Author Topic: need help understanding water additions  (Read 702 times)

Offline jeeyeop

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need help understanding water additions
« on: November 12, 2015, 09:24:44 PM »
hey guys, I'll be brewing both my first all-grain and stout recipe in a week or so and I was wondering if anyone could clarify some things for me. I believe I'm supposed to be increasing the alkalinity of the water to balance the with the acidity of the darker malts. In addition, I'll need the right nutrients for the mash to work efficiently.

I recently bought some CaCO3 from my local homebrew shop, but now I'm confused if I should use it. John Palmer's introduction to water section says that adding CaCO3 will reduce alkaline while various posts and articles mention adding CaCO3 to increase alkalinity. Can anyone clarify exactly what CaCO3 does in terms of the pH of the water or what might be causing me confusion? Thanks!

RPIScotty

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2015, 09:37:38 PM »
hey guys, I'll be brewing both my first all-grain and stout recipe in a week or so and I was wondering if anyone could clarify some things for me. I believe I'm supposed to be increasing the alkalinity of the water to balance the with the acidity of the darker malts. In addition, I'll need the right nutrients for the mash to work efficiently.

I recently bought some CaCO3 from my local homebrew shop, but now I'm confused if I should use it. John Palmer's introduction to water section says that adding CaCO3 will reduce alkaline while various posts and articles mention adding CaCO3 to increase alkalinity. Can anyone clarify exactly what CaCO3 does in terms of the pH of the water or what might be causing me confusion? Thanks!

Many people have success with water adjustments but if your doing your first few all grain batches I would hold off. You've got other things to worry about starting out. Water is a fine tuning game. Grab Bru'n Water and read the information in the sheet for a starter if your absolutely married to the idea right off the bat.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2015, 09:39:53 PM »
welcome to the wild and wonderful world of water chemistry.

Are you using RO water? or do you have a water report on the water you are using? without knowing what's in the water to start with it's pretty much impossible to do anything right.

So tell us about your source water.

CaCO3 is calcium carbonate, aka chalk. It doesn't really do much in the mash as it turns out because it doesn't really dissolve very much as all. It does add calcium and bicarbonate to whatever degree it dissolves but because the calcium causes alkalinity to precipitate out of solution it doesn't really increase the alkalinity very much.

If it turns out you need to increase alkalinity and pH baking soda or pickling lime is much more effective. baking soda also adds sodium so you need to use it sparingly to avoid an overly salty beer.

But you shouldn't add anything until you know what you are working with and towards. Google bru'n water and you will be overwhelmed with material. But if you are careful and ask lot's of questions you will be making great all grain beer in no time.
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Offline dilluh98

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2015, 09:42:48 PM »
Pushing a stout into the high end of the "acceptable" mash pH range is a very good idea (except for maybe dry stout) but I'm with RIPScotty, focus on the all-grain process first and worry about water later. If you have tap water with a lot of bicarbonate (do you live on a limestone shelf, perhaps?) - stout is going to be the perfect beer to start all grain brewing with.

Offline jeeyeop

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2015, 09:55:52 PM »
thanks for all the input guys. i might just try and make a stout with untreated tap just as a learning point. I live in los angeles, but the water report seems to split into 3 different regions. It does seem to be either 110 or 213 for biocarbonates already.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2015, 10:10:09 PM »
thanks for all the input guys. i might just try and make a stout with untreated tap just as a learning point. I live in los angeles, but the water report seems to split into 3 different regions. It does seem to be either 110 or 213 for biocarbonates already.

either of those are fine depending on the other constituents. make sure to remove chlorine/chloramine same as with extract.
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Offline jeeyeop

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2015, 10:15:05 PM »
http://imgur.com/uejGPfS

I believe my water supply falls under the LA Aqueduct Filtration Plant (central LA).

The water seems very slightly alkaline at a 7.5 pH. I was going to add ascorbic acid to remove any chloramine since I couldn't find any campden tablets. Unrelated, I was also going to add whirlfloc at 10 minutes left in the boil for clarity (unless this is somehow relevant to my overall finished pH).

Based on this information, if the chart is accurate, what would you guys recommend for an imperial stout for my water source (both mashing water and sparge)? I might not go through with it as many are recommending, but I might also give it a go as a learning experience. Thanks!

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2015, 10:19:38 PM »
http://imgur.com/uejGPfS

I believe my water supply falls under the LA Aqueduct Filtration Plant (central LA).

The water seems very slightly alkaline at a 7.5 pH. I was going to add ascorbic acid to remove any chloramine since I couldn't find any campden tablets. Unrelated, I was also going to add whirlfloc at 10 minutes left in the boil for clarity (unless this is somehow relevant to my overall finished pH).

Based on this information, if the chart is accurate, what would you guys recommend for an imperial stout for my water source (both mashing water and sparge)? I might not go through with it as many are recommending, but I might also give it a go as a learning experience. Thanks!

the pH is a poor indicator or alkalinity. We are only really concerned with pH in that if it gets too high in the mash it increases the solubility of husk tannins and silicates.

looking at that report I would start with it as is. your RA is a bit low but not out of line at all. if you do need to add alkalinity try pickling lime as your sodium is already a bit high.

The nice thing is if you brew it and it turns out sharp and acrid from the roast you can always add some pickling lime or baking soda before packaging
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Offline jeeyeop

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2015, 10:24:58 PM »
Thanks! appreciate all the input.

Few more questions for anyone: in the report CaCO3 is listed twice as total alkalinity and total hardness, could anyone clarify this?

Just based on the water report and a what a novice homebrewer might do, would there be any repercussions of adding a teaspoon of CaCO3 to a 5 gallon batch?

If I do, is it only necessary for the mash and not the sparge?

RPIScotty

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2015, 10:47:00 PM »
Thanks! appreciate all the input.

Few more questions for anyone: in the report CaCO3 is listed twice as total alkalinity and total hardness, could anyone clarify this?

Just based on the water report and a what a novice homebrewer might do, would there be any repercussions of adding a teaspoon of CaCO3 to a 5 gallon batch?

If I do, is it only necessary for the mash and not the sparge?

I typically only use CaCl, Gypsum and kosher salt. I would steer clear of chalk as it doesn't dissolve all that well. I typically cut my water with distilled to drop certain content and then build back up with the above mentioned additions. I use acid malt to bring my pH in line. Most people use liquid acid.

Offline narcout

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2015, 11:08:29 PM »
I am also in LA and had Ward Labs test my water in March of 2008.  I'll post the results below; they are surprisingly close (some are even dead on) to the averages listed in the LA Aqueduct Filtration Plant column of the table you linked to. 

Unfortunately, your table doesn't list sulfate and chloride, but given how close all of the other numbers are, you'd probably be ok using the figures from my report as an estimate until you get your own water tested.

My report:

Sodium: 52
Potassium: 4
Calcium: 28
Magnesium: 11
Total Hardness, CaCO3: 116
Nitrate, NO3-N: 0.4 (safe)
Sulfate, SO4-S: 14
Chloride: 65
Carbonate: <1
Bicarbonate, HCO3: 110
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3: 90
Floride: 1.08
Total Iron: 0.01
pH: 7.8
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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2015, 11:17:07 PM »
Thanks! appreciate all the input.

Few more questions for anyone: in the report CaCO3 is listed twice as total alkalinity and total hardness, could anyone clarify this?

Just based on the water report and a what a novice homebrewer might do, would there be any repercussions of adding a teaspoon of CaCO3 to a 5 gallon batch?

If I do, is it only necessary for the mash and not the sparge?

Don't do it!! CaCO3 is not suitable for use in brewing since it does not dissolve in a timely manner. In addition, you should never add alkalinity to brewing water unless you are SURE that your mash needs it. A program like Bru'n Water can help you decide if additional alkalinity is needed.

Those components that are reported "as CaCO3", are NOT actually CaCO3. That reporting convention is a old water chemistry convention that needs to be converted into actual concentrations of the actual ions to be useful.  In the case of the following terms, the conversions are provided:

Alkalinity (as CaCO3) x 1.22 will provide you with the HCO3 concentration
Ca Hardness (as CaCO3) x 0.40 will provide you with the Ca concentration
Mg Hardness (as CaCO3) x 0.243 will provide you with the Mg concentration
Total Hardness (as CaCO3) can't be used to tell you anything about Ca or Mg concentrations since it could be any proportion of those ions in the water.
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Offline jeeyeop

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2015, 12:49:54 AM »
Quote
Alkalinity (as CaCO3) x 1.22 will provide you with the HCO3 concentration
Ca Hardness (as CaCO3) x 0.40 will provide you with the Ca concentration
Mg Hardness (as CaCO3) x 0.243 will provide you with the Mg concentration
Total Hardness (as CaCO3) can't be used to tell you anything about Ca or Mg concentrations since it could be any proportion of those ions in the water.

Hmm, on the report I see total alkalinity (which I assume is what you multiplied by 1.22) and total hardness (which is the last one of the 4 you noted)

The only other CaCO3 reading I see on the report is for bicarbonate alkalinity. Is that the same as Ca or Mg hardness, or completely unrelated?



Quote
Unfortunately, your table doesn't list sulfate and chloride

I found sulfate and chloride on a separate table just now. Chloride appears similar to your readings, but sulfate is at 55 mg/L (I think this is safe assuming that mg/L is the same as ppm since How to Brew puts 50 at a safe low end)


Thanks again guys! Sorry I'm asking so many questions, I just want everything to get as perfect as I can with the first all grain.

Offline narcout

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2015, 01:13:45 AM »
I found sulfate and chloride on a separate table just now. Chloride appears similar to your readings, but sulfate is at 55 mg/L (I think this is safe assuming that mg/L is the same as ppm since How to Brew puts 50 at a safe low end)

The sulfate on my water report was listed as SO4-S, you need to multiply it by 3 to convert to SO4 units. So if the table you found lists sulfate as SO4, the discrepancy is less than it initially appears.
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Offline jeeyeop

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Re: need help understanding water additions
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2015, 01:17:45 AM »
I have it as an average of 55 mg/L : Sulfate (as SO4). With their range listed as 45-74.