View Full Version : Chalk

04-27-2005, 10:36 AM
I have a mead that's WAY too acidic. Basically, a close friend gave me an incorrect recipe and I used too much lemon juice.

Have any of you ever heard of using chalk to counteract this? That's what someone recommended to me, but the thought of actually putting chalk into my mead makes me nervous.

I am planning to add some vanilla extract (not sure how much) in the secondary to help the flavor out, but I think the sour taste may still pervade if I don't do something about the acid.

What do you guys think?

04-27-2005, 12:11 PM
What was the recipe, how old is the mead, and is it still bulk aging ?

Easiest solution is to let it age out. However, if after aging it is still to acidic, I'd stick with K-carbonate or Calcium Carbonate to buffer your acidity.

They both have their drawbacks.

K-carbonate additions run about 3.8 grams per gallon and will lower your acidity by about .1%, but you need to have your fermenter in cold storage for several weeks after application. You may get some crystals dropping in the bottom of the fermenter (I think lagerman pointed that out somewhere). Calcium carbonate does't need cold storage, but it affects flavor, takes some time to drop out of your mead, and goes after tartaric then malic and citric acid in that order..

Dragging fingers across the chalkboard,


04-27-2005, 12:15 PM
The recipe can be seen in the brewlog under Blackanchor Batch #1.

It's less than 2 months old, and will be consumed in August.

04-27-2005, 12:25 PM
Calcium carbonate and chalk are one and the same...although i wouldnt suggest using blackboard or sidewalk chalk in your mead as they probably contain other ingredients. Calcium carbonate is commonly used as a brewing additive for pH control, but it must be used properly to avoid off flavors as Oskaar mentioned.

04-27-2005, 12:29 PM
I'd still let it go for a while before I added any buffering agents.



04-27-2005, 12:35 PM
I absolutly agree and didnt mean to suggest otherwise if thats what it sounded like.

04-27-2005, 12:35 PM
That was my thinking as well.

So how much vanilla can I safely add to the secondary?

04-27-2005, 12:44 PM
How much vanilla flavor are you looking for?

1 to 2 would impart a nice hint. 3 to 5 would add a strong presence.

04-27-2005, 12:48 PM
First of all, I'm using extract, not whole beans.

Secondly, strong would be better. It's fairly flavorless right now (except the sourness I'm hoping will mellow out).

04-27-2005, 01:08 PM
Sorry Joe,

When I posted I got a warning that someone else had posted at the same time. I wasn't responding to your post, but to Val's, and only as a suggestion seeing that it is going to be consumed in August.

Sorry if it sounded like I was giving you a rought time. I'll be sure to watch that "...has posted while you were typing . . . " message next time. :-[


Dan McFeeley
04-27-2005, 01:52 PM
Hello Val --

If you have a pH meter, try getting a reading on this batch. That should give you a good idea of how acidic the mead is.

You can go either way with this -- let it age out, which sounds like a good idea, regardless. You've got stuff like all those allspice berries, the very dark maple syrup, which might add even better flavors to the mead over time.

It's hypothesized that acidity is reduced via aging through the process of esterification -- the acids combining with the alcohols in the mead and forming esters. The esters might add some nice aromatic components to the mead as well. The downside of this is, well, you've got to let it sit for a good long time.

Calcium carbonate could be the quick and easy solution but again, measure the pH so you have a good idea of what the acidity really is. Taste can sometimes be misleading.

Oskaar listed the order of acids which calcium carbonate will go after as first tartaric, then malic and citric. The primary acid in honey is gluconic acid, however, calcium carbonate well work with this as well. I've used it a couple of times in acidic meads with good results.

04-27-2005, 02:02 PM
Unfortunately, long-term aging isn't an option. It'll get consummed in August at Pennsic whether I consider it good enough or not ;D

As to pH, I'm what you'd call a "rustic" brewer, I don't have a pH meter or hydrometer or anything besides my eyes, nose and mouth.

I do appreciate everyone's input, though.

04-27-2005, 02:16 PM
Not a problem Oskaar, I actually wasnt sure if you were replying to me or not, I just wanted to state that I agreed with you and make sure that what I said was clear in case the way I stated it sounded obscure. i'm always a proponent of extended aging rather than tinkering. I think all meads, even ones that are good out of the primary, have something to be gained from a little rest.

04-28-2005, 08:57 AM
Then in the rustic/experimental way of doing things.... I'd suggest taking a sample of your mead out of the carboy and put it in a glass. Add small amounds of chalk to the mead and watch the reaction. If it's rather violent/active, then you're mead is very acidic. Otherwise, it's more base than acid. Also, this will give you a chance to taste it to see and compare the amounts you've added and then add to the carboy if the taste changes noticeably.

DO NOT add the removed sample back to the carboy simply because it's been used as an experiment in taste and PH.


05-09-2005, 09:25 AM
I got to thinking about this over the weekend. Wouldn't dropping in a TUMS work?