Author Topic: bicarbonates in water  (Read 2005 times)

Offline homoeccentricus

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bicarbonates in water
« on: December 09, 2015, 03:23:06 PM »
Chemistry for ultradummies question.

Given the following rule:
HCO3  +   H3O+  →   CO2  +  2H2O
Is there any reason why a lot of bicarbonates in your water would be bad provided you add a sufficient amount of acid?
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Offline narvin

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2015, 03:37:23 PM »
Depends what acid you use.

Stolen from the internet (don't judge me if this is not exact):

NaHCO3(aq) + HC3H5O3(aq) → NaC3H5O3(aq) + H2O(l) + CO2(g)
sodium hydrogen carbonate + lactic acid → sodium lactate + water + carbon dioxide

When lactic acid and baking soda react, sodium lactate salt, water, and carbon dioxide gas are formed.

In many cases phosphoric acid is preferred because lactates have more flavor than phosphates, and the malt in the mash supposedly contributes far more phosphate than the acid reaction.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2015, 03:47:00 PM by narvin »
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Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2015, 03:46:51 PM »
depends how much bicarb . my well water requires crap tons of acid to drop the PH of the mash, and I was picking up flavor from it at that levels.
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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2015, 03:52:20 PM »
depends how much bicarb . my well water requires crap tons of acid to drop the PH of the mash, and I was picking up flavor from it at that levels.

That's basically rephrasing my question. Wouldn't  calcium carbonate be the primary source of the carb? And wouldn't the reaction simply produce  Ca, CO2 and H2O? So where does the flavor come from?
« Last Edit: December 09, 2015, 03:55:30 PM by homoeccentricus »
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Offline narvin

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2015, 04:11:05 PM »
depends how much bicarb . my well water requires crap tons of acid to drop the PH of the mash, and I was picking up flavor from it at that levels.

That's basically rephrasing my question. Wouldn't  calcium carbonate be the primary source of the carb? And wouldn't the reaction simply produce  Ca, CO2 and H2O? So where does the flavor come from?

It comes from the acid you use.  You're not just adding a bottle of H3O ions.  See my post.
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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2015, 04:36:24 PM »
It comes from the acid you use.  You're not just adding a bottle of H3O ions.  See my post.

Still don't understand. Lactic acid is just H, C and O. And you start from sodium bicarbonate. But isn't calcium bicarbonate the main ingredient?
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Offline mchrispen

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2015, 04:50:14 PM »
Don't confuse (and yet I do all the time) permanent hardness (largely from carbonate) with temporary hardness (largely from bicarbonate). Bicarbonate concentrations are relatively easy to manipulate with moderate amounts of acid, which may also cause insoluble salts to form and precipitate. If you are pre-treating your water to remove alkalinity through boiling or slaked lime, you are mostly converting bicarbonate into an insoluble carbonate salt... and removing calcium.

What is interesting is that one of the salts that often precipitates is calcium carbonate (chalk). It is not that soluble... which is also why many folks no longer recommend it's use in a brewery.

Quote
Is there any reason why a lot of bicarbonates in your water would be bad provided you add a sufficient amount of acid?

Narvin answered your question however... large amounts of bicarbonate or alkalinity will require larger amounts of acid to achieve the mash pH goal. Phosphoric acid has a much higher noticeable flavor threshold than Lactic acid so you can perhaps use more phosphoric (and thus a more alkaline liquor) without a flavor impact than the same scenario with lactic acid.
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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2015, 05:09:49 PM »
Aha, so calcium carbonate reacts with lactic acid to form calcium lactate, which has an unpleasant flavor?
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Offline mchrispen

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2015, 05:29:32 PM »
Yes, but lactic can form sodium lactate, magnesium lactate, potassium lactate as well. All of these ions along with calcium are available in the mash. I would not necessarily call the flavors unpleasant, rather just flavors. Some people feel that lactic acid is a more appropriate alternative to acid malt in brewing a German beer for example, as the flavor contribution (if any) would be similar.
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Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2015, 05:39:03 PM »
Yes, but lactic can form sodium lactate, magnesium lactate, potassium lactate as well. All of these ions along with calcium are available in the mash. I would not necessarily call the flavors unpleasant, rather just flavors. Some people feel that lactic acid is a more appropriate alternative to acid malt in brewing a German beer for example, as the flavor contribution (if any) would be similar.

I've followed Kai's guidance of no more than ..5ml / lb grist, and don't pick up any flavors. But with my well water , I had to far exceed that. Never tried phosphoric .


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« Last Edit: December 09, 2015, 05:49:42 PM by Wort-H.O.G. »
Ken- Chagrin Falls, OH
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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2015, 05:42:41 PM »
Ok thanks! Would anybody happen to know what happens if the acid is phosphoric?
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Offline PrettyBeard

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2015, 06:37:01 PM »
I'd try Citric Acid, personally.  If I remember correctly, Calcium Citrate is insoluble, and will precipitate out of solution.  Plus it's available at the LHBS in the wine-making section.

That said it might be better for adjusting strike water then the actual mash where you have any number more compounds floating around.

Offline mchrispen

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2015, 06:45:52 PM »
Calcium phosphate, another insoluble will precipitate. This maybe a concern with liquor with a high expected value of calcium - phosphoric acid will reduce calcium ion.

For a while some people were very concerned about phosphoric acid and what it would do to calcium levels in the mash because of this. If you are using just very small doses (ie. the alkalinity of the liquor is very low), then I suspect it makes little difference. If you are using a burtonized profile and have massive amounts of calcium, then phosphate formation will likely impact the calcium levels.

Back to your question at hand. Hardwick in "Handbook of Brewing" references 50 ppm of carbonate and bicarbonate as required for "good brewing liquor" and if I recall, Martin references <60 ppm alkalinity as CaCO3. This effectively neutralizes the buffering capacity of the liquor in the mash, and dramatically reduces the volume of acid necessary to achieve a desired mash pH. I believe one can properly acidify liquor around 120-140 ppm alkalinity without really bumping into flavor contributions from either acid, but you would need to experiment to decide.

I am really hoping Martin steps in and checks my work - I can be expressing this incorrectly.
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Offline toby

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2015, 07:19:00 PM »
I've followed Kai's guidance of no more than ..5ml / lb grist, and don't pick up any flavors. But with my well water , I had to far exceed that. Never tried phosphoric .

I use phosphoric since, at the levels I need to acidify for pale beers, lactic is at my threshold to smell and taste (1mL/gallon of hot liquor).

Offline PrettyBeard

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Re: bicarbonates in water
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2015, 04:02:57 AM »
Calcium phosphate, another insoluble will precipitate. This maybe a concern with liquor with a high expected value of calcium - phosphoric acid will reduce calcium ion.

See I just don't like mineral acids.  Intellectually I'm sure Food-grade citric acid and Food-grade Phosphoric are made via similar industrial processes, but still I'd just prefer something I don't use as a sanitizer.

Maybe it's because back in the day I had to work with ClF3 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorine_trifluoride), and that gave me a more then healthy fear of inorganic compounds.  Then again, once I thought launching 1oz blocks of cesium into lakes was fun.  Also, I don't think there is such a thing as over healthy fear of ClF3.