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Thread: Distilled Water Mistake?

  1. #1

    Default Distilled Water Mistake?

    I've started my first batch of mead using the following recipe

    5.5 Gallons Distilled Water
    15# Raw Mo Wild Flower Honey
    3# Raw Mo Clover Honey
    12 grams Fermiad K
    10 grams d-47 rehydrated in GoFerm per instructions
    Final volume 6.2 Gallons

    5-14 Initial SG 1.13
    5-15 SG 1.12 Aireation am and pm
    5-16 SG 1.11 Aireation am and pm
    5-17 SG 1.11 Aireation am and pm
    5-18 SG 1.10 Aireation am and pm
    5-19 SG 1.09 Aireation am

    With that said, I had started my initial recipe from looking at various recipes on GM. It appeared that most were using distilled water; however, I just came across several posts stating DO NOT use distilled water.

    In searching further on the forums concerning this, several experienced mead makers (Oskaar,Medsen and others)recommended adding epsom salt when using distilled water to compensate for the lack of minerals? My question is, given the specifics above, should I add epsom salt or anything else to my batch to compensate for using distilled water? I had planned on adding a dose of Fermaid at the 1/3 sugar break.

  2. #2

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    StevenGoodson

    I have made a few batches of mead using distilled water and they all came out just fine. In fact, that's what I plan on all future batches. As I understand it, the minerals in spring water and other sources contribute to taste and affect the hardness of the water and may have an effect on the fermentation to some degree (speeding up or slowing down) but the yeast get all they need from the nutrients added and not from the water. Of course there may be (and probably is) something I'm not aware of so definitely defer to the experts here. In my (granted) limited experience with serious mead making, I have had no problems with distilled water.

    In fact, I believe there might be an advantage to it in some ways, in that you know exactly what you have to start with and can add minerals and such in a more controlled way.

  3. #3

    Default

    I've used distilled water many times, though I always make sure to oxygenate thoroughly. Distilation strips the O2 out of the water, so you need to put it back somehow. I know some of the guys around here prefer spring water for the trace mineral content. While I agree it's probably better, the rain in my area falls from the sky for free and I have a water distiller at home that uses the same amount of electricity as an electric tea kettle. Plus, people around here really enjoy products that are made with the water from natural disasters like hurricanes.
    From the bonny bells of heather
    They brewed a drink long-syne,
    Was sweeter far than honey,
    Was stronger far than wine.

  4. #4

    Default

    Awesome, as it's my first batch I'm tending to be a little "motherly" about it. I chose distilled water for the exact reasons you pointed out, in that I know exactly what I am starting with. My reasoning would be that the adding of Fermaid K nutrients should compensate for the lack of food provided by the must. Maybe the epsom salts are providing something that the Fermaid is not?

    There were several notes in some of the forum threads concerning the taste of the mead when using distilled water. While ultimately I plan on adding fruit and vanilla to my secondary, have you noticed a difference in flavor when using distilled water?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    The Fusel Shack, in the swamp west of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
    Posts
    8,641

    Default

    You can ferment with distilled water, and the various nutrients which contain hydrolyzed yeast will add trace mineral that are needed. However, using spring water that has minerals for the yeast and carbonates may be better and may be somewhat less prone to pH drops.

    With some cars, you get better performance using 93 octane. It will run with 87 octane, but it just runs smoother with the higher octane. Similarly, yeast will ferment through most obstacles, but they have an easier time if you give them optimal conditions. The difference made by using distilled water vs. spring water is probably pretty small in most cases, but adding up a lot of small performance improvements allows you to see a noticeable difference in the overall fermentation. This is why we spend time worrying about a bunch of little things that may not individually seem that important.
    Lanne pase toujou pi bon
    (Past years are always better)

  6. #6

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    Angelic Alchemist

    That is is the power of positive thinking .... Hurricanes are a good source of water for mead making. I can picture the label already ie Cherry Vanilla Katrina.

  7. #7

    Default

    I forgot to mention the aeration, but as this should be standard practice regardless of the type of water used it should be a non-issue.

    I have not noticed any difference in flavor using distilled vs. spring, though I will be the first to admit that my palate is not the most sensitive (too much wasabi!). If you really want the answer, at some point try doing 2 1-gallon batches with the same ingredients and just do 1 with distilled and the other with spring water and see what you get. I am getting ready to try this in the next few months, just changing the yeast rather than the water, so I can understand more fully how yeast affects the flavor. It's all in the experimenting!

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks for all the speedy replies. I feel much better knowing I didn't make a huge mistake by using distilled. Once I get my first batch racked out of the bucket, I'll try spring water next time and note any differences. Thanks agaiin everbody.

  9. #9

    Default

    Sadly, I'm out of Ike water, and I don't think the oil spill in the Gulf will have the same level or marketability. Oh well, maybe I'll take up storm chasing.
    From the bonny bells of heather
    They brewed a drink long-syne,
    Was sweeter far than honey,
    Was stronger far than wine.

  10. #10

    Default

    Good point Medsen. It's the little things that make the difference, and since water is the main ingredient in (almost) any drink it's definitely something to consider.

  11. #11

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    StevenGoodson

    Good luck on your first batch! This is a great (and highly addictive - fair warning!) hobby/passion. I'm new to GotMead as well and I have to tell you the amount of information here is staggering, but everyone so far has been wonderful and VERY helpful. I've gotten quite a bit of help with a chocolate raspberry mead I'm planning for next month. I have to say, I've never given as much thought to a mead before as I have for this one, and I've gotten a LOT of great input from people.

    Welcome!

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Angelic Alchemist View Post
    Sadly, I'm out of Ike water, and I don't think the oil spill in the Gulf will have the same level or marketability. Oh well, maybe I'll take up storm chasing.
    Would if you were making a really thick dark beer/braggot...

  13. #13

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisher kel Tath View Post
    Would if you were making a really thick dark beer/braggot...
    Oh wow. Texas Strong Ale made with oil from the gulf spill: it's what REAL cowboys drink!
    From the bonny bells of heather
    They brewed a drink long-syne,
    Was sweeter far than honey,
    Was stronger far than wine.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    UK - South Coast.
    Posts
    3,630

    Default

    Well, the view from this side of the pond, well my "gaff" to be precise, is that the nutrient should, in theory, be providing all the nutrients that the yeast needs - given that honey is famously low in nutrient components.

    Oxygen isn't a nutrient, it's a breathing gas. So if you're using a water that's had it all stripped out, like distilled or de-ionised water, then what the hell, put it back in.

    Me? I mix the must and then take a large(ish) sample of it, which is then blitzed in a sanitised liquidiser and the sample then returned to the main batch.

    Worked fine, with no contamination problems.....

    regards

    fatbloke
    here's me home brewing blog (if anyones interested....)
    and don't forget
    What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away! Tom Waits.....

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