Author Topic: Brewing Water Filter or RO System  (Read 1261 times)

Offline blair.streit

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Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« on: April 20, 2016, 10:27:53 PM »
Other than high chloramine (which I treat with Campden), I think my water is pretty decent for brewing:

Calcium: 16ppm
Magnesium: 17ppm
Sodium: 26ppm
Sulfate: 47ppm
Chloride: 49ppm
Bicarb: 77
Alkalinity: 64

I can dilute if I want a really soft profile, but IMHO this seems plenty soft for most styles. It also doesn't take too much lactic to deal with the alkalinity.

I'm tired of holding my thumb on the fridge button to run out 10 gallons of water. I'm also tired of taking my coolers to the water machine and having people look at me funny in the grocery store lobby.

With that in mind, any recommendations for specific systems (either filtration or RO)? I'm leaning more towards a carbon filter that I can just hook up and let run slowly while I do other brew prep work. That seems cheaper and doesn't have the wastewater or space requirements of RO, but maybe I'm missing another reason why I'd want RO?

As for filtration systems, a lot of them seem like they would have a tendency to fall over on the concrete floor in my garage. I'm wondering if anyone has found one with a stand or some enclosure that would make it a little easier to keep it in place? I know these things can be built, but my time for that kind of thing is extremely scarce at the moment.

Thanks!

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2016, 12:23:19 AM »
OK, I may not understand the question. A carbon block filter will take out some things, but does not remove what you posted for the ions. For that you need RO if you want to drop all of them. Some are too high for a Bohemian Pilsner, for example. You could drop alkalinity with acid for some beers. RO or using distilled is the way to dilute those numbers.
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Offline blair.streit

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Re: Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2016, 01:10:31 AM »
OK, I may not understand the question. A carbon block filter will take out some things, but does not remove what you posted for the ions. For that you need RO if you want to drop all of them. Some are too high for a Bohemian Pilsner, for example. You could drop alkalinity with acid for some beers. RO or using distilled is the way to dilute those numbers.
Yeah sorry I wasn't very clear on that. What I meant was that for most of the beers I brew I don't think I need RO. I can dilute for the few that I would care to.

So I'm looking for recommendations on carbon block. I just added all the other stuff to make sure my rationale for excluding RO made sense.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2016, 01:25:45 AM »
My water is so bad I build from RO, so I can't recommend a GAC filter to you.
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Offline Stevie

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Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2016, 01:32:26 AM »
Martin has a write up on his Bru'n Water Facebook page. He basically recommends sticking with as standard as possible to prevent becoming reliant on a single vendor or speciality filter.

If all you need is a block filter, you could likely get away with whatever is available at Home Depot or Lowes. Brackets can be bought with the filters to mount to the wall.

What are you hoping to get out of the filter?
« Last Edit: April 21, 2016, 01:34:02 AM by Stevie »

Offline blair.streit

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Re: Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2016, 01:35:25 AM »
Martin has a write up on his Bru'n Water Facebook page. He basically recommends sticking with as standard as possible to prevent becoming reliant on a single vendor or speciality filter.

If all you need is a block filter, you could likely get away with whatever is available at Home Depot or Lowes.
Cool thanks! I'll check that out assuming I can figure out how to operate "The Facebook." I'm one of those 0.05% of Americans under 50 that never had a Facebook account. I'll have to look it up on my wife's phone ;)

Offline kramerog

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Re: Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2016, 02:25:13 PM »
I don't see any need to do anything.  Carbon is not going to do anything unless there are other things being removed not showing up in your analyses. All you need is a drinking water safe hose for running water from a spigot to your garage. Fill your hot liquor tank, add metabisulfite and let stand overnight.

Offline pete b

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Re: Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2016, 02:46:36 PM »
I don't get the part about filling up from the fridge. Why not the tap?
EDIT: Ha, this should go in the "you might be a homebrewer" thread. As I hit post I realize I called your kitchen faucet "the tap"
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Offline blair.streit

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Re: Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2016, 03:11:45 PM »
I don't get the part about filling up from the fridge. Why not the tap?
EDIT: Ha, this should go in the "you might be a homebrewer" thread. As I hit post I realize I called your kitchen faucet "the tap"
Good point. I've always assumed that I wanted to use a carbon filter, but I never really stopped to think why. Per Wikipedia:

Active charcoal carbon filters are most effective at removing chlorine, sediment, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), taste and odor from water. They are not effective at removing minerals, salts, and dissolved inorganic compounds.

I can look at the Austin water report for any signs of sediment or VOC's, but I guess a taste test is really in order. If I just take some Campden and dechloraminate two samples:

1) A glass of water from the tap
2) A glass of water filtered through the fridge

then I could do a side-by-side and see if there are any residual flavor or aroma differences that seem significant. If not, I guess you're right that Campden treated water from the nearest faucet would be easy and require no additional equipment.

Offline mchrispen

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Re: Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2016, 05:53:40 PM »
Camden is necessary to treat the chloramines. GAC filtering would require a painfully slow flow rate to reduce chloramines, and from what I understand, even a small breakthrough has a large impact on phenol production. Apparently Austin also increases use of both chlorine and chloramines when we have such heavy rains, like this past week. At least the ionic content is fairly stable.



For softer beers, then just dilute with distilled.

Offline pfabsits

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Re: Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2016, 11:12:40 PM »
Carbon filters will remove odor and chlorine form the water supply. If you llok at an RO system there are typically 2 canisters. One can be used a as pre-filter to remove sediment and the other is for a carbon filter. The GE RO system at Home Depot both canisters are for carbon filters.

Carbon filters are relatively inexpensive.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/HDX-Carbon-Household-Filter-2-Pack-HDX2CF4/205373472

They fit in a canister like this
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Glacier-Bay-Basic-Household-Water-Filtration-System-HDG2BS4/205459550?MERCH=REC-_-categorylevel2horizontal1_rr-_-NA-_-205459550-_-N

If you run an RO then it will strip most of  the minerals from the water. You will have to add minerals back into the water. The advantage is that you can control the water quality.

The water that you have looks to be pretty soft as it is. To put in perspective, when I tested Lake Michigan water versus well water in Chicago the hardness was 150 ppm versus 720 ppm. After the well water was treated by a water softener the hardness went from 720 ppm to 60 ppm. The water was then treated by RO to go to 0 ppm.

Alkalinity for Lake Michigan was 180 ppm  compared to well water that was 720 ppm. After the water softener the alkalinity decreased slightly to 630 ppm. The softened water treated by RO dropped to 50 ppm. The conductivity of the well water 990 uS/cm and after RO went down to 37 uS/cm. An RO will produce water in the range of 20-40 uS/cm. This is a very low number. It has no buffering capacity. The alkalinity of your water is about the same as the water after my RO system.

The USGS has a page that shows hardness and alkalinity across the country. It is important to note that surface water tends to be lower in hardness that groundwater since most surface water (i.e. lake) is a bowl that collects water while groundwater has more minerals as rain percolates through the ground. How much minerals is determined by the location. In chicago there is a lot of limestone (calcium carbonate) as compared to New England that is made mostly of granite.

http://water.usgs.gov/owq/hardness-alkalinity.html

Final note, usually water is measured as hardness.  Hardness is from minerals like calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. So if the water has a high hardness then you would expect to see a high alkalinity. carbonate/bicarbonate (which form depends on pH) are what will contribute to alkalinity or buffer capacity.



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Offline blair.streit

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Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2016, 12:32:50 AM »
My source water is highly alkaline, but by the time it gets to the tap they seem to have done some treatment that leaves it softer and less alkaline. The pH is quite high, but the alkalinity is low enough that it doesn't require much acid in most styles:

http://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Water/WaterQualityReports2016/WQS_1q2016.pdf

Offline rob_f

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Re: Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2016, 03:18:21 PM »
You have very good water for brewing. It would be a waste to go to RO.  Just get a carbon block filter and dilute with distilled for pilsners.  I just put a loop of metal strapping on my brewstand and drop the canister in that.  I can leave it wet through the cool months, but once it gets hot I have to take the filter out and let everything dry.  I learned that by having to trash a moldy filter and tubing.
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Offline westcoastbrew

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Re: Brewing Water Filter or RO System
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2016, 11:30:16 PM »
Personally I have good municipal water, so I just go with an inexpensive carbon filter.  Makes the water taste great, clears out chlorine and can process water far quicker than RO.