View Full Version : Has anyone used alkaline ionized water?

03-29-2011, 11:29 AM
I'm new to meadmaking and i'm going to make my first batch right away but was wondering if anyone has had any experience using high alkaline water? I recently bought a water ionizer and can set the ph of the water i'm going to use and i'm wondering which pH would be best?

03-29-2011, 11:33 AM
I don't generally balance the pH of my musts in so high tech a fashion ;) but in general you should use water that results in a mixed must pH of around 3.4 to 4.0. Much lower than that, and your yeast may be stressed during the course of fermentation (although that also depends somewhat on the strain of yeast used), and much higher than that range allows undesirable spoilage organisms to develop. Welcome to Gotmead, BTW!!

03-29-2011, 01:00 PM
Thanks Wayne!! I'm thinking i'm gonna be a pioneer and try the pH of about 8.0 as that's the lowest setting on my machine. This water tastes great! Far superior to tap water, RO systems and IMHO, most bottled water. Tea and coffee taste way better! Ionized water has most contaminants removed and contains way more oxygen and minerals in it so i figure it'll kick the fermentation process into high gear? or it'll kick it so hard the bucket will fall over! I will soon find out.. lol!

03-29-2011, 02:37 PM
Keep us informed! But you might have to adjust the acid balance after fermentation is over, because I'm not sure that a mead that high in pH will taste right - but who knows? You may be on to something! ;D

03-29-2011, 02:40 PM
Does it ionize by adding ions of various minerals? Or am I missing something... I don't understand why it would have a higher mineral content after being ionized.

Medsen Fey
03-29-2011, 03:13 PM
Since water has next to no buffering capacity, you can set the pH of your water as high as you like and as soon as the acids in the honey dissolve and as soon as the yeast start secreting organic acids (and pumping out CO2 - becoming carbonic acid) the pH is going to drop. There is still a good chance you'll still need to adjust the pH upward during fermentation of a traditional mead.

Still, it sounds like an interesting contraption, and if it makes your water taste better, that can only help.

03-29-2011, 03:20 PM
Medsen, I think AToE was alluding to the process that this device uses to change pH, and I think it does add a significant amount of dissolved minerals, which would change the buffering capacity of the water itself. Nevertheless, I think making a batch of mead with this water, while monitoring the pH of the must throughout fermentation, is a worthwhile experiment to try.

Medsen Fey
03-29-2011, 03:25 PM
I think it does add a significant amount of dissolved minerals, which would change the buffering capacity of the water itself. Nevertheless, I think making a batch of mead with this water, while monitoring the pH of the must throughout fermentation, is a worthwhile experiment to try.

I think testing it sounds like a good idea as well.

However, just as it takes only a pinch of acid to drop the pH of water like a stone, it will take only a tiny amount of carbonates (or other alkaline substance) to bring the pH of water up to 8.0 (or even higher). If you add the amount of potassium bicarb we normally require to buffer a mead into a batch of plain water, the pH will shoot sky high.

03-29-2011, 07:05 PM
It's more about minerals in the water being seperated into 2 streams (acidic and alkaline) and the minerals being more concentrated in the alkaline stream. Also, the restructuring of the molecules with addition of the negative oxygen and hydrogen ions - or something like that.. I'm not a chemist by any means. I'll let you all know how it goes!

03-29-2011, 07:23 PM
My personal preference was to take the advice of my mead mentor and go buy spring water from the store. It's a closed source and regulated, so I have very little chance of having the water be an issue when something goes wrong. But I'll follow this thread. Let us know how it does.

03-29-2011, 10:21 PM
... or it'll kick it so hard the bucket will fall over! I will soon find out.. lol!


Kick The Bucket

It's not your turn yet...

Chevette Girl
03-29-2011, 10:21 PM
Just for reference, I think my city's water has a pH of around 8.1, they add lime to make it taste sweeter. I used to have to hose out the lime slaker every night.

03-30-2011, 01:09 AM
Tap water around here is always above 8, sometimes close to 9.

Experimentation is definitely in order though. My salt test is nearing completion of phase 1, so I can tell you that the amount of ions does affect flavor and fermentation kinetics. Whatever you do, collect some data so we can all live vicariously through your magic water machine. ;D

04-03-2011, 03:27 PM
so my first batch is in the closet hopefully the yeast is doing it thing. I'm thinking the oxygenated water i used will be an asset for the fermentation which I will check within the next day or two but it went well and I did it without heating the must. The O.G. was approx 1.090, pH was approx. 6.2. Now for the hardest part... Waiting! I will keep updating periodically.

04-05-2011, 12:05 PM
So i was apparently supposed to take the initial gravity reading before i added the yeast? I took it at the end after all the ingredients were in and that's when i got 1.090. (approx 12.35 alc. by volume). I took it the next day and it was 1.104 and then the next day it was 1.080. I thought this was a bit odd that it fluctuated this way. Now i'm not sure what the alcohol content will be. Am I right to assume it would be roughly between 12 and 14%? Also, is stirring during the fermentation a no no? I've tasted the must/mead and it already tastes good to me! lol! It actually smells like apple cider, (even though there are no apples whatsoever), and tastes like an slightly carbonated honey apple mixture. i'm going to buy a digital pH tester today because my strips don't go lower that 5.0, but i know that the must is lower than that, so that's a good sign.

04-05-2011, 12:21 PM
Measuring it right after pitching the yeast isn't a problem, the main thing is just making sure that you measure it before the yeast start eating.

That upswing in SG is pretty much sure to be one thing: honey that wasn't totally dissolved and then had finished dissolving by the second measurement. So we know your "starting" gravity was at least 1.104, it may have been higher because the yeast might have been eating some while the honey was still dissolving. After that it looks normal, just fermenting away!

Should be around 14% if it ferments to dry is my best guess.

Stirring during fermentation is a yes yes! Make sure you read that newbee guide and read around these forums, that kind of thing comes up super often. Stirring is good, and aerating until the ferment is 1/3 done is good.

04-05-2011, 12:22 PM
It is always a good idea to get an initial gravity reading before fermentation gets started (although you can take it after you've pitched the yeast - just before or just after doesn't make any difference), both because the bubble formation that occurs once fermentation gets going can artificially raise the SG you read on your hydrometer, if the bubbles stick to it as you take the reading, and because once fermentation really gets going there's no telling how much sugar has been consumed in between the start of fermentation and your reading.

With this batch, the funny jump in SG might be due to those bubbles I mentioned above, or it might be that your honey wasn't completely dissolved the first day, but then finished dissolving over the subsequent 24 hours. Since the sticking bubble thing is such a common occurrence, I'd guess that was the more likely cause of the jump in your must's case (sorry to disagree with you, AToE!).

Medsen Fey
04-05-2011, 12:22 PM
Once fermentation starts, you can get erroneously high readings as the bubbles cling to the sides of the hydrometer buoying it up. It is also possible that not all your honey was mixed in uniformly when you took the first reading. Those are the two most common causes for getting a higher reading the day after pitching.

Which yeast are you using? In fact, perhaps you should post up the recipe details.
It is not uncommon to get apple aromas during and after fermentation from acetaldehyde and esters being formed.

Edit - clearly I'm running a little slow today. :)

04-05-2011, 12:42 PM
Oh no, why didn't I think of that?! Oh well... that's why you're mentors and I'm not!

04-05-2011, 12:56 PM
That sounds about right, the honey may not have been completely dissolved the first day although i did mix the living "you know what" out of it, i didn't heat the must so the room temperature water most likely didn't dissolve as well. I will read all the newbee threads that i can today while i'm doing nothing at work!

I used approx. 13lbs of mainly alfalfa honey, to make a 5 gallon batch. The yeast was Lalvin 1118 and I used the yeast nutrient, i believe it was DAP ( which i'm kind of regretting because i wanted to see what it would do free of all helpers due to the water i'm using), maybe i'll go "au natural" next batch :) I also won't be sorbating or sulfiting as I want to make the process as clean of chemical intervention as possible. I eat for the most part without perservatives and added colours so that's how i shall drink!

I'm now addicted to the Meadmaking process...

Medsen Fey
04-05-2011, 01:05 PM
With 13 pounds in 5 gallons the expected starting gravity would be around 1.093. I suspect that the 1.104 was just an "off" reading.

04-13-2011, 05:28 PM
so i decided to rack, early i know because i wanted that fermenting bucket to start a new mead cuz i'm impatient and didn't want to buy a new one since i have 4 carboys but only one bucket. I'll be way more patient with the next one ;) My gravity was 1.030, it started around 1.100 so it's not like i did an absolute wrong... But, it was my first time racking and didn't go as smoothly as i would've liked but now the first time is under my belt. It's now in a carboy with an airlock and seems to be fermenting rapidly because of the fruit. The bubbles are coming to the outside surface of the bottle very vigoriously, but at the top of the liquid sits a kind of S shaped foam that i'm wondering could be some bacteria starting out? how do I know if the mead's become infected. It was about 10% alcohol at time of racking but i'm not sure at what point bacteria won't survive in there... someone PLEASE tell me the batch isn't ruined!

04-13-2011, 05:42 PM
The foam is probably just yeast being happy. I'm reading you right that you racked it onto fruit? How much headspace is there right now in it's new container?

04-13-2011, 06:06 PM
I used a good quality blueberry concentrate, not initially what i had planned but fruit is not all that abundant around here and didn't feel like paying $100 for the lack of quaility fruit i needed... summer's coming!

there's prob a finger headspace or so. I've read you should top it up with water but i've also read otherwise so i decide otherwise this time. Is that a no no? also i was thinking - if there was headspace (which there is) wouldn't the CO2 drive it out via the airlock?

04-13-2011, 06:17 PM
Finger width or length? From the airlock, or from where the curve of the carboy/jug starts narrowing? I love details, as much as I can get!

If it's still fermenting then yes you should be safe with a little headspace, assuming you aren't constantly opening it to take readings. But the next time you rack (which will probably be pretty soon, you should rack when fermentation finishes, I sometimes wait a day or so extra so that I can make sure the most sediment possible is being left behind when I rack) you are going to have to deal with that headspace.

There are lots of threads here on dealing with headspace - the main way to deal with it (which you can't do now) is just to ferment in a bucket, or larger carboy, and make a little extra than you'll need, so that when you rack it will fill it all the way up. That only saves you from headspace for your first racking though.

I bought a huge pile of fish-safe glass beads (fish safe is important, means they won't leach poison into the mead) and I use some of those to take up the extra space every time I rack. They're a pain to deal with, but they've served me well.

04-13-2011, 06:34 PM
its a finger length just above where the glass curves. I had a feeling to just leave that headspace because i knew that once the juice was in there the yeast would be in love with the extra nutrient and sugars and continue the fermentation quite stongly. I botched the racking a little by letting more air in than i should've. I've got a theory though, since blueberries are antioxidants hopefully that cancelled out the excess oxygen i let in :) Next racking i will definitely top it up with water and make more of the must next time to fill that head space! Thanks AToE!!

04-13-2011, 06:47 PM
Well, just for some extra food for thought - yes blueberries contain antioxidants, but unfortunately they also contain most of the easily oxidizable compound that would be in your mead! A traditional mead with no fruit is very hard to oxidize... really hard. The fact that your fermentation is still going is the main thing that will help protect your mead though.

I wouldn't stress about it, it should be ok, and that's how you learn for future rackings! Also, good call on leaving a little headspace if it's still fermenting.

Topping up to lets say an inch or so below the airlock (want to leave a little room for temp fluctuations) is a good idea after your next racking - water will work as you mention, or you could mix up a little honey with the water so that you're not diluting the mead. Or you could top it up with some blueberry juice. Lots of options!