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Water Test Kits

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NorthernIke:
Can anyone recommend good testing kits for brewing water? In particular, I'm looking to test bicarbonate levels.

I just had my first run of decarbonating water with pickling lime.  It left a huge amount of white precipitate at the bottom of the brew kettle, so it seemed to work to at least some degree.

I'm going to send a sample to Ward Labs to get a baseline set of numbers, but moving forward I'd like a quicker, cheaper method to test.

Any help is appreciated!

Ike

NorthernIke:
Oh...I'm using my brew kettle because its the biggest pot I have. Reading the post again, I wanted you all to know that I'm not adding pickling lime to wort, or anything like that.

Kaiser:
Look for a GH and KH test in an aquarium store. I just ordered one for 5.99 and $6 shipping :( I was mostly interested in the general hardness part (GH) which measured calcium and magnesium.

If you have a pH meter and hydrochloric acid (muriatic acid) of known strength you can also titrate a water sample to a pH of 4.3 and then calculate alkalinity from the amount of acid you added and the size of the water sample. I have done that a few times. But handling muriatic acid is dangerous. To make it safer I dilute it to about 0.5 % strength and use the diluted acid. Makes dosing much easier too.

Kai

NorthernIke:
Thanks Kai.  I will stop by an aquarium store and see what I can find.  In your experience, how accurate are the aquarium test kits?

I don't have a very reliable way to titrate a solution (the finest measurement capability I have is 1/10th of an ML).  I also don't have a pH meter.  Maybe that's something I should look into for the future.

In the short term--and being that this is brewing water--I think getting a reasonably accurate measurement would suffice.  If you think the aquarium kits are a good option, I will go with that.

I've also read--I think in DeLange's papers--about Hach brand kits.  Any experience with these?

Kaiser:
I haven't received mine yet. Since I couldn't find them in a local store I had to order them on-line. The local store has only the expensive kits that do a lot of other tests I don't need.

I think the accuracy of these tests should be good enough for brewing. You may also improve the accuracy by doubling the sample volume and the dividing the result by 2 or by using more precise means of dosing the titrant. I do the latter with the precision scale I use for measuring my salts. I zero out the scale when I have a small cup of titrant and a syringe for dosing on the scale. Once I reached the titration point I weigh it again and what's missing is the amount of titrant I used. I'll have to post this with pics and instructions. It's a fairly easy process once you see how it is done.

Kai

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