Author Topic: options for brewing water  (Read 599 times)

Offline Cyllian

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options for brewing water
« on: January 07, 2018, 05:51:54 AM »
Hi guys...this is my first post.  I recently moved and am now on well water.  I have a Blichmann Breweasy which I recently picked up second hand...from what I understand, water chemistry is key for maximizing efficiency with this system.   My well water was tested today.  see below for the numbers.  I am thinking about 3 options here for my set up and I would love to get your thoughts.

1.  Use well water and put a whole house filter or charcoal filter on it.  Also, I was told to preboil my water.
2.  Figure out how to ramp up capacity on my existing RO system and use brewing salts for water profile.
3.  Buy ro water from the store. ( I have been doing this for years and I am sick of lugging around water)

Water profile straight from my well. (no filter or anything)
ph   6.35
chloride   290 ppm
sulfate   150 ppm
alkalinity   450 ppm
total hardness   460 ppm
Calcium   250 ppm
sodium   257.8464286

I am new to water chemistry so I figured asking those that are experienced is a good place to start.

Offline Bob357

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Re: options for brewing water
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2018, 07:25:01 AM »
And I thought my sodium level was high at 210 ppm. With that much mineral content you'd probably spend a lot to maintain your RO system. Filters and the membrane wouldn't last long, especially in a low volume system. Personally, I just buy RO at the store for $.37/gal. and figure it's less expensive in the long run.

Bru'n water is a great calculator. There's a bit of a learning curve, but well worth the time. EZ Water is much simpler and will get you in the ball park.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: options for brewing water
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2018, 02:33:39 PM »
That is exceptionally mineralized water. Its not suited for brewing, but I agree that pre-boiling would improve it slightly. But even that pretreatment wouldn't make the water well suited for brewing. RO is your best bet.
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Offline Cyllian

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Re: options for brewing water
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2018, 03:24:07 PM »
 guess its better to know vs. running a line straight from my well with a filter and getting bad batches.

Is there a standard profile for r/o water?  I know it strips the minerals out , I am curious if there is a standard result..  I would hate to test it every time I brew.  (I am sure there is something on here already but with how much water talk there is its hard to find it in the search function)

I have played around with ez water calculator and Bru'n water.  I have never done anything to my water profiles in the past...these programs I believe will be really helpful.

Offline Andy Farke

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Re: options for brewing water
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2018, 03:47:25 PM »
guess its better to know vs. running a line straight from my well with a filter and getting bad batches.

Is there a standard profile for r/o water?  I know it strips the minerals out , I am curious if there is a standard result..  I would hate to test it every time I brew.  (I am sure there is something on here already but with how much water talk there is its hard to find it in the search function)


I've always assumed everything is 0, and my understanding is that is basically correct if the RO system is working properly.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: options for brewing water
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2018, 03:57:08 PM »
There is a lot one can learn about water. It's up to the individual to decide how much of that is vital to the brewing process. My level of understanding is very basic, and it works for me.

Many of the calculators are excellent. Martin's is quite popular here. I use Brewer's Friend only because I don't have a computer and BF is web based, I can use my phone.

Don't believe that the well water of a famous brewing city is what that brewery uses. They may and probably do treat it.

Martin has great suggested profiles to start with, based on the style you are brewing. To start off, it's ok to assume store bought RO is all zeros and 7 pH. It might be 8pH but the residual alkalinity will be so low that you won't be too far off. Then using the calculator you can play with how much of what needs to be added to get close to the suggested profile. I use CaSO4, CaCl, MgSO4, and NaCl. Lactic for most beers, Phosphoric for lihht flavored lagerd.

Then enter your grain bill and find out how much acid you need to hit your target mash pH.

A pH meter is handy for verifying that you achieve your target, then you can figure our where you flubbed up, or make adjustments in the future.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2018, 03:59:33 PM by klickitat jim »

Offline Cyllian

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Re: options for brewing water
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2018, 04:00:06 PM »
Exactly what i was looking for! Thank you. I did invest in a ph meter. I appreciate the help on this!!

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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: options for brewing water
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2018, 04:56:44 PM »
A TDS meter will let you know if the store RO system or your home system is working properly. The RO system should drop the TDS of the feed water by about 98%.

As the membrane ages the levels will creep up. Somewhere around 40-50 ppm TDS, it is time for a new prefilters, and maybe a new membrane.

TDS= Total Disolved Solids. TDS meter is about $15 or even less.
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Offline Bob357

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Re: options for brewing water
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2018, 06:24:27 PM »
+1 on the TDS meter. I always test the RO water I buy. Generally it comes in at 7 ppm or less, but I got it from a different local store a couple of weeks ago and it tested at 92 ppm. Had I not tested it I would have overloaded it with salts.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: options for brewing water
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2018, 07:46:34 PM »

I've always assumed everything is 0, and my understanding is that is basically correct if the RO system is working properly.

No and especially no in the case of this highly mineralized water. RO removes a large percentage of the ionic content. The percentage removal is dependent upon the ion species. Single valent species like sodium and chloride pass through the membrane at higher percentage than divalent species like calcium and sulfate. For a typical RO membrane, its only removing about 96 percent of the sodium and chloride, but more like 98 to 99 percent of the calcium and magnesium.

For the highly mineralized water shown here, the RO product water is probably going to have much more than zero for any of the ions. But, you're probably only going to be 10 to 20 ppm off. 
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Offline Andy Farke

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Re: options for brewing water
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2018, 11:21:05 PM »

I've always assumed everything is 0, and my understanding is that is basically correct if the RO system is working properly.

No and especially no in the case of this highly mineralized water. RO removes a large percentage of the ionic content. The percentage removal is dependent upon the ion species. Single valent species like sodium and chloride pass through the membrane at higher percentage than divalent species like calcium and sulfate. For a typical RO membrane, its only removing about 96 percent of the sodium and chloride, but more like 98 to 99 percent of the calcium and magnesium.

For the highly mineralized water shown here, the RO product water is probably going to have much more than zero for any of the ions. But, you're probably only going to be 10 to 20 ppm off.

I stand corrected! My wording did overstate things... but if the RO system is in good shape, are you likely to get more than 10 to 20 ppm of any of those ions, even in the case of highly mineralized water? I've never been under the illusion that my RO water is the same as DI water, but I figure it is close enough to 0 (especially for most styles) that I can assume I'm starting at an effectively blank slate. Even if I have 15 ppm of Cl in my RO I'm not losing a lot of sleep over it, I guess, especially for many of the styles I brew.

(I should also state that other than carbonates, the rest of my ions locally are pretty reasonable, so if the RO store down the block is "only" pulling 96% of a particular ion, for example, I'm still likely down around 1 ppm for all of those...so I guess I'm extra lucky in that my assumptions _do_ probably hold for my particular situation)
« Last Edit: January 07, 2018, 11:27:54 PM by Andy Farke »
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