Softening Water

Help Support The HomeBrew Forum:

FlatFenBrew

Active Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2017
Messages
71
Reaction score
8
Location
NULL
I am going to use tap water, (Anglia Water very hard), due to being unable to purchase enough of Tesco Ashbeck water for a lager water. I normally add salts through Beersmith water profile.
I have put my "hard" water profile into Beersmith and it is not coming up with any additions.I was expecting it to suggest adding something like lactic acid to reduce the hardness. Please can anybody suggest a solution?
Thank you.
 

cushyno

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2018
Messages
503
Reaction score
208
Location
Ormskirk
What style are you going to brew? If there are enough dark malts in the recipe you may not need to reduce alkalinity.

I too suffer from hard water and have dabbled with water adjustments for lighter ales, however I get good results with Brown Ale, Porter and Dunkelweizen without adjustment.
 

FlatFenBrew

Active Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2017
Messages
71
Reaction score
8
Location
NULL
What style are you going to brew? If there are enough dark malts in the recipe you may not need to reduce alkalinity.

I too suffer from hard water and have dabbled with water adjustments for lighter ales, however I get good results with Brown Ale, Porter and Dunkelweizen without adjustment.
Hi I wanted to do a German Pilsner lager. I normally get great results with Tesco water plus additions.
 

cushyno

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2018
Messages
503
Reaction score
208
Location
Ormskirk
Did you manage to buy any Ashbeck? If so, use what you've got to cut your tap water, it will still bring the total hardness down.

To make a pilsner (not something I've tried yet with my water) I'd be using a lot of CRS, maybe 20ml which would push up chloride, meaning I need more sulphate (gypsum). As a result of the CRS and gypsum the Calcium levels go sky high. At that point there is so much going on that the water profile is far from ideal for a clean crisp pilsner.

I've never used lactic acid, if you can in small quantities it may be better than CRS.

My hardness is around 230 CaCO3
 

FlatFenBrew

Active Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2017
Messages
71
Reaction score
8
Location
NULL
Did you manage to buy any Ashbeck? If so, use what you've got to cut your tap water, it will still bring the total hardness down.

To make a pilsner (not something I've tried yet with my water) I'd be using a lot of CRS, maybe 20ml which would push up chloride, meaning I need more sulphate (gypsum). As a result of the CRS and gypsum the Calcium levels go sky high. At that point there is so much going on that the water purifier is far from ideal for a clean crisp pilsner.

I've never used lactic acid, if you can in small quantities it may be better than CRS.

My hardness is around 230 CaCO3
Thanks for the tips. I have brewed great porters with the tap water. Perhaps I should adapt lol
 

cushyno

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2018
Messages
503
Reaction score
208
Location
Ormskirk
Have you ever tried adding acid only to the mash to bring pH down? I haven't yet, but it may be worth investigating.

You could mix Ashbeck and just enough tap water to do your mash volume, with a small adjustment of lactic acid.
Sparge with boiled tap water without the acid and overall you get to keep the lactic acid levels down to avoid ruining the crispness.

Just an idea.
 

SteveH

Regular.
Joined
Nov 3, 2018
Messages
274
Reaction score
75
Location
Hampshire
I have the same problem, high alkalinity (also around 240ppm/CaCO3) so I normally add about 15ml CRS for 30l total water, which still leaves the alkalinity too high for many styles but any more will push the sulphate/chloride levels up too much. Works OK for bitters, not ideal for IPAs and lighter beers so I normally use Ashbeck for those.

My local Tesco does still have Ashbeck but given the quantity restrictions I'm thinking of pre-boiling the water the day before, then decanting and testing/treating that - not sure how much that will reduce alkalinity though.
 

FlatFenBrew

Active Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2017
Messages
71
Reaction score
8
Location
NULL
Have you ever tried adding acid only to the mash to bring pH down? I haven't yet, but it may be worth investigating.

You could mix Ashbeck and just enough tap water to do your mash volume, with a small adjustment of lactic acid.
Sparge with boiled tap water without the acid and overall you get to keep the lactic acid levels down to avoid ruining the crispness.

Just an idea.
That sounds like a good idea
 

FlatFenBrew

Active Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2017
Messages
71
Reaction score
8
Location
NULL
I have the same problem, high alkalinity (also around 240ppm/CaCO3) so I normally add about 15ml CRS for 30l total water, which still leaves the alkalinity too high for many styles but any more will push the sulphate/chloride levels up too much. Works OK for bitters, not ideal for IPAs and lighter beers so I normally use Ashbeck for those.

My local Tesco does still have Ashbeck but given the quantity restrictions I'm thinking of pre-boiling the water the day before, then decanting and testing/treating that - not sure how much that will reduce alkalinity though.
I had read about boiling so that would be a good experiment to do a before and after test. Is there a recognised time for the boil duration?
 

cushyno

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2018
Messages
503
Reaction score
208
Location
Ormskirk
Preboiling is supposed to make a significant difference. According to Martin Brungard (Bru'nWater calculator) some info I recently read on a Vienna Lager profile (can't remember where I saw it now):
Unboiled water with a hardness of 184 and Ca=75 would be down at hardness 66 and Ca=27 after boiling.
 

SteveH

Regular.
Joined
Nov 3, 2018
Messages
274
Reaction score
75
Location
Hampshire
I had read about boiling so that would be a good experiment to do a before and after test. Is there a recognised time for the boil duration?
I read about it in the camra home brewing book, that says boil vigorously for 30mins, and add 10g gypsum per 25l to help the process (I'm not clear exactly how, and that sounds like quite a lot of gypsum).
 

FlatFenBrew

Active Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2017
Messages
71
Reaction score
8
Location
NULL
I read about it in the camra home brewing book, that says boil vigorously for 30mins, and add 10g gypsum per 25l to help the process (I'm not clear exactly how, and that sounds like quite a lot of gypsum).
Great thank you. I will try this and share the results when I next brew if I remember.
 

Christopher Bradley

New Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2018
Messages
2
Reaction score
2
Do you have an old Britta water filter hidden away anywhere? If not try to borrow one from a friend or family member. They are no where near as good as a decent 3 stage but it will help loads, May take an hour to run all your water through but if you remove the water catch jug under the filter and clamp the filter to the side of a 25/30L brew bucket then top it up every 3-4mins while watching tv or somthing you will soon fill enough to make your brew. then just adjust your ph and get your brew day on!
 

FlatFenBrew

Active Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2017
Messages
71
Reaction score
8
Location
NULL
Do you have an old Britta water filter hidden away anywhere? If not try to borrow one from a friend or family member. They are no where near as good as a decent 3 stage but it will help loads, May take an hour to run all your water through but if you remove the water catch jug under the filter and clamp the filter to the side of a 25/30L brew bucket then top it up every 3-4mins while watching tv or somthing you will soon fill enough to make your brew. then just adjust your ph and get your brew day on!
Great idea. Thankyou.
 

strange-steve

Quantum Brewer
Joined
Apr 8, 2014
Messages
4,027
Reaction score
2,754
Location
Galle Crater, Mars
I just wanted to chime in on this thread to clear up some of the misconceptions, the main one being confusion over hardness and alkalinity. Be aware that water hardness is a measurement of how much calcium and magnesium there is, both of which are good for brewing. Alkalinity is a measurement of pH buffering capacity, which usually you don't want. So generally speaking, hard water is good for brewing, high alkalinity is bad for brewing.
I was expecting it to suggest adding something like lactic acid to reduce the hardness
Acid additions won't change hardness, but they will reduce alkalinity.
I'd be using a lot of CRS, maybe 20ml which would push up chloride, meaning I need more sulphate (gypsum)
CRS is a blend of sulphuric and hydrochloric acids, and so will increase both sulphate and chloride.
still leaves the alkalinity too high for many styles but any more will push the sulphate/chloride levels up too much. Works OK for bitters, not ideal for IPAs and lighter beers
What are you classing as too much? I suspect the upper limit is probably higher than you think.
Do you have an old Britta water filter hidden away anywhere
If using a Britta filter for brewing water, make sure it's not a water softener. Activated carbon filters are fine, they remove chlorine, but ion exchange filters (water softeners) are not good for brewing because they remove calcium and replace it with sodium.
 

FlatFenBrew

Active Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2017
Messages
71
Reaction score
8
Location
NULL
I just wanted to chime in on this thread to clear up some of the misconceptions, the main one being confusion over hardness and alkalinity. Be aware that water hardness is a measurement of how much calcium and magnesium there is, both of which are good for brewing. Alkalinity is a measurement of pH buffering capacity, which usually you don't want. So generally speaking, hard water is good for brewing, high alkalinity is bad for brewing.

Acid additions won't change hardness, but they will reduce alkalinity.

CRS is a blend of sulphuric and hydrochloric acids, and so will increase both sulphate and chloride.

What are you classing as too much? I suspect the upper limit is probably higher than you think.

If using a Britta filter for brewing water, make sure it's not a water softener. Activated carbon filters are fine, they remove chlorine, but ion exchange filters (water softeners) are not good for brewing because they remove calcium and replace it with sodium.
Thanks Steve
 

Latest posts

Group Builder
Top