Author Topic: High pH (Alkalinity) Help  (Read 1054 times)

Offline jwaldner

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High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« on: July 20, 2011, 07:51:51 AM »
I recently bought a pH meter and have been trying to watch/adjust my pH for brewing but am have a great difficulty adjusting it do to my water's high alkalinity. Typically, my water out of the faucet is anywhere from 7.4 to 7.9 pH.

I'm using phophoric acid to adjust based on some reading I've done and forums stating that it is the most flavor neutral. However, it's taking me on average about 10-14 tsp. to adjust my sparge water and about half that for my mash after doughing in.

It also seems impossible to buy this locally considering the quantities I'm using for each batch. Does anyyone have any recommendations or suggestions for reducing my alkalinity or where this can be purchased in larger quantities?

Cheers!

Offline aviking427

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2011, 08:10:46 AM »
Just out of curiosity, what are you trying to bring it down to? I ask because I have to brew with bottled water (my well water pH is around 4.6), which usually has a pH that hovers around 7 +/- a few points. My mash pH is usually dead on from just the grains effect on pH. I may add some brewing salts to my mash to help drop it or raise it a bit if i feel i need it, or if I'm looking for a desired effect. But more often than not, it hasn't been necessary.
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Offline cenosillica

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2011, 08:12:23 AM »
Have you calibrated your PH meter? Out of the box, you can't really trust what the meter reads.


Offline jwaldner

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2011, 08:21:37 AM »
Have you calibrated your PH meter? Out of the box, you can't really trust what the meter reads.



Thanks,

Yes, I did the dual calibaration with the 7.01 solution and 4.01 solution. Although not entirely accurate, I checked against some pH test strips I had. I'm pretty sure it's calibrated correctly.

Thanks again

Offline SpanishCastleAle

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2011, 08:22:21 AM »
You can easily reduce the alkalinity by diluting your tap water with distilled or RO (reverse osmosis) water.  If you use a lot of distilled/RO you will need to add some Calcium back in because the yeast need it.  Usually the added Calcium is in the form of Gypsum (i.e. Calcium Sulphate) or Calcium Chloride (both available at any decent homebrew shop).  The Sulphate or Chloride ions from those two Calcium sources have effects on flavor, so you choose which one (or both) based on that.  But it really helps to know how much Calcium, Sulphate, Chloride and a few other ions that you are starting with.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 08:24:15 AM by SpanishCastleAle »

Offline jwaldner

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2011, 08:24:31 AM »
Just out of curiosity, what are you trying to bring it down to? I ask because I have to brew with bottled water (my well water pH is around 4.6), which usually has a pH that hovers around 7 +/- a few points. My mash pH is usually dead on from just the grains effect on pH. I may add some brewing salts to my mash to help drop it or raise it a bit if i feel i need it, or if I'm looking for a desired effect. But more often than not, it hasn't been necessary.

I'm trying to get it into the 5.2 to 5.5 range or would probably been even a little happy with up to 5.7.

Thanks

Offline aviking427

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2011, 08:39:02 AM »
Just out of curiosity, what are you trying to bring it down to? I ask because I have to brew with bottled water (my well water pH is around 4.6), which usually has a pH that hovers around 7 +/- a few points. My mash pH is usually dead on from just the grains effect on pH. I may add some brewing salts to my mash to help drop it or raise it a bit if i feel i need it, or if I'm looking for a desired effect. But more often than not, it hasn't been necessary.

I'm trying to get it into the 5.2 to 5.5 range or would probably been even a little happy with up to 5.7.

Thanks

I'm not a brewing water pro by any means but are you by chance confusing your mash pH with your liquor pH? That seems a bit low for liquor pH. Although i've read Sierra Nevada drops theirs really low. If maybe you try dropping your liquor to around 6.8 or so, the grain in your mash should bring that down to the desired mash pH level of around 5.2-5.4.  it at least does it on my system.
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Offline Mark G

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2011, 08:39:25 AM »
Here's where I get my phosphoric acid...

http://www.dudadiesel.com/choose_item.php?id=FGphos
Mark Gres

Offline jwaldner

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2011, 08:58:28 AM »
Just out of curiosity, what are you trying to bring it down to? I ask because I have to brew with bottled water (my well water pH is around 4.6), which usually has a pH that hovers around 7 +/- a few points. My mash pH is usually dead on from just the grains effect on pH. I may add some brewing salts to my mash to help drop it or raise it a bit if i feel i need it, or if I'm looking for a desired effect. But more often than not, it hasn't been necessary.

I'm trying to get it into the 5.2 to 5.5 range or would probably been even a little happy with up to 5.7.

Thanks

I'm not a brewing water pro by any means but are you by chance confusing your mash pH with your liquor pH? That seems a bit low for liquor pH. Although i've read Sierra Nevada drops theirs really low. If maybe you try dropping your liquor to around 6.8 or so, the grain in your mash should bring that down to the desired mash pH level of around 5.2-5.4.  it at least does it on my system.

On my liquor pH for sparge I'm shooting for less than 6.0, ideally about 5.5. I check my mash pH after I dough in and don't do any adjustments to my water prior to hopefully let the malt regulate the pH in my mash.

Thanks

Offline jwaldner

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2011, 09:01:16 AM »
Here's where I get my phosphoric acid...

http://www.dudadiesel.com/choose_item.php?id=FGphos

Thanks,

That's a much higher concentration (85%) than I'm using right now (10%) which may mean why it's taking so much. I appreciate the link.

Thanks again

Offline aviking427

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2011, 09:13:22 AM »

On my liquor pH for sparge I'm shooting for less than 6.0, ideally about 5.5. I check my mash pH after I dough in and don't do any adjustments to my water prior to hopefully let the malt regulate the pH in my mash.

Thanks

ahhhh... sparge water... might have been helpful if i read that in your first post. Sorry about that.
Everyone should believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2011, 09:16:21 AM »
pH is not the concern, its alkalinity that is the primary concern for control.  pH is a poor allegory for what the water's alkalinity is.  A brewer should find out what their alkalinity and other water parameters are so that they can begin to understand how to properly adjust their water for brewing.  Either send a sample off or inquire with the water provider.  

Phosphoric acid is the most flavor neutral acid in beer usage.  The 10% stuff is driving up the total amount added, but that's not a concern.  Use the amount needed.  Using a stronger version will not change the amount of the actual acid added to the water.  Weaker versions just have more water in them to dilute the acid for safety.  

If your alkalinity is modest, lactic acid is also suitable for alkalinity control.  Read more in Bru'n Water if you haven't already done so.
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Offline jwaldner

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2011, 09:34:38 AM »
You can easily reduce the alkalinity by diluting your tap water with distilled or RO (reverse osmosis) water.  If you use a lot of distilled/RO you will need to add some Calcium back in because the yeast need it.  Usually the added Calcium is in the form of Gypsum (i.e. Calcium Sulphate) or Calcium Chloride (both available at any decent homebrew shop).  The Sulphate or Chloride ions from those two Calcium sources have effects on flavor, so you choose which one (or both) based on that.  But it really helps to know how much Calcium, Sulphate, Chloride and a few other ions that you are starting with.

Thanks,

I have a Watts RO system with a 2.5 gal. tank and I tested that water and I get an even higher pH than the tap water at 8.6. I also had a bottle of distilled water and tested some of that and get a pH of 8.5. Shouldn't these waters have a lower pH than my tap water?

Thanks again

Offline SpanishCastleAle

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Re: High pH (Alkalinity) Help
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2011, 09:49:32 AM »
You can easily reduce the alkalinity by diluting your tap water with distilled or RO (reverse osmosis) water.  If you use a lot of distilled/RO you will need to add some Calcium back in because the yeast need it.  Usually the added Calcium is in the form of Gypsum (i.e. Calcium Sulphate) or Calcium Chloride (both available at any decent homebrew shop).  The Sulphate or Chloride ions from those two Calcium sources have effects on flavor, so you choose which one (or both) based on that.  But it really helps to know how much Calcium, Sulphate, Chloride and a few other ions that you are starting with.

Thanks,

I have a Watts RO system with a 2.5 gal. tank and I tested that water and I get an even higher pH than the tap water at 8.6. I also had a bottle of distilled water and tested some of that and get a pH of 8.5. Shouldn't these waters have a lower pH than my tap water?

Thanks again
I'm pretty sure distilled and RO should have a pH closer to 7.0 but Martin (mabrungard) is the resident water expert and would know for sure.  But as he mentioned above, it's all about the alkalinity and not-so-much the pH of the water itself.  RO/distilled have very little buffering so even the pH of the water is high, the acidity of the malt (or any added acid) can easily drop the mash pH (what we really care about) where it needs to be.