soft water question

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soft water question

Postby bredmakr » Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:05 am

As a result of my recent move I now have a water softening system. Having never dealt with softened water before as part of my brewing process I was wondering if I should use it or lose it.

I have two options other than a direct feed from the water softener. One is an extra line that I had installed which provides water that goes through the softener and then through an RO. The second option woule be to make a connection to the brewery from the water main prior to the softener. Either case is feasible but if I don't need to do anything and can just use the softened water I'm ok with that.
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Need more info ?

Postby Azorean Brewer » Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:24 am

Bred,

If you are brewing all grain, you want to be in the 5.5 - 6.0 pH level, softened water is probably around 7.0-8.0 pH.

You can augment with chemicals, IE: Gypsun, calcium carbonate, etc ...

If you are brewing kit (Liquid Malt Extract) then I am not sure what the effects will be using softened water, I know if you are trying to make Enlish style beers, their water is pretty hard and the style will not be the same.

We need more information as to where you're at in the brewing process, others I am sure will give you a more scientific explaination.

Regards,

Paul.
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brewery specs and water details

Postby bredmakr » Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:41 pm

I currently operate a 10 gallon all grain HERMs system. Hardness of water prior to treatment from the softener is 350-500 mg/L as CaCO3. Post softener I'm not sure of yet but I'm taking some testing equipment home tonight to find out.

Before the move I brewed IPAs, Porters, and Stouts succesfully with little to no treatment of the water because it was 250-300 mg/L as CaCO3. I just ran it through an activated carbon filter and everything seemed fine.

The chemistry of the unsoftened water is basic with pH 8-8.5. I guess the real question is if I just run straight from the softener will the sodium concentration be too high and adversely effect the beer.

My main goal here is to reduce the number of items on my checklist before and during brewing b/c as a father of two rugrats time is of the essence.
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Water softeners

Postby jeff » Tue Apr 13, 2004 1:01 pm

The most important ion to brewing is Ca++. This ion along with Mg++ is the major contributor to "Hardness" in water. Hardness is often expressed as the sum of these two ions in ppm as CaCO3. Calcium does a lot of wonderful things in the brewing process including but not limited to thermal protection for mash enzymes, acidification of the mash, inhibition of color formation, enhanced protein coagulation, improved yeast flocculation and beer clarification.

Essentially, Calcium is something you want to keep in your brewing liquor. Ion exchange water softeners replace Ca++ and Mg++ ions with Na+ ions which results in increased levels of sodium in water and the absence of necessary ions such as Ca++. For this reason, water softeners are not recommended for filtering water to be used for brewing. Of course extract brewers are less concerned with these mash related issues.

I have a water softener and it does wonders for the plumbing! But when it comes to my brewing water, I either purchase water or bypass the softener.

Hope this helps!
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thats the input I need

Postby bredmakr » Tue Apr 13, 2004 1:08 pm

Thanks Jeff that was the input I was looking for. I'll go with a plan to bypass the softener and filter out the chlorine.
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