Water treatment at it simplest

(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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Water treatment at it simplest

Post by mcarrington » Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:43 am

Hi, as a new brewer (but old chemist) living in an area with hard water, would it be reasonable to start my brewing adventures by using the water directly from the tap for dark beers, and boiled water for light beers?
My theory is that boiling should remove dissolved carbon dioxide (and chlorine) which will lead to the precipitation of calcium ions as calcium carbonate. When the water cools, carbon dioxide will redissolve, lowering the pH.

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Jim
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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by Jim » Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:54 am

Generally speaking untreated hard water isn't necessarily good for any type of beer - it depends on what's in it. Alkalinity is a better guide.

I'll point you to a link that might be helpful, but also: welcome to the forum!

https://www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk/water_treatment.htm
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killer
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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by killer » Thu Mar 12, 2020 1:01 pm

Welcome from a longtime brewer but young(ish) chemist.

Water chemistry is a real can of worms subject as there are a number of divided opinions. There is a lot of (mis)information out there. Some people get away with minimal (or even no) treatment, others, like myself need to reduce alkalinity substantially to make a decent beer.
So at its simplest I would suggest getting the alkalinity right…

Hard water is good in the sense that Calcium and (to a lesser extent) Magnesium are important ions to have during the brew process. In contrast if it is temporary hardness, the Biarbonate/ Carbonate may have a negative effect by driving up the pH of the mash. This can extract tannins and add an astringent quality to the beer. You can test the Carbonate (alkalinity) with a Salifert Kit. At about 10 quid for 100 tests it may be the best investment you make as a brewer. It’s the “Carbonate Hardness” Salifert kit.

You are probably looking for 20 ppm alkalinity for a blonde beer/ pale ale – to give you a room temp mash pH between 5.2 and say 5.6. As your beer gets darker or you add more caramel/ roasted malts you can have increased alkalinity – even say 100 – 150 ppm for the mash liquor for a stout. Your sparge water can be much lower. You can indeed boil your liquor but you probably won’t get below 80 ppm and it takes time and costs money. You’ll need to decant the boiled liquor too. Much simpler can be buying one of several food grade acids for lowering of the alkalinity. CRS is a mix of sulfuric and hydrochloric acids and is quite useful. You can buy them online – I get mine from the malt miller. Check out the calculator on here (Graham Wheelers Calculator) for ideas of profiles.

You’ll also want at least 100 ppm Calcium in there.

Finally, if you are really up for it, you can play around with Sulfate and Chloride – to push dry vs rounded flavours respectively. You can use simple Calcium salts to do that.

Good luck with it… and sorry for the avalanche of information…!

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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by RobP » Sat Mar 14, 2020 10:50 pm

mcarrington wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:43 am
Hi, as a new brewer (but old chemist) living in an area with hard water, would it be reasonable to start my brewing adventures by using the water directly from the tap for dark beers, and boiled water for light beers?
My theory is that boiling should remove dissolved carbon dioxide (and chlorine) which will lead to the precipitation of calcium ions as calcium carbonate. When the water cools, carbon dioxide will redissolve, lowering the pH.
Yes, it would be a reasonable start, you might not have totally optimal water doing it that way but it's a sound theory and you just might. Boil for 15 mins, leave overnight for precipitate to fall, try to leave sediment behind. Since you're a chemist you might like to read through these...
https://www.brunwater.com/water-knowledge
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti ... view_of_pH
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti ... ts_brewing
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti ... pH_control
http://beersmith.com/blog/2016/02/11/th ... itterness/

edit: on the chlorine removal, water companies tend to use chloramines, which are not removed by boiling. Campden tablets, sodium metabisulphite, pottassium metabisulphite are a better bet for chlorine removal.

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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by vacant » Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:29 am

I'm in a very hard water area. I have a £35 reverse osmosis filter and prep RO water the day before. Typically I'll mix 10% tap 90% RO, no other additions apart from gypsum of calcium chloride in the mash. Works well for the paler beers I tend to brew.

My water supply doesn't vary much and dilution means I don't really need a Salifert test though I do this sometimes as well as test with a TDS meter to make sure my filters are working OK.
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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by sonicated » Mon May 11, 2020 6:19 pm

vacant wrote:
Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:29 am
I'm in a very hard water area. I have a £35 reverse osmosis filter and prep RO water the day before.
Water treatment is stopping me going all grain - I live in a hard water area. Can you link to the RO filter you have? Does it connect to a tap or a hose?

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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by guypettigrew » Mon May 11, 2020 6:37 pm

Hard water? As Jim said above, it's the alkalinity which is important. And that's easily sorted using CRS/AMS.

RO water will have nothing in it (except water!) so will need stuff adding to get it right for brewing.

Do you have an analysis of your water, sonicated?

Guy

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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by sonicated » Mon May 11, 2020 7:00 pm

guypettigrew wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 6:37 pm
Do you have an analysis of your water, sonicated?
I do, Wallybrew did it a few years ago and I've been procrastinating and pulling my hair out over Bru'n Water ever since!

Image

Can you help and recommend what to do? I like pale ales.

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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by vacant » Mon May 11, 2020 8:02 pm

sonicated wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 6:19 pm
vacant wrote:
Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:29 am
I'm in a very hard water area. I have a £35 reverse osmosis filter and prep RO water the day before.
Water treatment is stopping me going all grain - I live in a hard water area. Can you link to the RO filter you have? Does it connect to a tap or a hose?
Like this one.
I brew therefore I ... I .... forget

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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by guypettigrew » Mon May 11, 2020 8:20 pm

OK, lets assume your water is still the same now as it was in November 2015.

The most important thing is to reduce your alkalinity. Pale ales are best when the alkalinity is somewhere around 20ppm. This is the alkalinity of the water you'll use to mash your grain. You are making beer from grains and hops, aren't you? If you're making kits or using malt extract then working on your tap water isn't really important.

So, let's assume you're mashing your grains for a pale ale.

You'll need to heat up some tap water for the mash and also to rinse the sugars out of the grain at the end of the mash (sparging).

Your water to grain ration should be about 2.5:1. That is, if you're mashing 5kg of grain you'll need about 12.5 litres of water to mash it in. A bit more or a bit less won't matter. You'll also need water to rinse the sugars out of the grain. At least another 20 litres, as you'll lose some volume during the boil.

Let's say you go for 50 litres of water to start with. Gives you enough for mashing and sparging.

To drop 50 litres of your tap water from an alkalinity of 159 to about 20 you'd need to add about 40 ml of AMS/CRS. This is the stuff. Cheap and easy to get.

AMS is a mix of hydrochloric and sulphuric acids. Sounds a bit scary, but don't worry. They don't persist through to the beer!

Because of what's in AMS it also alters the balance of sulphate and chloride ions. Not surprising! So, for a pale ale I'd also add 6.5 grams of Calcium Sulphate, 3.5 grams of Calcium Chloride and 2.5 grams of Magnesium Sulphate if you're making the usual 25 ish litres. These could be added to the grains before mashing, as your calcium is a bit low to ensure a good mash pH. These figures are all from Graham Wheelers water treatment calculator here on Jimsbeer kit.

If all this seems a bit too complicated, then just sort out the alkalinity with some AMS. If you can add some calcium to the mash it would be helpful. 100pm is a good minimum.

Water treatment seems really complicated, but it isn't really. Graham Wheeler's calculator does all the hard work.

As an aside, the pH of your water isn't important. The grains will alter it in the mash tun.

If this doesn't make any sense, just ask.

Guy

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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by vacant » Mon May 11, 2020 8:56 pm

I just wing it.

My tap water alkalinity is around 265 meaning 10% tap and 90% RO gets me to 26 for paler beers. Then about 10g of gypsum or calcium chloride added into the mash. If I'm feeling really technical I get out my Salifert kit and test (maybe the RO filter will fail one day). I'm not fussed if the tap water varies from 260 - 270 as only 10% is used it doesn't affect the result noticeably.

Sometimes I don't filter enough RO in which case I'll test the tap/RO mix and adjust with CRS like Guy says.

With alkalinity of 159, 10% tap and 90% RO would get you to 16, you can do the maths for some other target.
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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by f00b4r » Mon May 11, 2020 9:05 pm

vacant wrote:I'm in a very hard water area. I have a £35 reverse osmosis filter and prep RO water the day before. Typically I'll mix 10% tap 90% RO, no other additions apart from gypsum of calcium chloride in the mash. Works well for the paler beers I tend to brew.

My water supply doesn't vary much and dilution means I don't really need a Salifert test though I do this sometimes as well as test with a TDS meter to make sure my filters are working OK.
Are you not having to replace all the filters in it every year?

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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by vacant » Mon May 11, 2020 9:19 pm

f00b4r wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 9:05 pm
Are you not having to replace all the filters in it every year?
No way. I also bought a very cheap TDS meter - no change measured., The RO water is boiled for an hour which will take care of any bugs. I do flush out before use.
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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by sonicated » Mon May 11, 2020 10:05 pm

Guy - thanks so much for your guide and analysis. I am playing around with Graham's calculator to reproduce similar figures.

I've had the money set aside for a Grainfather for years.. I might just release it!

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Re: Water treatment at it simplest

Post by Eric » Mon May 11, 2020 10:08 pm

vacant wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 9:19 pm
f00b4r wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 9:05 pm
Are you not having to replace all the filters in it every year?
No way. I also bought a very cheap TDS meter - no change measured., The RO water is boiled for an hour which will take care of any bugs. I do flush out before use.
So you pays your money and you takes your choice. If you want to make lagers like Bud, then RO is your way forward. Just thought I'd post Graham's Water Treatment calculator using 90% RO and 10% tapwater for a dry pale ale. Then to follow, the same all unboiled tapwater and CRS which won't need to be boiled and if you have a problem with chloromines, then a touch of sodium metabisulphide would take care of that in a ji
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Your choice. American advice won't include using CRS, they can't get it, but why make it hard for yourself just because some others do?
Without patience, life becomes difficult and the sooner it's finished, the better.

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