Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

(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!
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Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Horden Hillbilly » Wed Jan 21, 2009 4:02 pm

Borodave wrote:If I am on Northumbrian Water, will someone else in the next town who is also on Northumbrian water have the same water profile as me?
Try here.

Robdog

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Robdog » Wed Jan 21, 2009 4:07 pm

Robdog wrote:Ive just been having another think about the figure this women gave me of 208 cac03 or ppm.

Ive double checked the water report and this reading is in regards to hardness, now dabbs original post said you dont want to here figures for hardness, nowhere on the report does it state total alkalinity and when i rang they didnt seem to know what i meant?

Thing is though she did say my water has an average calcium carbonate level of 208 CAC03 or PPM and she also said our water was fairly hard.

Does this sound like the right figure?

Here is the report concerning my water. Scroll down a bit and look at water hardness levels. Im in cannock high 1 area.

http://www.south-staffs-water.co.uk/hou ... rdness.asp

I was going to ring them back up but tbh after speaking direct to the lab they didnt have a clue.

Im a little concerned now as ive just gone thorugh daabs post again and he says total alkalinity isnt to do with hardness and just because you get a figure with CAC03 after it dont get excited which is what i did last week lol.

If someone has the time to take a look at that repor and let me know if its the right figure ill appreciate it. If its not im back to square one :?

Graham

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Graham » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:41 am

No, hardness and alkalinity are not the same, and yes the woman was talking about hardness not alkalinity.

With CaCO3 (calcium carbonate): the calcium bit (Ca) is hardness and the carbonate bit (CO3) is alkalinity. As far as we are concerned only carbonate contributes to alkalinity. Brewing likes calcium, but it does not like carbonate (alkalinity).

Unfortunately magnesium can also contribute to hardness, but the water company lumps magnesium and calcium together, and expresses the combination of both as calcium. That means that some of that, so called, calcium can actually be magnesium.

Furthermore, the hardness side of it can also be bound to sulphate. Calcium sulphate CaSO4 contributes calcium, and thus contributes hardness, but because there is no carbonate there is no alkalinity. However, the water company expresses the hardness as if it was all bound to carbonate, whereas some or all of it could be bound to sulphate.

That is why hardness and alkalinity are not the same thing. You can have lots of hardness and not much alkalinity. Although a water company expresses hardness as CaCO3, that is not what it really is.

You live in an area that has a fair amount of sulphate. The water quality report for your area gives:
Sulphate = 58.9mg/l
Sodium = 19.7mg/l
Chloride = 37mg/l

Fortunately, the sodium and the chloride very nearly match up (the numbers are only averages anyway), so we can ignore them as sodium chloride (salt), and throw them away (sodium and chloride bind together in very nearly that ratio).

There is no figure given for magnesium; it is usually very low, but as we do not know what it actually is, we are forced to ignore that too and assume that there isn't enough to worry about.

That leaves us with your hardness figure and your sulphate figure. Knowing the area where you live is near Burton, that sulphate will almost certainly be derived from gypsum, so it will be bound to calcium.

All your hardness figure tells us for sure, as we are ignoring magnesium, is that your water contains an average of 83.3mg/l of calcium, but that can be bound to carbonate or sulphate or a combination of both.

Now 58.9mg/l of sulphate will bind to 24.6mg/l of calcium, so 24.6mg/l of your calcium gets used up with the sulphate.

83.3 - 24.6 = 58.7. so you have 58.7mg/l of calcium remaining to bind with your carbonate, and it will bind with 87.9mg/l of carbonate.

So your alkalinity is approximately 88mg/l expressed as carbonate or 146mg/l expressed as calcium carbonate.

So your alkalinity should be closer to 146mg/l as CaCO3, not 208.

Your water company has filtered the mud from your water, but unfortunately it is too late for me to filter the mud from the above.

You can buy alkalinity test kits from tropical fish shops for less than a tenner, which will be more accurate than the above approximation.

You should always measure mash pH to assure yourself that your water treatment was okay (and keep records). The reason for removing alkalinity is mostly for the benefit of the mash. If your mash pH is okay, your alkalinity is probably okay too.

Robdog

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Robdog » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:53 am

Thanks Graham i appreciate your detailed reply and i think ill work with your approx figure as to be honest the women at the water lab didnt really know what she was talking about i dont think.

Im a little worried about my last brew now as i worked by the 208ppm figure and the brew was a pale ale so took 178mg per ml out of my brewing water which is actually more than is in there anyway. Ill have to wait and see what its like.

My next brew is a stout so ive no need to treat the water at all as its about bang on at 146 :D

adm

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by adm » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:10 pm

Chris-x1 wrote:Nice explanation :D

I presume you mean the salifert kits ? If so it's the alkalinity/carbonate hardness kit that's required but I believe it will be necessary to convert the figure obtained from the kit in meq/l to CaCO3 although I haven't used one of these kits so can't say for sure.
It is indeed neccessary to convert from meq/l with these kits - but they do provide a sheet of paper with the conversion table on it, so it's just a matter of looking up the right number and reading across. In any case - it's a simple conversion.....it's just meq/l * 50

Robdog

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Robdog » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:39 pm

I take its one of these i need http://www.firststopaquatics.co.uk/acat ... t_Kit.html

Not bad value really as it says there i can get a good few tests out of it.

Do i just test a water sample from the tap and then adjust with CRS for the figure i get from the test?

adm

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by adm » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:09 pm

Robdog wrote:I take its one of these i need http://www.firststopaquatics.co.uk/acat ... t_Kit.html

Not bad value really as it says there i can get a good few tests out of it.

Do i just test a water sample from the tap and then adjust with CRS for the figure i get from the test?
That's the one.

As Chris says, you'll get less than 200 tests. The instruction basically say for the most accurate results, you use twice the amount of liquid - so you'll get 100 test from it max. Still not bad for £7 though.

You just test a sample of your tap water then convert the meq figure it gives you to Mg/l of CaCo3 and then use CRS to adjust that to where you want it. It's pretty quick and easy and the results seem to be consistent.

Robdog

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Robdog » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:18 pm

TBH as long as i got 50 tests for 7 quid id be happy so anymore is a bonus.

I mean 50 tests is 50 brews so should last some time :D Mind you at the rate im drinking my first 2 all grains it wont last that long.

Ive jus had a taste of this TEA i brewed where i messed the water treatment up and it doesnt tast bad to be honest even though its got an CAC03 of 0.

Graham

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Graham » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:24 pm

Robdog wrote:Im a little worried about my last brew now as i worked by the 208ppm figure and the brew was a pale ale so took 178mg per ml out of my brewing water which is actually more than is in there anyway. Ill have to wait and see what its like.
It would be interesting to know the effects of overdoing CRS (if any). It is quite easy to overdo, and I have often wondered if it affects flavour adversely.

[Oh fiddlesticks! You've just answered that one, it would probably have knocked your mash pH right down though]

Robdog

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Robdog » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:34 pm

Graham wrote:
Robdog wrote:Im a little worried about my last brew now as i worked by the 208ppm figure and the brew was a pale ale so took 178mg per ml out of my brewing water which is actually more than is in there anyway. Ill have to wait and see what its like.
It would be interesting to know the effects of overdoing CRS (if any). It is quite easy to overdo, and I have often wondered if it affects flavour adversely.[/quote



Well im no tasting expert and its only been in the FV since Friday so ill post up what it tastes like when its been in the cornie a couple of weeks or so.

If my maths is correct and the approx alkalinity figure you gave me is close enough i think ive got a brew with zero alkalinity as i removed 178mg per ml out of my water which is more than was in there anyway:)

Not sure if this would effect my efficiency as i found i got almost a bang on OG and brew length that was stated in the recipe and i was a ltr of sparge water short where my previous 2 AG brews were well short on brew length.

Robdog

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Robdog » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:40 pm

Those kits are going on ebay for 6.90 delivered so ive just ordered one.

Robdog

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Robdog » Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:19 pm

As i now know my approx alkalinity do i need to add a tsp of gypsium to my boil? Whats does the gypsium do?

Robdog

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Robdog » Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:01 pm

Chris-x1 wrote:
Robdog wrote:As i now know my approx alkalinity do i need to add a tsp of gypsium to my boil? Whats does the gypsium do?
Gypsum is calcium sulphate, pretty much every step in the brewing process benefits from the calcium and increasing the sulphate levels enhances the hops. Most if not all water sources will benefit from a tsp or two of gypsum.


Thanks Chris ill order some.

Do i add it to the boil? How do you work out how much you need or is 1-2 teaspoon just a standard dose?

Ive also got DLS here but from Daabs intial post in this thread i think il just stick to CRS and Gypsium for now. If Grahams approx alkalinity reading is close though things like stout im ok for as 146ppml is about ideal for stout from what ive read.

As i get more into it ill start and use Grahams water calculator :?

Parva

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Parva » Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:52 am

Robdog, ffs man chill! You really are going overboard on this. Just brew and enjoy! Regardless of your water you'll make a good beer, stop trying to be a perfectionist from the word go. I've done many AG's now without looking at my water profile and the only thing I've added is a campden tablet.

For my next brew I'm going to chuck a teaspoon of gypsum in (it goes in with the grain in the mash tun to answer your question) just to see what difference it makes but quit sweating about the water and just brew! :)

Robdog

Re: Treating Water With a High Alkalinity for Brewing

Post by Robdog » Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:35 am

Parva wrote:Robdog, ffs man chill! You really are going overboard on this. Just brew and enjoy! Regardless of your water you'll make a good beer, stop trying to be a perfectionist from the word go. I've done many AG's now without looking at my water profile and the only thing I've added is a campden tablet.

For my next brew I'm going to chuck a teaspoon of gypsum in (it goes in with the grain in the mash tun to answer your question) just to see what difference it makes but quit sweating about the water and just brew! :)


Good point mate. Ive got to mush time on my hands and get carried away with the finer points i suppose :)

Im cant help being a perfectionist though im afraid its my nature 8)

Im gonna get a brew on shortly.

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