Author Topic: How to Raise pH  (Read 817 times)

Offline Jason Baker

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How to Raise pH
« on: June 30, 2019, 02:18:53 PM »
I have been brewing with bottled Ozarka Spring Water.  I'd prefer not use tap water from Houston's water source.   The water I use consistently has the pH of 4.8.  I'd like to get that up around 5.2-5.4.  Went to the LBH and they didn't have much information on it.  We researched and the best we could find is using Baking Soda.   1 1/3 tsp per gallon.  He suggested I add it at the end of the boil.  I was making a 12 gallon batch, so I settled on using 5 tsp and see where that took me.  Not attending science class in years, I quickly found out that 1o min left tin the boil, when you add baking soda, you have immediate boil over. 

So, my question is, when should I add the baking soda?  My pH ended at about 5 and which means something happened.  I can't seem too easily find this question on the net.....can anyone assist me? 

Does anyone have a better way of raising the pH in their wort?

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2019, 03:28:21 PM »
Pickling lime also works.  Add to strike water using an online water calculator to determine amount. 
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2019, 04:02:45 PM »
A better approach would be to focus on mash and wort ph rather than water ph. The grains you choose in each beer will change the ph of the mash, wort and eventual beer so hitting a specific water ph may still result in some beers too acidic and some too basic for your desired result.
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Offline Bob357

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2019, 04:27:42 PM »
+1
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Offline Robert

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2019, 04:51:03 PM »
Water pH is totally irrelevant.  Only mash pH is of interest, but that is of the utmost importance.  It is a product of the interaction of malt constituents and ions in water.  Water pH has no influence in this.  As mentioned, start by using a calculator that will help devise a treatment based on the specific grain bill and the specific water composition.

[EDIT sp.]
« Last Edit: June 30, 2019, 05:41:12 PM by Robert »
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2019, 06:26:48 PM »
I recommend reading this: https://www.sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge


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Offline Jason Baker

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2019, 12:16:57 AM »
It’s the mash that’s consistent. Sorry I didn’t make the distinction. What grains raise the mash pH?

Offline Robert

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2019, 01:08:25 AM »
Base malts give the highest pH in deionized water (DI pH,) Pilsner usually around 5.9, US and British pale maybe 5.5-5.7; crystal malts are more acidic, and roast malts even more so, some with a DI pH below 5.0. Of course, in natural water supplies, or water you build from DI, this will be significantly different. 

But it's not like you can just add a malt to raise pH anyway (though you might add some crystal or roast malt to lower it.)  Your grain bill is a given, defining the beer you want to make.  To manipulate the mash pH, you need to adjust the water chemistry,  adjusting the mineral ions it contains.  Minerals can be added, and if necessary removed by RO or by dilution or replacement with RO or distilled water and then adding desired minerals back in.  Increased calcium can, to some extent, lower mash pH, with organic or mineral acid additions being more effective.  Raising mash pH generally calls for an increase in alkalinity in the water, effected by adding either sodium bicarbonate aka baking soda (which can add way too much sodium) or calcium hydroxide aka pickling lime (though this is a balancing act, since while the hydroxyl group wants to raise mash pH by increasing total alkalinity, the calcium wants to lower it by reducing residual alkalinity.) 

*I highly recommend reading the page BrewBama linked,* and, if you run Excel, try the Bru'n Water spreadsheet from that site as well to plan water treatment.  An alternative to this spreadsheet is the advanced water chemistry calculator at Brewer's Friend. 

To know your starting point, if you consistently use the same source, get a water report from your utility or a testing service like Ward Labs.

For a deeper dive into what you are actually trying to do and why, which might help you work all this out on your own, you can try the Water book by Palmer and Kaminski from the BA's Elements series.  There are also some extremely dangerous rabbit holes on this and other forums.

Hope this helps.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2019, 01:58:09 AM by Robert »
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2019, 01:49:13 AM »
Baking soda works well.  Pickling lime should work even better with less salty taste.
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Offline goose

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2019, 01:00:49 PM »
I have used baking soda to raise water pH , especially in my sparge liquor, when I overshoot acidifying it with phosphoric acid.  You don't need much, usually approx 1/16 tsp (I use my 1/8 tsp. and fill it halfway, I know it ia a caveman measurement approach but it is quick and easy) in about 8 gallons of sparge liquor.  The amount of sodium it adds is very low in that volume.  As Rob said, using pickling lime is a balancing act since the calcium wants to lower the pH and the OH hydroxyl wants to raise it.  Don't use chalk!  It is very difficult to dissolve in hot water and almost impossible to dissolve in cold water.  If you are going to adjust, do it before you put the grains in so that the mineral has enough time to dissociate and disperse evenly throughout the mash liquor.

That said, you should contact your water department and get a report from them including pH.  Because my well water is crappy, I get R.O. (reverse osmosis) brewing water from a local water softener company ($1.50 for five gallons) and sometimes the pH is a bit high.  They claim to check it every day but but it doesn't always happen.  I remind them of that and they adjust for it when it gets up around 8 or so.

Like Brewbama and Rob said, a good water calculator will help you greatly.  I use Martin's Bru'n Water program here although there are others out there like Brewers Friend that are also very good.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2019, 04:48:23 PM »
Of course the mash pH is the proper focus here; I should have been clearer in my response.   The online calculators I am referencing are recipe calculators that include the grist component to adjust the strike water to end up with a specific point in the mash (Brunwater and Brewers Friend, among others).  Sorry if my initial response misled anybody.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2019, 11:40:07 PM »
The water I use consistently has the pH of 4.8. 

How are you determining the water has a pH of 4.8???? Since it would be exceptional that any potable water source would have a pH that low, I sincerely doubt that this finding is true.

Don't worry about water pH in your brewing. As mentioned above, it has extremely little effect on wort or beer pH. There are many factors in brewing water to worry about, but pH is not one of them.
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Offline Silver_Is_Money

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2019, 01:55:49 PM »
Raising mash pH generally calls for an increase in alkalinity in the water, effected by adding either sodium bicarbonate aka baking soda (which can add way too much sodium) or calcium hydroxide aka pickling lime (though this is a balancing act, since while the hydroxyl group wants to raise mash pH by increasing total alkalinity, the calcium wants to lower it by reducing residual alkalinity.)

If the noted pH lowering effect of the calcium ion was not there for the case of mashing, the acid neutralizing ability of calcium hydroxide would be such that 0.44 grams of calcium hydroxide would be equivalent in this regard to 1 gram of baking soda.  But when the acidity inducing effect of the calcium ion component of Ca(OH)2 is factored in, the relationship can be reasonably ballparked at ~0.57 grams of calcium hydroxide being the grist acidity neutralizing equivalent of 1 gram of baking soda.

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2019, 01:59:05 PM »
Raising mash pH generally calls for an increase in alkalinity in the water, effected by adding either sodium bicarbonate aka baking soda (which can add way too much sodium) or calcium hydroxide aka pickling lime (though this is a balancing act, since while the hydroxyl group wants to raise mash pH by increasing total alkalinity, the calcium wants to lower it by reducing residual alkalinity.)

If the noted pH lowering effect of the calcium ion was not there for the case of mashing, the acid neutralizing ability of calcium hydroxide would be such that 0.44 grams of calcium hydroxide would be equivalent in this regard to 1 gram of baking soda.  But when the acidity inducing effect of the calcium ion component of Ca(OH)2 is factored in, the relationship can be reasonably ballparked at ~0.57 grams of calcium hydroxide being the grist acidity neutralizing equivalent of 1 gram of baking soda.

Thanks for this.  So, either way... need about half as much CaOH2 as baking soda.  That's good enough for me.  Even baking soda is touchy and I only add about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon at a time to raise pH by 0.1-0.2, so I'll have to take care to use only 1/16 to 1/8 tsp at a time in future..... for me and my 2-3 gallon batches anyway.  :)
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Offline Big Monk

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Re: How to Raise pH
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2019, 02:32:46 PM »
Water pH is totally irrelevant.  Only mash pH is of interest, but that is of the utmost importance.  It is a product of the interaction of malt constituents and ions in water.  Water pH has no influence in this.  As mentioned, start by using a calculator that will help devise a treatment based on the specific grain bill and the specific water composition.

[EDIT sp.]

Well, Water pH is not totally irrelevant. It's affect is so small that we disregard it usually in calculations but that's what Excel is for!

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