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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2006 * Archive through November 14, 2006 * Overwhelming Chlorine Smell in my Water < Previous Next >

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Liquidbreaddiet
Advanced Member
Username: Liquidbreaddiet

Post Number: 508
Registered: 06-2005
Posted From: 148.168.40.4
Posted on Friday, October 27, 2006 - 12:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Going to brew today whilst "working" from home - I just started to fill my kegs with water and there is an overwhelming blast of chlorine. Now my water isn't the best brewing water but never before have I had this chlorine smell. It was present in the shower etc this morning. Any suggestions how to get rid of the chlorine so i can brew today?
i've been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding!!!
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 5999
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.224.220
Posted on Friday, October 27, 2006 - 12:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If you can smell the chlorine, you'll want to get rid of it. Simple chlorine can be removed by a single-stage activated charcoal filter or boiling the water for 5 minutes, but many municipal water systems are treating the water with chloramines that are more persistent. A charcoal filter will reduce them, but the best course is to stir in half a crumbled Campden tablet (available at homebrew and winemaking shops) per 10 gallons and let the water sit for 3-4 hours (or overnight).
 

David Lewinnek
Intermediate Member
Username: Davelew

Post Number: 278
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 198.51.251.205
Posted on Friday, October 27, 2006 - 12:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I believe the biggest problem with chlorine is when it gets into the fermenter and yeast turn it into chlorophenols, which smell like fresh bandaids. In that case, you're fairly safe, because a rolling boil will drive off the chlorine in a few minutes. You just have to be sure not to top off your fermenter with unboiled tap water.

Another issue is that the chlorine smell is typically due to chloramine. If there's a strong smell, I wouldn't be surprised if the ammonia portion of the chloramine has raised the pH of your tap water to 9 or 10. That can wreak havok with your mash.
 

Liquidbreaddiet
Advanced Member
Username: Liquidbreaddiet

Post Number: 510
Registered: 06-2005
Posted From: 148.168.40.4
Posted on Friday, October 27, 2006 - 12:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I happen to have some campden tablets - so will try that. It is really strange though - makes me think something happened at the water treatment plant and they have tried to cover it up by adding massive amounts of chlorine.
i've been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding!!!
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6001
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.224.220
Posted on Friday, October 27, 2006 - 01:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sometimes that's literally true, LBD. I used to live in a place where the main water source was a local lake. In the early spring right after the thaw the water had a pronounced odor of old leaves. The water utility merely increased the chlorine addition for a few weeks and pronounced the water fit to drink, which is a relative thing.
 

Paul Edwards
Senior Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 1094
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 70.236.0.148
Posted on Friday, October 27, 2006 - 01:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

David,

I believe that the chlorine also reacts with phenolic compounds in the grain, and that chlorophenols will be created in the mash.

Best course of action is to remove the offending chlorine before brewing
 

Eric Lord
Member
Username: Eric_lord

Post Number: 130
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 66.80.140.4
Posted on Friday, October 27, 2006 - 02:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I was brewing the other day, and my water suddenly turned a light shade of brown. And reeked of clorine. I called the city, they came out and flushed the line from a fire hydrant. They had no explanation of this! Imagine that!

eric
 

Mike A.
Member
Username: Mike_a

Post Number: 171
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 128.173.15.155
Posted on Friday, October 27, 2006 - 03:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill, as I understand it, campden tablets treat the water within minutes so letting the water sit is not needed.

An excerpt from AJ de Lange's original manuscript for Brewing Techniques 1998 article:
"When Campden tablets or sodium metabisulfite are used, all chlorine and chloramine are converted to chloride ion in a matter of a couple of minutes."
 

Liquidbreaddiet
Advanced Member
Username: Liquidbreaddiet

Post Number: 511
Registered: 06-2005
Posted From: 148.168.40.4
Posted on Friday, October 27, 2006 - 03:10 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

i happened to check the water about an hour after i crushed in two campden tablets - no smell of chlorine - but then my sniffer just ain't what it used to be - I started anyway because i was getting ants in my pants.
i've been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding!!!
 

Tex Brewer
Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 122
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.62.203.81
Posted on Friday, October 27, 2006 - 05:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If your city uses a surface-water reservoir, they typically turn over this time of year. Cool water from the bottom rises to the top as the water on the surface cools and falls. That brings up anoxic water full of smells and organic stuff. The water plant often adds extra chlorine to oxidize these things. It should go away in a few weeks.
 

Tim Wi
Advanced Member
Username: Riverkeeper

Post Number: 614
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 24.158.157.254
Posted on Friday, October 27, 2006 - 11:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If they have done any work on the distribution system, especially if they had to open it, (fix a leak, add a component, etc.) they must add disinfectant, usually chlorine. You may get a little foaming, bubbling, and tremendous chlorine odor if that's the case, cause they will jack up the chlorine level big time rather than send a live nasty down the line.

The foaming is from the air they let into the lines. They will bleed most of it, but can't usually get it all.

Funny thing, I "worked" from home today also. Had to read a 10" thick report, which can't get done with the friggin phone ringing all the time.

Air lock was bubbling away within 2 hours if clean up.

T
 

Zack
Junior Member
Username: Soverythirsty

Post Number: 74
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 72.93.237.187
Posted on Saturday, October 28, 2006 - 02:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Campden (potassium or sodium metabisulfite) doesn't need time to work; the reaction is almost instantaneous. My chemistry is rusty, but I can tell you that Campden contributes sulfur dioxide to the water which breaks the bond between ammonia and chlorine that make up chloramine. The chlorine is then converted to chloride, which would lower your mash (like calcium chloride does) if there weren’t such minute amounts of chloramine to begin with.

My town swears that the municipal water supply is chlorinated but not treated with chloramine. Still, I use one Campden tablet in my strike water (about 8 gallons) and a second in my sparge water (about 10 gallons). I simply toss in the tablet and give it a stir as I bring the water to temperature.

My beer has been much better for it.

Chlorines are something you must take affirmative steps to remove from your brewing water (boil, let stand, filter, or treat as above).
 

Graham Cox
Advanced Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 714
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.249.201
Posted on Saturday, October 28, 2006 - 03:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've never even seen a campden tablet, but I have both Na-meta and K-meta on hand. I've been using a couple of pinches of Na-meta in my water on my last several batches without really knowing what "half a campden tablet" equates to.

Does anyone have a weight or volume equivalent for a campden tablet?

EDIT: Disregard, I found it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campden_tablet

(Message edited by t2driver on October 28, 2006)
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6004
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.224.220
Posted on Saturday, October 28, 2006 - 03:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm not sure that removing chlorine or chloramines is an absolute must, although it is desirable, especially if you can detect any flavor or aroma in the untreated water. I know brewpubs and small microbreweries that use untreated tap water to brew excellent beers, as do many homebrewers. Obviously it depends on the specifics of the water and the beer. I just wanted to include a note of reality here. Personally, I use a GAC filter, but I'm on the careful and fussy side in terms of my brewing style. Others are more of the RDWHAHB school. Whatever works, I say.
 

Zack
Junior Member
Username: Soverythirsty

Post Number: 75
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 72.93.237.187
Posted on Saturday, October 28, 2006 - 05:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I hear ya Bill, but I have to insist on removal of chlorines (unless you want to be "that guy who makes really crappy beer").

Lots of brewpubs (like mine, for instance) use untreated city water, but only because we've had analysis done and the municipality doesn't use chlorine.

Now I'll admit that very light chlorination might not seriously affect the quality of beer produced, but I think you'd be crazy to risk it.
 

Tom Meier
Intermediate Member
Username: Brewdawg96

Post Number: 399
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 74.241.140.121
Posted on Sunday, October 29, 2006 - 06:10 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

thanks zack, I was going to chime in that opinion too..

no need to propagate laziness and apathy. there are plenty of other areas in brewing to be lazy; that involve more than pinching a tablet of white stuff and dropping into water.
 

Dave Coppes
Junior Member
Username: Pale_dave

Post Number: 26
Registered: 07-2006
Posted From: 24.218.205.96
Posted on Sunday, October 29, 2006 - 12:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I work for a regional water supplier and agree with Tex Brewer. Reservoir turn over typically occurs in the fall and spring. The stability of the water is affected and treatment operators have to make adjustments to treatment to keep up with the changes. Once the water has stabilized they won't need to make as many changes and the water delivered will be more uniform. Bill P is also right in that the operators typically jack up the chlorine dose.

The turn over increases the amount of organic matter entering the intake. This increases the chlorine demand of the water. Increasing the chlorine dose allows them to maintain a target chlorine residual. The organics react with the chlorine and create the odors.

It is also possible that something else happened. A pump malfunction, operator error, etc.

At our utility, we have a consumer hot-line that people can call if they notice anything unusual about the taste or odor of the water. We usually let the people that staff the phones know if something occurred which might register complaints and when the situation might return to normal.

Complaint information is useful to the operators so they can discover if there is a problem with the treatment process or take steps to minimize the occurrences in the future.

I'd call your water supplier and ask about it or register a complaint.

At the same time, you should also find out if they use free chlorine or chloramines. This is important info for brewing as it determines how to deal with your water. Boiling the water will take care of the free chlorine; chloramines require charcoal filtering or campden as has been pointed out by others.
 

Jeff Preston
Member
Username: Jeffpreston

Post Number: 188
Registered: 02-2004
Posted From: 142.161.183.28
Posted on Sunday, October 29, 2006 - 02:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In the fall my water smells like chlorine. I run the brewing water thru a solid block carbon filter and voila, no more smell.
 

Sean Richens
Intermediate Member
Username: Sean

Post Number: 341
Registered: 04-2001
Posted From: 142.161.32.129
Posted on Friday, November 10, 2006 - 02:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't dechlorinate, and have never had a competition score sheet mention it, even though I mostly submit pale lagers.

However, there was a vile reek to our city water this summer. It was reminiscent of chlorine, but was actually a taint from higher than usual levels of blue-green algae in the water source. Fortunately, it cleared up before brewing season. I don't know if you can aerate out the taint.
 

Tom Callen
New Member
Username: Tc2642

Post Number: 18
Registered: 07-2005
Posted From: 194.72.37.252
Posted on Friday, November 10, 2006 - 03:48 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I always squirt a little 10% solution of Sod met with boiling water into my barrels and fermentation bins after I have cleaned them out with a propriety cleaner and leave it to sit in there, keeps the bugs out and the residue negates any chlorine in the water. Only thing you have to be wary of is not letting the fumes come into contact with metal, since it will eat away at it in no time.