Author Topic: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers  (Read 2426 times)

Offline Buckeye Hydro

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2019, 09:42:34 AM »
Also be aware that the zero waste systems that route the concentrate back into your plumbing, in many (most) cases, this approach does not meet code.

Russ

Offline pfabsits

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2019, 03:53:00 PM »
At some point in your brewing career you are going to become interested in taking your water chemistry to the next level.  As part of that, you might come to the realization that you want to improve the quality of your water and stop using the water from a garden hose or you might want to cut down on the inconvenience of having to go to the store to get your water.  I had waited a long time to do it, but I've had my system installed for 2 years now and I don't regret the expense one bit.

I put together a guide on reverse osmosis systems detailing
  • The basic components of a RO (Reverse Osmosis) system
  • Some of the considerations when choosing a system
  • A brief explanation of how they work
  • How I chose to install my system

Here is a link to the full guide:

http://fermware.com/reverse-osmosis-system-installation/



Buckeye Hydro,

A very nice article. Below is one of the statements from the article. It is important to note that the reduction in EC/TDS is mainly done by the RO membrane. The sediment and carbon filters do not play as much of a role compared to the membrane. An RO membrane will last for a very long time but the sediment and carbon filters should be exchanged every 6 months.


When I first bought the system, I was accepting that I would be replacing filter sets every year.  After seeing the measured performance of the system, I would say that after 2 years, there does not seem to be a noticeable difference in output, so I would consider the filters still operating properly.


The sediment filter will remove the particulate that can clog the membrane. The carbon (GAC) filter removes odor and chlorine. If you are on city water then you will have chlorine present. With commercial RO systems the carbon is used to remove the chlorine so that it does not damage the RO membrane. The membranes have gotten better but I still see a lot of companies monitoring the water supply to ensure no chlorine goes to the RO membrane.

It would be difficult to monitor on a residential system so it would be best practice to replace at 6 months. Unless then carbon filter is a unique size I would not spend extra money on name brands. The canisters used in residential systems tend to be a standard size.

It is not unusual to see TDS creep up on storage. I have seen on mixed bed DI systems for 18 megohm water. Once the water is flowing the resistivity will increase from 10 to 18 megaohms. I would think it is from carbon dioxide forming carbonic acid that would disassociate into hydrogen and bicarbonate ions. Not sure how the atmospheric CO2 gets in the water in a sealed system. Either way as you use the system there will be a little change.

Side note for people with an RO system and no EC/TDS meter. Definitely worth the money for an inexpensive tester. If a membrane gets a tear then the output will be the same as the input and the membrane has to be replaced.  It is one of those things that you will not know unless you measure another parameter (hardness, chlorine, iron, etc) as an indicator the membrane is no longer functioning.

One of the avid home brewers that work for Hanna Instruments

Offline EHall

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2019, 04:59:42 PM »
I have a watts system and they claim that the membrane only needs to be replaced every 2-5yrs... I've found that its more like 12-18months... I've never been 100% happy with the system and would have a hard time believing that any membrane will last 2+yrs. We have hard water here and I know that plays a role but I don't think its that bad. Getting a testing meter would probably help me figure out more what's going on with the system.
Phoenix, AZ

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2019, 12:36:47 AM »
The raw water quality has almost everything to do with membrane life and performance. Most membrane manufacturers indicate that their membrane should last about 3 or more years. However, the raw water quality can easily reduce that by causing excessive or premature scaling on the membrane. People that live in areas with elevated silicate concentration are particularly susceptible to early membrane clogging.

If you are experiencing short membrane life, that suggests that either a flushing system is needed or the wasting rate for the system needs to be increased.

The most important thing to understand is that you don't need to replace any filters or membranes on a schedule. There are ways to monitor the performance and viability of any of those components and you can make an informed decision as to when replacements are actually needed. 
Martin B
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Offline goose

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2019, 01:55:28 PM »
The raw water quality has almost everything to do with membrane life and performance. Most membrane manufacturers indicate that their membrane should last about 3 or more years. However, the raw water quality can easily reduce that by causing excessive or premature scaling on the membrane. People that live in areas with elevated silicate concentration are particularly susceptible to early membrane clogging.

If you are experiencing short membrane life, that suggests that either a flushing system is needed or the wasting rate for the system needs to be increased.

The most important thing to understand is that you don't need to replace any filters or membranes on a schedule. There are ways to monitor the performance and viability of any of those components and you can make an informed decision as to when replacements are actually needed.

Agree, Martin.  I have had a Clearwater Systems K5 RO system here for at least three years.  We replaced our water softener this spring and the rep. checked the RO for TDS etc.  The TDS level was around 20 which is excellent given the crappy water we have coming our of our well (e.g. 400 grains of hardness, a high amount of TDS, and black manganese).  So the membrane is still good it just needs the two filters replaced, one on the input and one on the output occasionally (around every 3-5 months depending on water usage.  There is an indicator on the unit that lets you know when they need replaced.

As a part of the sale of the water softener, they included a new K5 R.O. in the package which is sitting in a box in my garage and I am trying to sell on Craig's list.
Goose Steingass
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Offline EHall

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2019, 05:10:43 PM »
Martin, maybe you can answer this... several years ago when my system was new I pulled the membrane to change it out and found what looked like hundreds of thin tiny shards on the input side. Looked like glass shards. I ended up taking the entire unit back to Watts (at their request) to look at the system, I was having other issues with it. They were not able to tell me what that was or what caused it other than 'there's something in your water'. any idea what that could have been? and interestingly enough, its never shown up again when I change the membrane.
Phoenix, AZ

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2019, 01:12:02 AM »
That's odd. Maybe they were fiberglass filaments from a wound sediment filter?
Martin B
Carmel, IN

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Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

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Offline EHall

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2019, 07:00:28 PM »
no, no fiberglass in the sediment filter. Think broken glass pane. that's what they looked like. never been able to find out what it was other than a guess that one of the 'salts' of the water source crystalized.
Phoenix, AZ

Offline cuehappiest

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2019, 04:52:43 AM »
That was quite helpful.

Offline GW2

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2019, 06:04:44 PM »
...Softened water has sodium in it from the cation exchange process of substituting softer sodium ions for the harder calcium ions.  I am a bit leery of introducing sodium laden RO waste water into my garden as it could upset the mineral balance in the soil and effect plant growth, IMHO.  I just use the hard well water if I need to water the garden or just let the rain do it.
Sodium is not good for your garden or municipal waste-water treatment systems.  Always use environmentally friendly potassium chloride in the water softener prior to the RO filters.  Never sodium.

I use K-Life, but there are other brands available.


Offline mabrungard

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #25 on: October 28, 2019, 02:09:32 AM »
Sodium is not good for your garden or municipal waste-water treatment systems.  Always use environmentally friendly potassium chloride in the water softener prior to the RO filters.  Never sodium.


Sorry, NO.

While you do have a point that potassium is a recognized nutrient for plant growth, it too becomes toxic at some point. Regardless of what we do, ion-exchange is not a good thing to do, with respect to the environment. However, its a cheap and effective way to provide a more desirable outcome...for the user.

Sometimes compromises suck. This is one of those things.
Martin B
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Offline NellyP03

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2019, 09:25:20 AM »
RO systems do tend to have an issue with waste water but if you do some digging and read reviews like here https://popular.reviews/reverse-osmosis-system/, there are models that waste considerably less water during the filtration process.

Offline jjflash

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #27 on: February 22, 2020, 09:25:20 PM »
Just a tip of the hat and a big thank you to estrauss for this post.
Also, to the brilliant Martin Brungard whose Bru'N Water I have use probably since it's initial release.
(I confess I have used it for years without monetarily contributing until several years later.)

I come from before the Papazian era when we brewed awful tasting beer and forced ourselves to enjoy it.
With Papazian we brewed much better beer by the seat of our pants with tap water.
Enter A.J. DeLange and for several years I used his alkalinity reduction with calcium hydroxide method.
I then hit my phosphoric acid addition phase for several years.
Like most my water is very hard and very alkaline.

I read this forum post when it was first posted and ear marked it for future reference.
Then I promptly forgot about the post.
Then two articles by Martin Brungard in Zymurgy (July/Aug 2019 and Jan/Feb 2020) re-sparked my interest.
Thanks to his excellent articles I revisited and have re-thought my brewing water issues.
I purchased the iSpring RCC7P after reviewing this post.
(It adds a pump to boost performance - less waste water.)
This system was easy to install and works flawlessly to produce water pH 7.0
I did add a "14 gallon" closed system storage tank.
My only words of wisdom here is it will only store 9 gallons of water even at 5psi pressure.
I look forward to brewing beer this year with this new system.
Brewing doesn't have to be rocket science, but it certainly can be if you desire.
I love the science of brewing beer.
Pardon my beer ramblings.
Thanks again to these people for their contributions to the science of brewing.
Also, for helping me make better beer.
Cheers!





 
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Offline Buckeye Hydro

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #28 on: May 12, 2020, 09:11:02 AM »
I have a watts system and they claim that the membrane only needs to be replaced every 2-5yrs... I've found that its more like 12-18months... I've never been 100% happy with the system and would have a hard time believing that any membrane will last 2+yrs. We have hard water here and I know that plays a role but I don't think its that bad. Getting a testing meter would probably help me figure out more what's going on with the system.

If you read the fine print in the system manual, or in the manual for your RO membrane, you'll likely find reference to "softened water."  We worked with a commercial customer sometime back who bought an RO system from a vendor that focuses on the hydroponics market.  This vendor advertises a seemingly magical RO System that operates at 50% recovery (a 1:1 ratio of waste water to purified water) without regard to feedwater quality.  The unsuspecting RO system user was ruining his expensive membranes in only a few weeks. 

We have other customers who have been using the same membrane successfully for over 10 years.

The quality of the feedwater significantly affects the life span of the membrane.

Russ

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #29 on: May 12, 2020, 03:56:47 PM »
Mine is about 5 years and the TDS is still in the mid teens.  I go through an ion exchange softener first then through a four stage RO system.  No problems so far.  I bought replacement cartridges a while back and they are still in the box.  I only use this water for brewing and as a tap at the sink (which rarely gets used), so at most it is filtering 15 gallons every 2 weeks.
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