Author Topic: do I need to use campden tablets?  (Read 2825 times)

Offline goschman

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do I need to use campden tablets?
« on: March 27, 2015, 04:44:41 PM »
Sorry for such a basic question. A quick search didn't reveal an answer. I don't notice any off-flavors in my beer and I do treat my water on a basic level. Should I be using campden tablets?
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2015, 04:50:46 PM »
Probably not necessary, particularly if you're not noticing off flavors.

However, lots of people say it's so simple why not do it?

I bought some tablets a few years back.  I've never used them (I filter my water) and figure that they'll be good insurance for when the zombie apocalypse comes or the grid goes down and I need to collect rain water for drinking.  Though I've got enough beer in kegs to hopefully last until the grid comes back.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2015, 04:56:20 PM »
Are you using your local tap water or RO (or Distilled) ?  If you're using all tap water,  it'd be a good idea to use campden to drive off chlorine/chloramines . So you're not noticing any chlorophenol character in your beers - plastic, medicinal, Bandaid ?  If not and you're pleased, then I wouldn't worry though.

Jon H.

Offline goschman

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2015, 05:07:44 PM »
Yes I use 100% tap water. I wasn't sure if there was something to look for in my water report. Thanks for the advice. I can definitely throw some in since it won't hurt anything.
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Offline Stevie

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2015, 05:10:36 PM »
I am all RO, but I would certainly user Campden if I used tap water. Our water has strong chlorine odor to it.

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2015, 05:14:58 PM »
IIRC one campden tablet will dechlorinate 20 gallons of water.  In other words, 1/4 tab per 5 gallons. Crush it, stir it in, let it sit overnight and you should be good.
Jon H.

Offline goschman

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2015, 05:17:31 PM »
IIRC one campden tablet will dechlorinate 20 gallons of water.  In other words, 1/4 tab per 5 gallons. Crush it, stir it in, let it sit overnight and you should be good.

Ah ok...so I can't add it during the brewing process?
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2015, 05:20:10 PM »
IIRC one campden tablet will dechlorinate 20 gallons of water.  In other words, 1/4 tab per 5 gallons. Crush it, stir it in, let it sit overnight and you should be good.

Ah ok...so I can't add it during the brewing process?

I've used all RO forever (tap water is crap here), but my understanding is that you need to the day before to give it time to off gas the chlorine and/or chloramines.
Jon H.

Offline toby

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2015, 05:20:41 PM »
Yes I use 100% tap water. I wasn't sure if there was something to look for in my water report. Thanks for the advice. I can definitely throw some in since it won't hurt anything.

The thing to look for in a water report is the difference between total chlorine and free chlorine.  If there is a difference, it's chloramine.  You could also check with your water company to see if they use chlorine or chloramine to treat the water.  They will usually tell you.  That being said, 1/4 of a campden tablet per 5 gallons of water won't hurt your beer and will make it a non-issue.

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2015, 05:28:01 PM »
I've used all RO forever (tap water is crap here), but my understanding is that you need to the day before to give it time to off gas the chlorine and/or chloramines.
Not exactly.  You can let water with chlorine sit overnight and the chlorine will off gas.  The whole reason some water companies use chloramine is because it's more stable and won't off gas.  The chemical reaction that takes place with chloramine and campden tablets happens practically instantly, so there is no sitting overnight required.  Crush up the appropriate amount of campden, stir it into the HLT, and light the fire.

Offline goschman

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2015, 05:28:43 PM »
Yes I use 100% tap water. I wasn't sure if there was something to look for in my water report. Thanks for the advice. I can definitely throw some in since it won't hurt anything.

The thing to look for in a water report is the difference between total chlorine and free chlorine.  If there is a difference, it's chloramine.  You could also check with your water company to see if they use chlorine or chloramine to treat the water.  They will usually tell you.  That being said, 1/4 of a campden tablet per 5 gallons of water won't hurt your beer and will make it a non-issue.

Ok. My water report is very basic...

pH 7.7
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 143
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.24
Cations / Anions, me/L 2.3 / 2.1

Sodium, Na 14
Potassium, K 1
Calcium, Ca 22
Magnesium, Mg 7
Total Hardness, CaCO3 84
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 11
Chloride, Cl 16
Carbonate, CO3 < 1.0
Bicarbonate, HCO3 57
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 47
"<" - Not Detected

It sounds like a very simple step yet it is another step, the night before nonetheless. Until I notice any problems, I may skip it for now. It is hard enough to find time to brew these days...
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2015, 05:29:58 PM »
With over 15 years of beer study, I've learned how insensitive some drinkers are to some faults. On top of that, that classic chlorophenolic flavor is considered to be desirable to some drinkers. Clearly, any fan of really peaty, phenolic scotch wouldn't think that chlorophenolic flavor is a fault.

So just relying on your own senses to assess if your beers have a chlorophenol problem may not be ideal. Employing the palate of someone who is sensitive to chlorophenols is a wise 'second opinion'.

In general, if you are getting your water from a municipal water system, its just so easy to drop that dose of Campden in the water and being sure. The good thing is that the boiling process COMPLETELY degrades the sulfite from the Campden into harmless sulfate. No need to worry about Campden when you dose it at our typical 1 tablet per 20 gallons!
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Offline goschman

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2015, 05:33:27 PM »
With over 15 years of beer study, I've learned how insensitive some drinkers are to some faults. On top of that, that classic chlorophenolic flavor is considered to be desirable to some drinkers. Clearly, any fan of really peaty, phenolic scotch wouldn't think that chlorophenolic flavor is a fault.

So just relying on your own senses to assess if your beers have a chlorophenol problem may not be ideal. Employing the palate of someone who is sensitive to chlorophenols is a wise 'second opinion'.

In general, if you are getting your water from a municipal water system, its just so easy to drop that dose of Campden in the water and being sure. The good thing is that the boiling process COMPLETELY degrades the sulfite from the Campden into harmless sulfate. No need to worry about Campden when you dose it at our typical 1 tablet per 20 gallons!

Thanks Martin. Duly noted.

Also, THANK YOU! Bru'n Water has brought my beer up to the next level...
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2015, 05:35:13 PM »
Martin, roughly how much sulfate from one tablet would need to be accounted for in Bru'nwater (or other) ?  There is another thread currently that discusses using a campden tablet in the mash as a source of antioxidant against staling of malt compounds.
Jon H.

Offline denny

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Re: do I need to use campden tablets?
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2015, 05:37:47 PM »
IIRC one campden tablet will dechlorinate 20 gallons of water.  In other words, 1/4 tab per 5 gallons. Crush it, stir it in, let it sit overnight and you should be good.

Ah ok...so I can't add it during the brewing process?

I've used all RO forever (tap water is crap here), but my understanding is that you need to the day before to give it time to off gas the chlorine and/or chloramines.

Actually, it works in just a few seconds.  But you do need to add it before you start. 
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