Water treatment technique

(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 technique

Post by orlando » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:52 pm

I was wondering how everyone uses their salt additions i.e when and where you put them? I have come across a number of views on this and would like a definitive answer, if there is one.

As an example in BYOBRA GW says:

Calcium Sulphate (Gypsum): Blend with water in a blender add to HLT.
Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salt): Add to wort boil.
Sodium Chloride (Common Salt): Add to wort boil.
Calcium Carbonate: Add to grist.

Can't find his recommendation for Calcium Chloride (dihydrate) but I assume grist.

Thoughts and comments please.
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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by john luc » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:40 pm

Calcium carbonate is used to bring up your carbonate levels if they are lower than your recipe requires,this is for the mash and helps get your PH right. Calcium is both for the mash and the kettle because in the mash it protects the enzymes from heat inactivation, binds with carbonates and forms compounds that precipitate out of the mash. In the kettle it Helps form trub in the boil, neutralising protein, so helps hot and cold break.
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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by Aleman » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:08 pm

Calcium Sulphate (Gypsum): Blend with water in a blender add to HLT.

I have no issue with getting calcium sulphate to dissolve in my liquor without using a blender, this is I suspect because I have very soft (almost RO) water, and so the limited solubility of calcium salts is not an issue. For brewers in hard water areas then more extreme measures must be taken. Gypsum is important because it provides calcium which is required in the mash to drop the pH, however as part of this reaction it is removed from the mash as it forms calcium phosphate (VERY insoluble . . . unless you are talking concentrated acids ;) ) It also provides sulphate which is a 'flavour' ion, making the beer appear dryer and more bitter.

Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salt): Add to wort boil.
Magnesium is a vital element for yeast metabolism, however does not play a part in the mash reactions (not strictly true as it will react with phosphate to perform insoluble magnesium phosphate, but less preferentially than calcium), and therefore is best added to the boil, where it also provides that flavour ion sulphate.

Sodium Chloride (Common Salt): Add to wort boil.
Humph! Sodium does not play any part in brewing reactions, and therefore does not really need to be added to any brewing liquor. The added chloride is useful however as it is another of the 'flavour' ions, this time contributing to palate fullness and malty flavours. Sodium does act as a flavour enhancer and so up to 50ppm could be considered acceptable . . . beyond 150ppm it starts to get objectionable though. . . . London waters have very high levels of sodium, which determined the styles brewed there until basic water treatments came along, and so adding more should be avoided

Calcium Carbonate: Add to grist.
Does not dissolve at all except in acidic solutions, hence the recommendation to add to the grist . . . However, I suspect that as the phytin reaction proceeds Releasing phosphate and hydrogen ions, the calcium carbonate dissolves, and then the calcium reacts with the phosphate which is deposited around the grains of calcium carbonate preventing further reaction. One method I have used to get it into solution (Thanks Wallybrew) is to take 100g of CACO3 and add it to 10L of water in a corny . . . gas it up to 60psi and force carbonate the living daylights out of it. . . . Filter, and add to liquor in HLT . . . Measure Alkalinity, adjusting downwards if too high, then mash in.

Calcium Chloride (dihydrate):
Again a very useful compound, providing calcium for the mash reactions (and as mentioned important boil and fermentation reactions) and chloride for flavour. . . . used when you need to add calcium without increasing sulphate content, and as such can be added to the mash or the boil, remembering of course that if it is added to the mash not all the calcium will make it into the boil, due to the precipitation reaction with phosphate.
Last edited by Aleman on Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by orlando » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:00 am

Masterclass, thanks Aleman.

Any other comments?
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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by Jim » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:57 am

Aleman wrote:........

Calcium Chloride (dihydrate):
Again a very useful compound, providing calcium for the mash reactions (and as mentioned important boil and fermentation reactions) and chloride for flavour. . . . used when you need to add chloride without increasing sulphate content, and as such can be added to the mash or the boil
I take it you meant "when you need to add calcium without increasing sulphate content"?

Or possibly "when you need to add chloride without increasing sodium content"?
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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by Aleman » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:12 am

Jim wrote:I take it you meant "when you need to add calcium without increasing sulphate content"?
Why that is exactly what I said :whistle: :whistle: :whistle:

Just added a little bit to the end of that line as well

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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by Blackaddler » Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:38 pm

Aleman wrote:Calcium Sulphate (Gypsum): Blend with water in a blender add to HLT.

Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salt): Add to wort boil.

Sodium Chloride (Common Salt): Add to wort boil.

Calcium Carbonate: Add to grist.

Calcium Chloride (dihydrate):
OK, say you're using Graham's calculator, then which parameters do you use to set the "Volume to be treated"?
Total liquor amount, mash liquor amount, boil amount or brew length?
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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by Dave S » Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:49 pm

Blackaddler wrote:
Aleman wrote:Calcium Sulphate (Gypsum): Blend with water in a blender add to HLT.

Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salt): Add to wort boil.

Sodium Chloride (Common Salt): Add to wort boil.

Calcium Carbonate: Add to grist.

Calcium Chloride (dihydrate):
OK, say you're using Graham's calculator, then which parameters do you use to set the "Volume to be treated"?
Total liquor amount, mash liquor amount, boil amount or brew length?
The way I understand it, the gypsum should be spread between the mash and the boil. Pretty well everything else can be added to the boil, (might be over simplification). So you could set the volume initially to the mash amount to get that proportion of gypsum, then change it to total brew length to get the total salts and calculate the difference for the gypsum quantity.
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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by ajclarkson » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:17 pm

Not meaning to thread hijack in anyway, as this is pretty much on topic.

When talking about splitting gypsum between the mash and boil by accounting for differences in mash and boil volumes, how does this alter with BIAB?

I've only just started treating my water, and have been mixing gypsum with the malts before mashing, should I be doing half and half, or does it not matter because my mash volume is my boil volume as well?

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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by Aleman » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:36 pm

Blackaddler wrote:OK, say you're using Graham's calculator, then which parameters do you use to set the "Volume to be treated"?
Total liquor amount, mash liquor amount, boil amount or brew length?
You guys do like making it complicated . . . I would just go for a 2/3rd mash 1/3 boil split . . .

'Ideally' you treat all the liquor for alkalinity . . . and calculate your mineral additions on the final brew length . . . Which I don't completely agree with.

I just simply go for adding calcium to 100-150ppm (Choice of sulphate or chloride depends on where I want the flavour balance to be) for the mash liquor . . . Darker beers get more calcium in the mash . . . and then add 50ppm to the boiler for the sparge volume

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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by Aleman » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:37 pm

ajclarkson wrote:Not meaning to thread hijack in anyway, as this is pretty much on topic.

When talking about splitting gypsum between the mash and boil by accounting for differences in mash and boil volumes, how does this alter with BIAB?

I've only just started treating my water, and have been mixing gypsum with the malts before mashing, should I be doing half and half, or does it not matter because my mash volume is my boil volume as well?

Cheers
Doesn't really matter for BIAB . . . just treat for final beer volume for salts

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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by Blackaddler » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:59 pm

Aleman wrote:
Blackaddler wrote:OK, say you're using Graham's calculator, then which parameters do you use to set the "Volume to be treated"?
Total liquor amount, mash liquor amount, boil amount or brew length?
You guys do like making it complicated . . . I would just go for a 2/3rd mash 1/3 boil split . . .

'Ideally' you treat all the liquor for alkalinity . . . and calculate your mineral additions on the final brew length . . . Which I don't completely agree with.

I just simply go for adding calcium to 100-150ppm (Choice of sulphate or chloride depends on where I want the flavour balance to be) for the mash liquor . . . Darker beers get more calcium in the mash . . . and then add 50ppm to the boiler for the sparge volume
That's close to what I do... 3/4 in the mash and 1/4 on top of the mash during the fly sparge. I don't normally add to the boil, but might do that next time. [That was why I wondered if the calculation might be on the boil volume rather than brew length. No, it wouldn't be, now that I come to think about it.]

I've noticed that my Calcium Chloride has gone from powder form to a rather brittle solid. I'll adjust with an extra 33% to allow for the water absorption.
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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by orlando » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:28 am

Blackaddler wrote:
Aleman wrote:Calcium Sulphate (Gypsum): Blend with water in a blender add to HLT.

Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salt): Add to wort boil.

Sodium Chloride (Common Salt): Add to wort boil.

Calcium Carbonate: Add to grist.

Calcium Chloride (dihydrate):
OK, say you're using Graham's calculator, then which parameters do you use to set the "Volume to be treated"?
Total liquor amount, mash liquor amount, boil amount or brew length?
At this point, as you brought him up, might help to read what he says about this.

"Adding Your Water Treatment Stuff

If using CRS, this is always added to the total liquor before brewing. With the exception of calcium carbonate, which is always added to the mash in proportion to the amount of mash liquor, the best place to add the salts is generally to the total volume of the liquor. However, calcium sulphate can be difficult to get into solution in cold water, as is usually the case when using CRS. The other salts go into solution easily. There are two ways of overcoming the difficulty of getting calcium sulphate into solution. One is to premix it in a small volume of liquor using a food processor or a hand blender before adding it to the main liquor. The other is to split the calcium sulphate into two portions, one in proportion to the volume of mash liquor and the other for the remainder of the total liquor. The proportion for the mash is mixed in with the grist prior to mashing, and the remainder is added to the wort boil. This has the disadvantage that sparge water is untreated which, ideally, should be treated, although it probably doesn't matter too much if it is not. For this reason, premixing and adding the sulphate to the total liquor is preferred. Even if boiling the liquor to remove carbonate, it is a good idea to premix the sulphate before adding it to the liquor boil.

The calcium-bearing salts are required for mash reactions, so it is important that these are present in the mash in the correct proportions. The other common salts, magnesium sulphate and sodium chloride, are not particularly important for the mash, and they can be just as effectively added to the wort boil. In fact, for slightly technical reasons, it is probably better if the magnesium and sodium salts are added to the wort boil. Calcium carbonate should only be added to the mash. It should not be added to any other liquor including the sparge liquor. The carbonate is detrimental to brewing processes beyond the mash."


So the dreaded phrase it depends rears its ugly head, but to keep it simple the quote " the best place to add the salts is generally to the total volume of the liquor" helps, if it wasn't for "With the exception of calcium carbonate, which is always added to the mash in proportion to the amount of mash liquor" :roll: And Aleman wonders why WE make it so complicated :!:
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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by mabrungard » Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:55 pm

Solubility of minerals is an interesting subject. I note that many UK brewers tend to use very high ion levels in their brewing liquor. I find that in many cases, high ionic levels have negative impacts on the finished beer. So keeping those levels at more modest levels should strongly be considered. I note that there are brewing mineral addition calculators out there that suggest or recommend ion levels that are far too high for good brewing practice. I suppose I will start clanging the bell with the following advice: " you can't add your way out of bad tap water and create good brewing liquor". Adding a bunch of salts or acid will just leave you with "mineral water". Be cautious!

I think that Aleman has some interesting advice, but I'll add some qualifications below.

[quote="Aleman"][b]Calcium Sulphate (Gypsum)[/b]: Blend with water in a blender add to HLT.

I have no issue with getting calcium sulphate to dissolve in my liquor without using a blender, this is I suspect because I have very soft (almost RO) water, and so the limited solubility of [u]calcium[/u] salts is not an issue. For brewers in hard water areas then more extreme measures must be taken. Gypsum is important because it provides calcium which is required in the mash to drop the pH, however as part of this reaction it is removed from the mash as it forms calcium phosphate ([b]VERY[/b] insoluble . . . unless you are talking [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_George_Haigh]concentrated acids[/url] ;) ) It also provides sulphate which is a 'flavour' ion, making the beer appear dryer and more bitter.
[/quote]

Aleman's advice is a harbinger of that excessive mineralization aspect I mention above. If you can't get gypsum to dissolve with typical stirring, your water probably doesn't need any more calcium.

[quote="Aleman"]
[b]Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salt)[/b]: Add to wort boil.
Magnesium is a vital element for yeast metabolism, however does not play a part in the mash reactions (not strictly true as it will react with phosphate to perform insoluble magnesium phosphate, but less preferentially than calcium), and therefore is best added to the boil, where it also provides that flavour ion sulphate.

[b]Sodium Chloride (Common Salt)[/b]: Add to wort boil.
Humph! Sodium does not play any part in brewing reactions, and therefore does not really need to be added to any brewing liquor. The added chloride is useful however as it is another of the 'flavour' ions, this time contributing to palate fullness and malty flavours. Sodium does act as a flavour enhancer and so up to 50ppm could be considered acceptable . . . beyond 150ppm it starts to get objectionable though. . . . London waters have very high levels of sodium, which determined the styles brewed there until basic water treatments came along, and so adding more should be avoided
[/quote]

Aleman is quite correct that magnesium is a vital element for yeast. Fortunately, a malt wort will have plenty of Mg to supply the yeast's nutritional needs. That Mg is bound in the malt compounds and doesn't participate in a flavor active role, so having ionic Mg in the brewing liquor may be desirable if the brewer wants that ion's sour, bittering character in the finished beer. That is good in a pale ale, but may not be desirable in a malty lager.

Magnesium does play a part of mash pH chemistry, so it can be desirable in the mashing water if the water alkalinity is high and magnesium's effect on depressing Residual Alkalinity is desired.

[quote="Aleman"]
[b]Calcium Carbonate[/b]: Add to grist.
Does not dissolve at all except in acidic solutions, hence the recommendation to add to the grist . . . However, I suspect that as the phytin reaction proceeds Releasing phosphate and hydrogen ions, the calcium carbonate dissolves, and then the calcium reacts with the phosphate which is deposited around the grains of calcium carbonate preventing further reaction. One method I have used to get it into solution (Thanks Wallybrew) is to take 100g of CACO3 and add it to 10L of water in a corny . . . gas it up to 60psi and force carbonate the living daylights out of it. . . . Filter, and add to liquor in HLT . . . Measure Alkalinity, adjusting downwards if too high, then mash in.

[b]Calcium Chloride (dihydrate)[/b]:
Again a very useful compound, providing calcium for the mash reactions (and as mentioned important boil and fermentation reactions) and chloride for flavour. . . . used when you need to add calcium without increasing sulphate content, and as such can be added to the mash or the boil, remembering of course that if it is added to the mash not all the calcium will make it into the boil, due to the precipitation reaction with phosphate.[/quote]

My findings and those of hundreds of other brewers that monitor their mash pH show that calcium carbonate (chalk) does not dissolve in water nor the mash in a timely manner. Therefore, it does not provide the calcium or alkalinity that the chalk was intended to provide. I've heard from many brewers that start with very low alkalinity water and they have used chalk in their mash to help avoid an excessive mash pH drop when they were brewing with acidic grists like porter and stout. They found their mash pH was not up in the desired range of 5.2 to 5.6, it was much lower. When they input their water and grain information into Bru'n Water software, they found that the predicted mash pH more closely matched the measured mash pH when the chalk addition was deleted from Bru'n Water. That indicates that chalk participates very little in the mash chemistry.

Calcium carbonate is insoluble in water, but will dissolve with the addition of carbonic acid. This is the natural reaction that results in the hardness and alkalinity we see in many water supplies. The problem is that the carbonic acid reaction is quite slow and in the warm water of the mash, there is no dissolved CO2 present to create carbonic acid. So, that reaction does not occur. Aleman suggests adding the chalk to the mash, but the evidence is that the acids created by the malt reactions are too weak to dissolve the chalk and have it neutralize those malt acids. It appears that we can get chalk powder to go into SUSPENSION, but we can't get it to dissolve in a timely manner to effect the mash pH.

I suggest that more brewers consider alternatives to "adding" more stuff to their already mineralized water. Adding CRS could easily adding far too much sulfate and chloride to the brewing liquor. Adding gypsum or calcium chloride could also bring those concentrations to excessive levels. There is questionable advice out there that suggests that chloride concentrations of over 150 ppm are desirable or acceptable. I strongly recommend that brewers limit chloride to around 100 ppm in most cases. There is good validity for this recommendation in that there are NO cases where high chloride exists in a water profile from a historic brewing location. The highest chloride concentration I found was around 130 ppm for Dortmund, which is known for its 'mineraly' character in their beer. Do yourself a favor and avoid excessive mineralization. This may mean that dilution with distilled or RO water will be an appropriate recourse. It may also mean that using another acid beside CRS would be more appropriate. Lactic and phosphoric acid are good choices for brewing use.

I also have to strongly recommend that brewers understand that the needs of the mashing liquor are not necessarily the same as the needs of the sparging liquor. Alkalinity MIGHT be needed in the mashing liquor, but it is never needed in the sparging liquor. Therefore, I feel it is not appropriate to treat all brewing liquor the same. Learning how these differing components need to be treated is important. I suggest that a quick read of the Water Knowledge page at the Bru'n Water website might help illustrate this point. The link is below:

https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge

I do hope this is helpful.

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Re: Water treatment technique

Post by Eric » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:10 am

mabrungard wrote:Solubility of minerals is an interesting subject. I note that many UK brewers tend to use very high ion levels in their brewing liquor. I find that in many cases, high ionic levels have negative impacts on the finished beer. So keeping those levels at more modest levels should strongly be considered. I note that there are brewing mineral addition calculators out there that suggest or recommend ion levels that are far too high for good brewing practice. I suppose I will start clanging the bell with the following advice: " you can't add your way out of bad tap water and create good brewing liquor". Adding a bunch of salts or acid will just leave you with "mineral water". Be cautious!

I think that Aleman has some interesting advice, but I'll add some qualifications below.

......................................................................................................................

I also have to strongly recommend that brewers understand that the needs of the mashing liquor are not necessarily the same as the needs of the sparging liquor. Alkalinity MIGHT be needed in the mashing liquor, but it is never needed in the sparging liquor. Therefore, I feel it is not appropriate to treat all brewing liquor the same. Learning how these differing components need to be treated is important. I suggest that a quick read of the Water Knowledge page at the Bru'n Water website might help illustrate this point.
I do hope this is helpful.

When in doubt...leave it out!
Hi mabrungard, welcome to Jim's.

A very interesting post on a complex and oft misunderstood subject, I'm sure it will receive all warranted attention. I might however suggest that immediate qualification on a five thousandth of one contributor's efforts might not have been the most diplomatic start.

We agree with respect to alkalinity of sparge water and somewhere recently on this forum I have suggested that sparge for darker beers shouldn't be as alkaline as mash water. However, we are miles apart when it comes to opinion for high mineral content water for brewing purposes. I live in a hard water area on top of a very large piece of magnesian limestone with water from bore holes. My greatest interest in brewing, and I don't think I'm alone, is to replicate brews of my youth when breweries malted barley to compliment water from their own supplies. Even now, as far as I know, British water supplies are not primarily treated for best suitablity for dishwashers, allowing us the option of using RO water.

Could it be because the likes of Arthur Guinness and some Burton on Trent brewers produced good beers with high ion level water when Indiana was still Indian country that UK brewers continue to do so? Tradition?

Eric.
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