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  • Water Treatment Options

    Hi all,

    Long time lurker, first time poster. I am in the process of helping to start a new 10bbl brewpub in Michigan. We are on well water and have gotten the following results from a Ward Labs test:

    pH: 7.9
    TDS:329
    Electrical conductivity: 0.55
    Cations/Anions: 6.3 / 6

    Sodium: 11
    Potassium: 1
    Calcium: 81.9
    Magnesium: 20
    Total Hardness: 288
    Nitrate: <0.1
    Sulfate: 10
    Chloride: 38
    Carbonate: <0.1
    Bicarbonate: 264
    Total Alkalinity: 218
    Total Phosphorus: 0.02
    Total Iron: 0.45

    I am aware that the water is pretty hard, has very high bicarbonate, and needs the iron removed. A couple water treatment specialists I have talked to recommend ion-exchange softening followed by an RO system. I realize this will give me the most flexibility to build the water profile as I please but it is costly. A brewing friend with a background in water chemistry suggested there is a means to dose the water with a Stenner pump (with lime?) so that the bicarbonate would precipitate and be able to be filtered out. Has anyone seen or used this type of system? This seems like it could be a good option for me since the other ion levels are within ranges I’ve seen recommended by Palmer and Brungard.

    Another concern about using RO water is that due to slow regeneration rate I won’t be able to use it for KO water and reclaim the water in the HLT for my next brew.

    As a production brewer I have never had to think about or apply water chemistry. I have been trying hard to wrap my head around this topic and it is somewhat daunting. Any suggestions or insight are appreciated!

  • #2
    Yep, the hardness and iron could play havoc with the membrane, so ion-exchange is highly advised prior to RO treatment. That water has a decent percentage of temporary hardness and you would be able to knock the Ca, Mg, and HCO3 down substantially with lime softening. But lime softening does take a decent amount of attention and I wonder if that's the sort of PITA you want to take on. To remove that iron content, the water will first have to be aerated to oxidize the iron and then you'll have some hope of removing it in the lime softening process. Lime softening isn't a terribly difficult thing, but its nowhere near as easy as running RO.
    WaterEng
    Engineering Consultant

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes... I'd not use a water softener to remove that level or iron. It can work, but long term you'd be better off with a different filter (there are numerous types, including the air injection mentioned above) ahead of the softener to remove the iron.

      Those darn Ward Lab Brewer's Tests do not include Manganese. If you have high iron, it's not uncommon to also have higher than desired manganese.

      You'll need to remove the iron and hardness before sending that water to a boiler. Will also need to look at the chloride after softening to make sure that meets requirements of your equipment.

      Assuming this is "city water" you'll also need a carbon tank to deal with the chlorine or chloramine.

      Russ
      Probrewer.com Advertising Supporter

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

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mibrewguy View Post
        Hi all,

        Long time lurker, first time poster. I am in the process of helping to start a new 10bbl brewpub in Michigan. We are on well water and have gotten the following results from a Ward Labs test:

        pH: 7.9
        TDS:329
        Electrical conductivity: 0.55
        Cations/Anions: 6.3 / 6

        Sodium: 11
        Potassium: 1
        Calcium: 81.9
        Magnesium: 20
        Total Hardness: 288
        Nitrate: <0.1
        Sulfate: 10
        Chloride: 38
        Carbonate: <0.1
        Bicarbonate: 264
        Total Alkalinity: 218
        Total Phosphorus: 0.02
        Total Iron: 0.45

        I am aware that the water is pretty hard, has very high bicarbonate, and needs the iron removed. A couple water treatment specialists I have talked to recommend ion-exchange softening followed by an RO system. I realize this will give me the most flexibility to build the water profile as I please but it is costly. A brewing friend with a background in water chemistry suggested there is a means to dose the water with a Stenner pump (with lime?) so that the bicarbonate would precipitate and be able to be filtered out. Has anyone seen or used this type of system? This seems like it could be a good option for me since the other ion levels are within ranges I’ve seen recommended by Palmer and Brungard.

        Another concern about using RO water is that due to slow regeneration rate I won’t be able to use it for KO water and reclaim the water in the HLT for my next brew.

        As a production brewer I have never had to think about or apply water chemistry. I have been trying hard to wrap my head around this topic and it is somewhat daunting. Any suggestions or insight are appreciated!
        Our solution to this same issue has been simple.. since we have the luxury of only brewing about once a week we save the KO water in out HLT and let that sit mostly covered but with the 3" cap off the TC port on the top . we do this so the chloromine has a chance to evap out of the water during the week before we use it to brew we also try to aireate it going in.. We do have concerns about our sparge top off water which doesnt get to sit. for this reason I have just purchased some better quality omni carbon filters that require the carbon travel through the length of the filter rather than just through the walls, I plan on using 2 of these along with a sediment filter and seeing it it will remove enough.. the 3 stage filter has otherwise been completely ineffective in changing any water chemistry according to the samples we sent to wards. No one has ever mentioned any chlorine or chloromine flavors or odors in our beers.
        Last edited by augiedoggy; 03-11-2020, 10:53 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by augiedoggy View Post
          Our solution to this same issue has been simple.. since we have the luxury of only brewing about once a week we save the KO water in out HLT and let that sit mostly covered but with the 3" cap off the TC port on the top . we do this so the chloromine has a chance to evap out of the water during the week before we use it to brew we also try to aireate it going in.. We do have concerns about our sparge top off water which doesnt get to sit. for this reason I have just purchased some better quality omni carbon filters that require the carbon travel through the length of the filter rather than just through the walls, I plan on using 2 of these along with a sediment filter and seeing it it will remove enough.. the 3 stage filter has otherwise been completely ineffective in changing any water chemistry according to the samples we sent to wards. No one has ever mentioned any chlorine or chloromine flavors or odors in our beers.
          Chloramine will not volatilize in that situation - chlorine will, but not chloramine.
          Last edited by BuckeyeHydro; 03-31-2020, 01:50 PM.
          Probrewer.com Advertising Supporter

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

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by BuckeyeHydro View Post
            Chloramine will not volatilize in that situation - chlorine will, buy not chloramine.
            yeah I actually knew it was one or the other.. I must have chlorine in my water then because the smell and taste is there when I first fill the HLT but not when we brew days later.

            Comment


            • #7
              Hi Russ! You can actually add Manganese to your water test for $6.50.

              Hannah

              Originally posted by BuckeyeHydro View Post
              Yes... I'd not use a water softener to remove that level or iron. It can work, but long term you'd be better off with a different filter (there are numerous types, including the air injection mentioned above) ahead of the softener to remove the iron.

              Those darn Ward Lab Brewer's Tests do not include Manganese. If you have high iron, it's not uncommon to also have higher than desired manganese.

              You'll need to remove the iron and hardness before sending that water to a boiler. Will also need to look at the chloride after softening to make sure that meets requirements of your equipment.

              Assuming this is "city water" you'll also need a carbon tank to deal with the chlorine or chloramine.

              Russ

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by wardlabs View Post
                Hi Russ! You can actually add Manganese to your water test for $6.50.

                Hannah
                How about Iron? Looking at your test results for a customer today... Its well water.... and iron wasn't tested. Go figure.
                Probrewer.com Advertising Supporter

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

                Comment


                • #9
                  Ward uses inductively coupled plasma (ICP) for their water testing and its probably no problem to report additional ions like manganese and iron. I'm guessing that Hannah will be able to tell us that Ward can provide that info.
                  WaterEng
                  Engineering Consultant

                  Comment

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