Spring Water or Purified Water?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by geneseohawk, Jan 2, 2013.

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  1. geneseohawk

    geneseohawk Initiate (0) Nov 4, 2008 Illinois

    My tap water here is well water and contains a lot of rust and minerals so I have usually purchased water from Wally World when brewing. Do you have a preference of Spring vs Purified that both come in gallon form? I am looking to brew an IPA in the next couple days. I do have gypsum that I can add as well. Thoughts?
     
  2. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,903) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    If you brew all grain, I would recommend RO water, then adding the minerals for the type of beer being brewed.

    Extract would be more forgiving and you could use Spring water.

    Spring water can have almost no minerals, or a fair amount depending on the source/brand. If you really want to spend the money, you should find out what is in the base water before you brew and adjust.
     
    kkleu357 likes this.
  3. sarcastro

    sarcastro Disciple (313) Sep 20, 2006 Michigan

    Just curious, where and about how much does it cost to find out what is in your base water?

    I know to check the water report, but I find different years and the there are always differences.
     
  4. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,030) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    You can send a sample to Ward Labs. www.wardlab.com
    They have a test/report (maybe two) tailored for homebrewers.
    I don't remember what it costs, but it's not much.
     
  5. sarcastro

    sarcastro Disciple (313) Sep 20, 2006 Michigan

  6. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,903) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    You can rinse a bottled water container (small) with distilled water, fill and send. 10-12 oz. is more than enough.
    Test W-6 gives you the minerals you are concerned with, $16.50 and shipping.

    How much variation are you seeing? If you are in Royal Oak you have water from Lake Huron, which has smaller seasonal variations than some places.
     
  7. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,030) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    That would work. But as hopfenunmaltz said, it can be done cheaper without the kit, by sending your sample for test W-6. (Or W-5 if you are concerned there may be excessive iron in your water, but that's not usually a problem.)
     
  8. leedorham

    leedorham Initiate (0) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    As others have said, it would be helpful if you specified extract or all-grain.

    When I was still brewing extract, I tried distilled water once and never looked back. You'd want to use something with mineral content for any partial mash you do, but for top off water or any extract-only batch you should use distilled imho.
     
  9. billandsuz

    billandsuz Zealot (510) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    there are no standards regulating bottled water other than it has to be safe to drink (safe as determined by health code, EPA and usually your states drinking water standard if more restrictive than EPA).

    if you are not going to be analyzing the water, treating the water and paying special attention to your water in general, and your well water is really not adequate (high iron is a particularly difficult fault to brew with), you can simply buy any generic bottled water. you might want to check to see the source. if it is a municipal supply then it is just someone else's tap water. not a bad thing, but it could have chlorine and should just as well be avoided.

    if this is an extract IPA, do yourself a favor and use distilled water with the addition of burton salts.
    Cheers.
     
  10. geneseohawk

    geneseohawk Initiate (0) Nov 4, 2008 Illinois

    It is extract brewing- but I do partial mash sometimes as well. I heard distilled water is not good for ipa's? I don't have any burton salts- but do have gypsum.
     
  11. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,903) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    The bottled spring water would OK for extract. See if you can find the mineral content online. I use RO water, and pay $0.29/gallon, which is probably cheaper than spring water, and is almost distilled as far a mineral content.

    A couple teaspoons of gypsum might be good for 5 gallons if you use RO.
     
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  12. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (336) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Extracts already have the necessary minerals for an effective mash - not that you could add anything useful after the fact. Thus, distilled or RO are fine for extract brewing. Indeed, some would say distilled or RO are preferred for extract, since all you're really doing is replacing the water that was evaporated during the drying process. I make my own RO water for about $.03/gal (assuming 10:1 waste:water ratio - probably a high guess). You will need to analyze your well water to figure out how to use it for a mini-mash. Or simply start with the blank slate that is distilled/RO and add minerals, as necessary.
     
  13. billandsuz

    billandsuz Zealot (510) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    it is a general truth that lager/pilsner beer requires "soft" water and IPAs require "hard" water. it is impossible to make an accurate version of either style with the wrong kind of water. famous beer styles originated in famous beer cities with the water they had available.

    with that though, pale ales and IPAs are much more forgiving with water profile. this is fortunate since making "typical" water into hardwater is not nearly as difficult or consuming as making "typical" water into soft water (unless you are blessed with naturally soft water, like Plzen). hardness and softness in this context refers to the amount of minerals present within the water.

    so, use any bottled water you like, add a tablespoon of gypsum, and your good.
    your high iron water should work fairly well for dry stout and porter btw.
    without knowing your specific water analysis any advice is going to be very general.
    Cheers.
     
  14. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,903) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    Iron should be avoided like the plague.
     
  15. tngolfer

    tngolfer Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2012 Tennessee

    The Ward Labs link that Sarcastro posted shows the W-6 test costs $26? Is there a different company you use?
     
  16. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,903) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    W-6 still shows $16.50, you provide the container and ship the sample yourself for that price.
    http://www.wardlab.com/FeeSchedule/WaterAnalysis.aspx
     
  17. billandsuz

    billandsuz Zealot (510) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    my point is that we don't always have the luxury or funds to correct the water we have. wouldn't it be great if we were all blessed with an artesian from Bohemia? or even a greensand filter and RO unit? (still saving...)
    "high" iron content, or for that matter "alot of rust and minerals" is not very specific. but truly, a little iron in your water is not nearly as bad as the plague. or so i'm told. yes, iron is a bitch for brewers and a general annoyance all around.
    Cheers.
     
  18. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,903) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    There is high iron around here, it makes the water taste bad. Bad water = bad beer that tastes like it has some blood in it.

    From Brunwater below. The iron around here makes every thing red. I am glad my town runs the water through green earth filter beds to remove it -and the water is still crap for brewing. Sure a little might be OK. A lot of the water in the Colorado has a little radioactivy, and that is OK.

    "Iron may be tasted at concentrations of greater than 0.3 parts per million (ppm or mg/L).The iron taste threshold may also be reported as 300 parts per billion (ppb or µg/L).Iron has a very metallic taste that is easily conveyed into the finished beer. Rust-colored deposits on plumbing fixtures may be an indicator of elevated iron content in water."
     
  19. billandsuz

    billandsuz Zealot (510) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    a vast number of America has iron above the taste thresh hold. it is probably the greatest single aesthetic problem in our water supply. im aware of this because it helps to pay my salary. what we perceive as "high" iron is exactly because it is quite noticable (same for sulfur btw). it is not extraordinary or unsuitable for brewing in many cases. generally. without knowing the analysis.
    the vast majority of homebrewers are using their water without any treatment. iron content included.

    without treatment virtually none of us have ideal brewing water,which i am aware you know. the quote provided is enough to make a water treatment pro go postal. iron comes in different forms requiring different specific treatment solutions. im not disagreeing that iron is generally a bad thing for brewing. many homebrewers with modest iron water can make passable stouts and porters without treatment. the addition of 1 gallon distilled to every 5 gallon brew is a plausible and practile solution for example.

    also, your descritpion of blood flavor is spot on and one i have been using forever because though nobody wants to admit, we know the flavor and it is specific. it is gross but accurate. the taste of a 9 volt battery is also a fine description.
    Cheers.
     
  20. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,903) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    I agree with your comments that it will be OK at low levels. If one can avoid it fine. I have picked it up judging beer, why have a defect like that?

    BTW - in some places in the American west, there are sign to avoid Prarie Dog Towns, due to the plague. I head those.
     
  21. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,903) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    Heed those. It is late. Going to bed.:slight_smile:
     
  22. slayerhellfire

    slayerhellfire Initiate (0) Dec 24, 2009 New York

    if your water dose not smell then use tap, I think people get to crazy over there water have not brewed a bad batch with tap water.
     
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  23. kaips1

    kaips1 Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2011 Kentucky

  24. jlordi12

    jlordi12 Devotee (470) Jun 8, 2011 Massachusetts

    So you can send a sample to ward labs w/out purchasing their kit?? Very interested in getting into water chemistry. Thanks
     
  25. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,030) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Back in the day, you could end a sample and pay for the test without getting an actual "kit" (sample bottle , forms, etc.) from them. I don't know if that's still true.
     
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  26. AngryDutchman

    AngryDutchman Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2015 Pennsylvania

    A vigorous boil throws off the harmful chemicals, doesn't it?
    As for the original poster's water, if I were him I'd incorporate at least 10% of his mineral-infused water just for the sake of brewing a distinctive house-flavor and see how it is. I remember drinking PBR back when I was a kid and it had a distinctive metallic tang that I don't find in beers anymore. Whether that was from the water, the kettles or the lines I don't know. But at that point in my life it was an attribute that defined and distinguished "beer" in my mind.
     
  27. AngryDutchman

    AngryDutchman Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2015 Pennsylvania

    Sorry, that attached to the wrong comment
     
  28. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,030) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Which harmful chemicals do you have in mind?

    Chlorine: Yes, but it's too late if you've already mashed/steeped with it.
    Chloramines: No.
    Metals: No
    Ionic Compounds: Mostly No.
     
  29. jlordi12

    jlordi12 Devotee (470) Jun 8, 2011 Massachusetts

    http://wardlab.com/FeeSchedule/WardLabs_FeeSchedule_Web.pdf#page=10

    Ask for the household mineral test ? Looks like it is still an option but for 21$
     
  30. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,030) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    W-5, W-5A, or W-6 will give you all the information normally of interest for brewing. But get W-5 or W-5A if you think there might be excessive iron in your water. (Usually not a problem.)
     
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  31. deleted_user_1007501

    deleted_user_1007501 Initiate (0) Jun 30, 2015

    I'm no chemist, more of a laissez-faire brewer. I brewed 5 gal of APA and just used 3/5 distilled water and 2/5 Gerber brand water which had some calcium as well as a few other minerals like potassium in low amounts. It turned out to be my best brew. Stroke of luck? Maybe. But I've been using that water ratio ever since.
     
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