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Citric Acid Dosage Rates For Ph Adjustment...

Discussion in 'General Brewing Techniques' started by bignath, 11/4/12.

 

  1. bignath

    "Grains don't grow up to be chips, son"

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    Posted 11/4/12
    Have been reading up on citric acid and I want to use it for reducing my ph levels. The reason I want to use citric is because it also is an excellent cleaner of stainless, copper and brass too. (thanks bribieg).
    The reading I've been doing suggests a dosage rate of 0.2% will reduce ph by around 0.9 (give or take).
    According to my calculations that 0.1g added to a 50lt batch for a 0.9 drop in ph. Does this sound right?
    I'm hoping that by reducing the ph with citric acid, it will also help to reduce the calcium scale build up I'm getting. We have hard water here and also very high ph levels. In the vicinity of high 7's to low 8's.
     
  2. srcossens

    Well-Known Member

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    Posted 11/4/12
    I don't think using citric acid to adjust the water pH will reduce the precipitate on your kettle elements. The precipitate is the temporary hardness (chalk) coming out of solution. I would just use it to clean your elements after each brew. I also read your other post yesterday, so some of this crosses over to that.

    I lived in the UK for 5 years and we used a Brita filter for the kettle and we didn't get any scum in the tea or chalk precipitating out. This was due to the ion exchange resins in the filter. Not something you really want to do on 50lts+ of water for brewing. The alkalinity of the water there was around 255ppm of CaCO3. Similar to Mt Gambier, there was a lot of limestone for the rain water to pass through, therefore increasing the hardness. Something the Eastern states don't have to worry about.

    For the brewing, I started out using citric acid to adjust pH, but moved to using salts and in most cases diluting with RO water (bought in 20l lots from aquarium shop for a couple of beers). For most brews I would cut the water 50% with RO water and then use salts and acid malt. I used a carbon filter which helped slightly on the elements, but I still needed to clean them at the end of each brew session. I ended up using the citric acid to clean them occasionally, but also just gave them a good scrub each time. One day I did a double brew and didn't clean in between. The build-up on the elements stopped the wort getting up to boilng point which meant I had to drain the kettle, clean and then start boiling again.

    A lot of people in Southern England use a product sold as carbonate reducing solution. This is supposedly a blend of sulphuric and phosporic acids (possibly something else) which helps reduce CaCO3/HCO3 without the need for boiling.

    I don't know what the alkalinity is for where you are, but if it is not too high my suggestion would be to juggle between adding salts such as CaCl2 and CaSO4, using acid malt and adding RO water if you can get your hands on it cheaply.
     
  3. bignath

    "Grains don't grow up to be chips, son"

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    Posted 11/4/12
    Thanks for your advice mate, I'll start looking into salts, filters and RO water.

    Cheers,
    Nath
     
  4. MHB

    Well-Known Member

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    Posted 11/4/12
    Im not a fan of citric acid as a pH adjuster; in fact it would be my second last choice among the easily available acids.
    Naturally occurring Lactic acid accounts for something like 90% of the acidity in malt, the best choice would be food grade lactic as it is already a naturally occurring part of the beer
    The calculations are easy to; for 80% Lactic acid 0.6mL will reduce the pH by 0.1
    So for a 5kg grist to move the pH down by 0.7 you need 0.6 x 0.7 x 5 = 2.1 mL

    When you remember that Lactic is a much more powerful acid than Citric, I would want to rethink the numbers in the OP, Calcium Citrate is very insoluble so as you form it, it is taking both the Calcium and the Citrate out of solution.
    Mark
     
  5. argon

    firmitas, utilitas, venustas

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    Posted 12/4/12
    I used citric acid once on Munich helles to drop the ph (along with salts) Whilst it did drop the mash ph... Never again, got lemon flavours coming through that I assign to the citric. YMMV.
    I now only use salts and if need be some acidulated malt.
     
  6. QldKev

    Brew Dude

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    Posted 12/4/12

    How much citric acid did you use? I've just started playing with it to try and get a background hint of lemon in some beers such as an IPA. I threw in just 2g on a 69L batch of JSGA, which hasn't been fermented yet, but I could not detect it at all in the kettle, but 2g is bugger all in that size batch.

    QldKev
     
  7. argon

    firmitas, utilitas, venustas

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    Posted 12/4/12
    Without looking at my notes (which I don't have at hand) at a guess I think it was only about 1.5-2g in a 40L batch. The fact I used it in a very pale lightly bittered lager probably helped it come through.
     
  8. RdeVjun

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    Posted 12/4/12
    I guess YMMV! I used Citric Acid as standard for quite a while, up to about 6g in a 23L batch when using our town water, split about 50/50 into mash and sparge to buffer the former and acidify the latter. On the odd occasion I wondered if there was a lingering acidity from it but none of the judges over the last two years of competitions has ever remarked about it. However, I now prefer Lactic 80 which came to me courtesy of MHB :icon_cheers: , while his formula above also delivers the goods.
    Citric Acid is available quite widely as most supermarkets stock it, but as MHB relates, we're much better off using Lactic when we have the choice.
     
  9. RobW

    The Little Abbotsford Craftbrewery

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    Posted 12/4/12
    I routinely add a teaspoonful of citric acid to the mash for pale beers (Melbourne water).
    Never tasted citrus but that may just be me.
     
  10. drsmurto

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    Posted 12/4/12
    What is the pH of your mash?
     
  11. Lord Raja Goomba I

    Prisoner of Sobriety

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    Posted 12/4/12
    Acidulated malt for me. Just too lazy to do the calcs over and over, so 1 calc arrived at 200g (for a consistent weight of grains) and will drop my pH to where I want in every brew.

    It's netted me a considerable increase in efficiency for a whole heap less effort.

    Goomba
     
  12. Bribie G

    Adjunct Professor

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    Posted 12/4/12
    I would guess that any citric acid remaining in the wort would be taken up and used by the yeast in its normal metabolism. All life depends on citric acid, it's the lynch pin of energy metabolism in ever cell.

    citric_acid_cycle.gif

    I had to memorise that diagram for my UK A-Levels :lol:
     
  13. dicko

    Boston Bay Brewery

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    Posted 12/4/12
    Hi Nath,
    You probably have similar water as we do in Port Lincoln and I have tried all avenues to correct the hardness and lower the PH along with removing the excess levels of chlorine, without success.
    When we first moved to Port Lincoln I was confused as to why my recipes that I had used for years were just not turning out as they used to. My beer allways had a peculiar taste.
    My HLT had a massive build up of white crap on both the kettle and the element.
    I finally bit the bullet and decided to use rain water and add the salts for each brew as required for style.
    At the same time I replaced the HLT with a new s/steel unit and since then my beers have improved out of site and my equipment is as clean as a whistle.
    "Chiller" from this site helped me with the salt additions for each style for rainwater and it is now just routine when I brew a beer.
    I know some guys say that if the water supplied is for human consumption then you can brew with it but I would like for them to have a go with some samples from the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula.

    Cheers
     

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