Water Chemistry for Dummies

Discussion in 'Recipe Editor' started by Hetken1, Sep 23, 2020.

  1. Hetken1

    Hetken1 New Member

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    Hello all, As much as I have been using Brewers Friend for years, I never worked with water chemistry. I am having trouble working with (understanding) the WC calc.
    I have my Lab Water Report and would like to
    -Have this as an auto fill
    -Use the water profile(s) that are listed in BF directory
    -Have the calculations done
    -Have the "ADD Salts" section auto fill the required amounts

    I assume this can be done and my problem is the dummie involved hehe
    Ken
     
  2. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    We do not have an auto add salts button. There are reasons for this, but it boils down to other software that does this makes impossible "profiles" to match a set amount of ions in the target water. What I mean is, an auto calc may have you add chalk to increase the carbonate, but then acid to neutralize that carbonate. Sure, that's easy for the brewer but it's flawed and won't actually "work" for the water you use in brewing.

    Instead, you add your water report to your profile, and that links to the recipe so you can add the salts you have on hand to get the right mash pH and those ions. We can help you with that- it sounds far more difficult than it is.

    A couple of pointers- even though water profiles may list bicarbonate, there is NEVER an actual target for bicarbonate; it is just what that water may have had in it before the breweries boiled it or treated it. You want to look at the mash pH, which is shown at the top of the water calc to ensure that is in a range of 5.3-5.5 or so.

    A long time ago, we published a three part series on water chemistry basics. It explains many of these things, but in an easy to understand way.

    https://www.brewersfriend.com/2017/11/19/brewing-water-basics-part-1/
    https://www.brewersfriend.com/2017/11/19/brewing-water-basics-part-2/
    https://www.brewersfriend.com/2018/02/13/brewing-water-basics-putting-it-all-together/

    It seems overwhelming beginning with water chemistry, but it really is pretty simple once you understand what each ingredient brings to the recipe.

    If you would post your Ward Lab report, I can help with advice on entering it, if you need to reduce alkalinity, etc.
     
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  3. Hetken1

    Hetken1 New Member

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    Thanks Yooper,
    Here is my water report: ppm
    pF 7.1
    Sodium Na 13
    Potassium K <1
    Calcuim Ca 6.9
    Magnesium Mg 1
    Total Hardness CaCO3 22
    Nitrate NO3-N .2
    Sulfate SO4-S 1
    Chloride Cl 11
    Carbonate CO3 <1
    Bicarbonate HCO 3 28
    Total Alkaliinity CaCO3 23
    Total Phosphorus P 1.16
    Total Iron Fe <.01

    Ken
     
  4. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Very nice water! Not quite RO, but nearly so. You can get by with calcium chloride, calcium sulfate, and phosphoric acid to get a great brewing water for almost all beers. For a stout, you will likely need some baking soda in addition. I'm jealous, and have water envy!

    Once you want to make a recipe with a water profile, I'd love to help out and show you how easy it is to add additions to get a reasonable water profile that will work and make the best beer..

    Remember that in those traditional water profiles, while that might be the city's water, the breweries may have used different water. For example, the Dublin water profile is NOT what Guiness used/uses because their water comes from the mountains around there, NOT Dublin proper so that's something to be cautious of when considering the water and the beer. You also don't know what the brewers may have done to reduce the bicarbonate (i.e. preboiling the water so it precipitates out) so trying to nail a specific city water profile may not always be the best choice.
     
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  5. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Oh, I almost forgot! When you add your water profile to Brewer's Friend, your sulfate there is noted to be S04-S1. That's fine, and it is really not that material, but since it's reported as S04-s1, for using in our water calculator (and I think most others), you should multiple that by 4. The difference between 1 and 4 is of course immaterial, but if it was 30, that would be a huge issue difference with the actual being 120 ppm.
     
  6. Donoroto

    Donoroto Member

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    Wow, that looks like Fulton County GA water, almost as un-mineralized as you could ever want.

    So I deal with this every time I brew.and what i do is find a water calculator and what the beer style prefers, and add salts until it's as close as I am comfortable with. Each salt has a chemical formula, and those elements are what it adds. So, Calcium Chloride (CaCl3) adds calcium and chloride, Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom salt) adds magnesium and sulfate, and so on. I generally play around with the quantities (start with 3 grams for a 5 gallon batch for example) and gauge the results. Too much magnesium, or Sulfate/Chloride ratio off? Cut back on something, or add something else. Too alkaline? Add some acid.

    I usually spend about a half hour fooling with quantities to find a decent result. I can't remember any time I added more than 5 grams of anything to 8 gallons of water. And my local water is much like yours.

    Don't go crazy. Get closer, but don't sweat the fine details. It'll turn out fine.
     
  7. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Brewing beer is essentially cooking, think of adding salt, and other seasonings to food when cooking. You can ruin a meal by overdoing it, but you can always adjust something for next time to make an improvement.
     

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