Author Topic: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos  (Read 1368 times)

Offline egrison

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Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« on: February 22, 2017, 01:22:44 PM »
Hi,

My water is quiet alkaline (RA 147 ppm as CaC03). Let's say I want to brew a pale IPA.
I am wondering if there is any issue with only using acid to adjust the mash pH ?

Currently I use a mix of adding salts, decarbonation, RO Water and a bit of lactic/phosphoric acid (around 1ml per gallon during the mash) to get to 5,2-5,4 pH
RO Water is expensive to buy and decarbonation is both expensive and time-consuming.

So I am wondering if it would yield the same result by using only phosphoric acid (in larger quantity) ?

Here is the detail of my water:
Ca: 95
Mg: 17
Na: 16
SO4: 76
Cl: 30
HCO3: 273

Has anyone experience with this & did some tests with the 2 methods (decarbonation & salts vs acidification)
Many thanks in advance!
Ed

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2017, 02:35:07 PM »
What percent phosphoric acid are you using?  A 10% solution used by itself would require ~6ml/gal but 88% would require ~0.25 ml/gal.  Can't speak from experience, but there shouldn't be an issue there (just don't use that much lactic acid!)

Precipitation using slaked lime might work as you appear to have enough calcium but would again change the water profile.  http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Alkalinity_reduction_with_slaked_lime

Purchasing a basic RO system may be beneficial. http://www.buckeyehydro.com/

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2017, 02:41:34 PM »
Breweries around here do that. The RA is 200, so phosphoric acid is used to avoid off flavors.
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2017, 03:34:58 PM »
Adding phosphoric is an appropriate approach and perhaps the easiest and cheapest.  I prefer lactic acid as it is more concentrated, but your RA is higher than mine so that might not be appropriate for you.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2017, 04:56:18 PM »
RA can be an appropriate measure for mashing water, but its not applicable for sparging water. I recommend focusing on either the alkalinity or bicarbonate content and not using the RA measure.

The OP's water is a fine starting point for some styles, but may not prove ideal for paler or more delicate styles. Most of the flavor ions are at workable levels.  Its mainly the calcium and bicarbonate that are excessive.  That water is well-suited for pre-boiling decarbonation, but that adds a few hours to the brewing process. Using lactic acid for that water may be on the edge of developing taste impacts. Using phosphoric may be better suited.

If it looks like brewing is a serious hobby for you, you might consider adding an RO machine to your Christmas list.

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Offline egrison

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2017, 06:08:22 PM »
Thanks for the tips

RA can be an appropriate measure for mashing water, but its not applicable for sparging water. I recommend focusing on either the alkalinity or bicarbonate content and not using the RA measure.

The OP's water is a fine starting point for some styles, but may not prove ideal for paler or more delicate styles. Most of the flavor ions are at workable levels.  Its mainly the calcium and bicarbonate that are excessive.  That water is well-suited for pre-boiling decarbonation, but that adds a few hours to the brewing process. Using lactic acid for that water may be on the edge of developing taste impacts. Using phosphoric may be better suited.

If it looks like brewing is a serious hobby for you, you might consider adding an RO machine to your Christmas list.


OK, as far as I understand there is no benefit in using decarbonation vs. adding phosphoric acid (which is much easier & costless), provided there is no phosphate Calcium precipitation of course.

Speaking of an RO machine, I take the opportunity to raise a new question:)
πSo, it looks like carbon filter, salts and Phosphoric acid would be the only option for brewing water.
(I don't plan to brew lagers)

What percent phosphoric acid are you using?  A 10% solution used by itself would require ~6ml/gal but 88% would require ~0.25 ml/gal.  Can't speak from experience, but there shouldn't be an issue there (just don't use that much lactic acid!)

Precipitation using slaked lime might work as you appear to have enough calcium but would again change the water profile.  http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Alkalinity_reduction_with_slaked_lime

Purchasing a basic RO system may be beneficial. http://www.buckeyehydro.com/

 I use 80% phosphoric acid.

Offline egrison

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2017, 06:16:53 PM »
RA can be an appropriate measure for mashing water, but its not applicable for sparging water. I recommend focusing on either the alkalinity or bicarbonate content and not using the RA measure.

The OP's water is a fine starting point for some styles, but may not prove ideal for paler or more delicate styles. Most of the flavor ions are at workable levels.  Its mainly the calcium and bicarbonate that are excessive.  That water is well-suited for pre-boiling decarbonation, but that adds a few hours to the brewing process. Using lactic acid for that water may be on the edge of developing taste impacts. Using phosphoric may be better suited.

If it looks like brewing is a serious hobby for you, you might consider adding an RO machine to your Christmas list.


Seems that my message didn't fully passed.
Speaking of an RO machine, I take the opportunity to raise a new question:)
I plan to open a brewpub, thus brewing at larger scale with a 10hl system. At this scale, RO system seems very expensive to me, it takes footprint & creates a lot of wastewater. Ion exchange looks like no option as it adds NA in the liquor.
I'm not too concerned for belgian ales as most small brewers don't do much about it with excellent results. For some other pale ales & IPAs, I'm a bit more puzzled.
So it looks like a carbon filter, salts and Phosphoric acid would be the only option for my liquor in a brewpub setting. PS: (I don't plan to brew lagers)
What do you think?

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2017, 06:44:28 PM »
One award winning newnbrewery that I can walk to has a Nanofiltration system. Less waste water than RO. the brewer can adjust it down to 20-30 ppm if she wants, but sometimes runs it higher for some beers. She also will blend in some carbon filtered tap water for some beers like stouts. The local water has high Na and Cl, and the Mg is 33 ppm, so Nanofiltering filtering can knock those all down.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2017, 10:31:57 PM »
provided there is no phosphate Calcium precipitation of course.

Calcium phosphate precipitation is a Red Herring. If there is enough calcium in the water to be subject to this precipitation reaction, then there is already more than enough calcium in the water and the minor loss of calcium via this precipitation is inconsequential.

Malt provides ALL the calcium needed for the yeast to metabolize properly.
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Offline JT

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2017, 01:19:49 AM »
Walmart generally has fill your own dispensers in the back of their grocery dept. 5 gallons of RO is about $1.85. Water tastes so good I ended up also buying a dispenser for the kitchen, so it's now our drinking water too. 

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Offline stpug

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2017, 02:40:17 AM »
Are there Walmarts in Belgium?  I'd hope not  :-\

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2017, 03:10:46 AM »
Must have missed the location.  If it's posted in a signature, those aren't visible with Tapatalk.  I do see Belgium after clicking on the OP's profile though.
That said, also missed the 10 hectoliter post... may want to skip on the 5 gallons jugs of RO...

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Offline Mythguided Brewing

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2017, 06:50:10 AM »
provided there is no phosphate Calcium precipitation of course.

Calcium phosphate precipitation is a Red Herring. If there is enough calcium in the water to be subject to this precipitation reaction, then there is already more than enough calcium in the water and the minor loss of calcium via this precipitation is inconsequential.

Malt provides ALL the calcium needed for the yeast to metabolize properly.

I know that Ca affects alkalinity and has its uses in that regard, but are you saying that calcium additions, specific to yeast health, are also a red herring?

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2017, 02:16:01 PM »
I know that Ca affects alkalinity and has its uses in that regard, but are you saying that calcium additions, specific to yeast health, are also a red herring?

That is correct. All the calcium that the yeast need for their metabolism is provided by the malt. Malt imparts significant quantities of a number of elements, ions, and nutrients into the wort and calcium is one of them. While there ARE advantages to having some calcium in the water (enzyme stability, oxalate reduction, yeast flocculation, etc), it is NOT required for yeast health and metabolism. These facts are well-documented in dozens of respected brewing texts and journal articles. I've compiled them in articles that I wrote for Zymurgy and The New Brewer.

PS: Calcium produces alkalinity reducing acids in the mash and that is reflected in the Residual Alkalinity (RA) effect in the mash. But calcium does not affect alkalinity otherwise. You can't add a calcium salt to water and reduce its alkalinity. Its only in conjunction with the mash that the RA effect can be relied on and even that is limited. You can't add a bunch of calcium salts to your high-alkalinity sparging water and have that effectively reduce the water's alkalinity when its added to the tun. The acidifying capacity is largely exhausted as the wort is flushed from the grainbed. Acidification to neutralize alkalinity is required in sparging water. 
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Offline Mythguided Brewing

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Re: Adjust pH only with acid vs other methos
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2017, 09:15:12 PM »
I know that Ca affects alkalinity and has its uses in that regard, but are you saying that calcium additions, specific to yeast health, are also a red herring?

That is correct. All the calcium that the yeast need for their metabolism is provided by the malt. Malt imparts significant quantities of a number of elements, ions, and nutrients into the wort and calcium is one of them. While there ARE advantages to having some calcium in the water (enzyme stability, oxalate reduction, yeast flocculation, etc), it is NOT required for yeast health and metabolism. These facts are well-documented in dozens of respected brewing texts and journal articles. I've compiled them in articles that I wrote for Zymurgy and The New Brewer.

PS: Calcium produces alkalinity reducing acids in the mash and that is reflected in the Residual Alkalinity (RA) effect in the mash. But calcium does not affect alkalinity otherwise. You can't add a calcium salt to water and reduce its alkalinity. Its only in conjunction with the mash that the RA effect can be relied on and even that is limited. You can't add a bunch of calcium salts to your high-alkalinity sparging water and have that effectively reduce the water's alkalinity when its added to the tun. The acidifying capacity is largely exhausted as the wort is flushed from the grainbed. Acidification to neutralize alkalinity is required in sparging water.

Thanks Martin - I appreciate the depth and clarity of your response.  It would seem that I have been too fixated on the Ca aspects of my CaSO4 & CaCl2 additions.  To your point about sufficient Ca from the malt, perhaps I should instead be focusing on the SO4:Cl ratio those additions would impart, and not so much the Ca that's coming along for the ride...