Author Topic: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?  (Read 1858 times)

Offline syncopadence

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Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« on: February 04, 2015, 02:33:40 PM »
I heard from one of the guys at my local shop that the minerals in tap water actually help during fermentation. Thoughts?

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2015, 02:38:53 PM »
yes brewing salt additions are a good thing. key is knowing whats in your water to start with. for tap water, get water report done so you have your base identified. for distilled or RO, use software and water profile for beer to determine your additions.

nothing wrong with using distilled-just plan on figuring out what brewing salts to add.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2015, 03:42:19 PM »
I normally use RO or distilled water but always add brewing salts to create a water profile suitable for healthy mash, fermentation and flavor. The guys at your shop are right that you don't want to use distilled or RO water on its own because you need some amount of certain minerals in the water. What you don't want is all the chlorine/chloramine in the tap water and even using dechlorinated tap water, it may not be the ideal water supply without further adjustment by adding brewing salts.
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Offline Stevie

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2015, 03:51:44 PM »
Distilled or RO water are more than likely fine for extract brewing. All-grain would need minerals added as noted above.

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2015, 04:48:40 PM »
I heard from one of the guys at my local shop that the minerals in tap water actually help during fermentation. Thoughts?

If you brew with extract, all the minerals you need are already in the extract.  For AG, you can make a few simple additions.
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Offline syncopadence

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2015, 05:44:05 PM »
The guy I talked to also gave me some tablets to throw into the water while it's boiling, so I'm guessing that'll kill most or all of the bad stuff in my tap water. Oh and it's for all grain. So if I'm using distilled, what should I add? I just don't like the idea of using tap water because of all the junk in there.

Offline syncopadence

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2015, 05:45:15 PM »
yes brewing salt additions are a good thing. key is knowing whats in your water to start with. for tap water, get water report done so you have your base identified. for distilled or RO, use software and water profile for beer to determine your additions.

nothing wrong with using distilled-just plan on figuring out what brewing salts to add.

Can you recommend a good software to use?

Offline Stevie

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2015, 05:49:16 PM »
The guy I talked to also gave me some tablets to throw into the water while it's boiling, so I'm guessing that'll kill most or all of the bad stuff in my tap water. Oh and it's for all grain. So if I'm using distilled, what should I add? I just don't like the idea of using tap water because of all the junk in there.
What are the tablets? If they are campden tablets, they will dechlorinate the water, which is important, but also inhibit growth of micro organisms. You really don't need to worry about the quality of the water as far as micro organisms, if you are drinking it, it will be fine in that respect.


You do need to worry about the mineral content, but IMO it isn't that big of a deal when you are starting out. Don't get me wrong, water is a very important ingredient and does affect the outcome, I just feel it is low on the list for the first few batches.

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2015, 05:51:11 PM »

Can you recommend a good software to use?

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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2015, 05:55:34 PM »
There are only a few ions that are truly necessary in brewing water. Zinc and copper are truly needed, but at VERY low concentrations. Calcium is needed to help with some enzymatic functions and to help speed flocculation following fermentation, but has no other imperative use. 40 ppm calcium in the mash tun is a good idea to help precipitate oxalate and you don't really need that much in the overall brewing water if brewing lagers. However, you do want to have at least 50 ppm calcium in the overall brewing water when brewing ales so that flocculation is faster.

So, not much in the way of needs....but there can be much in the way of WANTS. Low ionic content brewing water can lead to bland tasting beer. That can be OK for some styles, but can be pretty uninspiring for others. I've tasted many pale ales that were brewed with almost no ionic content and they were: BLAND. Some content is almost always good. Just don't overdo it. Too much content can lead to minerally or alka seltzer flavor.
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Offline syncopadence

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2015, 06:04:03 PM »
The guy I talked to also gave me some tablets to throw into the water while it's boiling, so I'm guessing that'll kill most or all of the bad stuff in my tap water. Oh and it's for all grain. So if I'm using distilled, what should I add? I just don't like the idea of using tap water because of all the junk in there.
What are the tablets? If they are campden tablets, they will dechlorinate the water, which is important, but also inhibit growth of micro organisms. You really don't need to worry about the quality of the water as far as micro organisms, if you are drinking it, it will be fine in that respect.


You do need to worry about the mineral content, but IMO it isn't that big of a deal when you are starting out. Don't get me wrong, water is a very important ingredient and does affect the outcome, I just feel it is low on the list for the first few batches.

They were indeed campden tablets. So should I be adding anything else to it other than those? Or should I get an analysis done first and go from there? Also, this is in fact my first all grain batch. It seems like there are a million variables to consider! But I do want to get it right whenever possible.

Offline Stevie

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2015, 06:08:04 PM »
If you are going all-grain, and plan to use your tap water, you will want to get a water report. You can start with your local utility, but that tends to be averages for the area. A test from Ward Labs is inexpensive. They have one designed for brewers, but some on here say it is more than needed and another less expensive test is perfectly good. I think the second test is their W-6 test.

http://wardlab.com/FeeSchedule/WardLabs_FeeSchedule_Web.pdf


From there you will want to use a spreadsheet, linked above, to determine what you will need to do to your water to hit the target. That could be dilution with RO or distilled, or adding minerals and acids back in. The spreadsheet is a bit confusing at first, but if you read through the instructions page and play around with the various additions, it becomes clear.


If you like the sheet a lot, be sure to donate. Martin will email a more advanced version of the sheet in response.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 06:10:52 PM by Steve in TX »

Offline syncopadence

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2015, 06:11:29 PM »
If you are going all-grain, and plan to use your tap water, you will want to get a water report. You can start with your local utility, but that tends to be averages for the area. A test from Ward Labs is inexpensive. They have one designed for brewers, but some on here say it is more than needed and another less expensive test is perfectly good. I think the second test is their W-6 test.

http://wardlab.com/FeeSchedule/WardLabs_FeeSchedule_Web.pdf


From there you will want to use a spreadsheet, linked above, to determine what you will need to do to your water to hit the target. That could be dilution with RO or distilled, or adding minerals and acids back in. The spreadsheet is a bit confusing at first, but if you read through the instructions page and play around with the various additions, it becomes clear.


If you like the sheet a lot, be sure to donate. Martin will email a more advanced version of the sheet in response.

So would you go with the w5a or w6?

Offline Stevie

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2015, 06:14:24 PM »
So would you go with the w5a or w6?
W-6 is what others have used. I brew with 100% RO. North Texas water varies greatly throughout the year to rely on.

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Re: Is distilled or purified water a bad idea?
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2015, 06:15:41 PM »
So would you go with the w5a or w6?
W-6 is what others have used. I brew with 100% RO. North Texas water varies greatly throughout the year to rely on.

+1.   100% RO here, too. 
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