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Camo6

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Hi all,

I have recently purchased a 3 stage ro water filter off ebay and am curious as to how many other brewers use ro water and how they build their water profile from it. I understand that ro filters don't remove all minerals from the water but do they remove enough to negate entering any values when using a program such as BreWater or EZ water calculator?

Living in Melbourne's east I already have very soft water and imagine that the ro filter would make the water very close to de-mineralised. I guess I could have a sample tested but I'd like to know how other brewers - particularly Melbourne brewers - build their water profiles from ro water.

I think I remember a similar thread a while ago but could not find it.

Cheers,

Camo.
 

eamonnfoley

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You probably shouldn't have bothered with Melbourne water. A carbon filter would have been enough.

Either way, you need a good understanding of water chemistry to do anything specific.

Practical beginner advice: Just go with a teaspoon of CaCl2 + 1/2 teaspoon of CaSO4 (gypsum) into the mash, and check your mash pH reads about 5.5 when measured at 25C on a calibrated meter (most critical part). Adjust down with lactic acid if required. You'll brew good beer like this. If (and only if) your pH is coming in too low on dark beers, you will need some chalk in the mash.
 

slash22000

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How much did that set you back? I've heard a lot about RO water but never looked into pricing and set up.
 

Camo6

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Thanks Foles, those amounts are pretty close to what I've been using with my BIAB rig for 20-25l batches brewing mainly pales.

I looked at carbon filters first but the ro system wasn't much more expensive. (@slash $128 delivered http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/251123261075?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649 )

With my move to 4v I'd just like to create a set of water additions I can use when replicating different styles of beer. If I can be sure of the content of my base water then I can save a range of profiles in BreWater and be confident of its accuracy.

I probably won't be able to tell Burton from Pilsen with my uneducated palate but it's more the enjoyment I get from complicating my obsession. And it's all the fault of this forum.

Cheers
 

seamad

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It's a pretty slow flow rate, about 9l/hr, so about 3.5 hours to get water for a average 21L batch. I had a similiar one for a sterilizer and they also reject about half input water. Wouldn't think you would need one on Melbourne water anyway as thought it was pretty good ?
 

Camo6

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Shit, is it that slow Seamad? Haven't tried it yet as was waiting on part damaged in transit. I suppose I could set it on a timer or bypass the ro membrane if I'm in a hurry. They waste a fair bit of water too but I'll rig that to a tank for garden water. FIL had one at his old house and didn't seem that slow but now I think about it his had a storage tank.

Looking after a couple of sick kids today but will test it when SWMBO gets home.
 

seamad

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Rated at 50 gallons/day, 200 litres/day, about 8.5L per hour. RO membranes need to be kept clean from growths too, so use frequently. Had a UV light sterilizer on the surgery one treating input water, not sure it helped. Took about an hour to fill a 10L blue willow jerry can.Need adequate mains pressure too, we had to have a boost pump. Water came out of it at 0ppm tds though !
 

Camo6

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Thanks for the info Seamad. Had a look at site and they claim 215l per day so yeah, pretty slow! Hopefully the softness of Melbourne water will at least reduce waste. Mains pressure is good though. Time will tell I suppose. Might rig it to a timer to fill a clean fermentor so the wifey can keep some in the fridge as well.
 

BPH87

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Much benefit having a filter like this for Brisbane? I am currently brewing at our farm using rainwater.
 

seamad

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None.
Keep your gutters clean and trees away from roof and you should be fine. Have lived on tank water for last 20 years, have 10 micron to house and a carbon filter in kitchen. RO units produce 50/50 product/reject water so you end up wasting a lot.
 

seamad

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No worries, also put some mesh over the overflow pipe, was talking to a tank cleaner who found snail shells 1 foot deep in a tank once.
 

slash22000

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I was thinking of jumping on this but 9L an hour is a deal-breaker. Brew day is long enough without waiting 3 hours just to fill the urn. :blink:
 

seamad

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I've designed and built a RO watermaker for the boat, cranks out 210 LPH, but it cost more than a couple of hundred, like most things boaty it's best mentioned as BOAT ( break out another thousand) units, as a couple of boat units doesn't sound too bad.
You can get freshwater RO units with higher outputs, but it costs more.
 

Camo6

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Tell me about it Slash. I missed that one in the fine print! Tempted just to bypass it for the first few runs on the new system while I get it figured out.

Hey Seamad... wanna swap?
 

Degraves

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foles said:
You probably shouldn't have bothered with Melbourne water. A carbon filter would have been enough.

Either way, you need a good understanding of water chemistry to do anything specific.

Practical beginner advice: Just go with a teaspoon of CaCl2 + 1/2 teaspoon of CaSO4 (gypsum) into the mash, and check your mash pH reads about 5.5 when measured at 25C on a calibrated meter (most critical part). Adjust down with lactic acid if required. You'll brew good beer like this. If (and only if) your pH is coming in too low on dark beers, you will need some chalk in the mash.
Why complicate a good water supply. On a hobby scale check ph? What for?, add another complication. I can see your understanding, been there done that. Have always believed science is not unnecessary for the hobbyist.....as we are. If I had to read ph every brew I wouldnt brew. Sure you read here, replicate waters and its all been said and done. Brew a beer and then work out the rights n wrongs from there,

BTW, Melbourne water
edit, empoyee
 

Tex083

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I have a RODI unit, used for salt water aquarium it was about $300 but came with an inline TDS (total dissolved meter) it reads how much other stuff is in your water pre and post filtering. The aim is to drop it to 0 TDS - pure water. It has a booster pump which boosts pressure to 90 PSI. There are 2 advantages to this, it takes 1hour 10mins to make 25L of water and the rejection rate is lower. I would be VERY suprised if the Ebay one is a 1:1 my guess at tap pressure would be somewhere around 1:2 - 1:2.5 (Clean:Waste)
I use the waste on the garden and for the water feature. In the future I will use the waste water to chill my wort.
http://www.psifilters.com.au/ Have a large range and good prices! the quality of the systems is really good. I got mine from Williamstown Aquarium.

As for the orignal question YES bang in 0 for dissolved minerals, try not to "replicate" a towns water but match it to your malt profile. Turns out that the towns famous for the beers brew them BECAUSE of the water profile. There are no good Irish Pilsners for good reason.

Have a look at http://melbournebrewers.org/index.php/brew-wiz/48-ingredients/114-key-concepts-in-water-treatment
Its by a Melbourne Brewer and explains in simple terms Calcium additions. The authour also gives Stock Solutions to add to water to get a desired Ca+ in the water. While your spending up big get a pH probe with temp correction Hanna Instruiments rock but are expensive.
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/HANNA-HI-98128-pH-Temp-Waterproof-Tester-pHep-5-HI98128-/221036905390?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3376d383ae

I brewed a pale ale and added calcium for the first time last month, not sure if my beer brewing skills are getting better but this one is better than the last. Was it the calcium? dont know but im really happy with it.
 

mabrungard

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From the reports I've seen, Melbourne water is at near RO quality already. But to answer the original question, RO water quality is not typically at 0 TDS. There are low concentrations of any ions that are present in the feed water. In practice, RO removes a high percentage of the ions. The larger the ion, the better it is removed from the product water. Generally, divalent ions have larger diameter than monovalent ions and are rejected at a higher rate from the product water. So monovalent ions tend to make it through the membrane at a higher rate than divalent ions. But even with that, the transmission rates for all ions is quite low, between 1 and 4 percent. So a quick estimate is that 3 percent of any of the ions in the feed water make it through to the product water. (ie: 100 ppm of an ion in the feed water and 3 ppm of the ion in the product water). In the case of Melbourne's already very low concentrations, those concentrations in the product water are likely near zero.

I see that the Melbourne water quality can have a significant variation, so the real advantage of using a RO system is that it largely erases that variation. But given the reported average or typical water quality, RO is not needed or desirable for brewing purposes since we brewers DO want an appropriate level of ionic content in the brewing liquor to enhance the brewing process and beer flavor.

Building up the water to appropriate ionic levels should be fairly easy with this water. Assuming zero for all the ions would apparently only produce an error of around 10 to 20 ppm in many cases. But using more accurate values for the tap water or just assuming zero with RO water is better. Either of those water programs is fine for calculating mineral additions.

I recommend caution in reviewing the water treatment comments that were suggested by Tex above. The first thing to recognize is that chalk is not suitable for brewing use since it is not sufficiently soluble in water or wort to supply its alkalinity or calcium. At best, chalk has been shown to increase mash pH by 0.1 to 0.2 units and then it produces NO additional pH increase or alkalinity contribution...no matter how much more chalk you add. It just sits at the bottom of the tun. Far better alternatives for adding alkalinity to mashing water are slaked lime or baking soda. Both are very effective alkalinity contributors.

The baking soda brings to light another caution with the water treatment comments Tex pointed to. Sodium is definitely a troublesome ion when present in brewing water at elevated concentration. But at low to moderate concentration, it is quite helpful to beer flavor. This makes baking soda quite useful for adding alkalinity to the mash for those darker or more acidic grists. Adding baking soda at a rate that adds 40 ppm sodium, also adds almost 90 ppm alkalinity (as CaCO3). That is an acceptable tradeoff if the starting water has very low sodium concentration.

Another very questionable recommendation in the water treatment comments have to do with the chloride levels recommended. Chloride levels over 100 ppm may create minerally perceptions in the finished beer if sodium or sulfate levels are also elevated. I suppose that the chloride levels recommended in those comments are OK if the sodium and sulfate are kept low, but just be aware.

If you are interested, you can get a more comprehensive view of brewing water chemistry guidance on the Water Knowledge page of the Bru'n Water website.

PS: I thoroughly disagree with Tex's recommendation to use a temperature compensated pH meter in brewing use. Mash pH should ALWAYS be measured at room temperature since high temperatures will quickly destroy the pH probe. Therefore, the effect of temperature is not an issue when the measurements are properly performed. You can read more about pH meters and their proper use on the Water Knowledge page.
 

Camo6

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Thanks Tex and mabrungard for answering my questions.

@ Tex083. I tested the ro unit last night and yeah, it's pretty slow and there was considerably greater waste than clean water produced. I've decided for now to bypass it and just use the carbon filters till I get used to brewing 3v. I think the next couple of brew days will be long enough without waiting 3 hours for my hlt to fill.

The main reason I went with an ro unit was so I could reliably build my own water and be accurate with it's profile. I know this alone won't make good beer but as I built my 4v herms from the ground up I had the time to include the features that I wanted without having to retro fit them later.

I have that document on water treatment somewhere on my pc and will have to give it another read to refresh my memory. In regards to a ph meter I bought a cheapish one on ebay a while ago and found it to be accurate enough when compared to ph strips. I think I may have abused the probe though as the last time I used it the temperature reading had stopped working.

I started using salt additions a year or so ago and always kept them to the lower side of recommendations ( from another Melbourne Brewer). It's hard to say whether I could taste the difference as I started using liquid yeasts around the same time but my beers definitely improved.



@mabrungard. Thanks for your comprehensive insight into the topic. I think I'm going to have to spend a bit more time studying water chemistry as it piques my interest. I think I now know why my cheap ph probe failed. I discovered the Bru'n Water website while searching for info on this topic and will have to spend a bit more time on it.



@degraves. Thanks for your input too mate. I realise you can brew top notch beer from Melbourne water without any treatment but as I've mentioned in the above posts it's the complexity of it all that makes this hobby both rewarding and stimulating to me.
 

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