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Author Topic: Water chemistry and safety  (Read 1087 times)

Offline jason.giannitsas

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Water chemistry and safety
« on: March 17, 2022, 11:32:36 am »
Hey everyone,

I am a beginner home brewer and decided to go with distilled water from now on so i can add salts myself for a more consistent result.

However, i can only find deionised water in my area which is "not safe to drink". The question is: Are all those dangerous bacteria killed through the process of boiling the wort and beermanking in general? Is it actually safe to drink beer made with DI water?

From what i have read through the forum it seems like the answer is yes, but i just want to make sure it is before going ahead and trying this method on my next batch.

Thanks in advance.

Offline RC

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Re: Water chemistry and safety
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2022, 12:12:29 pm »
I think the reason for that labeling has more to do with the lack of dissolved ions than bacteria. There shouldn't be any bacteria in that water. But just so you know, bacteria are killed at 150ish degrees. No boiling required.

DI water is pretty pure water and can be corrosive to metals. In principle, then, it should also be corrosive to internal body tissues (hence the safety warning). But, of course, normal humans are constantly ingesting replacement ions in their food and beverages, so I don't think there is any safety concern. Malt is loaded with ions and so once you add malt to DI water, it becomes simply water.

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Water chemistry and safety
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2022, 01:28:14 pm »
"Not safe to drink" or "Not for drinking"?

I have seen water labeled NOT FOR DRINKING because it's distilled or de-ionized and it would not taste good but that doesn't mean it's harmful.  I think you could use it and add calcium chloride, calcium sulfate, sodium or whatever you choose and the beer would be okay as long as your water additions were done properly. 

From the Google machine:

Quote
Why is distilled water not suitable for drinking?

Aside from its flat taste, distilled water doesn't provide you with minerals like calcium and magnesium that you get from tap water. Since distilled water doesn't contain its own minerals, it has a tendency to pull them from whatever it touches to maintain a balance
« Last Edit: March 17, 2022, 01:30:24 pm by Village Taphouse »
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: Water chemistry and safety
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2022, 01:30:49 pm »
I’ve never used DI water and am surprised you cannot get distilled or RO (labeled as “purified” in my grocery).

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Water chemistry and safety
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2022, 01:35:22 pm »
I was going to suggest "spring water".  Good for drinking, probably low ions, low bicarbonate but the issue is that you don't know exactly what's in it so it's hard to know how much of any one salt to add.  When you start with distilled or RO, you know you're at zero or close to it. 
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Offline Richard

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Re: Water chemistry and safety
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2022, 03:02:40 pm »
DI water has had the charged atoms and molecules (ions) removed. That says nothing about neutral molecules, some of which could be toxic. Distilled water has been evaporated and condensed, so all impurities are removed. Whether DI water is safe to drink depends on what was in the water before the ions were removed. I worked in a lab that used DI water for cooling electrical equipment and electromagnets. It also had biocides added to inhibit the growth of living things. It would definitely have been dangerous to drink it. The warning on your bottle may simply be a CYA statement put on by a lawyer, or it may reflect the fact that there is stuff in there that you shouldn't put in your body. Unless you are sure of the source I wouldn't take any chances.

Distilled water is in high demand and short supply right now, with people's CPAP machines being one driver of that. I usually mix my StarSan with distilled water because it lasts a lot longer than if I make it with my tap water, but the grocery store rarely has any these days.
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Offline Don

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Re: Water chemistry and safety
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2022, 03:35:16 pm »
Do you have the Glacier r.o. water machines near you? That's what I've been using, just add salts and you're ready to go...

Offline fredthecat

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Re: Water chemistry and safety
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2022, 04:02:42 pm »
Hey everyone,

I am a beginner home brewer and decided to go with distilled water from now on so i can add salts myself for a more consistent result.

However, i can only find deionised water in my area which is "not safe to drink". The question is: Are all those dangerous bacteria killed through the process of boiling the wort and beermanking in general? Is it actually safe to drink beer made with DI water?

From what i have read through the forum it seems like the answer is yes, but i just want to make sure it is before going ahead and trying this method on my next batch.

Thanks in advance.


check with your city or county water service (if you have one i guess) and ask for a water report, they will give it and it should be free. i phoned mine and chatted with him to make sure it was definitely the water i was getting at my house. i feel confident with the mineral concentrations amounts i'm going with now as i brew and it's much cheaper and easier to get it out of the tap. i let mine sit for 24 hours with half a crushed campden tab added to it (these actions remove the chlorine) before using it to mash.

others have elaborated on the DI water. as they've said, you should likely be able to find spring water or distilled water if you really don't want to use tap water.

i've never seen DI water for sale. Where are you located?

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Water chemistry and safety
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2022, 04:30:10 pm »
Do you have the Glacier r.o. water machines near you? That's what I've been using, just add salts and you're ready to go...
I did that for awhile too but the problem I had was that I didn't know what was in the water.  RO should be close enough to distilled that it shouldn't matter but not always.  To find out, I sent a sample of that Glacier water to Ward Labs and it had pretty high TDS and still 50ppm of bicarbonate in it.  I know I mentioned that on some board and someone suggested that the machine had not been "serviced" in awhile.  Do filters get changed or cleaned or something?  Anyway, the key (for me) is to KNOW what's in the water so I can adjust with confidence.  Low ions?  I can add them.  High in something?  I can dilute with distilled and add other things back if needed.  You don't want to be guessing and you don't want to have varying water from batch to batch without knowing what's in it.  A properly maintained RO system in someone's home is probably a good bet because you're maintaining it and know (generally) what you're working with. 
Ken from Chicago. 
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Water chemistry and safety
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2022, 11:35:21 am »
I was going to suggest "spring water".  Good for drinking, probably low ions, low bicarbonate but the issue is that you don't know exactly what's in it so it's hard to know how much of any one salt to add. 

That's the problem with spring water, if they don't tell you what's in it.  You won't know what you could or should add...and more than likely, it has significant alkalinity.  Always stay away from 'spring water', if the provider doesn't quote what the ionic content is.  Going with RO (and checking that it has low TDS) is a safer bet for brewing use.
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Offline denny

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Re: Water chemistry and safety
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2022, 12:25:57 pm »
I was going to suggest "spring water".  Good for drinking, probably low ions, low bicarbonate but the issue is that you don't know exactly what's in it so it's hard to know how much of any one salt to add. 

That's the problem with spring water, if they don't tell you what's in it.  You won't know what you could or should add...and more than likely, it has significant alkalinity.  Always stay away from 'spring water', if the provider doesn't quote what the ionic content is.  Going with RO (and checking that it has low TDS) is a safer bet for brewing use.

And yet, the myth persists in the homebrew community that spring water is preferable to distilled or RO becasue it has "minerals" in it. Too many people don't understand that's not necessarily a good thing.
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Water chemistry and safety
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2022, 01:22:30 pm »
Hooray.  I was hoping Martin would jump in here.

Yeah, it's about knowing what you're working with so you know how to adjust it for your needs.  I have seen public water reports that seem to align with reports I have gotten from Ward Labs but if I had to rely on them solely, I might be a little twitchy.  Sometimes things change by the season, the water might come from different pumping stations and the public numbers you see are an average, etc.  I like my Ward Labs analysis and it's been pretty consistent over the years. 
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Offline jason.giannitsas

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Re: Water chemistry and safety
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2022, 04:49:33 pm »
Thanks a lot for all the replies. I have researched the matter further and realised that my problem was the translation of the words "distilled" and "deionized" in my language. Therefore (even though the supply is trully low) i have found RO water and will use that in my next brew.

You have all been very nice and helpful. Cheers<3