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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2011 * Archive through April 28, 2011 * Slaked Lime water treatment question < Previous Next >

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dumb brewer
Junior Member
Username: Dumbbrewer

Post Number: 54
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From:
Posted on Friday, April 01, 2011 - 08:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I live in north central Illinois, and my local municipal (deep well sourced) water is very hard and is high in calcium. I have used this water “as is” for several years, with mixed results (that could be as much my technique as the water). My municipal water department report contains data on “contaminants” but claims they neither have nor test for the info used in typical water reports. After reading the recent threads on water treatment, I decided to try a slightly unscientific and uncontrolled experiment. Similar to the method in Braukaiser, I added 1 Tablespoon of pickling lime to 6 gallons of my local water, stirred and let it sit overnight. The next day there was a layer of white sediment in the bottom of the container. I siphoned the clear water of the sediment into a 5 gallon carboy.

What might the consequences be to using this “treated” water for mashing/brewing without knowing the actual “before or “after” water chemistry?

Tex Brewer
Advanced Member
Username: Texbrewer

Post Number: 662
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Friday, April 01, 2011 - 08:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I smell a Bill Pierce response coming. But I'll throw in that you have reduced the hardness considerably (Ca and Mg) and raised the pH a bunch. You need to check the pH and will probably have to add acid. Without knowing the original Ca and Mg or hardness, it's very difficult to say what you have now. Could be your Ca is too low and you need to add CaCl or CaSO4.

Bill Pierce
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 12777
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From:
Posted on Friday, April 01, 2011 - 11:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree with TB. Your water is probably rather high in calcium, but even higher in alkalinity. If the local water utility can't or won't provide you with an analysis, send a sample off to Ward Labs (Household Mineral Test W-6 will provide the basics): Then you can begin to deal with the water intelligently.

In general, after slaked lime treatment the water will be lower in both calcium and alkalinity, and higher in pH. But you will need to test it again after you rack the water off the precipitate. Kai has a section on his site about home water testing for hardness and alkalinity:

Once you have done the process several times, you probably will have enough data that you can trust the results for future batches. But for now you would be far better off to have the data from both before and after the lime treatment.

Of course you can take your chances and use the treated water as-is. If you like the beer, that's great. But understand that the water may not be appropriate for every style in every case. That's the kind of information the data will provide for you.

(Message edited by BillPierce on April 01, 2011)