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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2003 * September 29, 2003 * Brewing with well water < Previous Next >

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Todd Metcalf (129.42.208.182)
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 08:40 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I moved into my first house a little over a month ago. I'm to the point where I may take a break from the projects and start brewing again.

This is also the first time using well water and with all grain. First of all I should say that I didn't in the past mess with the brewing water (had neutral city water before)

Here are my specifics:
First the raw water without the softener
CaCo3 = 6 ppm
Mn = 0
Fe = .08
pH = 8.0

with the softener, the CaCo3, Mn, and Fe = 0.

According to the water softener tech that came to service, there was no change in pH after the softener.

I assume that the water is good for brewing, and I may do some minor adjusting of the mash with the aid of paper strips (probably won't if close enough).

However, it appears that the only reason for the softener is to reduce the iron.

My question is: Would it be better to use the unsoften water or soften water?
 

Denny Conn (63.114.138.2)
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 08:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The general recommendation is to not use water from the softener.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 08:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Water from a standard home softener is high in sodium because the calcium hardness in the water is replaced with sodium from the softener salt. In general water high in sodium is not considered good for brewing.
 

chumley (199.92.192.126)
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 08:57 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I would say your best bet is to use the unsoftened water, but boil it the night before brewing and allow it to cool to try to precipitate out the iron. I once brewed a beer with well water high in iron, and it sucked. Though I cannot tell you whether 80 ppb of iron is above the taste threshold or not.
 

Denny Conn (63.114.138.2)
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 08:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill, I thought I'd heard that some softeners use something (?) besides sodium for ion replacement that wasn't as detrimental. Are you aware of what that might be, or if it even exists?
 

Todd Metcalf (129.42.208.182)
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 09:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There is some potassium pelets that do the same as the sodium based pellets.

The potassium is what I'm currently using. However there is some sodium based pellets that reduce the iron. I'm not sure if there is potasium based stuff that does it too. I haven't had to go buy a bag yet. As you can see, I originally bought the wrong stuff for my softener and letting it be used.
 

Tom Sell (170.222.244.249)
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 09:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have a well at my house that is very high in iron, so high that I can see the sediment. Other than the iron, it is very soft water (50 ppm total hardness, Ph 5.4). I use a 5 micron whole house sediment filter and the water is great for brewing. I would think that that since the CaCo3 is high that boiling the night before might help. The Ph of 8 seems high as well. you should try to adjust your brew water.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 10:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Potassium chloride can be used as an alternative to salt in many softeners but you end up with higher potassium levels in the water which is not necessarily any more desirable than high sodium. There are also catalytic softeners but these are quite a bit more expensive, as are whole house RO filters. Two-stage filters are available for filtering iron and other metals, both in undersink and whole house models. These are somewhat more expensive than single-stage activated charcoal filters but not exceedingly so; the cartridges need to be replaced periodically as well.
 

Tim C. (68.62.59.228)
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 01:10 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

One possible source of unnoticed iron is from the pipes. If you have an iron and copper pipes connected without a dielectric fitting, it will leech iron into the water. I am no expert, but I was told relatively soft water with only iron may point to an iron/copper connection. Especially if none of the neighbors have iron. If you have all copper plumbing, check the well fitting bringing water into the home.

Tim C.

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