Author Topic: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water  (Read 6882 times)

Offline ukolowiczd

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ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« on: July 07, 2012, 09:29:08 AM »
I like to "make" certain waters by adding the salts to all of my pre-boil water that is low in salts (i.e. mash and sparge water). When using a salt table like in "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels, would I look at the 5 gallon concentrations or the 10 gallon concentrations? I would assume the 10 gallon concentrations since I'm using approximately that much in my total water bill. My calculations for the high end concentrations of 150-250ppm for darker beers have me adding 10-14 grams (2.5 - 3.5 tsp) of salt per 10 gallon. Does this sound right?

Offline a10t2

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2012, 06:38:58 PM »
What salt(s) are you adding? Which ion concentration(s) are you looking at?

Here's Palmer's table that gives the concentrations for various salt additions: http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-4.html
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Offline nateo

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2012, 08:18:41 AM »
Personally, I don't think I'd ever want over 100ppm of anything in my brewing water. I used to futz with my brewing water a lot, but I've found brewing with the least mineralized water (while providing adequate calcium and alkalinity, when applicable) has given me the best results. It's not a very popular opinion. I suggest if you think you need a certain amount of ions in your brewing water, try brewing it with and without, and see which you prefer, instead of taking anyone else's word for it.
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2012, 10:20:58 AM »
It's not a very popular opinion.

Depends on who you ask...
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2012, 11:08:17 AM »
I went through the phase of over engineering my water. I am back to the less is more approach. If you have a pH meter you can measure the mash pH, and if it is good, don't mess with it any more.

You want Calcium in the 50-100 ppm range, and you need to know that some will come from the mash. Use gypsum or CaCl2 as the added calcium source, balancing the SO4 and Cl for the beer you are making. Mg I don't bother with anymore, enough comes from the mash to make the yeast healthy. I avoid chalk and baking soda to raise the pH, pickling lime is the tool I like for that. If the pH needs to be dropped, I have phosphoric and lactic acid for that, but I have only been using the phosphoric for the last few years.
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Offline richardt

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2012, 11:18:32 AM »
Ignore the classic "water profiles" of famous brewing centers.  I know there's even a BJCP question about it on the written exam, but, as Martin and others have pointed out, the commercial brewers often treated their source water by boiling and/or other methods to get the ions in a more desirable range (usually much lower ppm for most ions).  Attempting to recreate the classic profiles often results in "Alka Seltzer" beers, as Gordon has pointed out here on this forum and in his book, "Brewing Better Beer."

Calcium is important (50-100 ppm).
Chloride and Sulfate levels and relative ratios are important from a "seasoning" standpoint.

Residual alkalinity is moderately important (see water panel discussion from recent AHA conference)--and there's some differences of opinion regarding that.
Mash and Kettle pH are important--opinions vary on how best to do this, but most agree 5.2-5.6 would be ideal for mash pH.  Again, see water panel discussion from recent AHA conference.

Offline oly

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2012, 12:25:27 PM »
I went through the phase of over engineering my water. I am back to the less is more approach. If you have a pH meter you can measure the mash pH, and if it is good, don't mess with it any more.

You want Calcium in the 50-100 ppm range, and you need to know that some will come from the mash. Use gypsum or CaCl2 as the added calcium source, balancing the SO4 and Cl for the beer you are making. Mg I don't bother with anymore, enough comes from the mash to make the yeast healthy. I avoid chalk and baking soda to raise the pH, pickling lime is the tool I like for that. If the pH needs to be dropped, I have phosphoric and lactic acid for that, but I have only been using the phosphoric for the last few years.

I subscribe to the above approach. The only question I have is for Na. My water has almost zero Na. It is often said that Na provides roundness or accentuates the flavor of a beer. And the suggested range is from zero to something like 100ppm, a huge range.  So I generally dont add any (it would seem odd to add Salt to my brewing water) but I wonder if I'm missing something. Is there any suggested minimum Na level to bring out that 'roundness' that is discussed?

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2012, 01:56:57 PM »
Accentuate flavor, yes.  Roundness of flavor, no.  That's chloride.  pp.141-142.

In food, NaCl does make food taste more like food.  In beer, I find it makes beer taste more like salt.  Not a fan.  I'm sure you can add it in low enough doses that it doesn't taste salty, but I guess I don't see the need.  You can always add salt to your glass of beer, just like the oldtimers, if that's what you want.

If I want chloride in beer, I get it from calcium chloride since I need calcium anyway.  I'd skip the sodium, personally.
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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2012, 09:52:06 AM »
Accentuate flavor, yes.  Roundness of flavor, no.  That's chloride.  pp.141-142.

In food, NaCl does make food taste more like food.  In beer, I find it makes beer taste more like salt.  Not a fan.  I'm sure you can add it in low enough doses that it doesn't taste salty, but I guess I don't see the need.  You can always add salt to your glass of beer, just like the oldtimers, if that's what you want.

If I want chloride in beer, I get it from calcium chloride since I need calcium anyway.  I'd skip the sodium, personally.

Im with Gordon on this one. The only time I've added salt to my water was when I tried Randy Mosher's "Ideal Pale Ale" Water profile, which is what Tasty McDole recommended.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2012, 06:55:09 PM »
I have to differ with you guys on Na.  It is a welcome addition in beers that need a bitter focus.  The same thing applies for Mg too.  Those ions help bring focus to the bittering and add to it.  Just recognize that in the case of both of these ions, their maximum concentrations are still fairly low when you are using them for this purpose.
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Offline nateo

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2012, 04:09:00 AM »
Martin - What do you think a good range for Mg and Na is in this case?

I should add I don't build water from scratch. My water has about 6ppm Na, and around 10-15ppm Mg, so I don't have experience with literally no sodium or magnesium in brewing water. I've found those values are high enough that I don't really want to add more.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 04:54:26 AM by nateo »
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2012, 05:42:48 AM »
I find that limiting Na and Mg to around 30 ppm is a good idea for beers with bitter focus.  Those ions should be reduced significantly for beers with more malt focus.   

The 30 ppm Mg limit is fairly prevalent in brewing lore and that level appears warranted.  But the limit for Na is frequently cited as 100 to 150 ppm.  I dispute brewing with sodium levels anywhere near that high.  My review of waters from historic brewing centers indicates that there are very few brewing waters that exceed 50 ppm.  The few waters that do are just barely over that.  In Bru'n Water, I've written that sodium should be kept to less than 50 ppm in most beers.  I don't know what the origin of the 100 to 150 ppm limit was, but I expect that it has to do with injury to yeast due to excessive osmotic stress.  The 50 ppm limit is a good limit based on flavor effect.

There is an anachronism regarding sodium and brewing when it comes to the Gose style.  An award-winning Gose brewer that I've consulted uses up to 250 ppm sodium in his beer.  But when you look at the fact that this is added as a post-fermentation flavorant in this soured beer, then it makes more sense.  As I mention above, high sodium content would place the yeast under a high osmotic stress and could hinder their fermenation performance.  Adding the salt post-fermentation avoids this problem.   

I have the feeling that those that say 'no' Mg or Na would be more amenable to an argument for the 'low' levels I recommend above.  I think we are generally on the same page.
 
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Offline nateo

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2012, 06:16:35 AM »
"Why bother being right when I can be vague and wrong?" - Me. When I say "no sodium / magnesium" I mean to say "no additional, beyond a low amount" though I don't really know what "low" means or how much is too much.

As always, Martin said that with more precision and eloquence than I could.
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Offline ajk

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ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2012, 06:24:43 AM »
Personally, I don't think I'd ever want over 100ppm of anything in my brewing water. I used to futz with my brewing water a lot, but I've found brewing with the least mineralized water (while providing adequate calcium and alkalinity, when applicable) has given me the best results.

I agree. The best beers I've made have been mostly RO.  I will take a closer look at Na levels on my next bitter beer, though.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 06:28:06 AM by ajk »

Offline dcbc

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Re: ppm concentrations when adding salts to mash/sparge water
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2012, 05:24:02 PM »
I have used baking soda as my go to mash adjuster for the darker styles for some time now and no ill effects from Na.  Of course, my water has pretty low sodium at 9 ppm and the first runnings are well diluted with my sparge water.  So it tends to stay well below the 50 ppm threshold.  Beers have tasted good although it may have made a recent schwarzbier a bit on the chewy side.  Still quite delicious though.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 05:27:15 PM by dcbc »
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