Author Topic: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers  (Read 1062 times)

Offline estrauss

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Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« on: September 20, 2018, 08:42:16 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/


« Last Edit: September 20, 2018, 08:56:52 PM by estrauss »

Offline rtcasey

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2018, 01:44:56 AM »
This is awesome.  Thank you!

Offline estrauss

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2018, 11:30:58 AM »
Thanks!  I hope it helps.

Offline hmbrewing

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2018, 12:29:54 PM »
The one thing that keeps me from a RO system is the amount of "waste" water that goes down the drain. Doesn't it take 3 - 4 gallons of water just to make 1 gallon of RO? I'm having a hard time getting around that and have just been buying distilled water at .89 per gallon knowing I'll use every last drop. Plus - doesn't it take hours to even collect enough water to brew with? I tend to shy away from anything that increases my prep time for brew day.

I could be looking at this all wrong. Also - my "facts" that I listed above could be myths? If so - straighten me out!
I brew beer, I drink beer...it really is that simple

Offline estrauss

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2018, 04:47:38 PM »
The number I referenced is 2.5 gallons for every gallon produced.  I did not measure to verify that value.  What I've learned since posting is that different system pressures can alter the amount of waste water.

If you search the internet, there are lots of good ideas on how to re-use the wastewater.  Mostly the use looks to be for watering your garden and also supplementing it with tap water to reduce the concentration of what the RO system has just removed.

There are different levels of waste in everything we do, you just need to decide what's best.  Driving to get the water, the disposable or recycled containers, the wastewater from the system at your house, the wastewater at the plant that made the store water.  It could go on.

Offline hmbrewing

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2018, 06:35:48 PM »
The number I referenced is 2.5 gallons for every gallon produced.  I did not measure to verify that value.  What I've learned since posting is that different system pressures can alter the amount of waste water.

If you search the internet, there are lots of good ideas on how to re-use the wastewater.  Mostly the use looks to be for watering your garden and also supplementing it with tap water to reduce the concentration of what the RO system has just removed.

There are different levels of waste in everything we do, you just need to decide what's best.  Driving to get the water, the disposable or recycled containers, the wastewater from the system at your house, the wastewater at the plant that made the store water.  It could go on.

Yeah, that's definitely a good way to look at it. Great perspective!
I brew beer, I drink beer...it really is that simple

Offline Buckeye Hydro

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2019, 10:49:18 AM »
Hi guys - Russ Romme with Buckeye Hydro here. 

I wanted to comments on a sentence in your write up:  "Number of filter stages (more is better??).  I chose a 5 stage system.  The more stages, presumably a greater filtration level."

We find this concept is a common area of misunderstanding, especially with first-time buyers of RO's.

Consider a three stage system consisting of a sediment filter, carbon block, and RO membrane the default configuration.  Add filters to this configuration only if warranted.

If you want to add a pressurized storage tank to the system, then you'll also need an inline taste and odor filter. 
If you have chloramines in your water, it makes sense to add a special chloramine-type carbon block before the membrane. 

There is a price you pay every time you add a filter.  First, you'll have to pay for the filter, and then you'll have to pay to replace it periodically.  Next, if the added filter is before the RO membrane, you'll lose a bit of pressure pushing the water through the filter.

Take home message:  Understand what each filter does, and don't assume that "more filters=better filtration."

Russ

Offline Buckeye Hydro

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2019, 10:53:13 AM »
One more comment about the system depicted in the write-up.  It has a GAC filter as one of the prefilters.

Prefilter=any filter that touches the water prior to the water reaching the RO membrane. 

GAC is an older style product that for purposes of prefiltration, has been replaced by carbon blocks.  Carbon blocks  offer much better performance and essentially the same cost.  Blocks are also much cleaner than GAC.  So in general, avoid use of GAC as a prefilter in RO systems.

Russ

Offline EHall

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2019, 06:59:55 PM »
so for those that are thinking environmentally... there are 'zero waste' systems out there. Know that the 'waste' water is pushed back into the 'hot' side line. You also can NOT use one of these systems with a tankless water heater.
Phoenix, AZ

Offline Jonas Andersson

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2019, 05:35:17 AM »
Hi guys - Russ Romme with Buckeye Hydro here. 

I wanted to comments on a sentence in your write up:  "Number of filter stages (more is better??).  I chose a 5 stage system.  The more stages, presumably a greater filtration level."

We find this concept is a common area of misunderstanding, especially with first-time buyers of RO's.

Consider a three stage system consisting of a sediment filter, carbon block, and RO membrane the default configuration.  Add filters to this configuration only if warranted.

If you want to add a pressurized storage tank to the system, then you'll also need an inline taste and odor filter. 
If you have chloramines in your water, it makes sense to add a special chloramine-type carbon block before the membrane. 

There is a price you pay every time you add a filter.  First, you'll have to pay for the filter, and then you'll have to pay to replace it periodically.  Next, if the added filter is before the RO membrane, you'll lose a bit of pressure pushing the water through the filter.

Take home message:  Understand what each filter does, and don't assume that "more filters=better filtration."

Russ

Offline estrauss

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2019, 11:46:16 AM »
so for those that are thinking environmentally... there are 'zero waste' systems out there. Know that the 'waste' water is pushed back into the 'hot' side line. You also can NOT use one of these systems with a tankless water heater.

I'm not sure if you were referencing the system I was posting about, but it does not go back into the water supply, it simply exits to the drain at the sink, so a water heater configuration should have nothing to do with the RO system.

Offline goose

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2019, 01:16:25 PM »
The number I referenced is 2.5 gallons for every gallon produced.  I did not measure to verify that value.  What I've learned since posting is that different system pressures can alter the amount of waste water.

If you search the internet, there are lots of good ideas on how to re-use the wastewater.  Mostly the use looks to be for watering your garden and also supplementing it with tap water to reduce the concentration of what the RO system has just removed.

There are different levels of waste in everything we do, you just need to decide what's best.  Driving to get the water, the disposable or recycled containers, the wastewater from the system at your house, the wastewater at the plant that made the store water.  It could go on.

If the source water for your RO system comes from a well as mine does, you have to soften it first before running it through the RO system so you don't prematurely destroy the membrane (my well has 400 grains of hardness which is a lot).  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.
Goose Steingass
Wooster, OH
Society of Akron Area Zymurgists (SAAZ)
Wayne County Brew Club
Mansfield Brew Club
BJCP Certified
AHA Governing Committee Member

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2019, 06:25:17 PM »
The number I referenced is 2.5 gallons for every gallon produced.  I did not measure to verify that value.  What I've learned since posting is that different system pressures can alter the amount of waste water.

If you search the internet, there are lots of good ideas on how to re-use the wastewater.  Mostly the use looks to be for watering your garden and also supplementing it with tap water to reduce the concentration of what the RO system has just removed.

There are different levels of waste in everything we do, you just need to decide what's best.  Driving to get the water, the disposable or recycled containers, the wastewater from the system at your house, the wastewater at the plant that made the store water.  It could go on.

If the source water for your RO system comes from a well as mine does, you have to soften it first before running it through the RO system so you don't prematurely destroy the membrane (my well has 400 grains of hardness which is a lot).  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.

Indeed I have a well and I am a bit anxious about running the waste water into my septic tank, but I checked with the septic guy and he assured me that he had never seen RO waste water adversely affect a septic tank and effluent lines arrangement, but he cautioned that he only has 40 years experience!
Hodge Garage Brewing: "Brew with a glad heart!"

Offline EHall

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2019, 08:26:44 PM »
so for those that are thinking environmentally... there are 'zero waste' systems out there. Know that the 'waste' water is pushed back into the 'hot' side line. You also can NOT use one of these systems with a tankless water heater.

I'm not sure if you were referencing the system I was posting about, but it does not go back into the water supply, it simply exits to the drain at the sink, so a water heater configuration should have nothing to do with the RO system.

not referencing your post. the system you reference spits the wastewater down the drain. I called out the 'zero waste' systems that exist and how they push the 'waste water' back into the hot side line which would end up in a traditional water heater. If you have an on-demand water heater you can't use a zero waste system as there is no tank for the waste water to end up in.
Phoenix, AZ

Offline goose

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Re: Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems for Homebrewers
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2019, 01:24:28 PM »
The number I referenced is 2.5 gallons for every gallon produced.  I did not measure to verify that value.  What I've learned since posting is that different system pressures can alter the amount of waste water.

If you search the internet, there are lots of good ideas on how to re-use the wastewater.  Mostly the use looks to be for watering your garden and also supplementing it with tap water to reduce the concentration of what the RO system has just removed.

There are different levels of waste in everything we do, you just need to decide what's best.  Driving to get the water, the disposable or recycled containers, the wastewater from the system at your house, the wastewater at the plant that made the store water.  It could go on.

If the source water for your RO system comes from a well as mine does, you have to soften it first before running it through the RO system so you don't prematurely destroy the membrane (my well has 400 grains of hardness which is a lot).  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.

Indeed I have a well and I am a bit anxious about running the waste water into my septic tank, but I checked with the septic guy and he assured me that he had never seen RO waste water adversely affect a septic tank and effluent lines arrangement, but he cautioned that he only has 40 years experience!

The  R.O. waste water won't effect the septic tank since the waste water is already softened (your guy with his miniscule 40 years of experience is right  ;D).
Goose Steingass
Wooster, OH
Society of Akron Area Zymurgists (SAAZ)
Wayne County Brew Club
Mansfield Brew Club
BJCP Certified
AHA Governing Committee Member