Author Topic: Baking Soda In Sparge  (Read 765 times)

Offline rodwha

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Baking Soda In Sparge
« on: March 26, 2018, 10:41:53 PM »
I’ve always treated all of my brew water at once and then portioned out what I needed for the mash and sprayed with the rest diluting my filtered tap with 30% RO water. But I didn’t have a water filter this time and went with all RO water and brewed an darker beer using baking soda to adjust the pH. Later I read this is a big no no but can’t seem to find out why or what to expect. I used 2.5 grams in 6.75 gals of water mashing with 2.5 gals of that.

So what can I expect?

Offline narcout

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2018, 10:47:12 PM »
It's ok to use baking soda, but you need to watch your sodium levels as it contributes both sodium and bicarbonate.

2.25 grams of baking soda in 6.75 gallons of water would add 24.2 ppm sodium and 64.1 ppm bicarbonate.  If you started with RO water and didn't add any other sodium, you should be alright.
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Offline joelv

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Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2018, 12:28:52 AM »
Not sure what the “no-no” part is? Perhaps you read that baking soda should not be in the Sparge water?

Otherwise, baking soda in RO water with high amounts of roasted/ crystal Malts is perfectly appropriate in proper quantities. It is advised not to be used in the Sparge water as it keeps ph higher which happens already naturally.


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Offline hackrsackr

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2018, 12:54:39 AM »
You probably just read not to put baking soda in the sparge water because it raises the pH. As long as your pH doesn’t get too high at the end of the sparge, you should be fine. If it were me, I’d only add the baking soda to the mash water, and sparge with plain RO.


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Offline rodwha

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2018, 01:08:22 AM »
Sorry I was vague.

Yes in the sparge water.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2018, 01:39:06 AM »
It is not recommended due to tannin extraction.
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Offline narcout

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2018, 05:01:44 PM »
Sorry I was vague.

Yes in the sparge water.

I didn't catch that.  If you kept your pH in line, you should be ok though.
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Offline rodwha

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2018, 05:48:26 PM »
I treat my full pot’s worth of 6.75 gals and then siphon what I need into a fermentation bucket that I’ve used a marker to measure up various volumes (the ones on the bucket aren’t accurate). This has worked out quite well and I can usually come close to my target mash temp.

I’ve read how some people don’t treat their sparge water, using just plain RO water. Is there no issues with doing such?

I use a 10 gal Igloo with a manifold I cut the hole for and installed, but use my old BIAB bag as the filter. After mashing I drain it and then add sparge water in about 3 seperate phases stirring the grains when I do so and then allowing it to sit nearly 10 minutes before draining and starting again.

Is it not necessary to treat the sparge water I’m using?

I use Brewer’s Friend calculators to figure my recipes and water treatment. I do not have any testing equipment and usually try to target my figures sort of middle of the road in case my figures are a bit off. I typically target my pH to be around 5.44.

In the past I’ve always used filtered tap and diluted it with 30% RO water but didn’t have a Pur filter and just used RO. As the water can differ from what the annual water report states was another reason for shooting for median results according to the parameters. I suppose it’s not quite the issue if using only RO water.

Does baking soda dissolve readily? Wondering if I add the baking soda to my mash water bucket if it will easily dissolve and whether that’s a better option than treating all of my water with it.

Offline mchrispen

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2018, 06:37:23 PM »
I fail to see the need to add alkalinity to sparge water. I could see treating mash water if you needed it, but not sparge. As noted earlier, you are adding alkalinity and increasing the pH of the mash during lauter. I don't think it would have a massive impact on batch sparging, but a traditional fly sparge could potentially rise in pH over 6.0... where it is believed that high pH and temperature may dissolve polyphenols (tannins) from the husks into the wort, leaving a husky or astringent mouthfeel/flavor.


Honestly, you are probably just fine. IMO - what matters is what you taste. If you try it again, perhaps separate your additions for the sparge and see if you feel there is an improvement or detriment.
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Offline rodwha

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2018, 07:07:04 PM »
I suppose I viewed it as subsequent mashes that would also need to be doctored. You only mentioned alkalinity. I assume you are one who feels the sparge water should be adjusted with salts and not just plain water?

I’m anxious for this dark mild to be ready so as to see what has happened with it.

Offline mchrispen

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2018, 07:25:14 PM »
I use RO water. I tend to put all of my salts into the mash, and adjust there with acid (lactic or phosphoric) to my desired pH, and using Bru'n Water to calculate. So I collect my mash/strike separate from my sparge water. The latter is generally left untreated or occasionally, I will acidify to match my mash pH to prevent any huskiness.

There is, of course, the concern of the additional sodium ions... but in my opinion, you don't have enough to worry about in there unless your source water has high sodium.
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Offline rodwha

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2018, 07:34:11 PM »
Thanks for the help!

Offline rodwha

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2018, 04:30:45 PM »
Having finally tried this dark mild my wife and I both agree there’s something off about it. For her she said it started off tasting good but then quickly had something that after I described the sharp bitterness potential from the baking soda in the sparge she agreed that’s about how she would describe it. I’m not sure that’s how I would describe it, but it’s not an uncommon off taste I’ve had in my dark beers.

I don’t have any pH testing equipment and have been targeting my numbers to be in the middle of the range as far as the salt additions and pH, which has worked wonderfully with anything lighter but has had occasional issues with the darker beers.

I have a partial mash kit for a milk porter waiting to be brewed. I suppose this time I’ll not doctor the sparge water, which I’ve always done.

Offline mchrispen

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2018, 05:22:49 PM »
I may have missed the comment about extract + mini-mash. I am really sorry, because my advice would have been different. I assumed all-grain due to the sparge comment.


The extract that you use already has the needed -ions to match its general style (pale, pils, etc.), and it can be a bit dodgy trying to manipulate the water profile. I have yet to see any reports or numbers on what LME or DME contains relative to minerality. I would try again using DI or RO water without any water treatment. Maybe try a 1 gallon batch to test to save the costs.


If you are truly mini-mashing, then that strike/sparge water should be adjusted slightly to hit the proper mash pH, and then the runnings added to the extract brew. If you are just doing a soak, then I would just use the same DI/RO water for that as well.


I am puzzling over your comments. Can you give more detail? Typically, bicarbonate is tasteless, but the high alkalinity can lead to astringency in some instances. Perhaps just an overall minerality? If the extract has oxidized on its way to you, it can have a slightly papery or even metallic. A sharp bitterness could be from the hops or perhaps overly tannic roast and dark crystal malts in the mini-mash and compounded by astringency.
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Offline rodwha

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Re: Baking Soda In Sparge
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2018, 09:14:35 PM »
My initial brew was an all-grain so you didn’t misunderstand. I now have a partial-mash kit that was given to me to do.

I planned on treating just my mash water this time.

I don’t know that I can describe what I taste. It just comes off as this noticeable offtaste to me. It’s not overpowering and becomes subdued after the glass is finished. When I asked SWMBO she couldn’t quite nail it either but agreed when I described a harsh bitterness so it seems likely it’s astringency.

As an aside I’ve also had an issue just in my dark beers where everything is great for the first few weeks but after that it builds this offtaste that’s almost like dried fruit mixed with the particular flavor of beer. I’ve been assuming it was oxidation but it seems odd to only effect my dark beers.