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Water Quality - how hard is too hard?

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  • gems4200
    Howdy, I am new to the list and distilling. Howdy everyone. I have been reading through the archives and have not found the answer to the water quality
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 8, 2010
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      Howdy,
      I am new to the list and distilling. Howdy everyone. I have been reading through the archives and have not found the answer to the water quality question. So, I am going to ask it again.
      How hard is too hard? And, What is the best pH? I have my own well and the water from the tap test out at 325 PPM with a TDS meter. It also test out at 8.5 pH with a test kit.
      Is this a good water to use to frement and distill spirits from? Or, does it need to be amended somehow. If so, how? I have a water distiller and can make distilled water, it just takes all day to get enough to do a 5 gallon batch. Should I use distilled water or buy bottled spring water from the store?
      If someone would like to take the time to explain, I would love to know how water condition effects the finished product. Which is really best to use, hard water, spring water, or distilled water and what is the effect of each on the finished product? How do they differ?
      In the archives I have found several threads that start with these questions but they quickly deverge into totally different topics. So if you can please be specific to the question with your answers.
      Thanks in advance for all your help.

      I have snipped your name and address off for your privacy (Ken Mc Moderator)
    • Harry
      Inline... ... .........Howdy. new_distillers is where newbies should start off. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/new_distillers/
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 8, 2010
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        Inline...

        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "gems4200" <gems4200@...> wrote:
        >
        > Howdy,
        >    I am new to the list and distilling. Howdy everyone.

        .........Howdy.  new_distillers is where  newbies should start off.
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/new_distillers/

         I have been reading through the archives and have not found the answer to the water quality question. So, I am going to ask it again.
        >    How hard is too hard?

        .........They use limestone water in Kentucky & Tennessee to make whiskey.


         And, What is the best pH?

        ...........pH 5.0 - 5.5


         I have my own well and the water from the tap test out at 325 PPM with a TDS meter. It also test out at 8.5 pH with a test kit.
        >    Is this a good water to use to frement and distill spirits from? Or, does it need to be amended somehow. If so, how?

        ..........Acidify with lemon juice or citric acid to the abov-mentioned pH reading.

         I have a water distiller and can make distilled water, it just takes all day to get enough to do a 5 gallon batch. Should I use distilled water


        .......NO distilled water.  Plain water has nutrients & minerals the yeast need.  Distilled water is DEAD.

        or buy bottled spring water from the store?

        ............Expensive way to do it.


        >    If someone would like to take the time to explain, I would love to know how water condition effects the finished product. Which is really best to use, hard water, spring water, or distilled water and what is the effect of each on the finished product? How do they differ?
        >    In the archives I have found several threads that start with these questions but they quickly deverge into totally different topics. So if you can please be specific to the question with your answers.
        > Thanks in advance for all your help.
        >
        > I have snipped your name and address off for your privacy (Ken Mc Moderator)
        >


        .............Extract from "Whisky: Technology, Production & Marketing"

        <ext>

        Water usage

        Production (mashing) water

        Production water used in the production of wort makes a major contribution
        to the quality of the spirit that is produced. Salts dissolved in the water affect
        the wort's flavour and influence the pH of the process and the final product,
        and they provide essential trace elements for yeast growth. Briefly:

        . Sulphates reduce mash pH
        . The yeast needs calcium
        . Carbonates raise pH and form scale on heating surfaces
        . Nitrates indicate surface water or sewage contamination
        . Magnesium and zinc are trace elements required by the yeast.

        Unless a mains supply of drinking water quality is used for all purposes, the
        water supply for a grain distillery requires careful consideration. Three different
        grades of water quality may be used. The criteria for condenser cooling
        water are a low supply temperature and low levels of the hardness salts,
        which could cause problems by scale formation in heat exchangers.
        Provided routine maintenance is adequate to insure against leaks, other chemical,
        microbiological and physical properties are irrelevant. A proportion of
        the water used for mashing, dilution of wash and start-up and close-down
        procedures ultimately becomes incorporated in the spirit and must be free
        from flavour taints, but since it is sterilized in the course of the cooking and
        distillation processes it does not require the microbiological quality of drinking
        water; only the flavour quality is mportant. Water for steam raising is also
        included in this category, and therefore boiler water-treatment compounds
        must be carefully chosen to avoid flavour problems from the steam injected
        into the cooker vessel and analyser column. Only the dilution water used at
        cask filling will persist untreated to be consumed with the final whisky, and
        therefore has an absolute requirement for a drinking-water standard of microbiological
        purity. However, a drinking-water supply could legally contain
        levels of calcium and iron salts that are unacceptable in whisky spirit, and
        these ions must be removed – usually by ion exchange.

        </ext>

         

        Slainte!
        regards Harry

      • Bryan Bornais
        5.0 to 5.5 pH of the mash is best. Watch that you don t add too much acid to your strike water, as the grains themselves will lower pH when you mash in. If you
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 8, 2010
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          5.0 to 5.5 pH of the mash is best. Watch that you don't add too much acid to your strike water, as the grains themselves will lower pH when you mash in. If you set your pH a little high in your strike water (say 5.8 or 6.0), you should be ok when mashing in.

          There is a brewing salt mixture called 5.2. It is a buffered salt mixture that you add to your mash if you have pH problems:

          http://www.rebelbrewer.com/shoppingcart/products/5.2-Stabilizer-%252d-1lb.html

          You probably don't need this, however.

          50 to 250ppm of Calcium is great. Total dissolved solids is not a good measure. You need data on total alkalinity, then you can calculate back total hardness.

          You don't want Iron in your water.

          If you use pure water (such as RO or Distilled), you can add 2tsp of gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) to every 20L. There are also mineral packets for brewing beer that simulate famous waters (ex. Burton on Trent). You can add these to distilled or RO water.

          If your mineral content is too high, you can dilute your water with distilled or RO in a one to one ratio.

          Check out the podcast archives for Brew Strong (google The Brewing Network). There is a 4 part series that will tell you everything you need to know about water for mashing.

          If you go through all this information, you will most likely come to the conclusion that your water is perfectly fine to mash with as it comes out of the tap :) The only thing I always add is 1/2 of a campden tablet to remove the chlorine and chloramine (I am on municipal water supply).



          From: Harry <gnikomson2000@...>
          To: Distillers@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Thu, April 8, 2010 10:47:05 PM
          Subject: [Distillers] Re: Water Quality - how hard is too hard?

           

          Inline...

          --- In Distillers@yahoogro ups.com, "gems4200" <gems4200@...> wrote:
          >
          > Howdy,
          >    I am new to the list and distilling. Howdy everyone.

          .........Howdy.  new_distillers is where  newbies should start off.
          http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/new_ distillers/

           I have been reading through the archives and have not found the answer to the water quality question. So, I am going to ask it again.
          >    How hard is too hard?

          .........They use limestone water in Kentucky & Tennessee to make whiskey.


           And, What is the best pH?

          ...........pH 5.0 - 5.5


           I have my own well and the water from the tap test out at 325 PPM with a TDS meter. It also test out at 8.5 pH with a test kit.
          >    Is this a good water to use to frement and distill spirits from? Or, does it need to be amended somehow. If so, how?

          ..........Acidify with lemon juice or citric acid to the abov-mentioned pH reading.

           I have a water distiller and can make distilled water, it just takes all day to get enough to do a 5 gallon batch. Should I use distilled water


          .......NO distilled water.  Plain water has nutrients & minerals the yeast need.  Distilled water is DEAD.

          or buy bottled spring water from the store?

          ............ Expensive way to do it.


          >    If someone would like to take the time to explain, I would love to know how water condition effects the finished product. Which is really best to use, hard water, spring water, or distilled water and what is the effect of each on the finished product? How do they differ?
          >    In the archives I have found several threads that start with these questions but they quickly deverge into totally different topics. So if you can please be specific to the question with your answers.
          > Thanks in advance for all your help.
          >
          > I have snipped your name and address off for your privacy (Ken Mc Moderator)
          >


          ............ .Extract from "Whisky: Technology, Production & Marketing"

          <ext>

          Water usage

          Production (mashing) water

          Production water used in the production of wort makes a major contribution
          to the quality of the spirit that is produced. Salts dissolved in the water affect
          the wort's flavour and influence the pH of the process and the final product,
          and they provide essential trace elements for yeast growth. Briefly:
          . Sulphates reduce mash pH
          . The yeast needs calcium
          . Carbonates raise pH and form scale on heating surfaces
          . Nitrates indicate surface water or sewage contamination
          . Magnesium and zinc are trace elements required by the yeast.

          Unless a mains supply of drinking water quality is used for all purposes, the
          water supply for a grain distillery requires careful consideration. Three different
          grades of water quality may be used. The criteria for condenser cooling
          water are a low supply temperature and low levels of the hardness salts,
          which could cause problems by scale formation in heat exchangers.
          Provided routine maintenance is adequate to insure against leaks, other chemical,
          microbiological and physical properties are irrelevant. A proportion of
          the water used for mashing, dilution of wash and start-up and close-down
          procedures ultimately becomes incorporated in the spirit and must be free
          from flavour taints, but since it is sterilized in the course of the cooking and
          distillation processes it does not require the microbiological quality of drinking
          water; only the flavour quality is mportant. Water for steam raising is also
          included in this category, and therefore boiler water-treatment compounds
          must be carefully chosen to avoid flavour problems from the steam injected
          into the cooker vessel and analyser column. Only the dilution water used at
          cask filling will persist untreated to be consumed with the final whisky, and
          therefore has an absolute requirement for a drinking-water standard of microbiological
          purity. However, a drinking-water supply could legally contain
          levels of calcium and iron salts that are unacceptable in whisky spirit, and
          these ions must be removed – usually by ion exchange.

          </ext>

           

          Slainte!
          regards Harry



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