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View Full Version : water: how much bicarbonate is too much?



MattHollingsworth
05-16-2011, 03:09 AM
Hey all.

Asked this on homebrewtalk.com, and think it was Medsen that said my water would be okay. But, checking in here to see if anyone has any further info on bicarbonate.

My water here is very high in bicarbonate. 386 ppm. That's pretty damned high. The water tastes fine though, after filtering.

Seems to me, that bicarbonate should help buffer the pH and stop it from going too low. But I don't want any chalky flavors or anything. So, what do you guys think? Should I dilute with distilled water or just run with it as is? Using spring water's not really a different option as all of the water here is high in bicarbonate, spring water included.

Thoughts?

TheAlchemist
05-16-2011, 08:04 AM
My water here is very high in bicarbonate. 386 ppm. That's pretty damned high. The water tastes fine though, after filtering.

Thoughts?

What kind of filter are you using? Any idea how much bicarb is left after filtering?

MattHollingsworth
05-16-2011, 09:20 AM
What kind of filter are you using? Any idea how much bicarb is left after filtering?

I'm just using a carbon filter, which doesn't remove bicarbonate at all. Don't know of a filter that does remove bicarbonate (I suppose reverse osmosis, but I don't have that setup). Only way I know of removing it is through boiling, which still leaves 65% of it or something, and slaked lime, which I will not use.

With beer, I dilute with various amounts of distilled water and add salts to achieve the proper mash pH. With very dark beers, I use 100% tap water. And the water is very good for those dark beers. It's just too much bicarbonate for lighter beers, pH is too high in the mash...

Anyway, not sure if this much bicarbonate is desirable in a mead must.

Chevette Girl
05-16-2011, 10:13 AM
My gut feeling is that if it doesn't taste chalky when you drink it, it won't make your must taste chalky. I'd be more worried about how alkaline it makes your must.

If you do a search here for "gluconolactone" you should find info on how honey tends to make for acidic musts, so as long as you keep an eye on your pH (if you have a pH, meter you're all set!) you should do fine. I don't know offhand what upper pH limits yeasties are happy with, I haven't gotten my own pH meter calibrated yet :p

If you're really concerned, you could try to precipitate some of the bicarbonate out using acid blend or lemon juice but that's between you and your pH meter.

MattHollingsworth
05-16-2011, 10:50 AM
Thanks Chevette Girl. I'm leaning more towards diluting 50/50 with distilled water for the first go round rather than trying to remove any of the bicarbonate. It's far easier.

No pH meter here. I go with the papers. I had a pH meter 12 years ago and I'm lame about calibrating and maintaining those things. I'd always need it and it wouldn't be ready. Papers work okay for me with beer so don't see why they shouldn't work fine with mead.

wayneb
05-16-2011, 12:06 PM
One word of caution about pH papers that work in the "wine range" of pH values (from about 2.8 to 4.6)... they can be difficult to accurately read when used in a dark colored must. Well maybe two words of caution.... They also tend to expire and grow very insensitive, without warning after exposure to air. Store them in a tightly sealed enclosure with as little airspace as possible. So, despite your difficulties with the meter, it may be a more reliable tool than the papers are. ;)

MattHollingsworth
05-16-2011, 02:25 PM
One word of caution about pH papers that work in the "wine range" of pH values (from about 2.8 to 4.6)... they can be difficult to accurately read when used in a dark colored must. Well maybe two words of caution.... They also tend to expire and grow very insensitive, without warning after exposure to air. Store them in a tightly sealed enclosure with as little airspace as possible. So, despite your difficulties with the meter, it may be a more reliable tool than the papers are. ;)

Thanks for the heads up.

akueck
05-16-2011, 10:58 PM
In my salt mead test part 1 (details in the Patron section), I had a mead with a starting bicarbonate of >450. The finished mead measured zero bicarbonate. You'll be fine. :)

MattHollingsworth
05-17-2011, 02:42 AM
In my salt mead test part 1 (details in the Patron section), I had a mead with a starting bicarbonate of >450. The finished mead measured zero bicarbonate. You'll be fine. :)

Interesting. How did you measure the bicarbonate? How was the pH in the mead during fermentation? Did all that bicarbonate work well as a buffer?

akueck
05-17-2011, 11:54 PM
I sent samples to Ward Labs for analysis. The pH of the finished mead was 3.3 iirc.

MattHollingsworth
05-18-2011, 02:45 AM
I sent samples to Ward Labs for analysis. The pH of the finished mead was 3.3 iirc.

Thanks for the info!