Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => Ingredients => Topic started by: enso on April 29, 2011, 09:05:06 PM

Title: water, water everywhere...
Post by: enso on April 29, 2011, 09:05:06 PM
...and I dunno what to think!

Okay, well I am too stupid to do anything with water chemistry, or any ind of chemistry really!  Read much on the topic in here and in books, spreadsheets, etc..  So let's not go there.  However, some help on overall quality, keep it real simple here folks, would be much appreciated.

I have been renting a house for the last 9 mos. and we are in the process of buying it.  Nearly a done deal.  We have a drilled well here though I do not use the water.  It has a distinct sulfury smell that is consistent but worse some times then others.  It is not the hot water heater.  It is likely iron or sulfer bacteria or a combination.  I generally get my water from springs in the area and they provide great tasting water but it is not always convenient to get it.

As a part of the buying/inspecting process we got the well water tested from Ward labs.  Did a full on test for bacteria and all...

Coliform Bacteria, Col/100 mL NONE (SAFE)
E Coli Bacteria, Col/100 mL NONE (SAFE)
pH 8.2
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 145
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.24
Cations / Anions, me/L 2.3 / 2.2
Sodium, Na 15
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 28
Magnesium, Mg 2
Total Hardness, CaCO3 78
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 5
Chloride, Cl 6
Carbonate, CO3 9
Bicarbonate, HCO3 89
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 88
Fluoride, F 1.20
Total Iron, Fe 0.03

Doesn't look to bad to read the report, but it smells/tastes bad.  There is a sediment filter for the house that the landlord changes monthly.  Which he thinks helps, I disagree.

What can I do with this water if I want to brew with it?  Any suggestions for an idiot?

Title: Re: water, water everywhere...
Post by: mabrungard on April 29, 2011, 09:30:02 PM
You're right, it does not look that bad for brewing.  The iron is also plenty low so it should not be the culprit.  Is there any staining from the water?  Brown or Black staining anywhere?  I'm assuming the well is a shallow well?  If there is any black staining, then its manganese.  But that is not typically odorous, its a very metallic flavor.

Hydrogen sulfide gives a rotten egg aroma and that would not be detected in the Ward testing.  If the hydrogen sulfide concentration is high enough, if you leave a glass of water out for a while, you might see some slight clouding of the water that might precipitate out.  That would be elemental sulfur.  Try that test.  The owner may have seen particulates or sediment in the water when its left out and decided to add the filter.  Unfortunately, the particulate filter would not really work if its hydrogen sulfide since it requires oxygen exposure to cause the precipitation.

You mentioned that there is a particulate filter on the house.  You might try a activated carbon (AC) cartridge to see if it strips the odor.  A 10" cartridge with AC is only good for about 1 gal/min, so you would have to back off the flow rate to actually see if it works.  1 gpm isn't worth anything in household use.  You sure can't take a shower like that.  If it turns out that AC works to strip the odor, then you would have to have a big AC unit hooked up to the house to allow good flow rates.  Hydrogen sulfide can react on the AC filter and drop out quickly without oxygen.

Good luck.   
Title: Re: water, water everywhere...
Post by: enso on April 29, 2011, 09:42:15 PM
Thanks Martin,
I will try the glass of water test. 

Yes, there is black staining.  Specifically if you look in the toilet tank on the first floor bathroom it has black slime (fairly substantial) deposited on the sides of the tank.  The bowl itself does not really seem to stain.  Upstairs bathroom the tank is no where near as funky.  It has a light brown slimy coating in the tank and the bowl will develop an orange/brown staining between cleanings.  The smell comes from both cold and hot water taps.

Oh, and it's a drilled well.  I am still trying to find out the depth and gpm etc.  I think I have the driller tracked down, I just have to contact them
Title: Re: water, water everywhere...
Post by: punatic on April 30, 2011, 12:19:02 AM
Hydrogen sulfide (HS) is common in groundwater in Florida.  It is a dissolved gas.  At the water plants I operated there were two methods for HS removal:  running the raw water over a cascade system to allow the HS to come out of solution or bubbling ozone through the raw water.  The ozone treatment had the added advantage of disinfecting the water and reducing chlorine demand.  And it didn't stink up the surrounding neighborhood with rotten-eggs smell like the cascades systems do.

Both of these methods of HS removal are possible on household sized water systems if it turns out that that is what is causing your smelly water.
Title: Re: water, water everywhere...
Post by: tschmidlin on April 30, 2011, 06:31:14 AM
The "black staining" you are describing is not mineral deposits from manganese the way Martin is describing it.  It sounds more like some kind of bacteria or fungus, and it sounds like the tanks could use a good cleaning.
Title: Re: water, water everywhere...
Post by: jeffy on April 30, 2011, 12:22:48 PM
The "black staining" you are describing is not mineral deposits from manganese the way Martin is describing it.  It sounds more like some kind of bacteria or fungus, and it sounds like the tanks could use a good cleaning.

The black rubber part (flapper) in the toilet bowl will leave a stain, too.  Touch one and your hand will be black.  That's just rubber deterioration, not a water issue.
Title: Re: water, water everywhere...
Post by: enso on April 30, 2011, 01:52:02 PM
Did the glass of water test.  I would not say there was clouding and percipitation perse.  It was cloudy at first coming out of the faucet but that was bubbles after coming out of the aerator on the faucet.  I left it for about a half hour.  It was clear, but if I tapped it on the counter bubbles would come up from the bottom.  I did that a couple of times and it stopped.  Left it over night.  It was clear this morning and actually tasted/smelled okay.  Although this is one of the times when the sulfur smell is lessened.  As I said, it varies as to how strong it is.

Yes I agree the black in the tank is a bacteria.  I have been investigating this for a while.  A local well driller suggested it was iron bacteria based on desrciption over the phone.  That was before I got the test results.  It would seem not the be the case as iron so low in the results.  The next possibility I read about is sulfur reducing bacteria.  Which apparently feed off of elemental sulfur which is what Martin was suggesting.  Though that does not seem to be the case now either.  hmmm.

And yes, the toilet tank could use a good cleaning.   :-[
But that does not cause the overall odors and I am not collecting my water from there!   ;D
Title: Re: water, water everywhere...
Post by: rabid_dingo on April 30, 2011, 10:58:01 PM
It sounds like you have similar symptoms to my water. I am on a well 714' and the sulfur comes and goes.
I get some orange Iron staining in the toilets and sinks. But it has diminshed with the age of the well. It is about
6 years old. I get the black toilet tank stuff too. I don't understand the concept of cleaning water that will be flushed
down the toilet, literally. I occacionaly give it a scrub down with a sponge but nothing more...It's non potable if you
ask me. Thankfully no-one has dropped an upper decker for me to really worry about.  ;D

I have done squat to my water, and my beer tastes just fine. My issue is that my house actually has NO space
for any type of filter/conditioner/treatment system of any type. My water heater is in the garage and that is
the only spot where there is access to the pipes for any system. The draw back is the 1 guy we asked to
check and give us an estimate and test to see what we needed, would not install a system in a garage where
temps would drop below room temp...

Brew a small batch and see what it does. I don't discourage "fixing" your water I am just saying tolerate the smell
since you can work around it. I did get a "whole house" filter system for brewing. My home already has one so my
hose water goes through that so I bought another for my brewery (and I have yet to use it), I bought fittings
to run the hose to it and have it be filtered through the AC as suggested above. 1 GPM for filling an HLT is ok if
you ask me...But only for the HLT and Brewhouse. Household? Yeah you need more...

I brew with my water and it has never had any bad reviews. No comps yet but not because of the water...
Title: Re: water, water everywhere...
Post by: Kit B on May 02, 2011, 08:19:43 PM
Even though your test results don't show any bacterial contamination, I think I'd recommend shocking your well with bleach.

It looks to me like you have something in there that's able to grow, so I'd give it a shot.
Title: Re: water, water everywhere...
Post by: gmac on May 04, 2011, 09:21:10 PM
It sounds like regular old sulphur in the water to me. Leave your water out overnight before you brew and I bet it will be gone. Lots and lots of people around here have sulphur in their wells. Its fine to drink, just smells bad but like has been said already, its a dissolved gas that goes away if you leave it open.