Water treatment newbie

(That's water to the rest of us!) Beer is about 95% water, so if you want to discuss water treatment, filtering etc this is the place to do it!
Tomp
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Water treatment newbie

Post by Tomp » Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:41 am

Having brewed for 10 years I'm taking the plunge into water treatment and keep going round in circles so hoping someone here can help me out. I have an Anglian Water report for my postcode and I know it's an average, but a good starting place.

So a list of questions if peoples would be so kind?

Adding half a Camden tablet to the water will remove chlorine, but as I understand it will also add other minerals to the liquor. Do I need to take these into account in the GW Calculator or is the effect negligible?

If I boiled the water, would I need a Camden tablet, or does this do the same?

I live in a very hard water area and am want to clarify the terminology in the report. What do I need to add to the GW calculator to get the right result? The options I have are expressed as Total Hardness and I have 'as calcium 125.4mg/l' and 'as calcium carbonate 313.5mg/l. Am I right, I need to use the calcium carbonate number in the CACO3 box? Reason I ask, is the calculator suggests my carbonate levels seem high with these numbers and boiling. Do I need to consider CRS?

Cos my plan is to add a half a Camden tablet then boil the water, then add the required salts. Does that sound logical?
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Jocky
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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by Jocky » Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:18 am

To answer your specific questions:

You don't need to take into account mineral additions from a Campden tablet.

Boiling for 20 minutes will remove chlorine, chloramine (removing the need for campden tablets), and help reduce carbonates (but rack the water off the precipitated carbonate or it will redissolve and your alkalinity will be back where you started).

The CaCO3 value on your water report is probably total hardness expressed as CaCO3, which is different from the alkalinity (temporary hardness), so I don't think you can use this. For example my water report says hardness is 322ppm CaCO3, but I know from testing that alkalinity is around 250-260ppm CaCO3, and it's the latter that is more important.

If you really want to know then you need to buy a Salifert Carbonate Hardness/Alkalinity test kit (about £8-9 delivered) so you can test it yourself, and then adjust with acid - CRS is a good starter to get this right. It will get your mash in the right pH range to improve efficiency, speed up conversion and avoid leeching tannins.

Ultimately you will want to get your water properly analysed to give you the real values you need for a water calculator, and then you can fine tune the use of flavour ions in the final beer.

Just as a personal note, yes your water has high alkalinity, but as mentioned, mine is 260 ppm caco3 and I've won a few competition rosettes using just CRS to deal with the alkalinity, and then gypsum/calcium chloride to adjust the end balance. Just don't expect to brew a perfect pilsner.


EDIT: Sorry, made an edit to this as I misread the original post and said you could use the CaCO3 hardness value from a water report. That's not the case.
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orlando
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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by orlando » Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:35 am

Water reatment comes up regularly (search on here to see how much). The most important starting point is knowing exactly what you have. If you don't do that then frankly you are not going to understand what is happening or why. I understand that everyone wants the easy route, I'm just as guilty, but on this subject you have to do a little heavy lifting if you want to take it on. My advice: a proper brewer designed water report from WallyBrew. Once we know what you have sensible and simplified advice can follow.
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Fermenting: Duke Of Jarl (Reprise)
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Dennis King
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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by Dennis King » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:37 am

orlando wrote:Water reatment comes up regularly (search on here to see how much). The most important starting point is knowing exactly what you have. If you don't do that then frankly you are not going to understand what is happening or why. I understand that everyone wants the easy route, I'm just as guilty, but on this subject you have to do a little heavy lifting if you want to take it on. My advice: a proper brewer designed water report from WallyBrew. Once we know what you have sensible and simplified advice can follow.
What he said. :)

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Kev888
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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by Kev888 » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:53 am

You can bung part of a campden tablet in to remove chlorine without any great worries. If you haven't been getting any TCP-like flavours in your beer then it is probably not necessary but (IMO) its ridiculously easy and so doesn't hurt to be sure.

BUT if you want to start adjusting other things then (whichever method of adjustment you choose) you really need to know what your starting point is otherwise you could make things worse rather than better. General supplier reports can be better than nothing, but are usually too general even if they contain the info you need (which they typically don't). Without such info its hard for us to help with specific treatment advice. You may get people saying things like 'I do this, so should you' or 'I've been brewing for a billion years and never bothered' but unless they have the same water as you their results could be very different.

The most important thing for most people (after removing any excess chlorine) is the total alkalinity, as this relates to the pH of the mash and can also affect the extraction of tannins and astringency if you fly sparge. For testing your total alkalinity then I'd suggest the salifert KH/ALK test kit; even if you get a full water report this kit can be useful since not everyone's water stays identical day-to-day.

Calcium is also important; if you want to get into adjusting this then the salifert Ca test kit is most useful. But chloride and/or sulphate levels are usually affected by calcium treatments, and are also important to get roughly right, yet harder to test for at home. Your supplier's water report 'may' give you some indication of these, but ideally a proper brewing water report from wallybrew would make things more certain.
Kev

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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by Tomp » Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:09 am

Thanks folks.

As a start then, as I like to take things in stages, i'll get a salifert kit and test the water.

As an initial start, I'll start boiling my water first.
It started with kits to save money and now look........!!!

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orlando
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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by orlando » Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:28 am

Tomp wrote:Thanks folks.

As a start then, as I like to take things in stages, i'll get a salifert kit and test the water.

As an initial start, I'll start boiling my water first.

Well that went well. :roll:
I am "The Little Red Brooster"

Fermenting: Duke Of Jarl (Reprise)
Conditioning: St. Petersburg (RIS)
Drinking: Distant Sun, Almost Gold, Closer To The Edge (Elgood's North Brink Porter)
Up Next: Mild In The Country, London Calling, Gertcherbrewed
Planning: Spring drinking beer.

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Kev888
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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by Kev888 » Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:41 am

As mentioned, its better to know your starting point before treating the water. The test kit is good, but the boiling (and so reduction of carbonates) may be good OR bad depending on your water and style of beer. For example, some people's water is already fine for given styles whilst others need to 'raise' their water's alkalinity for dark beers, reducing it would be counterproductive.

In your case it 'probably' wouldn't be too bad but you'd still be shooting in the dark, so personally I'd not start boiling until you can test the results. You've been brewing for a decade with (presumably) fair results - I'd suggest not to risk making it worse by doing things blindly.

TBH I wouldn't boil even then. Some people do, but acids (like CRS or individual ones) offer an easier and more efficient method of reducing carbonates to specific levels. I 'definitely' wouldn't boil just to remove chlorine since a bit of campden tablet or pinch of sodium met will do that with almost no effort at all.
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Jocky
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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by Jocky » Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:18 pm

Agree with others. If you truly want to improve upon 10 years of brewing experience then test your water before deciding on a plan of action.

And unless you're desperate to follow some historic process, boiling your water is an unnecessary waste of energy (IMO). CRS is way easier for carbonate reduction, and for chloramine removal campden tablets are a no brainer.
Last edited by Jocky on Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ingredients: Water, Barley, Hops, Yeast, Seaweed, Blood, Sweat, The swim bladder of a sturgeon, My enemies tears, Scenes of mild peril, An otter's handbag and Riboflavin.

Tomp
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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by Tomp » Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:10 pm

Heeee heeee....

That's me told then :oops:

Only kidding. Much appreciated.

Will test the water then report back.... I promise not to boil it.
It started with kits to save money and now look........!!!

All grain only
Grainfather
SS conical fermenter
Temperature controlled kegerator
Cold crashing and cooling in development

A patient wife.... who loves my beer.....

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orlando
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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by orlando » Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:44 pm

Tomp wrote:Heeee heeee....

That's me told then :oops:

Only kidding. Much appreciated.

Will test the water then report back.... I promise not to boil it.
=D>
I am "The Little Red Brooster"

Fermenting: Duke Of Jarl (Reprise)
Conditioning: St. Petersburg (RIS)
Drinking: Distant Sun, Almost Gold, Closer To The Edge (Elgood's North Brink Porter)
Up Next: Mild In The Country, London Calling, Gertcherbrewed
Planning: Spring drinking beer.

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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by vacant » Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:29 pm

Tomp wrote:As an initial start, I'll start boiling my water first.
As a starting point, ask your water company if they use chloramines. Anglian Water may use some chloramine. Leaving your water overnight will vent Chlorine as will heating it (e.g. to strike temperature).
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Tomp
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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by Tomp » Wed Jun 07, 2017 4:08 pm

Test kit on its way.

If I'm not boiling the water do I test it straight from the tap, after adding a camden tablet, or some other point? Any help, much appreciated.
It started with kits to save money and now look........!!!

All grain only
Grainfather
SS conical fermenter
Temperature controlled kegerator
Cold crashing and cooling in development

A patient wife.... who loves my beer.....

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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by Dave S » Wed Jun 07, 2017 4:20 pm

Tomp wrote:Test kit on its way.

If I'm not boiling the water do I test it straight from the tap, after adding a camden tablet, or some other point? Any help, much appreciated.
Test it straight from the tap, no Campden tab or anything else. Do let the tap water run for a few minutes though first in order to get rid of any deposits that may be sitting in the pipes.
Best wishes

Dave

Tomp
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Re: Water treatment newbie

Post by Tomp » Wed Jun 07, 2017 4:43 pm

Thanks.
It started with kits to save money and now look........!!!

All grain only
Grainfather
SS conical fermenter
Temperature controlled kegerator
Cold crashing and cooling in development

A patient wife.... who loves my beer.....

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