Author Topic: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance  (Read 2986 times)

Offline Greg A.

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Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« on: May 19, 2012, 06:46:49 PM »
I noticed when altering my water profile in this tool, that my base profile without adjustments has green cells for cation and anion but when I start adjusting the profile with salt and acid additions, then the balance is thrown off and the cells are no longer green (yellow cells, cation: 5.3, anion: 4.3).  Should I be trying to make adjustments to create a balance between these ions?
« Last Edit: May 19, 2012, 06:51:39 PM by Greg A. »
Greg Arndt
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Offline nateo

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Re: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2012, 07:52:26 AM »
I don't think it's possible to have unbalanced water in the real world. I assumed the ion balance feature in Bru'n water was a way to evaluate how likely it was that your target water (or something close) could exist. I don't think it's meant to be used as a prescriptive feature to guide your ion additions. In any case, I've never worried about balancing the water, and I still find Bru'n water useful. 
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Offline greatplainsbrewer

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Re: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2012, 08:13:14 AM »
Speaking from experience. . .  The only time I was unbalanced was when I incorrectly entered my water profile. 

Offline ajk

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Re: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2012, 10:29:32 AM »
I noticed when altering my water profile in this tool, that my base profile without adjustments has green cells for cation and anion but when I start adjusting the profile with salt and acid additions, then the balance is thrown off and the cells are no longer green (yellow cells, cation: 5.3, anion: 4.3).  Should I be trying to make adjustments to create a balance between these ions?

It sounds as though you're trying to calculate the effects of adjustments to your brewing water on sheet 1 (Water Report Input).  I only use that page for inputting values from my water report; then I leave it that way.  I use sheet 3 (Water Adjustment) for making the actual adjustments.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2012, 03:24:58 PM »
I noticed when altering my water profile in this tool, that my base profile without adjustments has green cells for cation and anion but when I start adjusting the profile with salt and acid additions, then the balance is thrown off and the cells are no longer green (yellow cells, cation: 5.3, anion: 4.3).  Should I be trying to make adjustments to create a balance between these ions?

It sounds as though you're trying to calculate the effects of adjustments to your brewing water on sheet 1 (Water Report Input).  I only use that page for inputting values from my water report; then I leave it that way.  I use sheet 3 (Water Adjustment) for making the actual adjustments.
That is my thought too, I believe that is the way the spreadsheet is intended to be used.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline Greg A.

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Re: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2012, 08:11:13 AM »
I am doing the adjustments on the Water Adjustment sheet.  In this case, when I enter my water report on the water report input sheet, let's say both the cation and anion levels are 4.3 meq/L each, so the cells for cation and anion are green on the Water Adjustment sheet (columns I & J).  Now when adding mineral/salts I can keep that balance and the cells remain green.  Once I add an acid, such as lactic acid, the balance is thrown off and I might end up with a cation level of 6.9 meq/L and an anion measurement of 4.5.  This leaves the cells yellow now (row 12 Finished Water Profile). 

I guess this is a two part question, one about the use of the software itself and one about water chemistry for brewing.  In the case of the software, do the cation/anion columns on the Water Adjustment sheet for the finished water profile mean anything in terms of the quality of the final water makeup or is it mainly for determining the validity of the original water report?

Secondary question that might need to be asked else where is if as a brewer, should I try to maintain a balance between cations and anions when making water adjustments to have a positive effect on the outcome of the beer.
Greg Arndt
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2012, 11:26:05 AM »
i see where you're looking.

In the case of the software, do the cation/anion columns on the Water Adjustment sheet for the finished water profile mean anything in terms of the quality of the final water makeup or is it mainly for determining the validity of the original water report?
Martin will have to answer this for sure, but those columns mean nothing in terms of the validity of the water report - that comes from the water report input page, not the water adjustment sheet.  I ignore them when building the water, they are more of an interesting reference to me.  I have no idea what controls the color of those cells though, you can get it to change from green to yellow when they are within 0.1 of each other.

Secondary question that might need to be asked else where is if as a brewer, should I try to maintain a balance between cations and anions when making water adjustments to have a positive effect on the outcome of the beer.
When you add brewing salts you are automatically adding a balance of cations and anions.  Throwing in some acid can change what it reports, but your water will still be balanced.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline nateo

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Re: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2012, 11:34:44 AM »
When you add brewing salts you are automatically adding a balance of cations and anions.  Throwing in some acid can change what it reports, but your water will still be balanced.

Yeah, if you weren't adding balanced ions, like by adding elemental sodium or something, your mash would explode.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2012, 11:54:10 AM »
When you add brewing salts you are automatically adding a balance of cations and anions.  Throwing in some acid can change what it reports, but your water will still be balanced.

Yeah, if you weren't adding balanced ions, like by adding elemental sodium or something, your mash would explode.
;D Adding elemental sodium would be a bad idea - you should really avoid adding really anything in that column of the periodic table, especially Francium (as if you could get a lump of it). :)

You could add elemental magnesium or calcium and watch it sink to the bottom. ;)
Tom Schmidlin

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2012, 07:47:43 AM »
Once I add an acid, such as lactic acid, the balance is thrown off and I might end up with a cation level of 6.9 meq/L and an anion measurement of 4.5.  This leaves the cells yellow now (row 12 Finished Water Profile). 

I guess this is a two part question, one about the use of the software itself and one about water chemistry for brewing.  In the case of the software, do the cation/anion columns on the Water Adjustment sheet for the finished water profile mean anything in terms of the quality of the final water makeup or is it mainly for determining the validity of the original water report?

Secondary question that might need to be asked else where is if as a brewer, should I try to maintain a balance between cations and anions when making water adjustments to have a positive effect on the outcome of the beer.

Ah, now I see the dilemma.  Greg, you are right.  When you add an acid on the Water Adjustment sheet, the bicarbonate is neutralized by the Hydrogen proton into water and CO2.  The problem is that for most of the acid choices listed in Bru'n Water, the acid anion is not added to the anion total when the hydrogen proton is added.  That is where the "imbalance" is created on the sheet.  That imbalance does not exist in reality since that acid's anion is added to the water.  Since anions like lactate or phosphate aren't of much interest in our brewing, they weren't listed in the simplified cation and anion listing in Bru'n Water.

As an aside, if you select either sulfuric or hydrochloric acid as your acid on the Water Adjustment sheet, you will see that the cation/anion balance is maintained since Bru'n Water does calculate either the sulfate or chloride ion addition and includes that in the anion total. 

Good catch on this pecularity of the program.  I'll add a note in the program that adding acids may cause an imbalance, but its nothing to worry about.

Second question: No, the cation/anion balance is relatively meaningless on the Water Adjustment sheet since when adding any of the other minerals and SOME acids, the added cations always equal the added anions.  If the original water was balanced reasonably, the finished water will also. 

Secondary question: There is no easy way that you can add just a cation or anion to water.  The ionic salts we use in brewing always are balanced.  You will always add exactly the same number of milliequivalents of the cation as the anion. 

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Offline Greg A.

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Re: Bru'n Water - cation/anion balance
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2012, 08:06:49 AM »
Once I add an acid, such as lactic acid, the balance is thrown off and I might end up with a cation level of 6.9 meq/L and an anion measurement of 4.5.  This leaves the cells yellow now (row 12 Finished Water Profile). 

I guess this is a two part question, one about the use of the software itself and one about water chemistry for brewing.  In the case of the software, do the cation/anion columns on the Water Adjustment sheet for the finished water profile mean anything in terms of the quality of the final water makeup or is it mainly for determining the validity of the original water report?

Secondary question that might need to be asked else where is if as a brewer, should I try to maintain a balance between cations and anions when making water adjustments to have a positive effect on the outcome of the beer.

Ah, now I see the dilemma.  Greg, you are right.  When you add an acid on the Water Adjustment sheet, the bicarbonate is neutralized by the Hydrogen proton into water and CO2.  The problem is that for most of the acid choices listed in Bru'n Water, the acid anion is not added to the anion total when the hydrogen proton is added.  That is where the "imbalance" is created on the sheet.  That imbalance does not exist in reality since that acid's anion is added to the water.  Since anions like lactate or phosphate aren't of much interest in our brewing, they weren't listed in the simplified cation and anion listing in Bru'n Water.

As an aside, if you select either sulfuric or hydrochloric acid as your acid on the Water Adjustment sheet, you will see that the cation/anion balance is maintained since Bru'n Water does calculate either the sulfate or chloride ion addition and includes that in the anion total. 

Good catch on this pecularity of the program.  I'll add a note in the program that adding acids may cause an imbalance, but its nothing to worry about.

Second question: No, the cation/anion balance is relatively meaningless on the Water Adjustment sheet since when adding any of the other minerals and SOME acids, the added cations always equal the added anions.  If the original water was balanced reasonably, the finished water will also. 

Secondary question: There is no easy way that you can add just a cation or anion to water.  The ionic salts we use in brewing always are balanced.  You will always add exactly the same number of milliequivalents of the cation as the anion. 

RDWHAHB
 

Thank you for answering this for me! I'll definitely relax and have a few home brews now!  Love the program and learning the science behind it.
Greg Arndt
Homebrewer in training