Author Topic: a question about pickling lime v. chalk  (Read 9010 times)

Offline morticaixavier

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a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« on: April 28, 2012, 11:03:48 PM »
I am using Bru'n water to build out my water from RO. Right now I am working on a robust porter recipe and I can hit my numbers on the sheet by adding the following minerals,

13.5 g gypsum
9.1 g calcium chloride
12.6 g chalk (to the mash, I actually mixed it in with my grain before mashing in last time)
or
9.8 g pickling lime.

so the first question is why would one choose to use pickling lime over chalk or vice versa?

If it helps, here is the VERY ROUGH draft of the grain bill.
13 lbs US pale malt
3 lbs munich 10L
1 lbs crystal 60
1 lbs chocolate


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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2012, 05:33:14 AM »
Chalk does not dissolve readily. You can bubble CO2 through water and chalk to dissolve it. If you have a carbonator cap and a big plasitc drink bottle, you can fill about 3/4 full, add chalk, pressurise with 30 PSI and shake. If all the chalk does not dissolve, vent, add more pressure and shake again. And so on.

Pickling lime dissolves quickly. The OH ions combine with the H ions to form water. The other thing you add is Ca, which does not impact the flavor. I point this out due to the fact that some use baking soda, but that adds Na.



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Offline hokerer

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2012, 07:34:28 AM »
Chalk does not dissolve readily.

Pickling lime dissolves quickly.

This.  Also, for some reason, those amounts seem awful high compared to what I need to get my pH in range.
Joe

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2012, 07:45:36 AM »
Forgot to say KAI has some info on dissolving chalk on braukaiser.com.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2012, 08:11:45 AM »
Re: chalk not dissolving, isn't this why you add it to the mash itself rather than to the water. but if PL is easier than i will check that out.

Re: amounts, yeah it seemed high to me as I usually only use a couple grams. I will check and see if I made an error somewhere.

**EDIT**

Ahh okay, lets try that again

4.4 g CaSO4
2.8 g CaCl2
and
4.4 g CaCO3
« Last Edit: April 29, 2012, 08:20:04 AM by morticaixavier »
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2012, 08:50:37 AM »
You add chalk to the mash to get some of it to dissolve at mash pH. Even at finished beer pH it doesn't all dissolve. Try it!

In beer it should dissolve, but the issue according to John Palmer is that the reaction takes a long time. Same for the mash, you are done with the mash before the chalk is all dissolved, that is from a talk he gave at the WEB homebrew competition.

This is more chemistry than this engineer cares to digest - from UC Davis!
 http://lawr.ucdavis.edu/classes/ssc102/Section5.pdf

The color chart here at the bottom shows the equilibruim of the carboante species vs pH. Note that is equilibrium, which takes time.
http://research.nmsu.edu/molbio/bioinfo/tutorials/env-engr/carbonate/carbonate.html
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Offline nateo

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2012, 10:32:20 AM »
Lime packs more "alkalinity punch" than chalk. High amounts of calcium are noticeable, to me, though I'm talking really high amounts. You'd probably be ok with around 10g of lime. Chalk tastes like chalk to me, so I don't like using it.

If you want to get really fancy, you could use caustic potash. That would just add potassium, which your yeast would probably enjoy. I agree with Hopfen re: baking soda. I don't care what the question is; in brewing, baking soda is never the answer.

Edited to add my standard pickling lime disclaimer: Gloves and goggles. Use them. That stuff is nasty and gets airborne easily. I use it all the time, and you really don't want to get it on your skin or in your eyes.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2012, 10:34:17 AM by nateo »
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2012, 05:35:19 AM »
As pointed out above, the problem with chalk is that you can't get it to dissolve and contribute its theoretical alkalinity.  Bru'n Water assumes the chalk IS properly dissolved via CO2 and water and the full theoretical alkalinity is provided.  As Kai Troester and AJ DeLange have experimentally confirmed, chalk only delivers about half its theoretical alkalinity when placed in water without proper dissolution with CO2.  Some water programs take this into account and they assume half the alkalinity is added when chalk is used this way. 

I've used chalk in the past and found it to be too unreliable for mash pH control.  Lime is highly soluble and it is very complete in neutralizing excess acidity.  If you have the capability to measure out the small amounts of lime needed in the typical 5 gal grist, then its a no-brainer for use.  Its cheap and its very effective.  But its quite hazardous as Nate points out above.  Measure and use with care! 
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Offline nateo

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2012, 05:42:40 AM »
I've found for mash adjustments it's good to make large amount of 5% lime solution, and keep that on hand if you need more alkalinity. Once it's dissolved in water it's a lot less trouble to handle and dispense, so you'd only need to handle and measure the powder occasionally.
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Offline beersk

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2012, 07:00:40 AM »
Lime packs more "alkalinity punch" than chalk. High amounts of calcium are noticeable, to me, though I'm talking really high amounts. You'd probably be ok with around 10g of lime. Chalk tastes like chalk to me, so I don't like using it.

If you want to get really fancy, you could use caustic potash. That would just add potassium, which your yeast would probably enjoy. I agree with Hopfen re: baking soda. I don't care what the question is; in brewing, baking soda is never the answer.

Edited to add my standard pickling lime disclaimer: Gloves and goggles. Use them. That stuff is nasty and gets airborne easily. I use it all the time, and you really don't want to get it on your skin or in your eyes.
So, why is baking soda never the answer?
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Offline nateo

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2012, 07:04:00 AM »
So, why is baking soda never the answer?

Baking soda contributes a low amount of alkalinity, and contributes relatively high amount of Na. So if you add enough baking soda to change the mash pH, you've added a lot (I would argue too much) sodium. If your addition is very small, the amount of sodium would probably not be deleterious, but at that point, you'd probably be better off with a slightly low mash pH rather than the excess sodium.

I don't think there's ever a situation where baking soda is the most appropriate base to use to increase alkalinity in a mash.

Try it yourself, if you don't believe me. Dissolve 100ppm of chalk in water, and dissolve 100ppm of baking soda in a cup of water. Drink the water, then decide which flavor you'd rather have in your beer.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 07:07:34 AM by nateo »
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2012, 07:46:37 AM »
As pointed out above, the problem with chalk is that you can't get it to dissolve and contribute its theoretical alkalinity.  Bru'n Water assumes the chalk IS properly dissolved via CO2 and water and the full theoretical alkalinity is provided.  As Kai Troester and AJ DeLange have experimentally confirmed, chalk only delivers about half its theoretical alkalinity when placed in water without proper dissolution with CO2.  Some water programs take this into account and they assume half the alkalinity is added when chalk is used this way. 

I've used chalk in the past and found it to be too unreliable for mash pH control.  Lime is highly soluble and it is very complete in neutralizing excess acidity.  If you have the capability to measure out the small amounts of lime needed in the typical 5 gal grist, then its a no-brainer for use.  Its cheap and its very effective.  But its quite hazardous as Nate points out above.  Measure and use with care!

okay, I will look into getting some lime, shouldn't be hard, the hardware store in town has a good pickling section. So my current scale only has a 1 g precision. and I would guess (I don't have the sheet available to me right now) that I want ~3 g PL for this next brew. if I am within 1 g of that is that close enough or do I need to get a more exact scale?
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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2012, 07:47:13 AM »
So, why is baking soda never the answer?

Baking soda contributes a low amount of alkalinity, and contributes relatively high amount of Na. So if you add enough baking soda to change the mash pH, you've added a lot (I would argue too much) sodium.

Don't really agree with this, especially since you're going to get half (or less) of the theoretical bicarbonate contribution of chalk in reality, while baking sodium is readily soluble.  According to Palmer, one teaspoon adds about 75 ppm of sodium and 191 ppm of bicarbonate.  I'd feel comfortable adding half of this amount to a dark beer when starting with RO water.
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Offline nateo

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2012, 07:50:05 AM »
okay, I will look into getting some lime, shouldn't be hard, the hardware store in town has a good pickling section. So my current scale only has a 1 g precision. and I would guess (I don't have the sheet available to me right now) that I want ~3 g PL for this next brew. if I am within 1 g of that is that close enough or do I need to get a more exact scale?

At that precision, given how strong of a base lime is, I would probably dissolve 100g of lime in 900ml of water. If Bru'n water tells you to use 9.8 grams, you could then pretty safely use 98ml or 98g of the lime solution, assuming I have my decimals correct.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: a question about pickling lime v. chalk
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2012, 07:52:06 AM »
okay, I will look into getting some lime, shouldn't be hard, the hardware store in town has a good pickling section. So my current scale only has a 1 g precision. and I would guess (I don't have the sheet available to me right now) that I want ~3 g PL for this next brew. if I am within 1 g of that is that close enough or do I need to get a more exact scale?

At that precision, given how strong of a base lime is, I would probably dissolve 100g of lime in 900ml of water. If Bru'n water tells you to use 9.8 grams, you could then pretty safely use 98ml or 98g of the lime solution, assuming I have my decimals correct.

excellent, that is a very pragmatic solution (no pun intended) to the problem.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time"
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"errors are [...] the portals of discovery"
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