Author Topic: Water Softeners  (Read 2545 times)

Offline gmac

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Water Softeners
« on: October 06, 2012, 10:04:41 AM »
First of all, I tried a search but I got 12 pages of items with the word Water or the word Software so I'm asking.
The house we are moving to has a water softener because the water is fairly hard.  I'm going to have water put into the garage for brewing and it will by-pass the softener but that may not be until next year so I'm wondering what I can expect if I use softened water to brew with?
Thanks

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2012, 10:12:26 AM »
The softener excanges Sodium for the Ca and Mg that are in the water - assuming you use salt. You want the Ca and Mg, and would want a report to see how much are there in the unsoftened water. The Sodium is something you probably don't want.

A water report of the hard water could tell you what you need to do. The bicarbonate is not removed by the softener, but how much do you have? Other minerals would be nice to know also, SO4 and Cl. 
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Offline punatic

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2012, 11:04:07 AM »
You could blend back a  portion of your untreated water.  You'll need analyses of both softened and raw water to determine if blending is an option and the proportions to blend if it is an option.

Of course RO is an option also.  There are small 2-3gal/day units that are relatively inexpensive.  If you RO treat the softened water you can remove the sodium. Softened feedwater to the RO unit will produce RO water faster.   Planning your brewday a week or so in advance will allow you to collect enough brew water.

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Offline nateo

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2012, 11:52:52 AM »
Some water softeners use potassium as the cation. Potassium is good for yeast health, generally. If it uses sodium for the cation you really wouldn't want to use it in most cases. If it uses potassium you could probably blend softened with unsoftened to get something reasonable, but I'd check your water report to make sure that's reasonable.
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Offline euge

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2012, 12:39:47 PM »
You could blend back a  portion of your untreated water.  You'll need analyses of both softened and raw water to determine if blending is an option and the proportions to blend if it is an option.

Of course RO is an option also.  There are small 2-3gal/day units that are relatively inexpensive.  If you RO treat the softened water you can remove the sodium. Softened feedwater to the RO unit will produce RO water faster.   Planning your brewday a week or so in advance will allow you to collect enough brew water.

This is basically what I do. I blend the water and check the ppm. I go off the average my water report states. Crude but cheap and easy.

The RO units aren't very efficient. I love mine but for every gallon it generates about six go down the drain. I still haven't implemented a reclamation method.

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Offline punatic

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2012, 12:59:45 PM »
The RO units aren't very efficient. I love mine but for every gallon it generates about six go down the drain. I still haven't implemented a reclamation method.

1:6 = 14% recovery.  You're right, that isn't very efficient, but you'll never have to worry about scaling up your membranes.

At 14% recovery your concentrate waste has nearly the same mineral content as your feedwater.  Run the waste line from your RO unit to a rain barrel and irrigate with it. 
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Offline gmac

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2012, 01:44:01 PM »
Yeah, I know a water test is in order ASAP. It only a mile from where I live now so the water is likely pretty similar to what I have now which is pretty crunchy with calcium.

Offline euge

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2012, 06:13:01 AM »
The RO units aren't very efficient. I love mine but for every gallon it generates about six go down the drain. I still haven't implemented a reclamation method.

1:6 = 14% recovery.  You're right, that isn't very efficient, but you'll never have to worry about scaling up your membranes.

At 14% recovery your concentrate waste has nearly the same mineral content as your feedwater.  Run the waste line from your RO unit to a rain barrel and irrigate with it.

In my case, since the wastewater from the RO unit will have a high sodium content, wouldn't this have immediate benefits but also cause an accumulation of salt in the soil leading to problems down the road?

I couldn't really find much info about watering with this type of water.
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Offline Tim Thomssen

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2012, 06:39:27 AM »
Most if not all water softeners have a bypass valve built in to the unit to allow service.  You just switch the valve on the unit, run enough water through the tap to flush the line, now you have untreated water available to brew with.  Just don't forget to switch it back when you're done brewing.

Cheers.

First of all, I tried a search but I got 12 pages of items with the word Water or the word Software so I'm asking.
The house we are moving to has a water softener because the water is fairly hard.  I'm going to have water put into the garage for brewing and it will by-pass the softener but that may not be until next year so I'm wondering what I can expect if I use softened water to brew with?
Thanks

Offline nateo

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2012, 06:42:49 AM »
If your water is high in temporary hardness (Ca/Mg + CO3, not Cl or SO4) you can always use the low-tech method of using pickling lime. That's what I do, and it works well. Just don't use an aluminum pot to do it in.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2012, 06:55:17 AM »
Some water softeners use potassium as the cation. Potassium is good for yeast health, generally. If it uses sodium for the cation you really wouldn't want to use it in most cases. If it uses potassium you could probably blend softened with unsoftened to get something reasonable, but I'd check your water report to make sure that's reasonable.

Well, sort of.  The problem is that wort already has plenty of potassium from the malt.  Adding more potassium does add a 'saltiness' that can be detected.  So this is not a panacea. 

As pointed out, removing Ca and Mg from the brewing water increases the RA of that water.  So alkalinity reduction becomes even more important.  If a hard water source has only modest Mg and low iron and manganese, it can probably make very good beers.  Hardness is rarely a problem in brewing.  Its only a concern when you brew a delicate style that can show that extra minerallyness in the flavor. 

Nate points out a great treatment option for waters with high temporary hardness (lime).  Another option for that sort of water is boiling it and decanting off the chalk sediment.  Old school method that is not energy efficient, but it works. 
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Offline punatic

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2012, 01:22:49 PM »
The RO units aren't very efficient. I love mine but for every gallon it generates about six go down the drain. I still haven't implemented a reclamation method.

1:6 = 14% recovery.  You're right, that isn't very efficient, but you'll never have to worry about scaling up your membranes.

At 14% recovery your concentrate waste has nearly the same mineral content as your feedwater.  Run the waste line from your RO unit to a rain barrel and irrigate with it.

In my case, since the wastewater from the RO unit will have a high sodium content, wouldn't this have immediate benefits but also cause an accumulation of salt in the soil leading to problems down the road?

I couldn't really find much info about watering with this type of water.

You soften your water with a salt softener and then use that as feedwater for your RO unit?

At 14% recovery, and assuming 100% salt rejection -
If your RO feedwater has a TDS of 100ppm your concentrate waste will have a TDS of 117ppm.  I would guess that your membrane salt rejection is more in the 90%-95% range so the concentrate waste TDS would be even lower.

I operate RO systems that use brackish water (high in sea salt) wells to provide landscape irrigation and swimming pool makeup for homes.  The product water (permeate used to water plants and fill pools) has TDS in the 500ppm - 650ppm range with no ill effect on the plants.  The pool operators like this high TDS water because the pools use salt water chlorination.  They save on salt.

Your RO waste should be fine to irrigate with.   

FWIW the concentrate waste from these irrigation RO systems is injected back into the ground.  Since most of the irrigation water percolates back into the ground too, the net salt increase in the brackish aquafer is near zero (immeasurable).  The brackish wells are close to the ocean and are under tidal influence.  Groundwater salinity is monitored continuously.  There was concern that irrigation water would dilute the brackish water in the aquafer and nearby anchialine ponds, disrupting the environment in those ponds.  This has not been the case. 
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Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2012, 11:32:15 AM »
If there are hose bibs outside, they may not run through the softener. You could get an RV/marine connection hose to run into the garage for not.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Water Softeners
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2012, 03:24:40 PM »
If there are hose bibs outside, they may not run through the softener. You could get an RV/marine connection hose to run into the garage for not.
I checked and you're right.  The line to the outside tap does not go through the softener so I should be good to brew in the yard until I can get the shop set up. 
Thanks

Gonna brew tomorrow - 10 gals of APA for the housewarming.  Been moving stuff all weekend.  We have too much stuff!