Author Topic: Brew Systems RO water treatment  (Read 249 times)

Offline Kirk

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 34
    • View Profile
Brew Systems RO water treatment
« on: July 15, 2018, 12:48:36 PM »
Has anyone on here used a Brew Systems RO water treatment system? I've been considering getting a small RO system, specifically for brewing beer and wondering what people use and how they like their systems? The Brew Systems kit is around $400 which, comparatively is pricey to other RO systems that I found. I also found that the membrane can be changed ($40), and likely needs to be done after ~ 3 years or so. I'm not confident that other systems allow you to purchase a new membrane, so that would be a huge plus. Also they indicate it can produce up to 100 GPD, and at 0 TDS. I'm not sure I've found that type of specs on any of the lower cost RO system.

http://www.hbrewo.com/

I think my biggest issue with RO is how wasteful it is. Mike from Brew Systems indicated that their system had a treated/waste water ratio of 3:1 typical, but could be as bad as 5:1. I guess it depends on how many minerals/solids were present in your water to begin with.

If you have an RO system, what do you do with the waste water? Do you have a storage tank? My first thought was I would use the water for cleaning the equipment, or watering the lawn. The later idea would be difficult since I'm on city water.

Offline Bob357

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 241
  • I can't hang with Denny. My day ends at 1.060.
    • View Profile
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2018, 08:51:17 PM »
As you stated, waste is a big factor. With high TDS waste water can go much higher than 5:1. Another consideration to factor in are filters. The higher the TDS, the more often the early stage filters need to be replaced.

I looked into RO systems for brewing water and decided that I could buy a lot of RO from Walmart  for the cost of buying and maintaining my own system and dealing with the waste water use and cost.  $ .37/gal. out of the dispensing machine at Walmart. I just take a couple of my retired fermenters down and fill them up.
Beer is my bucket list,

Bob357
Fallon, NV

Offline jerryschoeb

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2018, 08:53:39 PM »
If your purpose is only for the beer you make, it may make more sense to just buy distilled water. At about $1/gallon $400 will go a long way. I typically use a 4:1 mix of distilled and spring / tap water. That seems to work quite well. Another option is a Zero Water filtration, although that would require accumulating water over several days.
Just a thought.
Pour Carefully, Drink Responsibly

Offline ynotbrusum

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2801
  • Da mihi sis cerevisiam.
    • View Profile
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2018, 11:08:14 PM »
If you intend to brew large batches on a regular basis and you want household RO water use as well, the RO system pays for itself over a couple years time.  Plus you can attach a TDS meter to verify the water filtration extent.

Walmart and grocery stores have pretty wide swings on their conditioned RO water or at least that is what a local water engineer expressed to me back when I was getting water from a heavily used commercial unit at a local store.

YMMV, of course.
Hodge Garage Brewing: "Brew with a glad heart!"

Offline Kirk

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 34
    • View Profile
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2018, 11:47:46 PM »
Thanks for the replies.

My municipal water supply is actually pretty good. I've gotten much better at understanding my water chemistry and how to adjust it over the last year or so. However, someday, I'd like to have a small brew pub. The motivation behind the RO system (or some other water purification system) would be that I can't buy water running a brewery, so I need to better understand how to add salts/adjust my water.

Even though you're buying water - do you typically add salts or make adjustments?

Online Robert

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1653
    • View Profile
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2018, 11:53:24 PM »
If you intend to brew large batches on a regular basis and you want household RO water use as well, the RO system pays for itself over a couple years time.  Plus you can attach a TDS meter to verify the water filtration extent.

Walmart and grocery stores have pretty wide swings on their conditioned RO water or at least that is what a local water engineer expressed to me back when I was getting water from a heavily used commercial unit at a local store.

YMMV, of course.
Just look at the profile Martin assumes for typical (store bought) RO in Bru'n Water;  it has some significant mineral content left, notably bicarbonate and sodium. Meanwhile, my $175 unit puts out water at 3-5ppm TDS.  It also runs a gallon in 15-20 minutes with a fairly good water to brine ratio.  Shop around if you're going to buy a system.  I wonder if this unit is premium priced just because they are able to pitch it to a specialist consumer.  I'd bet the guts are identical to other systems on the market.
Rob
Akron, Ohio

I'd rather have questions I can't answer than answers I can't question.

Offline BrewBama

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1489
    • View Profile
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2018, 12:43:58 AM »
If your purpose is only for the beer you make, it may make more sense to just buy distilled water. At about $1/gallon $400 will go a long way. I typically use a 4:1 mix of distilled and spring / tap water. That seems to work quite well. Another option is a Zero Water filtration, although that would require accumulating water over several days.
Just a thought.

That’s what I do. At .89 a gallon I just consider distilled water an ingredient along with hops, yeast, or grain.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Huntsville AL

Offline mabrungard

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2387
  • Water matters!
    • View Profile
    • Bru'n Water
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2018, 12:43:36 PM »
Just look at the profile Martin assumes for typical (store bought) RO in Bru'n Water;  it has some significant mineral content left, notably bicarbonate and sodium.

Significant?? A few ppm of any individual ions isn't really much to worry about. That's within the margin of error that we're mineralizing our brewing water to. However, the RO process and resulting water quality is dependent upon the mineralization of the tap water. The raw water that produced the result shown in Bru'n Water has over 600 ppm TDS. 
Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/Brun-Water-464551136933908/?ref=bookmarks

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8875
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2018, 01:04:12 PM »
I bought a system a little over a year ago. I got tired of going to the store and wrestling the 5 gallon jugs in and out of the car to home.

My tap water TDS is 650+, and the RO is usually 10 or less ppm.  I have changed the pre filters once. I don’t think I am spending too much on this water. My back thanks me.

Edit - Then there were  the times I got the stink eye from people lined up as I filled 4 5 gallon jugs. One had 2 5 gallon jugs, so I was not so sorry.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2018, 01:06:21 PM by hopfenundmalz »
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
AHA Governing Committee
BJCP National
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Online Robert

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1653
    • View Profile
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2018, 02:40:39 PM »
Just look at the profile Martin assumes for typical (store bought) RO in Bru'n Water;  it has some significant mineral content left, notably bicarbonate and sodium.

Significant?? A few ppm of any individual ions isn't really much to worry about. That's within the margin of error that we're mineralizing our brewing water to. However, the RO process and resulting water quality is dependent upon the mineralization of the tap water. The raw water that produced the result shown in Bru'n Water has over 600 ppm TDS.
Sorry if I was imprecise.  I was getting at the idea that these store systems, if not well maintained, might let enough of just the things you don't want through to be significant.  And you never know the source or final profiles of the store bought water.  So if you're buying water anyway, why not just buy distilled as some here suggest?  That's what I did before buying my RO unit, which I did just to avoid hauling all those jugs from the store and then having to recycle them. Just as much trouble as hauling all those 5gal jugs of RO.  (My city water, which I get down to 3-5ppm, is usually around 250ppm.  But the nearest store selling RO draws from a well that is probably at least double to triple that.)
Rob
Akron, Ohio

I'd rather have questions I can't answer than answers I can't question.

Offline smkranz

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 266
  • Maryland
    • View Profile
    • Midnight Homebrewers' League
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2018, 10:08:19 PM »
I bought an HBrewO system from them at last year's conference in Minneapolis.  (I'm pretty sure the TDS meter was a conference freebie.)  I love it.  Like Jeff, I'm totally over lugging full buckets or carboys of RO water home from the Glacier machine outside one of our local supermarkets.

The compact size is super convenient.  I make RO water either out on my deck, or downstairs outside of my basement.  I typically make 15-20 gallons at a shot, which we use for brewing, for our coffee maker, and for topping off our several aquariums in between water changes.  I also use my RO water to make up StarSan solutions for the spray bottles that are all over the house.  Our municipal water is horrible for brewing.  But they only use plain chlorine, not chloramine, so the chlorine is easily stripped out with a carbon filter which is included with the system.  When I brew all-grain, depending on the beer I will use our municipal water (charcoal filtered for chlorine) cut with 50-75% RO water.  Extract brews get 100% RO water.

My typical RO operation is to use either a bucket or carboy with some left-over RO water from the last time, which I use to prime a syphon between 3 or 4 carboys in a series with Auto-Syphons in between them.  That lets me fill all 3-4 vessels at the same time without watching them.  I do have a float valve, which shuts the whole system off when it's full.  The TDS meter generally shows output water of 0-8 TDS.

Most of the time, the waste water just runs into the back yard and waters the tree and grass out there.  I guess I could catch some in a bucket for laundering clothing, but that involves more work than I want to put into it.

If there's a down-side to the HBrewO system, it seems to me that it's the fact that you need to use their proprietary replacement cartridges.  So what.  I have not done any math to try to figure out how much money I'm either saving or paying extra over the cost of purchased RO/distilled water.  It's a matter of convenience for me.

(p.s. We have a 3 gallon Better Bottle carboy in our pantry which we use for RO water to cut our filtered municipal water about 50% to use in our coffee maker.  This $10 Primo hand pump works with any plastic carboy.  https://www.lowes.com/pd/Primo-Plastic-Connector-Kit/3172675 )
« Last Edit: July 16, 2018, 10:10:21 PM by smkranz »
Steve K.
AHA • BJCP
Midnight Homebrewers' League
http://www.midnighthomebrewers.org

Offline mabrungard

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2387
  • Water matters!
    • View Profile
    • Bru'n Water
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #11 on: Today at 12:45:27 PM »
If there's a down-side to the HBrewO system, it seems to me that it's the fact that you need to use their proprietary replacement cartridges. 

Oh, don't worry, there are more down-sides than that. The teeny filters used in that cute, compact system are not sufficient for economical use. However, they do enable the manufacturer to fit all the necessary components in that nice case.

For about a third of the cost of that system, a much more capable RO system that uses larger 10-inch sediment and carbon block filters can be had. Sure, its not as nice and compact, but its actually going to perform better and longer and not put as big a dent in the wallet.

PS: you don't need to buy the replacement filters from the manufacturer since they are a standard part available from many sources. 
Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/Brun-Water-464551136933908/?ref=bookmarks

Offline goose

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 21
    • View Profile
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #12 on: Today at 01:27:06 PM »
Just a side note on this thread.  I have a household RO system since our water is so bad, lots of black manganese in our well that fortunately is caught in the pre-filter.  Plus, our water has over 400 grains of hardness (yeah, it is really brackish).  I can get brewing water out of t he RO system since I have a 7.5 gallon tank attached to it, but it still takes about a day and a half to collect enough water for 10 gallon batches.

It is easier for me to go to the local Clearwater outlet, a Culligan competitor, which is only three miles away to buy my RO brewing water.  The tech that works there assures me that they test the water for TDS every day and are now testing for pH every day as well since I had a few instances where i measured it in the 8+ range (probably because the filters needed changed).  The last batch I got was pH 6.9 after calibrating my pH meter which is close enough.  It's only $1.50 for 5 gallons and with their rewards card I get 5 gallons free after buying 10 jugs worth.  Yeah, I have to haul 40# jugs into my brewery (which fortunately is right off the garage), but I can deal with that and don't encounter any wrath from my wife when I ran the RO out of drinking water.

Moral of the story, if you use one  of the commercial outlets rather than some place like Walmart, they will be glad to work with you to make sure your water is mineral free.  You will also not run into the Rankert Syndrome where you get dirty looks from other customers when you are filling bottles!
Goose Steingass
Wooster, OH
Society of Akron Area Zymurgists (SAAZ)
Wayne County Brew Club
Mansfield Brew Club
BJCP Certified
AHA Governing Committee Member

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8875
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Brew Systems RO water treatment
« Reply #13 on: Today at 01:40:28 PM »
Just a side note on this thread.  I have a household RO system since our water is so bad, lots of black manganese in our well that fortunately is caught in the pre-filter.  Plus, our water has over 400 grains of hardness (yeah, it is really brackish).  I can get brewing water out of t he RO system since I have a 7.5 gallon tank attached to it, but it still takes about a day and a half to collect enough water for 10 gallon batches.

It is easier for me to go to the local Clearwater outlet, a Culligan competitor, which is only three miles away to buy my RO brewing water.  The tech that works there assures me that they test the water for TDS every day and are now testing for pH every day as well since I had a few instances where i measured it in the 8+ range (probably because the filters needed changed).  The last batch I got was pH 6.9 after calibrating my pH meter which is close enough.  It's only $1.50 for 5 gallons and with their rewards card I get 5 gallons free after buying 10 jugs worth.  Yeah, I have to haul 40# jugs into my brewery (which fortunately is right off the garage), but I can deal with that and don't encounter any wrath from my wife when I ran the RO out of drinking water.

Moral of the story, if you use one  of the commercial outlets rather than some place like Walmart, they will be glad to work with you to make sure your water is mineral free.  You will also not run into the Rankert Syndrome where you get dirty looks from other customers when you are filling bottles!
;D
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
AHA Governing Committee
BJCP National
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!