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  • Water softener for brewing liquor.

    Hi folks,
    Quick question - I'm coming on board quite late to an almost ready to open new brewery (10bbl 3-vessel ABE kit - please see my other recent post about trying to decoct or cereal cook on this kit!)
    ...but my water question is this - the owners have our boiler water feed & brewhouse liquor piped through a carbon filter & softener.
    I have never heard of a brewery using a softener to alter the brewing water profile (I'm used 100% RO or blend of mains & RO, with added salts & acid as necessary).
    I need to check, but don't think our water is *super* hard, or has anything else too dodgy, so I would just expect us to be fine without the softener.
    Anyone any thoughts? Should we bypass the softener?
    Cheers
    Mike
    nr KC MO.

  • #2
    Some will use softened water for CIP and general purposes, however most don’t want such a high sodium content for the actual brewing water. If you can, split off HLT/Brewery water post carbon filter but pre softener, just my $0.02

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    • #3
      Notes on " Soft " water

      Originally posted by mic_mac View Post
      Hi folks,
      Quick question - I'm coming on board quite late to an almost ready to open new brewery (10bbl 3-vessel ABE kit - please see my other recent post about trying to decoct or cereal cook on this kit!)
      ...but my water question is this - the owners have our boiler water feed & brewhouse liquor piped through a carbon filter & softener.
      I have never heard of a brewery using a softener to alter the brewing water profile (I'm used 100% RO or blend of mains & RO, with added salts & acid as necessary).
      I need to check, but don't think our water is *super* hard, or has anything else too dodgy, so I would just expect us to be fine without the softener.
      Anyone any thoughts? Should we bypass the softener?
      Cheers
      Mike
      nr KC MO.
      Water Softened by an Ion Exchange column is " believed " by some to be a panacea.
      This is not the case and in a plant setting it can lead to unexpected and unwanted consequences.
      They have to be used very carefully and for strict purposes only.
      Soft water of this type is " not " good to drink. It tastes " bad."
      Every expresso machine maker will tell you to run on softened water, which in fact makes terrible coffee.
      Such water is useful in some cases for dealing mineral issues that affect machinery only, and or washing things.
      I would avoid using it for making beer, personally.
      That must be quite a carbon filter system for the volume needed on a 10BBL system.
      Salt Softened water is moderately corrosive to copper and galvanized iron piping systems. I have seen it regularly eat through fittings on high use lines for feedwater makeup systems etc.
      Salt brine will destroy septic and drain field systems.
      Softened water should not be run in a steam boiler system without a correctly matched chemical treatment program.
      Softeners have to be watched and maintained constantly. They require regular chemical testing to gauge how they are running across time.
      Warren Turner
      Industrial Engineering Technician
      HVACR-Electrical Systems Specialist
      Moab Brewery
      The Thought Police are Attempting to Suppress Free Speech and Sugar coat everything. This is both Cowardice and Treason given to their own kind.

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      • #4
        What they said....

        Do NOT use a water softener for your brewing liquor!!
        Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

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        • #5
          Originally posted by gitchegumee View Post
          Do NOT use a water softener for your brewing liquor!!
          Well that told me!🤣
          My gut reaction is the same, but I was curious to know why exactly. Some experienced brewers I’ve talked to have said they can’t really see a problem with it, but it’s not necessary...I’m more thinking there *is* a problem.


          Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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          • #6
            An ion-exchange water softener "trades" sodium ions for calcium ions. Sodium is not usually desirable in brew liquor, but some calcium is.

            For boiler feed, it's good.
            Timm Turrentine

            Brewerywright,
            Terminal Gravity Brewing,
            Enterprise. Oregon.

            Comment


            • #7
              Tell them otherwise...

              The "experienced brewers" you spoke with that can't see a problem aren't the sorts you should be asking for advice. Softeners are a way bad idea for brewing liquor. Timm has it right. "Softeners" are most often just ion exchange. You get one thing exchanged for another. There IS something wrong with that idea. As a preconditioner to an RO plant, softeners may be used for extremely hard water. But don't use one as stand alone. Besides, they just salt the earth and are mostly unnecessary in a brewery IMO.
              Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

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              • #8
                About the only time we spec them is for pretreatment to an RO System, and boiler feed water.

                Russ
                Last edited by BuckeyeHydro; 02-10-2019, 04:51 AM.
                Probrewer.com Advertising Supporter

                Buckeye Hydro
                Water Treatment Systems & Supplies
                www.BuckeyeHydro.com
                Info@buckeyehydro.com
                513-312-2343

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                • #9
                  I'm considering to install a water softener with a Weak Acid Cation resin, since that deals with both the alkalinity and the hardness issues.

                  The exchange cation is regular H+, which is supposed to react with the alkalinity so it's supposed to not cause a change in pH. That said, effluent pH is reported to be quite low (5 - 6.5) and a degassing step is cited prior to use.

                  My suspicion is that effluent water has a low pH because it hasn't attained equilibrium and carbonic acid is supposed to decompose and escape as CO2 given enough time or contact with air. Assuming the degassing process is complete, do the pH returns back to its influent levels or is it still lower?

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