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Thread: Water softener for brewing liquor.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    Lenexa, KS, USA
    Posts
    8

    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. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    389
    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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Moab, Utah
    Posts
    496

    Notes on " Soft " water

    Quote 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
    " No Cell Phone Zone."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Palau
    Posts
    1,963

    What they said....

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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    Lenexa, KS, USA
    Posts
    8
    Quote 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

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    1,812
    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.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Palau
    Posts
    1,963

    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--

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH, USA
    Posts
    71
    About the only time we spec them is for pretreatment to an RO System.

    Russ
    Probrewer.com Advertising Supporter

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

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