More Advanced Water Treatment

Discussion in 'Grain, Hops, Yeast & Water' started by strange-steve, May 31, 2017.

  1. May 31, 2017 #1

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    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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  2. May 31, 2017 #2

    dad_of_jon

    dad_of_jon

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    Another great post SS :thumb: - 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' :grin:
     
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  3. May 31, 2017 #3

    MyQul

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    Luverly juberly, Steve. I think people will find this as useful as your original basic water treament guide. Stickied :thumb:
     
  4. May 31, 2017 #4

    Braufather

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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
     
  5. May 31, 2017 #5

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    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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  6. May 31, 2017 #6

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    I think your additions look pretty much spot on for Ashbeck :thumb:
     
  7. May 31, 2017 #7

    dan125

    dan125

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    Another excellent post @strange-steve :hat:- 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??
    :cheers:
     
  8. May 31, 2017 #8

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    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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  9. Jun 1, 2017 #9

    dad_of_jon

    dad_of_jon

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    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.
     
  10. Jun 1, 2017 #10

    shepp

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    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.
     
  11. Jun 1, 2017 #11

    dan125

    dan125

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    I like the sound of diluting the water down rather than adding an ever increasing range of additives to make my tap water suitable, but it would also be good not to have add a trip to tesco to brewday preparations.
    Is RO water from an aquarium shop OK, does anyone know, as it would get boiled? There's one close to me.
    I'll also make sure I get some latic acid as using it in combo with the AMS sounds like the best option if diluting isn't possible on brewday for any reason.
    Listened to an intersting Bewing Network podcast yesterday (think it was quite old) where John Palmer was suggesting that light malts would increase alkalinity and only dark darks reduce it, so for pale beers we should be aiming for zero or even negative residual alkalinity in the water.
     
  12. Jun 2, 2017 #12

    shepp

    shepp

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    I may go for diluting with Ashbeck maybe 10 litres this time (doing a 23 litre batch) and calculate acid and mineral additions from there.
    Next time I am near my nearest home brew shop I will pick up some lactic acid.

    Does anybody know the mineral content of Ashbeck?
     
  13. Jun 2, 2017 #13

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    Mineral content of Ashbeck, the alkalinity isn't listed but iirc it's about 10 or 15ppm:
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Jun 2, 2017 #14

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    @dan125 RO water from the aquarium shop should be fine I'd imagine, I'm sure I've heard others say they use it.

    Residual alkalinity isn't quite the same as the alkalinity that you measure with a KH kit, although related, it takes hardness into account too. Tbh RA is not something I bother with, I think it complicates what is already a fairly complex subject. I find if you aim roughly for these general guidelines your mash pH will take care of itself:
    For a pale beer <20ppm
    For an amber beer ~35ppm
    For a brown beer ~75ppm
    For a black beer ~120ppm
     
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  15. Jun 2, 2017 #15

    shepp

    shepp

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    Thanks for that Steve, hopefully I will have time to do calcs at work today :thumb:
     
  16. Jun 7, 2017 #16

    shepp

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    Hi Steve, do you think the following ratio would taste a bit minerally?
    Sulphate 274 mg/L
    Chloride 82 mg/L
    It gives me a ratio of 3.34 and it's for an IPA.
    I could alternatively make it
    Sulphate 219 mg/L
    Chloride 82 mg/L
    It gives me a ratio of 2.67
    Cheers
     
  17. Jun 8, 2017 #17

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    Yes it probably will, however in some styles that might be desirable (Burton style IPA for example). Personally I'm not a big fan of the slightly harsh bitterness you get with high sulphate (although some love it) and so I would go for low lower amount. I believe that less is more when it comes to water content which is why I use RO water with minimal additions.

    I should have said in the OP, but there are some very knowledgeable people (AJ Delange for example) who firmly believe that the sulphate:chloride ratio is not worth bothering with and that it is in fact the absolute concentration of ions which matters more than the ratio. However I have noticed that brewing water chemistry is such a complex subject that even the experts have disagreements.

    Sulphate and chloride additions should be viewed as seasoning, ie. they should be added according to your personal taste. Unfortunately this requires some trial and error to get right, but I think that too little is better than too much and so it's best to err on the side of caution.
     
  18. Jun 8, 2017 #18

    shepp

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    Cheers Steve, I was thinking similar, last time I did an IPA I just added CRS to my 190 Alk tap water then Gypsum and Epsom Salts according to the Forum Old Water Calculator.
    It definitely tasted of minerals. So when I did my saison I halved the amount of Gypsum and added no Epsom Salts and it came out really good.
    Last night I worked out my numbers using lactic acid for my 20 litre mash and CRS to my 12 litre sparge, with Gypsum additions to both according to your chart.
    Hopefully it will work out.
     
  19. Jun 8, 2017 #19

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    Well that's exactly why I'm not a fan of CRS, a reduction of 100ppm alkalinity using CRS adds about 70ppm chloride and 100ppm sulphate which is a lot and should be taken into consideration. I prefer lactic acid or acid malt. But I think if your tap water has a high alkalinity, say 200+, you are much better going down the route of dilution rather than using acids.
     
  20. Jun 8, 2017 #20

    shepp

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    I might give my local aquatic shop a call and see what they charge for TO water.
     

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