Author Topic: When to add pickling lime  (Read 1017 times)

Online Robert

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When to add pickling lime
« on: November 08, 2018, 03:40:24 PM »
I've seen the general advice to add pickling lime directly to the mash to avoid precipitation of calcium.   I've also seen Martin allow that it's okay to add it to the water beforehand if the water is "lightly mineralized."  But what constitutes "lightly mineralized?"  Doing a porter with my tap water carbon filtered, not RO (some profiles I need to RO it, some I don't.)  Only adjustment for Bru'n Water Brown Balanced is pickling lime in mash to bring up calcium to 50ppm in finished water and adjust mash pH. Starting water has ~35 ppm Ca and ~100 ppm bicarbonate, carbonate ~0.1 ppm, pH ~7.3.   Can I add the pickling lime to the water, or should it go in the mash?

(Edit to add starting carbonate and pH)
« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 03:48:30 PM by Robert »
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Offline blatz

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2018, 03:44:35 PM »
I never liked adding directly to the mash as I get concerned about homogenous distribution and started adding to the HLT while the water is heating.

Interested to hear others thoughts.


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Offline denny

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2018, 03:50:46 PM »
I never liked adding directly to the mash as I get concerned about homogenous distribution and started adding to the HLT while the water is heating.

Interested to hear others thoughts.


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I do the same Paul.  IIRC, the calcium precipitation really isn't an issue.
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2018, 05:43:55 PM »
I add all the minerals to the water after it’s heated just before I transfer it to the MLT.


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Online Robert

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2018, 08:32:27 PM »
I never liked adding directly to the mash as I get concerned about homogenous distribution and started adding to the HLT while the water is heating.

Interested to hear others thoughts.


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I do the same Paul.  IIRC, the calcium precipitation really isn't an issue.
I add all the minerals to the water after it’s heated just before I transfer it to the MLT.


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My preference is to measure and treat my water the night before brew day (when I weigh out my hops and mill my grains and set everything up.)  But I suppose when a mineral is added relative to heating to strike is irrelevant,  as long as it doesn't have to be added after doughing in, and it sounds like nobody's found this to be critical.  I know that adding slaked lime to precipitate calcium carbonate is what is called "lime softening," and as far as I can determine, my utility hasn't already done that.   I have very little carbonate according to Bru'n Water's calculation based on my actual measured total alkalinity and pH; so maybe there's nothing that can be precipitated by this method.  Unless I receive further information to the contrary,  I guess I'll just follow my SOP.  Thanks all.
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Offline kramerog

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2018, 12:26:45 AM »
I have water that is a little bit more "mineralized" and a higher pH and don't have any trouble dissolving pickling lime in the strike water.  Some calcium minerals I have to stir to get to dissolve and some I don't.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2018, 01:15:54 AM »
Since most brewers are having to use pickling lime due to their water having little mineralization, adding pickling lime to the water is not going to cause the precipitation reaction that occur from lime softening. So add your lime directly to your mashing water and mix it well to dissolve it. Add your grain after you've confirmed that all your mineral additions are fully dissolved.
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Offline goose

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2018, 02:29:47 PM »
Agree with Martin.  I add my minerals including pickling lime to my mash liquor before doughing in.
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Offline charlie

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2018, 01:25:36 AM »
I never liked adding directly to the mash as I get concerned about homogenous distribution and started adding to the HLT while the water is heating.

When I was making my own water mineral profiles I added everything to the CLT, but have since started using water from a nearby town that has a superior mineral profile.

The one thing that I could never get to go into solution was gypsum. I tried adding it to the MT, but it pilled up and wouldn't dissolve. These days I disperse it in the dry crushed grain by stirring, and that works fine.

"Pickling Lime" is calcium hydroxide (CaOH2). I had to look that up as I was unfamiliar with the term. :-)

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Online Robert

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2018, 01:48:51 AM »
I find gypsum requires a ridiculous amount of stirring to dissolve at room temperature.   But added cold, by the time the liquor has reached strike temperature,  it has taken care of itself with no effort needed. 

If it is not dissolving, here's a tip I remember Martin has provided:   gypsum can convert to or be contaminated with chalk (calcium carbonate,) which of course is insoluble  and useless for brewing. Put a drop of acid on your gypsum.  If it bubbles, some of it is chalk.  Replace.  Hiding it in the grist will only be sticking your head in the sand.

(I think the same test applies to pickling lime,  or maybe I'm remembering this all wrong.   Martin will surely correct me.)

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« Last Edit: November 28, 2018, 02:05:57 AM by Robert »
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2018, 02:04:53 AM »
Rob, I don't think that gypsum commonly converts to chalk. However, pickling lime does. That test that you mention, is useful for assessing if the pickling lime has reverted to chalk. Pure pickling lime will only produce heat and a relatively neutral solution when combined directly with an acid. The carbonate in chalk will produce CO2 when combined with acid.

While gypsum solubility is decreased in hot water, I've not seen that its too difficult to dissolve gypsum into water at the typical concentrations brewers use. Yes, it does take some stirring to assure that it dissolves in a timely manner.

You do make a good point in that gypsum can be contaminated with chalk (as can calcium chloride). If either of those minerals bubble when you add acid directly to them, it is a sign that there is chalk contamination.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2018, 02:07:09 AM by mabrungard »
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Online Robert

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2018, 02:06:55 AM »
Thanks for straightening me out Martin!   
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Offline charlie

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2018, 01:21:21 AM »
I find gypsum requires a ridiculous amount of stirring to dissolve at room temperature.   But added cold, by the time the liquor has reached strike temperature,  it has taken care of itself with no effort needed.

I googled it. Interesting stuff here.

"Gypsum is moderately water-soluble (~2.0–2.5 g/l at 25 °C)[7] and, in contrast to most other salts, it exhibits retrograde solubility, becoming less soluble at higher temperatures. When gypsum is heated in air it loses water and converts first to calcium sulfate hemihydrate, (bassanite, often simply called "plaster") and, if heated further, to anhydrous calcium sulfate (anhydrite). As for anhydrite, its solubility in saline solutions and in brines is also strongly dependent on NaCl (common table salt) concentration.[7]"

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Online Robert

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2018, 01:38:41 AM »
I suspect Martin hit on the main point here:  at the concentrations we use, solubility is not a real problem.   I'm probably just too lazy to stir it enough,  and maybe left on its own overnight (my usual practice is to treat the night before) it might dissolve at any temperature.  Charlie's found another way to ensure it's well distributed and stirred.   But it is interesting that gypsum behaves so bass-ackwards. At the solubility threshold of 2g/L you'd be on your  way to making plaster instead of beer.  I won't worry too much.
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Offline Fiddledeedee

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Re: When to add pickling lime
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2019, 08:20:13 AM »
I did a lime+tequila cream ale last year, it was pretty good. I added the juice of 5 limes, the zest of one lime and about 100ml tequila to 20 litres of beer at the height of fermentation. Personally I felt I could have done with a bit more lime and would increase this next time I do this or try a different variety of lime (like key lime).
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