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Calcium Build Up - Problem?

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bignath

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Righto, have finished building a recirculating single vessel
brewery, and have noticed a decent build up of calcium deposits both as a scum ring, and all over the elements installed in the base. I haven't noticed this before. My previous rig was a 3v electric HLT, but gas fired boiler. The new rig is all electric.

Question is: is this a problem? If so, how do I fix it?

We get the same build up in the bottom of our kitchen kettle...

Hoping it's not a problem in the first place.
 

benno1973

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I'd guess that it's just a scale build up. Strange that it's occurring now and not previously, but perhaps something about your water profile has changed and you have more calcium in your water. It can happen during different times of the year.

It's not dangerous, and is probably even beneficial for your yeast, but too much build up on the element probably isn't good as it reduces its effectiveness.

To remove the scale, you can soak the affected areas in vinegar for a few hours and this should dissolve it. Then give it a really good wash out to remove the vinegar smell!
 

bignath

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Maybe mash pH stops build up on elements?
Yeah, that's one of things I was thinking. First time I've noticed it was today with my "wet run" (water only).

So it's not "detrimental" to producing good beer? Proceed as normal?
As long as it doesn't affect my beers flavor I'm okay with having to clean it up.
 

Bribie G

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A tub of McKenzies Citric Acid from the bakery shelves will fix your problem instantly (or after a few minutes anyway)
 

bignath

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A tub of McKenzies Citric Acid from the bakery shelves will fix your problem instantly (or after a few minutes anyway)
I have a tub of that in the kitchen! How do I use it bribie?
As an additive or is it more for cleaning after brew day?
Quantities?

I'm gonnabe doing double batches (40lt), it's a stainless pot, $9 kettle elements, brass ball valves and fittings, plus copper wort return and thermowells mounted in the lid. Any of this stuff not suitable for citric acid?
 

the_new_darren

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Get rid of it. Calcium build-up will impart "flavours" of previous brews overtime.

Anyone with scale or brown crust in their kettles would be well advised to remove it as it will adversely effect future brews.

Hot sodium percarbonate (Napisan) works for me.

tnd
 

kelbygreen

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will a $9 kettle element get you there??? I mean you will need prob 48lts with boil off and trub losses and the element is ment to boil what 1.7lts???
 

seamad

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What type of water have you got? If you got buildup from one wet run must be a lot of salts in it, might pay to filter first. Im lucky to live on tank water, kettle is 10+ years old and used daily with nothing inside.
 

bignath

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will a $9 kettle element get you there??? I mean you will need prob 48lts with boil off and trub losses and the element is ment to boil what 1.7lts???
Hey kelby, two of those elements certainly will / does.
46lt per oil, from mash out to boil is 23mins. One element to maintain a simmer, two will be vigorous boil.

Our water here is very hard and we get scale build up in our kitchen kettles after just a few uses. Every house here has a water softener. Never noticed before in my boils (prob hidden by the colour of the wort).
 

bignath

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Just did a trial with citric acid on an old element I had. Worked a treat.
Boiled some water, poured into a bowl containing the citric, and dropped the element into it. Beautiful.

Another question.....could I add some to my water whilst heating to strike temp so that it doesn't build up at all? If so, is there a recommended dosage rate I could try? Is there a dosage that would be unsafe? Will adding citric acid change the flavor of my beer?
 

benno1973

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Citric acid will obviously acidify your water, so you'd want to make sure that your resultant mash pH isn't all out of whack. I used to add a teaspoon of citric acid for lighter coloured beers to acidify Perth water, but it imparted a slight lemony flavour to the beer. Not over the top, but just noticeable.
 

bignath

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Citric acid will obviously acidify your water, so you'd want to make sure that your resultant mash pH isn't all out of whack. I used to add a teaspoon of citric acid for lighter coloured beers to acidify Perth water, but it imparted a slight lemony flavour to the beer. Not over the top, but just noticeable.
I only brew lighter colour beers (pale ales to be exact), my ph is typically mid to high 7's and brew double batches. Would two teaspoons or one and a half be a good idea? I forget if high ph is acid or base...

EDIT: quick google confirmed my water as definitely leaning towards the base end of the spectrum. In my head, provided I don't add too much to give it a lemon flavor, it could be quite beneficial to me. Lower my ph and hopefully guard against calcium scale build up to some degree too. Gonna give it a go I reckon.
 

Bribie G

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I use citric acid to whack scale, as a cleaner not an additive. I would mix up fairly strong, say the whole tub in a litre and leave it to do its job for an hour. It doesn't fizz or anything, just seems to "rot" scale into something that you can easily remove with a toothbrush / nylon scrubber etc. Also you can put your hands in it but if you have a small cut anywhere you'll quickly find out where it is :eek:
 

seamad

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Phophoric acid is probably better than citric for use in mash. I use 1-2% acid malt and some cacl and gypsum to get optimalpH. You may have higher ca carbonates levels with a high pH and that build up, which is not ideal for pale beers. If you are keen buy some ro water from the supermarket and give that a go for one brew, if you notice a quality increase then think about a ro filter . Get some pH strips and see what your mash pH is.
cheers
Sean
 
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