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Suggestions on water analysis

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:51 pm
by Mob_Barley
I tried to get a water analysis from the rural water supply for my area. All they had was a check of bacteria and chlorine levels. No full analysis including carbonates, sulfates, etc. Does anyone know of a kit that I can purchase cheaply that will allow me to test my water for the typical analysis used by Papazian, Daniels, and others? I'd like the option of treating my water if I feel it's necessary for a particular style. I know I can probably buy a RO unit and treat it, or send it off to a lab and pay a lot of money, but there should be a small kit available somewhere...

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:55 pm
by zeeboz
I would also be interested in finding out if there was an inexpensive kit out there that could provide a detailed water analysis without having to send it off as "bdjwayne" suggests.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:58 pm
by Mob_Barley
I even went as far as finding the engineering firm that did the original test well analysis, and they didn't have the data either. Sometimes I feel like we live in the "sticks".

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:01 pm
by zeeboz
LOL !!! Me too...

If the cost is not too high, I would be willing to entertain the idea of splitting to cost with someone ....

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:12 pm
by Mob_Barley
You live in Abbeville? I get my water from the rural supply near North Vermilion High School which is right down the road. I don't know if the water sources are close enough to be considered the same. I still have a colorimeter from my pool store, which will test for the usual swimming pool related parameters: free and total chlorine (includes chloramines), pH, Calcium Hardness, Total Alkalinity, copper and iron. The reagents are a little old, but I think they are still good. I don't know how much value these numbers would be to anyone. They are usually in ppm.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:09 pm
by aleguy
All the wells in southwest Louisiana draw from the same aquifer, and should be virtually identical. The problem comes in the form of what gets into it after it is brought up from below ground. Igor has detailed water analysis spreadsheets for Lafayette water. Yours should be the same except for chlorine, corrosion from pipes etc. A simple carbon filter should provide water adequate for making all style of beer except possibly Bohemian pilseners and dark ales like stouts. For stouts a little gypsum and Burton salts should doctor the chemistry well enough.
If you really feel the need for a detailed water analysis. Your water provider is required by federal law to do one every year. Unless you have a private well, you have every right to that information. If the water provider isn't willing to give you the analysis, there is no kit that will give you anything like the accuracy you need for making beer water. A lab analysis is a must.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:37 pm
by Mob_Barley
I posted to AHA TechTalk about the water test, and got a reply:

You can get a water analysis relatively cheaply from Ward Laboratories

Click on "fee schedule", then on "water analysis", then look for the
W-5 Household Complete Mineral Test ($26.50) or the W-6 Household
Mineral Test for ($16.50)

The W-6 test is probably all you need, unless you want the water
tested for iron and flouride. You can easily detect iron in your
water by tastes, and if you've got iron in the water, it isn't too
good for brewing

I've seen little test kits at places like Lowe's but they aren't all
that much cheaper, and aren't nearly as accurate.


--Paul Edwards
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)
Central indiana Alliance of Beer Judges (CIA)
"We tap kegs, not phones"

I think the W-6 Household Mineral Test for $16.50 is a great deal. Here is what is included in the test:

Electrical Conductivity
Est. Total Dissolved Solids
Total Hardness (Lime)
Total Alkalinity

There may be others reply tomorrow when TechTalk comes out, but this seems like what I'm looking for. And Zeeboz, you don't have to split an analysis with anyone!!


PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:57 pm
by Mob_Barley
You'd be surprised just how different each water supplier's water is. I had to keep a sheet on each water supplier's tap water because they all differed in pH, Calcium, Total Alkilinity, and some even had some iron and copper where others didn't. People with their own wells had so much iron the water would turn brown when they added chlorine to their pools. And this is just in the Abbeville area. The supplier's aren't required to keep a mineral analysis because I asked them and they sent me to the engineering firm that did the chemical analysis on the original test wells. They weren't required to do a full chemical analysis either, so they didn't have one. I forget what's included in the sheet I was given, chlorine levels mainly, and bacteria checks. That's about all.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 5:32 pm
by Imakewort
Lafayette's water comes from multiple wells, some are at different depths that means a different mineral make up might be slight might not. I modify all my water I have a mineral analyses from ward laboratories and use Palmer's RA spreadsheets NOT REPEAT DO NOT go by historical models for mineral make up for beer by style, nobody brews beer with that water, here are 2 links to get you started

PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 10:04 am
by Imakewort
Here is my water report for the scott area from ward Laboratories
Na-26, potassium K-- 1, Calcium Ca--26, Magnesium Mg-- 10, Total hardness CaCO3--107, Nitrate NO3-N--0.1, Sulfate SO4-S--4, Chloride CI--11, Carbonate CO3--11, Bicarbonate HCO3--154, Total alkalinity CaCO3--144,
This is for the Scott water system you might be on a differant well so your water could be differant, mayne we can get water reports from differanrt areas and see if they are differant

PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 12:09 pm
by aleguy
How does your Ward analysis stack up to the water provider's analysis? I know Scott has to be big enough for the Feds to require an annual water analysis. I don't know where my water comes from, (I can't get an answer from my landlord about it) but I suspect it's from a shallow private well that doesn't go deep enough to tap into the aquifer.
I know a few years back we had problems with raw sewage from the open septic pit seeping into our water supply, which is why I invested in my RO system. I should probably be using RO water for brewing, but it's such a pain to get that much water out of it that I usually just buy bottled water (currently Abita Springs.)

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 5:32 am
by Mob_Barley
All the water company had was a report that gave the daily chlorine/chloramine tests, bacteria tests, and maybe pH. I was surprised that they didn't have a detailed mineral and chemical analysis of the wells they use. But I guess they just do the minimum required by law and nothing more. I think the variability of the wells must come from the watershed geology. The water must percolate down through different minerals in different parts of the area. The test from Ward is cheap and gives all the mineral and chemical analysis needed to adjust your water to whichever historic brewing water you want to use. If the alkalinity of the specific brewing water you want to use is very low, you may need to dilute your water with RO or distilled water to get close.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 11:55 am
by aleguy
I believe that some water providers are exempt from the detailed analysis provision if they have fewer than a set minimum of customers.
The majority of the water in the aquifer we use comes from farther north. There is a rather impervious layer of clay and shale underlying us her which prevents water from the local area from entering. This is good because of the vast amount of pollution in this more urbanized region (I-10.)
Most commercial brewers use a food-grade acid to deal with alkaline water.
There is a product called 5.2 available that purports to maintain mash Ph at that level.