND I measure in the hot ~150 F wort.  YMMV.

https://www.amazon.com/IDEALHOUSE-Accuracy-Measurement-Household-Drinking/dp/B07Z9DY1CV/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=homebrew+ph+meter&qid=1626289489&sr=8-5

But don't listen to Dave, he's friggin crazy.  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
I ordered one so I can check it against my Milwauke pH 56 meter. Thanks for the info. I guess I'm crazy too!!
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: denny on July 14, 2021, 03:12:32 pm
One thing that occurs to me is:  If you have one pH meter, how do you know if your meter is correct?  Do you just have a sense when it's not correct because you're making the same beer you've made 10 times with all the same ingredients and you know what the mash pH should be and so... you calibrate the meter?  I ask this because my old meter (even with a calibration) was NOT reporting my water's pH accurately.  Only my Ward report from last fall and a timely piece of mail from my village with my water consumer report were able to make me understand that my meter was not cooperating.  I mentioned earlier that I have multiple thermometers in case I have that issue but only ONE pH meter.

If you have 2 pH meters that disagree, it's the same situation isn't it?
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Silver_Is_Money on July 14, 2021, 03:15:29 pm
One thing that occurs to me is:  If you have one pH meter, how do you know if your meter is correct?  Do you just have a sense when it's not correct because you're making the same beer you've made 10 times with all the same ingredients and you know what the mash pH should be and so... you calibrate the meter?  I ask this because my old meter (even with a calibration) was NOT reporting my water's pH accurately.  Only my Ward report from last fall and a timely piece of mail from my village with my water consumer report were able to make me understand that my meter was not cooperating.  I mentioned earlier that I have multiple thermometers in case I have that issue but only ONE pH meter.

This is why I now have two pH meters.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: purduekenn on July 14, 2021, 03:19:29 pm
One thing that occurs to me is:  If you have one pH meter, how do you know if your meter is correct?  Do you just have a sense when it's not correct because you're making the same beer you've made 10 times with all the same ingredients and you know what the mash pH should be and so... you calibrate the meter?  I ask this because my old meter (even with a calibration) was NOT reporting my water's pH accurately.  Only my Ward report from last fall and a timely piece of mail from my village with my water consumer report were able to make me understand that my meter was not cooperating.  I mentioned earlier that I have multiple thermometers in case I have that issue but only ONE pH meter.

If you have 2 pH meters that disagree, it's the same situation isn't it?
Maybe brewing calculators like Bru’n water is a good check if you have a good water report like Wards?
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: dmtaylor on July 14, 2021, 03:40:49 pm
You guys do realize they make calibration solutions to check whether your pH meter is reading correctly... yes?

I thought so.  Just checking.  ;)
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: purduekenn on July 14, 2021, 03:50:12 pm
You guys do realize they make calibration solutions to check whether your pH meter is reading correctly... yes?

I thought so.  Just checking.  ;)

Yes. I use it for my pH 56 meter. I had to clean the probe with vinegar and rinse and then use a 50% bleach solution to get the meter calibrated again. It seams to be working ok now. I store the meter in storage solution when it is not in use. It might be nice to have an extra meter in case one is acting up when you try to calibrate like my pH 56 meter did before cleaning.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: RC on July 14, 2021, 06:01:57 pm
You guys do realize they make calibration solutions to check whether your pH meter is reading correctly... yes?

LOL, this is exactly what came to my mind as well. It's pretty easy to check the accuracy of your pH meter in a way that doesn't involve buying a second one. That said, I'm admittedly throwing stones from a glass house because there's a lot of brewing equipment that I have two of. Or six.

This would be a good time to remind brewers that calibration solutions do go bad. They absorb atmospheric gasses, as any liquid does. This changes how well they match their labeled calibration pH. If you think your probe is going bad, consider how old your solutions are as part of the troubleshooting. And use fresh, new solutions to get that "second opinion" if you think your probe is iffy.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Richard on July 14, 2021, 08:22:24 pm
You guys do realize they make calibration solutions to check whether your pH meter is reading correctly... yes?

LOL, this is exactly what came to my mind as well. It's pretty easy to check the accuracy of your pH meter in a way that doesn't involve buying a second one. That said, I'm admittedly throwing stones from a glass house because there's a lot of brewing equipment that I have two of. Or six.

This would be a good time to remind brewers that calibration solutions do go bad. They absorb atmospheric gasses, as any liquid does. This changes how well they match their labeled calibration pH. If you think your probe is going bad, consider how old your solutions are as part of the troubleshooting. And use fresh, new solutions to get that "second opinion" if you think your probe is iffy.

I buy small bottles of the calibration solutions so I use them up before they go bad, but I often use them as a "second opinion". I first measure the pH of white vinegar, which should be 2.50, and if the reading is more than  0.01 or 0.02 off I calibrate using the solutions.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: goose on July 15, 2021, 07:53:33 am
One thing that occurs to me is:  If you have one pH meter, how do you know if your meter is correct?  Do you just have a sense when it's not correct because you're making the same beer you've made 10 times with all the same ingredients and you know what the mash pH should be and so... you calibrate the meter?  I ask this because my old meter (even with a calibration) was NOT reporting my water's pH accurately.  Only my Ward report from last fall and a timely piece of mail from my village with my water consumer report were able to make me understand that my meter was not cooperating.  I mentioned earlier that I have multiple thermometers in case I have that issue but only ONE pH meter.

I hve a pretty good pH meter (Milwaukee SM-102) and calibrate it with 7.0 and 4.0 buffers about once per month.  I notice that when taking a pH measurement of RO water, that the reading tends to drift down a bit, so I collect a sample and let the probe sit in it on my brew day while I am weighing out minerals, crushing grain and doughing in.  It usually will stabilize and I can then proceed with the sparge liquor pH adjustment with phosphoric acid.

If the meter calibrates easily, you can be pretty sure the probe is good and accurate.  I notice that when my probe is going bad it takes a long time to calibrate with the 4.0 solution and I replace it.  I can usually get about 3 years out of a probe, YMMV
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Village Taphouse on July 15, 2021, 08:26:32 am
You guys do realize they make calibration solutions to check whether your pH meter is reading correctly... yes?

I thought so.  Just checking.  ;)
I would measure the 4.0 and 7.0 and the meter was off so I would calibrate it.  A short time later I would try to read the 4.0 and 7.0 solutions and it was closer but still off so I would calibrate it again.  I believe the solutions have a shelf life so that muddies the water a bit too.  Knowing what BNW would predict is one way to know and clearly just brewing on the same system with the same water and ingredients gives us some bearing, no question.  But if I calibrate a meter and it shows my water at 6.8 when it's really 7.9... apparently the meter is toast. 
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Bilsch on July 19, 2021, 03:43:05 pm
But if I calibrate a meter and it shows my water at 6.8 when it's really 7.9... apparently the meter is toast.

Not necessarily. In brewing use the probes get films of lipids and proteins as well as mineral build up which effects their performance. Sluggish response is the first clue. Anyway before you chuck that meter give it a good cleaning by soaking in 5-10% solution of HCL followed by a 3-5% solution of NaOh or KOH. Bet it will fix it right up.

P.S. Storage solution is saturated KCL solution and I'm betting the 3M KCL is pretty much the same thing.
Title: Re: Yet another pH thread...
Post by: Silver_Is_Money on July 19, 2021, 04:45:03 pm
A solution of KCl in water is completely neutral as to pH.  If your meter reads 4 or slightly lower as to pH when the probe is in the 3 molar KCl solution there is added acid and/or buffer.  I.E., it is not just 3M KCl.