View Full Version : potassium carbonate necessary with high bicarbonate water?

06-06-2011, 05:04 PM
So, my first mead is fermenting now.

Pitched 48 hours ago and it's gone from 1.112 to 1.096. Not a huge jump, but it's chugging away.

I've been degassing regularly. Degassed 4 times today, about every 4 hours during waking hours today.

Go Ferm was used in the hydration liquid, 12 grams to 8 grams of dried yeast, QA23.

Fermaid K and DAP were added 12 hours after pitching, 4.5 grams of each, and again tonight at 48 hours at 2.8 grams of each.

Using litmus papers from MoreWine has given me some strange results. The must, before fermenting, read as having a pH of around 6.0, which seems weird. This morning, after 36 hours of fermenting, it read about 3.0. Read the same tonight. Using litmus paper from Brouwland, which has a minimum of 3.8, it looks like right around 3.8 to 4.0, again measured the same this morning and tonight.

I don't know which one is accurate, if either even is. Both are reading close to their minimum reading.

The water used has about 386 ppm of bicarbonate. Degassing was vigorous each time. I took a racking cane and inverted it and put it in a drill and used that. The mead foamed heavily each time and I degassed until this foaming subsided.

I have potassium carbonate here but I hesitate to use it because the water already has so much bicarbonate and I don't know if I trust these papers.

For the record, the mead has a total of around 5 gallons of must, 15.87 pounds of honey (used kg, 7.2 or 8 jars total, so that's why the weird pound measurement) and used 8 grams of Lalvin QA23.

Fermentation seems fine thus far. No big foamy head as with beer fermentations, but I can see that it's active with yeast popping to the top and bubbling and the airlock bubbling slowly but strongly.

What do you guys think?

06-06-2011, 05:08 PM
Also, used 3 minutes of pure O2 at pitching, at 12 hours after pitching and at 48 hours after pitching. For this last one, degassed first, then added nutrients and O2.

Medsen Fey
06-06-2011, 05:30 PM
If the lower limit of the Brouwland strips is 3.8, when your must has a pH below that point, it will always read at the lower limit. If your other strips are telling you it is lower, they are probably right. You can test with vinegar if you like to make sure they are working. I prefer a meter.

It is common to see the pH drop from 6 to 3 when fermentation commences. If the yeast continue to do well, you may not need to adjust, but if they show signs of slowing, you can feel comfortable adding carbonates. All the carbonates that were in your water are gone now. They turned into CO2 and bubbled out as the pH dropped.

06-06-2011, 05:59 PM
Thanks for the info!

06-07-2011, 01:14 PM
My OB mead that is finishing up now needed about 1 1/4 tsp of KHCO3 to get my target pH of 3.4 even though my water has 163ppm of HCO3-.