Author Topic: Can't really use for brewing, but can I save my faucets?  (Read 307 times)

Offline AmandaK

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 944
  • Redbird Brewhouse
    • View Profile
Can't really use for brewing, but can I save my faucets?
« on: December 19, 2013, 09:43:39 AM »
Moved into a new house across the state line and recently got my water report back. Ugh.

pH 9.5
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 354
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.59
Cations / Anions, me/L 5.8/6.7
               ppm
Sodium, Na 65
Potassium, K 6
Calcium, Ca 25
Magnesium, Mg 18
Total Hardness, CaCO3 138
Nitrate, NO3-N < 0.3 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 68 (*3 = 204ppm SO4)
Chloride, Cl 25
Carbonate, CO3 22
Bicarbonate, HCO3 60
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 86

Based on this, I have given up using it for brewing due to the ridiculous sulfate and hardness levels. I'm moving to RO water in the new place. (Or can it be salvaged?) But what can I do to save my faucets? I'm already having issues with build up on my shower heads and the kitchen sink sprayer quit working once so far due to caked on crap.  :(

From my initial research, it looks like some sort of ion exchange sulfate removal system coupled with a standard water softener is in order, but I can't seem to find one in the retail world. Help? Anyone else have this problem?
Amanda Kertz
Kansas City Bier Meister
BJCP National

Redbird Brewhouse - Current Project: Full Basement Bar Build

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4547
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Can't really use for brewing, but can I save my faucets?
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2013, 09:54:11 AM »
That does' look all that bad, from my perspective, but the pH is higher than mine. Get a water softener for the house. You want to drain 5 gallons from the water heater per quarter to get the minerals out of the bottom. You can take the aerators off of the faucets and soak in CLR if it gets bad. You can see if the shower head and sink sprayer are removable and do the same. I had to do the sink aerators after 13 years.
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Online Steve in TX

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 812
    • View Profile
Re: Can't really use for brewing, but can I save my faucets?
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2013, 09:58:28 AM »
You could put carbon filters on all of the faucets. They also make shower head carbon filters.

Offline AmandaK

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 944
  • Redbird Brewhouse
    • View Profile
Re: Can't really use for brewing, but can I save my faucets?
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2013, 10:21:13 AM »
What if I wanted to nuke it and go with a whole house solution?
Amanda Kertz
Kansas City Bier Meister
BJCP National

Redbird Brewhouse - Current Project: Full Basement Bar Build

Online Steve in TX

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 812
    • View Profile
Re: Can't really use for brewing, but can I save my faucets?
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2013, 10:52:24 AM »
Water softener would help the faucets and other plumbing fixtures, but is unusable in brewing. In college I lived in a house with a softener, and the hose bibs were not hooked up to the softener. Not sure if that is common practice.

Whole house RO would be expensive. Plus, I hear home RO systems are very wasteful. Something to do with the rinsing of the membrane and the pressure of the water going through the membrane. I think 10+ gallons are wasted for every 1 gallon treated. Supposedly big RO vending machines are less wasteful since they operate at high pressure.

Online kramerog

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 788
    • View Profile
Re: Can't really use for brewing, but can I save my faucets?
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2013, 11:03:37 AM »
I believe that you would only need to treat the hot water.  Your faucet issues are from precipitation of calcium and magnesium salts.  Calcium salts (and possibly magnesium salts) exhibit reverse solubility; they are less soluble at warm temperatures than at cold temperatures. 
Brewers of South Suburbia
Brixie's Brewers
Oak Park Homebrewers

Offline kylekohlmorgen

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1163
    • View Profile
    • The South House Pilot Brewery
Re: Can't really use for brewing, but can I save my faucets?
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2013, 11:10:42 AM »
Don't give up on your water just yet...

Water Book and Bru'n Water have the answers. Study up, especially before purchasing a treatment unit (softener, etc).

Here's my fumbling opinion based on the above references:

First - your report cations and ions don't balance, so I would question the accuracy of the sulfate measurement. I would get another report, and then one or two per quarter. In St. Louis, the sulfate levels vary considerably based on which river the city is using.

Assuming that your sulfate content is ~ 150ppm, I still I think your water is suitable as a base for a wide range of beer styles. Basically anything that is lighter than "Amber" and leans away from a "malty" balance: pales/IPAs, saison, Pils, Belgian tripel/blond/wit/golden strong, pale sours, lambic.

For malty/dark beers, cut with RO/distilled water and add back Calcium.

Your alkalinity is high for pale styles, so you'll have to add acidify the mash/sparge liquor a bit.

Calcium is a little low - you need about 50-100 ppm for yeast floc, trub formation, and beerstone reduction.

You'll still need remove chlorine (carbon filter, Camden tablets).
@southhousebrew

Indianapolis, IN

Recipes, Brett/Bacteria Experiments:
http://southhousepilotbrewery.blogspot.com/

Offline punatic

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4582
  • Puna District, Hawaii Island (UTC -10)
    • View Profile
Re: Can't really use for brewing, but can I save my faucets?
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2013, 12:09:26 PM »
You could put carbon filters on all of the faucets. They also make shower head carbon filters.

Carbon filters do not remove dissolved solids.

With that high pH you will get scaling.
Whole house-wise, ion exchange (salt) softening will remove hardness and iron.  It will also increase your already high sodium, and do nothing about sulfate.

Whole house RO is pretty expensive - RO system (at least 400gpd), storage tank, pressure pump and pressure tank...  You can bypass-blend some of the raw water with the RO water to increase production, control the low pH of the permeate and add some minerals back.  Super soft RO water is as annoying as too hard water (whole house-wise).
« Last Edit: December 19, 2013, 12:18:10 PM by punatic »
There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way.


AHA Life Member #33907

Offline AmandaK

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 944
  • Redbird Brewhouse
    • View Profile
Re: Can't really use for brewing, but can I save my faucets?
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2013, 12:17:10 PM »
Don't give up on your water just yet...


First - your report cations and ions don't balance, so I would question the accuracy of the sulfate measurement. I would get another report, and then one or two per quarter. In St. Louis, the sulfate levels vary considerably based on which river the city is using.

I still want to use the house water (plus Campden) for brewing, but if I am aiming to be consistent and my water source varies (KC, BTW, but still the same issues as StL in terms of variability), how can I use the current water to my advantage? I don't really want to rely in store bought water, but even after the Water book and playing with Brunwater, I'll have to cut it with RO anyway for a good amount of the beer I brew.
Amanda Kertz
Kansas City Bier Meister
BJCP National

Redbird Brewhouse - Current Project: Full Basement Bar Build

Offline kylekohlmorgen

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1163
    • View Profile
    • The South House Pilot Brewery
Re: Can't really use for brewing, but can I save my faucets?
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2013, 01:09:40 PM »
I still want to use the house water (plus Campden) for brewing, but if I am aiming to be consistent and my water source varies (KC, BTW, but still the same issues as StL in terms of variability), how can I use the current water to my advantage? I don't really want to rely in store bought water, but even after the Water book and playing with Brunwater, I'll have to cut it with RO anyway for a good amount of the beer I brew.

I have the same question since I'm new to St. Louis. I'm still digging in the water book for better answers that what I've come up with.

If need be, I can get a fair estimate of hardness and alkalinity from aquarium test strips. Sulfate fluctuates quite significantly (in historical tests, 100-250 ppm), so I'd like to be able to figure out sulfate concentration on brewday, at least within a 100 ppm range.

I've found test strips for sulfate, but I think, at best, they would only tell you if you were significantly higher than normal (which may just be good enough to work with).

I dont know if qualitative testing for sulfate is 'doable' at home - probably not. I thought about correlating the sulfate change with another, more easily measured parameter (Potentially TDS since other ions are fairly constant in the data I found).

Either way - my water is going to stop me from brewing. Between the book, Martin's application, and my persistent nerdiness, I'll figure out how to brew consistently w/ my tap water. Until then, I'll brew with RO water (like I've always done).

I may also have some fun with it and play "Guess My Sulfate Content": Use 100% (carbon filtered) tap to brew a standard recipe, saving some mash liquor for water tests. Taste and take notes before looking at water results. Compare tasting notes and water results.
@southhousebrew

Indianapolis, IN

Recipes, Brett/Bacteria Experiments:
http://southhousepilotbrewery.blogspot.com/