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Thread: water spreadsheet that works for acid additions?

  1. #1
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    water spreadsheet that works for acid additions?

    Yes, this is another of the many water adjustment threads out there.

    I claim not to be a water chemist and I don't want to get too deep into this, but does anybody out there have a water adjustment spreadsheet that ACTUALLY WORKS for mash acid additions? I have tried a few and they all have issues (not to mention don't give the same results when tested side by side). I will not name any specifically as I do not want to sound disparaging to the folks out there writing these programs for free for us to use (I would like to buy them all a beer for being kind enough to take on such a thing in the first place)..

    My water is pretty low in everything (wardlabs tested) so I always need to add Ca at a minimum. No problem. I almost always (except for very dark beers) have to add a little acid to get the pH in the right range. Usually this is a guessing game and I'm trying to get it nailed down better than that. Using a few different calculators out there give me wildly different "recommended" acid additions, some of which are ridiculously incorrect. I have checked, double checked and re-checked all of the information to make sure I didn't enter something wrong and there are no issues.

    Who uses what methods for calculating needed mash acid additions and do they work well for you?

    For instance, my water is 8.8 pH (133 ppm alkalinity and 136 ppm HCO3, 119 CaCO3, everything else under 20 ppm). For a 12 SRM beer I "supposedly" don't need to add any acid and my pH will be 5.0 according to one commonly used program. In reality I have to add .2 ml phosphoric per gallon to get the mash pH down to 5.5.

    Anybody have better luck that that using a spreadsheet or am I just going to have to come up with some method of my own?

    As always, thanks for your responses...
    Scott LaFollette
    Blank Slate Brewing Company
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  2. #2
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    I suggest you add the acid to the water, not the mash. If you add it to the mash, it will only have any effect on the immedaite area around the mash. Being a weak acid, the phosphoric acid tends to get buffered out by the malt immediately aroung the point of addition, and so has little effect elsewhere.

    If you add it to the water, then it will affect the mash consistently. Simply find out what will give you the target mash pH, and then repeat , tweaking alittle if necessary. You can generally add quite a lot of phophoric with little cahnge in pH because it is a weak acid, so don't worry if any extra addition / reduction seems to be a large proportion of the original.

    As an aside - 5.5 at 20 C seems high - most people aim for closer to 5.3 for better enzyme action
    dick

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dick murton
    I suggest you add the acid to the water, not the mash. If you add it to the mash, it will only have any effect on the immedaite area around the mash. Being a weak acid, the phosphoric acid tends to get buffered out by the malt immediately aroung the point of addition, and so has little effect elsewhere.

    If you add it to the water, then it will affect the mash consistently. Simply find out what will give you the target mash pH, and then repeat , tweaking alittle if necessary. You can generally add quite a lot of phophoric with little cahnge in pH because it is a weak acid, so don't worry if any extra addition / reduction seems to be a large proportion of the original.

    As an aside - 5.5 at 20 C seems high - most people aim for closer to 5.3 for better enzyme action
    Dick,

    Thanks for responding.

    I'm talking pilot batches ( 10 gallon) at this point so I add the acid, stir well and resample. I'm trying to get to the point of adding it to the water beforehand, thus the use of spreadsheets to figure out what I need to add. because the spreadsheet says not to add any, i can't believe what its telling me....

    5.5 was just an example. i am shooting for a bit lower, but the calculation spreadsheets are telling me if i add no acid i'll be at 5.0 pH. In reality with no acid I am at 5.7 pH so then i have no choice but to try and adjust the mash itself.....

    is the answer here to just figure out what works in real life and damn the spreadsheets?
    Scott LaFollette
    Blank Slate Brewing Company
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  4. #4
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    Try mine at http://sites.google.com/site/republicbrewpub/. The file names are "Water_Gallons.xlsx and Water_Barrels.xlsx. If they give you weird answers, send me a PM and I'll give you my email address so you can send a spreadhseet back to me with your variables entered. Water chemistry isn't an exact science - for me, at least - but my calculations should get you very much in the right ballpark. If it doesn't, something was probably entered incorrectly (which I wouldn't judge you for at all, as the spreadsheet isn't very intuitive).

    Joe

  5. #5
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    Have you tried Acidulated malt instead of Acid?
    Hutch Kugeman
    Head Beer Guy
    Crossroads Brewing
    Athens, NY

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kugeman
    Have you tried Acidulated malt instead of Acid?

    haven't ever tried that. thought about it but haven't tried. i figure if making straight acid additions is giving me this much touble, trying to adjust with randomly varying amounts of acid malt would just be that much more complicated...
    Scott LaFollette
    Blank Slate Brewing Company
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  7. #7
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    Acid malt is relatively slow to react in the mash. As Dick mentioned, its best to adjust water alkalinity prior to mashing and rely on that appropriate alkalinity level to produce a desirable mash pH.
    WaterEng
    Engineering Consultant

  8. #8
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    thanks for the replies (on and off forum). I have a few new things to try and will be doing some "bench tests" next week to see if I can't dial things in better (without using spreadsheets)...
    Scott LaFollette
    Blank Slate Brewing Company
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  9. #9
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    Spreadsheet and great article dealing with hard water

    I have very hard and alkaline water and have been doing quite a bit of reading on the subject lately. This article talking about using slaked lime for alkalinity reduction is great and the spreadsheet you can download from the article also works great for using lime and acids.

    http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...th_slaked_lime

  10. #10
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    Someone else mentioned that to me today and i have started reading it. My primary concern is the time involved in letting the lime do its thing. I know i can overcome the alkalinity with acid, just not consistently at this point....


    The water i have doesnt seem that hard/alkaline to me...

    What would be a high enough level to consider a source water overly hard/alkaline to the point that this lime reduction method would become essential?
    Scott LaFollette
    Blank Slate Brewing Company
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by yap
    Someone else mentioned that to me today and i have started reading it. My primary concern is the time involved in letting the lime do its thing. I know i can overcome the alkalinity with acid, just not consistently at this point....


    The water i have doesnt seem that hard/alkaline to me...

    What would be a high enough level to consider a source water overly hard/alkaline to the point that this lime reduction method would become essential?
    Drinking water almost always falls within a pH range of 6-8.5. Tests have shown that water above pH 9 starts causing skin rashes on rabbits. You said your water is at pH 8.8? How high does it need to be to start considering your water very alkaline?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabewilson50
    Drinking water almost always falls within a pH range of 6-8.5. Tests have shown that water above pH 9 starts causing skin rashes on rabbits. You said your water is at pH 8.8? How high does it need to be to start considering your water very alkaline?
    Alkalinity and pH are two separate measurements. My water is very alkaline at 280+ ppm as CaCO3, yet my pH is slightly acidic at 6.8 (probably due to disolved carbonic acid). It is common for people to confuse alkalinity and pH. For brewing you are mostly concerned about the alkalinity (resistance to pH changes) of the water (not it's pH). The pH you are concerned about is that of the mash which will be greatly affected by your water's alkalinity and your grain bill composition. You could have water with a higher pH that is not very alkaline that would be good for brewing light colored beers and you could also have water like mine with a lower pH but high alkalinity that would be terrible for light colored beers. That website I linked to has several articles related to water that are very, very good...read through it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by yap
    Someone else mentioned that to me today and i have started reading it. My primary concern is the time involved in letting the lime do its thing. I know i can overcome the alkalinity with acid, just not consistently at this point....


    The water i have doesnt seem that hard/alkaline to me...

    What would be a high enough level to consider a source water overly hard/alkaline to the point that this lime reduction method would become essential?
    It depends on other factors as well. My water besides being very alkaline at 280+ppm also is quite low in calcium at 40ppm, consequently my residual alkalinity (RA) is very high at 185ppm. RA is truly what you care about for brewing. For example Burton on Trent water is extremely alkaline but also has a very high level of calcium which balances it out and consequently its residual alkalinity is very close to zero.

    Alkalinity is naturally reduced in the mash by water hardness as mentioned above. So one can reduce alkalinity by increasing hardness (adding calcium and/or magnesium). Alkalinity can be reduced by the addition of acids, and finally alkalinity can be reduced with slaked lime which is actually very alkaline itself, but in fact it is so alkaline that it's ions don't stay together in water and the hydroxide ions then combine with bicarbonates to produce carbonates which then bind with calcium ions to produce calcium carbonate which is not very soluble in water and consequently it precipitates out reducing the alkalinity of the water.

    The limiting factors to your alkaline reduction methods are the other ions you are introducing into the water. For example you can reduce alkalinity by adding calcium which you could do by adding calcium sulfate or calcium chloride. The thing is, that besides the calcium you are also adding sulfate and/or chloride ions which you want to keep under a certain level in your wort. Depending on how much of these ions your water had to begin with your calcium additions as a method of alkalinity reduction would be limited. Also this method doesn't remove very much alkalinity per unit added so for very alkaline water it is not feasible as the only method. Same limitations apply for acids, for example if you are using phosphoric acid you are also adding phosphates.

    Depending on the composition of your water you might have to use a combination of alkalinity reduction methods which might also include the slaked lime.

    My water has high alkalinity, low calcium and moderate sulfate and chloride, consequently I have to use all three methods to keep the salts balanced and achieve the alkalinity reduction that I am looking for.

    One interesting thing to note is that for the slaked lime method you have to make sure you have sufficient calcium to begin with as you will be precipitating calcium carbonate. Once you run out of calcium slaked lime stops working as no more precipitate can be formed. The good thing is that you are able to remove more alkalinity per unit of calcium using this method than by simple calcium additions that would reduce alkalinity in the mash. Basically for ever 1 ppm of calcium you can reduce about 3 ppm bicarbonate using slaked lime, again look through the articles in the website I posted, their is a detailed explanation there.
    Last edited by dfalken; 04-08-2012 at 11:10 AM.

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