Boiling water to remove hardness

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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by mbrew » Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:22 pm

I'm the first to admit that I'm not to bright when it comes to math's & chemistry, I don't fully understand it so can easily make mistakes. When you lay it out like that its pretty simple but without it would be easy for me to get something one digit out & throw everything off so comparing with brewing software should make it easier to understand until I'm more familiar what I'm doing.
I was just a bit surprised at the huge difference which is why I asked if I was missing something, could easily have just gone with the BF calculator if I hadn't compared it to another & been miles out by the look of it.

The CRS I've bought comes with a chart showing a different way of working it out, I assume its reduction of CaCO3 per 10 ltr. http://www.themaltmiller.co.uk/index.ph ... ductId=107

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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by Kev888 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:40 pm

I can't speak for the BF calculator either, but often these things are down to using different units, or different ideas about what the target should be.

One problem with some calculators is that they claim to make life easier, but can actually be more complicated to understand than the thing you are trying to do with them. As you discovered, they can happily return results even if they're completely wrong, so even if you use them its worth doing a quick calculation yourself just to check the sense of the results.

Its not as bad as it may seem; I'm no chemist either but once you get the hang of the decimal point when dealing with ml, litres, parts per millions etc. its fairly straight forward, and in any case after a few brews you'll get to know roughly what is normal for your water and recipes too.

FWIW, my calculations agree with Eric's that around 16ml of CRS would result in a total alkalinity of about 26ppm as CaCO3 (in 26L of water starting at 138ppm), which is pale-ale territory.
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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by Eric » Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:58 pm

Now I'm the novice, on the Brewer's Friend calculator ("Brewing with total confidence" it claims, absolute rubbish) site. Not sure what figures you entered but will be back when I've had a bit more play.

First impressions are that you use it at your peril.

Kev, I don't think it's a problem with units as I got a similar result although not as extreme as the OP. It would seem hell-bent on forcing a specific mash pH based on Kolbachs findings regardless of the consequences. Fancy a try?
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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by mbrew » Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:10 pm

Kev888 wrote: Its not as bad as it may seem; I'm no chemist either but once you get the hang of the decimal point when dealing with ml, litres, parts per millions etc. its fairly straight forward, and in any case after a few brews you'll get to know roughly what is normal for your water and recipes too.
Exactly my thoughts, I don't take things in very well by reading but once I have done it a few times it becomes easier. All too easy to calculate with the wrong measurement type or decimal point.

Hopefully I'll get the hang of it one day & I'm very grateful for the help I'm getting on here.

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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by Eric » Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:51 pm

Right, input 3 kg of base malt with 11 litres for the mash and 15 litres for sparge entering alkalinity in amounts and units you gave. Then by entering zero for calcium and magnesium in your water profile it gave outputs similar to what you got.

Entering the original values for both those cations without any salt additions, the demand for CRS in the mash reduced to 12.87ml. Now 11 litres each with 138mg of alkalinity as CaCO3 would be neutralised by 8.3ml of CRS (11 x 138/183) leaving more than 5.5ml of CRS (a mix of sulphuric and hydrochloric acids) free to enter the mash. Some of it might perhaps strip plating off any heating element or whatever.

The calculation for sparge water requirement was acceptable.
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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by Kev888 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:13 pm

Hmm, I'm not immediately a fan; it seems way over-complicated to me. I suppose instead of achieving just a ball-park alkalinity for the style, the calculator is trying to go further and do everything based on things like grain bill, pH and that dangerous term 'profile' - which may be okay if one gets to grips (and agrees) with all the features and subtleties but otherwise seems a bit of a liability.

Well, I 'can' get similar results to our calculated requirement for CRS if I intentionally manipulate some of the assumptions like mash ratio, pH and grain bill, but equally i can get a range of others too. TBH I wouldn't trust the results of this without first spending a very long time coming to understand and testing what it is doing on my behalf.
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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by Eric » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:24 pm

Yes Kev, it seems it charts chemical reactions without consideration of the consequences. You or I wouldn't start an experiment of mixing dilute sulphuric acid with sodium bicarbonate by diluting some 96% sulphuric acid by pouring water onto it for the obvious consequences, but that program disregards such matters. If the target is pH 5.4 in the mash and there's no calcium present, it demands acid. GW's program won't permit excess acid and ensures sufficient calcium is present and accordingly pH will fall in the acceptable range.

Anyway, suffice it to say that it has been usual in British breweries to retain some alkalinity in mash liquor as a stabiliser and to provide balance with the chemical properties of the chosen grist. This level is most commonly between 20mg/l as CaCO3 for pale beers (not the 70 as on MM's web page) and 100mg/l for mashes containing a lot of coloured and roasted grains. The amount is determined with consideration for the amount of calcium needed in the mash to protect enzymes, deposit oxalates and other unwanted products. Calcium is needed later too, to stop pH rising excessively when sparging extracting of phenols, tanins and the like, in the boil to help deposit break material and lower pH that copper finings might work efficiently and help yeast flocculate that beers clear quickly.

The more alkalinity in the mash, the higher will be pH, the more calcium the lower will be pH.
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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by Kev888 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:58 am

Possibly a failing of many water-type calculators is that they target myriad requirements that most of us just don't have - such as emulating (often questionable) water profiles of other times and places, or tying every last detail up in one big complicated programme whether the components are of interest to (or understood by) us or not. Potentially at cost to the ability of either the software or less expert users to ensure sensible answers.

IMO it likely puts more people off than it helps, when in fact for most of us there are only a few key water requirements for achieving excellent results, and they needn't be especially complicated. About the only time the simple approach caught me out was when moving to thin/full-volume mashes, but even then a small adjustment in the ball-park alkalinity targets was all it took to rectify.
mbrew wrote:Hopefully I'll get the hang of it one day & I'm very grateful for the help I'm getting on here.
I'm sure that you will. Many of us have been through a similar learning process (mine is still progressing) and were helped by people such as on this forum so ask away.
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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by mbrew » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:36 pm

I've now worked out what the problem was, I'd been playing with the calculator on & off for a few days trying different things to see what effect it had, somewhere along the line the Lovibond colour had gone from the both the base & black malt.
Re entering these comes up with 9.4 ml in the mash & 9.5ml in the sparge, still a bit more than the GW calculator but much closer than berore. This was with 4.25kg pale & .3 black.

Just goes to show how a simple mistake can have big consequences.

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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by Eric » Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:18 pm

Glad you're content, I have reservations.

From yesterday's findings it seemed that it determined the amount that would reduce alkalinity of the sparge liquor to about 25mg/l as calcium carbonate. The revised figures you post for CRS additions have the capacity to reduce alkalinity to 10mg/l meaning there would be more acid added to the mash liquor than would be neutralised by the alkalinity it contains. I'm not sure what the surplus acid would do to the grains, but suspect such a mash would not be stable.

I would advise everyone who adds acid to their liquor to testing the result. There was a recent thread suggesting their latest batch of CRS was more acidic than specified and while I've always found CRS within Murphy's specification, that is something you shouldn't take for granted.

Good luck.
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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by Wonkydonkey » Fri Feb 10, 2017 3:08 pm

Umm, very good thread to read through, thanks Eric :beer:
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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by Jim » Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:08 pm

Yes, lots of interesting discussion here which I've been following avidly. I'm happy it's not something I have to worry about for my own water though! :shock:
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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by vacant » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:58 pm

Eric wrote:I would advise everyone who adds acid to their liquor to testing the result. There was a recent thread suggesting their latest batch of CRS was more acidic than specified and while I've always found CRS within Murphy's specification, that is something you shouldn't take for granted.
Salifert results for my hard water varies from 250-270. I used to add around 80% of the acid then test again after a while to see how much the fine adjustment should be. That dealt with acid that may vary from the expected strength and mitigated any measuring errors on my part.

These days, aiming at (e.g.) 25 for a pale I'll filter 90% through Reverse Osmosis the day before and add 10% tap water, I don't do a Salifert test. Just some gypsum to remember.
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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by mbrew » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:22 pm

Well, the results are in...........

I got myself a Salifert kit & tested some tap water, came out at 148 so a bit higher than the water report but not miles away.
I then boiled the same water for half an hour & left it 24hrs to settle, just measured it at 45 but in actual fact its going to be more like 40 because the colour changed so quickly I wasn't expecting it & put a few drops to much test fluid in.

Quite a big drop in alkalinity & explains why my mini mash test had the PH in he right zone.

If only I could tell how much sulphate & chloride had been lost in the boil.....or is the GW calculator going to be quite close with the additions to put it right?

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Re: Boiling water to remove hardness

Post by Eric » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:26 pm

mbrew wrote:Well, the results are in...........

I got myself a Salifert kit & tested some tap water, came out at 148 so a bit higher than the water report but not miles away.
I then boiled the same water for half an hour & left it 24hrs to settle, just measured it at 45 but in actual fact its going to be more like 40 because the colour changed so quickly I wasn't expecting it & put a few drops to much test fluid in.

Quite a big drop in alkalinity & explains why my mini mash test had the PH in he right zone.

If only I could tell how much sulphate & chloride had been lost in the boil.....or is the GW calculator going to be quite close with the additions to put it right?
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