Author Topic: A little help with my Water Report  (Read 1359 times)

Offline duder

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A little help with my Water Report
« on: September 13, 2010, 07:36:37 PM »
So, I finally got my Ward Labs report for NE Iowa.

I brew AG, add Buffer 5.2 to all batches, Campden / Water filter for chlorine & batch sparge.

My numbers are;

Na = 8
Ca = 78
Mg = 23
Sulfate = 7
Chloride = 21
Bicarbonate = 274
ph = 7.4 as measured on test
Total hardness CaCO3 = 288
Total Alkalinity CaCO3 = 225

I know that I have hard water, but it makes very good beer. Other than cutting my water with RO water , is there any "correction" that would be standard and/or appropriate for my water? Besides the high Bicarbonate, it looks pretty good. Correct?

And if I do cut my water with RO, wouldn't that tend to lower all the rest of my numbers as well. Maybe too low?

Thanks for any and all input.

Good Luck

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: A little help with my Water Report
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2010, 07:44:31 PM »
If Ward Labs reported your sulfate the way they did mine, it is:
Sulfate, SO4-S

You need to multiply that by 3 to get the ppm value.  There was some discussion of this in the post you water report thread.

There aren't really any standard corrections for any brewing water, it all depends on the beer you're trying to make.  Cutting it with RO or distilled water is your only choice if you want to use soft water, and yes, it will cut all of the ions.  You'll just have to build it back up to whatever levels you want using a variety of salts.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline thcipriani

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Re: A little help with my Water Report
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2010, 10:27:21 PM »
duder,

looks like there is a slight cation/anion imbalance in your water report (you should see Cations/Anions, me/L at the top of your report - it should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 6.1 / 5.5 - but I could be off since I didn't get the Potassium or Nitrate levels from your report). This is typical of the quality of Ward's Labs reports. None of this is important...

ANYWAY...

Your water has a RA of 155.88 using Ward labs numbers, if we screw around with those numbers to balance Cations/Anions by upping the level of alkalinity until we reach 255 ppm as CaCO3 to bring the "water" to electrical neutrality the RA is around 185.88 ppm as CaCO3. The pH shift of a mash that uses your water and 100% base malt would be +0.31. That is to say if you brewed a 100% base malt beer with malt that was similar to the malt Kolbach used in his RA experiments in the 40s and 50s you might end up with a mash pH of almost 6.

Fortunately the hardness in your water is mostly temporary hardness and can be precipitated either by boiling and then removing the precipitated CaCO3 or by treatment with lime as outlined here:
http://www.braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Alkalinity_reduction_with_slaked_lime

Tyler Cipriani
Longmont, CO

Offline duder

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Re: A little help with my Water Report
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2010, 06:54:08 AM »
My Cation/Anion me/L = 6.2 / 6.0

Nitrate = 4.2

Potassium = 3

Offline thcipriani

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Re: A little help with my Water Report
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2010, 05:14:51 PM »
That's odd. Even with those 2 numbers my calculations are a bit off of Ward Labs' - I got 6.210/5.818. I was using Nitrate As Nitrogen and SO4 as Sulfur, just like they do so beats me where I'm off. Either way you'll have to fudge your profile a little to glean any real insight.

Anyway, to your original question. I plugged in your numbers and I think a good place to start your adjustments for pale beers would be adding 4 grams of lime and 5 grams of calcium chloride for 5 gallons of treated water which should enable you to precipitate enough CaCO3 to brew a reasonably pale beer while keeping your Calcium levels high. Although I'd still recommend checking the pH in the mash and adjusting with acids based on the reading on your pH meter. My feeling (very scientific, I know) is that after adjusting with lime and CaCO3 you won't have to adjust your pH except for very pale beers.

Let us know how it turns out for you.
Tyler Cipriani
Longmont, CO

Offline duder

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Re: A little help with my Water Report
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2010, 06:19:27 PM »
Great info.  Thanks for the knowledgable replies.

Good Luck

Offline mabrungard

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Re: A little help with my Water Report
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2010, 06:42:55 AM »
I agree with Tyler on the apparent inconsistency in the Ward Labs water report.  After converting the sulfate and nitrate concentrations to their more appropriate reporting format, the cations are at 6.2 meq/L and the anions are at 5.8 meq/L.  That is a little more off than I'd like to see and its odd that the lab reports that the anion value is 6.0. 

The reported total hardness value agrees with the Ca and Mg concentrations.  The total Alkalinity agrees with the bicarb concentration and the pH indicates that the carbonate concentration will be negligible.  I suppose that the lab measured another significant anion that they didn't report?

The RA of 155 is going to be a problem for lighter colored beers.  Further hardening with Ca is an option as is alkalinity reduction by adding acid.  Either may allow that water to produce acceptable mashing performance, but I would lean toward adding acid as the easiest alternative.  Using phosphoric acid is the most flavor-neutral acid for brewing.

I'd caution any brewer regarding the lime softening methodology presented in Kai's worksheet.  It presents a partial softening method that produces uncertain concentrations of Ca and Mg in the water.  I recommend that anyone interested in lime softening to use the Excess-Lime method where lime is added to the water to the point where the pH of the water is about 11.  Following the other steps outlined in Kai's paper (settling and decanting), this will produce a relatively consistent Ca concentration of about 12 ppm and Mg concentration of about 3 ppm.   The only difficult thing with this method is that acid will be needed to bring the water pH back down to an acceptable range.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2010, 11:23:24 AM by mabrungard »
Martin B
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Offline thcipriani

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Re: A little help with my Water Report
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2010, 07:07:23 AM »
Quote
I brew AG, add Buffer 5.2 to all batches, Campden / Water filter for chlorine & batch sparge.
I'd be wary about the Buffer 5.2. The one thing that is known for certain is that there is some blend of monobasic and dibasic sodium phosphate that make up some portion of 5.2:
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=1125.0
Which means you're going to be adding a hell of a lot of Sodium to every beer at the recommended dose of 5.2.

Also, if the only constituents of 5.2 are the phosphate salts (which seems like a safe assumption when you read phrases like, "5.2 is a proprietary blend of food-grade phosphate buffers" on Five Star's website) then 5.2 would not be a very effective buffer.

Monobasic sodium phosphate has a pKa of 7.2. In general a substance's buffer capacity is maximized at that substance's pKa. At a substance's pKa ±1 the buffering capacity of that substance is 33% less effective than at a substance's pKa. So monobasic sodium phosphate has a pKa of 7.2 and its effective buffer region is 6.2 to 8.2. According to Wikipedia (which is a great site that is highly accurate all the time and always will be forever) a blend of monobasic and dibasic sodium phosphate has a buffer region of 6-7.5 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PH_buffer#Useful_buffer_mixtures) I don't think it's unreasonable to say that a buffer composed primarily of "food grade phosphate buffers" would be a buffer that would not be effective at a pH of 5.2. Chemistry 101 does not support Five Star's claims.

HOWEVER, if 5.2 is a buffer solution that is made with phosphates as a constituent with other buffers then it may work, although, anecdotally, I've yet to hear a scenario where someone with a reliable means of checking pH (a calibrated meter) has said that it works in both a Stout and a Pale ale. I'd be surprised to hear from that person.
Tyler Cipriani
Longmont, CO

Offline mabrungard

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Re: A little help with my Water Report
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2010, 12:14:52 PM »
I am with Tyler on this one, the 5.2 buffer product is not always a good idea and can lend to other brewing problems.  5-Star is trying to provide a product that most brewers can use to improve their mash performance, but it may not be appropriate for all conditions. 

My recommendation would be to learn about your water's condition and then learn to add either acidity or alkalinity to your water to meet your beer's mashing needs.  Its not that difficult and it can significantly improve your brewing outcome. 
« Last Edit: September 23, 2010, 11:23:36 AM by mabrungard »
Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

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https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

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