Topics Topics Help/Instructions Help Edit Profile Profile Member List Register  
Search Last 1 | 3 | 7 Days Search Search Tree View Tree View  

Visit The Brewery's sponsor!
Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2006 * Archive through April 06, 2006 * Well water or "soft water"? < Previous Next >

  Thread Last Poster Posts Pages Last Post
  ClosedClosed: New threads not accepted on this page        

Author Message
 

Tim Pratt
Intermediate Member
Username: Timca

Post Number: 350
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 71.139.166.165
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 03:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I live with well water that is run threw a "soft water filter" for the house. In the past I have used the well water (taste good but is "hard") for darker beers and the soft water for the lighter beers. That was with extract brewing. Now I'm AG and don't have the knowledge or experience to chose between the two. I know ... get it tested but the cost ... and I still need to clean the office ... then there are the kids ... and well I'd rather just fish for the easy answer here...

Thanks
Tim
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 2660
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 65.29.220.144
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 03:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A quick and easy test for the kind of hardness you are dealing with is to boil and cool some water. If there is a sediment on the bottom of the pot when it is cooled, you have temporary hardness from carbonates - chalk ( not usually good except for dark beers). If there is no or little sediment, you have permanent hardness which is sulfate - gypsum based and is considered good for most styles, Pilsners are a well known exception.

Dan

--This space is again being left intentionally blank.-


 

Tim Pratt
Intermediate Member
Username: Timca

Post Number: 353
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 71.139.166.165
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 03:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Would just going with the soft water be bad?
 

Paul Edwards
Advanced Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 997
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 70.236.6.96
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 03:57 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If your water sofener uses salt, it's an ion exchange filter, and removes calcium and mangnesium ions from the water and replaces them with sodium ions. But this doesn't remove the carbonate/bicarbonate ions.

Calcium is necessary for all-grain brewing. It reacts whth phospahtes from the grain from, and precipitates. This releases hydrogen ions which help acidify the mash down to the pH range that's optimum for the diastatic enzymes that convert starch to sugar (pH 5.2 to 5.7 or so).

So generally you don't want to use water that's been run thru an ion-exhange softener for all-grain beers.

I bypass my softener when collecting brewing wwater. I run the water thru an activated charcoal filer to remove the chlorine that the water company adds. For lighter colored beers, I mix the water with Reverse Osmosis water I buy from a machine at the grocery store. This cuts the bicarbonate level of my water, but also dilutes tthe calcium concenttration. So I add either calcium sulfate (gypsum) or calcium chloride into the mash to get that level back up.

Since you're on a well, you ddon't have to worry about Chlorine, but lots of well water, depending on where you live, has iron in it. Do you have rust stains in the bathtub or toilet? Does your water softener use the "iron removing" salt tablets?

The Ward's Lab water test is only something like $15.

A good source of water info can be found at John Palmer's website or in his very excellent book, How to Brew

http://www.howtobrew.com
 

Tim Pratt
Intermediate Member
Username: Timca

Post Number: 355
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 71.139.166.165
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 04:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have some old salt water test kits Ill try thoes two.
Do you have a link for that test?
Thanks
 

Paul Edwards
Advanced Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 999
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 70.236.6.96
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 04:27 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

http://www.wardlab.com/

Click on "fee schedule, then on "water analysis"

People recommend the W-6 "household mineral test" for $15.00

A slightly more comprehensive test looks like the W-5 "Household Comple Mineral Test" for $24. This one includes iron and fluoride.
 

Chris Fahrenkopf
Junior Member
Username: Newerbrewer

Post Number: 29
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.188.160.37
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 06:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi,
I have had the same problem as Tim and have resorted to using '5.2' with my softened H20 for mashing to get my pH down. I noticed an improvement in the extraction efficiency and overall beer quality but don't know if this an appropriate solution from a water chemistry perspective?
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 4930
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.239.69
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 09:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chris, as Paul says, most home softeners substitute sodium (or in a few cases potassium) for the calcium and magnesium in the water. This softens the water but is not necessarily beneficial for brewing, especially all-grain beers. In many cases some calcium is desirable both for enzyme activity and yeast reproduction, and the excess sodium can leave a salty flavor, especially in the presence of chloride.