Treating Water

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by FNAT, Jul 18, 2018.

  1. OSO

    OSO New Member

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    Hello all,

    I am new to Brewers Friend and very new to treating my brewing water. Because of where I live I have decided to make RO water my base water. Specifically Pure Life water.

    I have been reading up on the internet and in books on how to treat brewing water to get the most out of the brew but, I am still confused on a few things. I would like to connect with people who treat their water and who may be able to help me understand the process of converting a ppm count to grams of minerals to add and when to add them.

    Thanks.
     
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  2. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    This site has a good tool for building water profiles. In the red menu bar at the top select tools and then scroll down to find it. As you add salts by the gram it will tell you the ppm.
     
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  3. OSO

    OSO New Member

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    Thanks for the tip. I would like to understand it more.....I suppose I should probably just read more on the subject. I appreciate you reaching out.
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    There's a very good book on the subject titled "Water" from the Brewer's Association. My best advice is dechlorinate, if chlorine is an issue, and read. It's a complex subject with lots of "beer lore" wrapped around it.
     
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  5. OSO

    OSO New Member

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    Thanks. I am reading that book now. I suppose I am being lazy and want to learn based on someones experience or being guided rather than actually learning from a book.

    So far the book is great for understanding water chemistry. I havent gotten to the chapter on actually treating water to build a particular profile. I brew with RO water and while it does ok, I would like to start taking advantage of the "benefits" of building a specific water profile. What I struggle with is knowing what the chemistry of the RO water is and how much of each salt to use. Thanks.
     
  6. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Realistically, all you want to do is make sure your brewing water is free of chlorine, has at least 50 ppm Ca-- and results in a mash pH of 5.1 - 5.6. Water, specifically residual alkalinity, is how you predict mash pH. I've found that the minimum treatment of water to hit mash pH targets produces the best beer. That means crimes against the Reinheitsgebot, mineral acids. Sauermalz (acidulated malt) is another way to adjust pH. To start, dechlorinate and make sure you have 50 ppm calcium and you'll do fine.
     
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  7. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    As for when to add salts, usually you'd add to both the mash and either the sparge or boil. The idea is to replicate a water profile fitting the style of beer you're brewing. Do not confuse this with the water profile of a locality where a style is brewed, as the brewery will almost always treat their local water.

    There are several schools of thought when it comes to water treatment. They range from bare minimums to aggressive. A couple of things most have in common are the need for a minimum concentration of Calcium and a Sulfate to Chloride ratio. The calcium aids in enzymatic activity in the mash and wort clarity among other things. The Sulfate to Chloride ratio helps, indirectly, to accent either the malt or the hop characters.

    While accepted minimum for Calcium is 50ppm, with few exceptions, I shoot for around 80ppm with good results. Generally accepted Sulfate to Chloride ratios go from 3:1 for hoppy beers and 1:1 for malt forward beers respectively. NEIPAS, as I understand look more towards being heavy on the Chloride as do many session beers. Both call to accentuate body.

    The latest addition of How To Brew by John Palmer covers all of this, and most everything else you need to know about brewing in general. It's far less technical than the water book.
     
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  8. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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  9. Aub

    Aub Active Member

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    I'll second that, I have both books and Palmer's explains it very well and is easier to understand when trying to get your head around this stuff.
     
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  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    But dang, brewing water is a rabbit hole you may never find your way out of! I've selected "minimalist" water treatment and it serves me well. I think a lot of the really technical water correction is applicable at commercial scale, not so much at ours.
     
  11. CRUNK

    CRUNK Well-Known Member

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    I use RO water all the time and I treat mine and I love playing with it a little bit here and there just to see what I can get out of it you just have to remember there's not necessarily rules to Brewing no one says you have to treat your water and no one says you don't have to treat your water just keep it fun take lots of notes and don't change a lot of things every time you brew just one or two small things so that it's easy to determine what its effects are
     
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  12. OSO

    OSO New Member

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    Thanks. I'll have to pick up the new edition....probably revisit the old version first. Aub, you do bring up a good point. The Water book is super technical and I usually dont have time to read until after I get the kids in bed......by that point in the day I dont want to have to think that hard.....LOL.
     
  13. Aub

    Aub Active Member

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    Yeah, I agree with Nosey's post above that minimalist water treatment is sufficient for us home brewers. Palmers book suggests water profiles for his recipes, I've used them as a basis for mine and so far with success. I've got soft water so usually only have to add 4 or 5 grams of calcium sulphate and calcium chloride, using the water calculator here it's fairly easy to adjust the amounts of each to either a balanced profile or more towards hoppy or malty.
     
  14. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I am just getting familiar and comfortable with water chemistry, and have to suggest reading and re-reading the brewing water 3 part article on this forum. The thing I am enjoying the most about this hobby is the learning. Experience is the best teacher, learn something from every batch you brew. The following link is to part one.

    Cheers

    https://www.brewersfriend.com/2017/11/19/brewing-water-basics-part-1/
     
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  15. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Water still confuses the shit out of me, so don't feel like you're alone on that.
     
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  16. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    My take on water its like brewing you can make it as complicated or as uncomplicated as you want;).
     
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  17. CRUNK

    CRUNK Well-Known Member

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    Well said.
     
  18. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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  19. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Again, second that. You really can't know what you need to do to your water until you know what's in it. And be advised, some profiles may not be attainable using brewing salts - as an example, I did one the other day requiring 325 ppm bicarbonate. I'm starting with 87 so if I were to add that much baking soda, my sodium level would be through the roof! I managed to get the calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride and sulfate within a reasonable range of the target water of Grodzisk, Poland, but couldn't get it exact. And I suspect it was boiled before use anyway - that high of a bicarbonate level would require acids in a lighter grist and Grodziskie is all wheat.... Again, my mantra, try to know why a recipe uses a given ingredient or process before using it.
     

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