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Old 31-05-2017, 12:31 PM   #1
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Default More Advanced Water Treatment

I just thought I'd add an accompaniment to the beginners water treatment post (here) for anyone who fancies a little more fine tuning. This step isn't necessary but once you have a grasp on the basics of water treatment, you may want to advance to this step for a little more control over your brew.

Sulphate:Chloride Ratio

As mentioned in the OP, sulphate and chloride are ions which can be manipulated to enhance certain characteristics of a beer (see exbeeriment here). It seems to be the case that the ratio between these two ions is more important than the overall concentration of them in determining which flavours are enhanced. In other words, water with 100ppm sulphate and 50ppm chloride will be effectively the same as water with 250ppm sulphate and 125ppm chloride because they have the same ratio of 2:1 (or 2.0). (Brulosophy did an experiment backing this up here.) For this effect however, a fairly moderate ion concentration is required. Aim for a minimum of 50ppm or so for both sulphate and chloride.

So we can use varying amounts of gypsum and/or calcium chloride to aim for the desired ratio. Now this should be done according to personal taste, but the following table should give you a good idea of where to start (source):

0 - 0.4: Too Malty
0.4 - 0.6: Very Malty
0.6 - 0.8: Malty
0.8 - 1.5: Balanced
1.5 - 2.0: Slightly Bitter
2 - 4: Bitter
4 - 9: Very bitter
9+: Too bitter!

Obviously in order to do this, you will require knowledge of your water's concentration of sulphate and chloride which are usually included on the water report from your supplier. These figures will not be terribly accurate, but should be close enough for our purposes. You can now determine how much gypsum/calcium chloride to add to achieve the desired ratio. The following tables tell you the increase in sulphate or chloride when adding salts. I've also included increase in calcium just for reference.

Gypsum:
Addition - Increase in sulphate - Increase in calcium
0.1 g/L - 56 ppm - 23 ppm
0.2 g/L - 112 ppm - 46 ppm
0.3 g/L - 167 ppm - 69 ppm
0.4 g/L - 223 ppm - 92 ppm
0.5 g/L - 279 ppm - 115 ppm
0.6 g/L - 335 ppm - 138 ppm

Calcium Chloride:
Addition - Increase in chloride - Increase in calcium
0.1g/L - 48 ppm - 27 ppm
0.15g/L - 72 ppm - 41 ppm
0.2g/L - 97 ppm - 54 ppm
0.25g/L - 121 ppm - 68 ppm
0.3g/L - 145 ppm - 81 ppm

Examples:

Say you want to brew a red ale and your tap water has 140ppm sulphate and 50ppm chloride. Currently the ratio is 2.8 (140 divided by 50) which is ideal for an IPA but not for a red ale. Say you want to aim for a ratio of 0.8 which means increasing the chloride. As you can see above, adding 0.25g/L of calcium chloride will give you a ratio of 140:171 which is 0.82, pretty close. (Note you may need to add more salts depending on the calcium level of your tap water.)

If you use RO water then it's very simple. For example, if I was brewing a very bitter DIPA then I want to add around 100 ppm of calcium with a sulphate:chloride ratio of about 4:1. As you can see from the tables above, an addition of 0.4g/L of gypsum and 0.1g/L of calcium chloride will give me:
calcium - 119ppm
sulphate - 223ppm
chloride - 48ppm
Ratio of 4.6
Which is close enough.

Be aware however that it's not always possible to achieve the desired water profile, depending on your tap water's mineral content. In general it's best to keep sulphate levels below 400ppm, and considerably lower if the chloride is high, otherwise you could get a harsh, minerally flavour in your beer. Chloride should generally be kept below 150ppm, again especially important if the sulphate is high. In other words, you don't want both the sulphate and chloride to be at, or close to, their maximum. So in some cases it may be necessary to use low mineral bottled water such as Tesco Ashbeck, or to dilute your tap water with reverse osmosis (RO) water.

Any questions, please ask and I'll do my best to answer them.

For a more indepth article on water treatment see the excellent Water Knowledge page from Bru'n Water (here).
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Old 31-05-2017, 02:42 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by strange-steve View Post
I just thought I'd add an accompaniment to the beginners water treatment post (here) for anyone who fancies a little more fine tuning. This step isn't necessary but once you have a grasp on the basics of water treatment, you may want to advance to this step for a little more control over your brew.

Sulphate:Chloride Ratio

As mentioned in the OP, sulphate and chloride are ions which can be manipulated to enhance certain characteristics of a beer (see exbeeriment here). It seems to be the case that the ratio between these two ions is more important than the overall concentration of them in determining which flavours are enhanced. In other words, water with 100ppm sulphate and 50ppm chloride will be effectively the same as water with 250ppm sulphate and 125ppm chloride because they have the same ratio of 2:1 (or 2.0). (Brulosophy did an experiment backing this up here.) For this effect however, a fairly moderate ion concentration is required. Aim for a minimum of 50ppm or so for both sulphate and chloride.

So we can use varying amounts of gypsum and/or calcium chloride to aim for the desired ratio. Now this should be done according to personal taste, but the following table should give you a good idea of where to start (source):

0 - 0.4: Too Malty
0.4 - 0.6: Very Malty
0.6 - 0.8: Malty
0.8 - 1.5: Balanced
1.5 - 2.0: Slightly Bitter
2 - 4: Bitter
4 - 9: Very bitter
9+: Too bitter!

Obviously in order to do this, you will require knowledge of your water's concentration of sulphate and chloride which are usually included on the water report from your supplier. These figures will not be terribly accurate, but should be close enough for our purposes. You can now determine how much gypsum/calcium chloride to add to achieve the desired ratio. The following tables tell you the increase in sulphate or chloride when adding salts. I've also included increase in calcium just for reference.

Gypsum:
Addition - Increase in sulphate - Increase in calcium
0.1 g/L - 56 ppm - 23 ppm
0.2 g/L - 112 ppm - 46 ppm
0.3 g/L - 167 ppm - 69 ppm
0.4 g/L - 223 ppm - 92 ppm
0.5 g/L - 279 ppm - 115 ppm
0.6 g/L - 335 ppm - 138 ppm

Calcium Chloride:
Addition - Increase in chloride - Increase in calcium
0.1g/L - 48 ppm - 27 ppm
0.15g/L - 72 ppm - 41 ppm
0.2g/L - 97 ppm - 54 ppm
0.25g/L - 121 ppm - 68 ppm
0.3g/L - 145 ppm - 81 ppm

Examples:

Say you want to brew a red ale and your tap water has 140ppm sulphate and 50ppm chloride. Currently the ratio is 2.8 (140 divided by 50) which is ideal for an IPA but not for a red ale. Say you want to aim for a ratio of 0.8 which means increasing the chloride. As you can see above, adding 0.25g/L of calcium chloride will give you a ratio of 140:171 which is 0.82, pretty close. (Note you may need to add more salts depending on the calcium level of your tap water.)

If you use RO water then it's very simple. For example, if I was brewing a very bitter DIPA then I want to add around 100 ppm of calcium with a sulphate:chloride ratio of about 4:1. As you can see from the tables above, an addition of 0.4g/L of gypsum and 0.1g/L of calcium chloride will give me:
calcium - 119ppm
sulphate - 223ppm
chloride - 48ppm
Ratio of 4.6
Which is close enough.

Be aware however that it's not always possible to achieve the desired water profile, depending on your tap water's mineral content. In general it's best to keep sulphate levels below 400ppm, and considerably lower if the chloride is high, otherwise you could get a harsh, minerally flavour in your beer. Chloride should generally be kept below 150ppm, again especially important if the sulphate is high. In other words, you don't want both the sulphate and chloride to be at, or close to, their maximum. So in some cases it may be necessary to use low mineral bottled water such as Tesco Ashbeck, or to dilute your tap water with reverse osmosis (RO) water.

Any questions, please ask and I'll do my best to answer them.

For a more indepth article on water treatment see the excellent Water Knowledge page from Bru'n Water (here).
Another great post SS - do you have a link a water profile per style handy? I think I'm ready to start adjusting my chase spring bottled water 'to taste'
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Old 31-05-2017, 03:01 PM   #3
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Luverly juberly, Steve. I think people will find this as useful as your original basic water treament guide. Stickied
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Old 31-05-2017, 04:44 PM   #4
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cheers this is good, brewersfriend has a good water tool linked to recipes, that works out the ratios as above, although its PH predictor is well out for me mostly. however, Through trial and error ive found typically for IPAs with just a pale malt base using Tescos ashbec water additions of 8g of Gypsum and 2g of calcium chloride works ( in 23 litres of water) to keep the PH around 5.4 with an acceptable balance on the bitter side.

In theory anyway, my beers could be better
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Old 31-05-2017, 06:15 PM   #5
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Another great post SS - do you have a link a water profile per style handy? I think I'm ready to start adjusting my chase spring bottled water 'to taste'
I don't have a link, but it's something I have considered putting together. However it would be a rather simplified version with just approximate ranges for calcium, alkalinity and sulphate: chloride ratios because I don't think trying to match exact profiles is the best way to treat water. I'll maybe add that to this thread in the future.
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Old 31-05-2017, 06:23 PM   #6
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cheers this is good, brewersfriend has a good water tool linked to recipes, that works out the ratios as above, although its PH predictor is well out for me mostly. however, Through trial and error ive found typically for IPAs with just a pale malt base using Tescos ashbec water additions of 8g of Gypsum and 2g of calcium chloride works ( in 23 litres of water) to keep the PH around 5.4 with an acceptable balance on the bitter side.

In theory anyway, my beers could be better
I think your additions look pretty much spot on for Ashbeck
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Old 31-05-2017, 08:01 PM   #7
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Another excellent post @strange-steve - and great timing as I've been thinking about this recently and have a question I'd appreciate some advice on.

For pales, ipas etc I've been using approx 35-36ml AMS to reduce alkalinity from 190 (from test kit) to 10-20 in 37L of tap water.
This leaves me, according to the water report & after adjusting for the AMS contributions, with approx:

calcium - 97ppm
sulphate - 128ppm
chloride - 102ppm

So to get to a decent hop forward chloride/sulphate ratio I'd need to add quite alot of gypsum (been adding just 2-3g) and I'm concerned about the high total mineral content would result in a minerally taste in the beer.
Would I better using some lactic or phosphoric acid to reduce the resdiual alkalinity? And how do these acids affect the chemical levels in the water??
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Old 31-05-2017, 10:39 PM   #8
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Another excellent post @strange-steve - and great timing as I've been thinking about this recently and have a question I'd appreciate some advice on.

For pales, ipas etc I've been using approx 35-36ml AMS to reduce alkalinity from 190 (from test kit) to 10-20 in 37L of tap water.
This leaves me, according to the water report & after adjusting for the AMS contributions, with approx:

calcium - 97ppm
sulphate - 128ppm
chloride - 102ppm

So to get to a decent hop forward chloride/sulphate ratio I'd need to add quite alot of gypsum (been adding just 2-3g) and I'm concerned about the high total mineral content would result in a minerally taste in the beer.
Would I better using some lactic or phosphoric acid to reduce the resdiual alkalinity? And how do these acids affect the chemical levels in the water??
Yeah that's not really ideal. You could add more gypsum to get the sulphate up to around 350ppm but it's possible it could taste a bit mineraly with the sulphate being quite high too.

You could use lactic acid for alkalinity reduction, however you would need about 0.35ml/L which is getting pretty close to the taste threshold. But alternatively you could use a combo of lactic acid and AMS which would keep everything fairly moderate. Phosphoric acid is more flavour neutral than lactic acid, however it can cause precipitation of calcium which you don't want. Neither lactic acid nor phosphoric have any effect on the sulphate or chloride levels.

Another option, and probably the best one, is to dilute your water with Ashbeck or RO water to lower the alkalinity before you treat it.
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Old 31-05-2017, 11:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by strange-steve View Post
I don't have a link, but it's something I have considered putting together. However it would be a rather simplified version with just approximate ranges for calcium, alkalinity and sulphate: chloride ratios because I don't think trying to match exact profiles is the best way to treat water. I'll maybe add that to this thread in the future.
No worries, I figured there could perhaps be one out there. I found the carbonation c02 volumes per beer style very helpful here....

https://www.brewersfriend.com/beer-priming-calculator/

and thought something like that for water would be helpful. Id rather my first water treatment took me towards a better brew rather being worse than no treatment at all

I do know water treatment is more involved than tuning carb levels which is a simpler 'one sided' equation.
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Old 01-06-2017, 07:57 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by dan125 View Post
Another excellent post @strange-steve - and great timing as I've been thinking about this recently and have a question I'd appreciate some advice on.

For pales, ipas etc I've been using approx 35-36ml AMS to reduce alkalinity from 190 (from test kit) to 10-20 in 37L of tap water.
This leaves me, according to the water report & after adjusting for the AMS contributions, with approx:

calcium - 97ppm
sulphate - 128ppm
chloride - 102ppm

So to get to a decent hop forward chloride/sulphate ratio I'd need to add quite alot of gypsum (been adding just 2-3g) and I'm concerned about the high total mineral content would result in a minerally taste in the beer.
Would I better using some lactic or phosphoric acid to reduce the resdiual alkalinity? And how do these acids affect the chemical levels in the water??
I have similar water to you and plan to do an IPA on sunday. So I would be interested to know which direction you will be going to treat your water.
I was hoping to avoid going the bottled water route.
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