Does this water test look like a problem to solve?

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.
Feca

#1: Post by Feca »

hi everyone, did a water test and I'm not sure what to do about them. I did go through the stickies, insanely long thread, etc. but couldn''t figure out a conclusion for my case. Are these results worth tweaking/improving? My impression is that hardness is probably a bit too high and alkalinity hardness does look elevated to me (but not sure it's considered an issue). Here:

PH: 6.5
Alkalinity (ppm): 150
Hardness (ppm): 100
Chlorine: 0.05

My research so far points towards a carbon filter, since I'm under the impression it will reduce alkalinity ppm but not excessively reduce hardness ppm (since it's undesirable for this to be zero). Is my reasoning so far off? Would really like to just add a Brita style jug to my setup and call it a day, if that will improve my metrics.

What do you folks think? What would you do with these test results? I should add, this is city water and the city reported numbers look similar to my home test results.

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homeburrero
Team HB

#2: Post by homeburrero »

That water is unusual in that it has higher alkalinity than hardness, but you do occasionally see that. The pH looks oddly low but I suspect that might be a mis-measurement.

It's a little scale prone but that could be addressed by a softener. As long as your chloride is not high the ideal softener here might be a decarbonizing filter (WAC resin, which exchanges hydrogen ions rather than sodium ions). It would reduce both the hardness and the alkalinity, and most of these filters have an adjustable bypass so you can dial them in for good alkalinity (ideally keeping more than 40 mg/L).

A conventional softener (SAC resin, exchanges sodium ions) would also do the job, lowering the hardness very low but keeping all that alkalinity. Conventional wisdom is that alkalinity that high might lead to a dull flat taste. That's true for cupping and filter coffee, but espresso tolerates a much much higher alkalinity so I don't see that as an issue for an espresso machine. If you have borderline or high chloride ion the conventional softener (which keeps alkalinity and does not acidify the water) might be a better choice for machine health.

Some areas of PA do have high chloride ion (which is different than chlorine) in their water, and high chloride is a corrosion risk. It's not easily filtered and If high you may want an RO system. La Marzocco, for example, often recommends using RO if the chloride ion level is greater than 30 mg/L. Check your water utility report for chloride numbers. (Or call contact the utility and ask if the numbers aren't in the report.)


Feca wrote:My research so far points towards a carbon filter, since I'm under the impression it will reduce alkalinity ppm but not excessively reduce hardness ppm (since it's undesirable for this to be zero). Is my reasoning so far off? Would really like to just add a Brita style jug to my setup and call it a day, if that will improve my metrics.
A carbon filter will not reduce hardness or alkalinity. Many jug filters contain a WAC resin in addition to the carbon, and these will reduce hardness and alkalinity, and acidify the water a little when new. (One exception is the Brita 'longlast', which has no WAC resin and does not affect hardness, alkalinity, and pH.)

As far as low hardness being undesirable, opinion varies. Note Jim's taste test in the insane FAQ - the conventionally softened water did not fare that badly. And notice the popularity of the rpavlis water recipe (which has zero hardness) with participants on this site.
Pat
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Feca (original poster)

#3: Post by Feca (original poster) »

Thank you, Pat, for your thoughtful response. Your comments make me think my home test is probably off, since it was an eyeball test (color reacting strips). So I went investigating and found a different report, which looks more legit , and it looks like this:

PH: 7.5
Alkalinity: 56 mg/l
Hardness: 205 ppm
Chloride: 20.6 mg/l
Chlorine: 1.5 ppm

Given that my test results look off, and your comments, I'm inclined to follow the city report I just found.

It seems I'm in need of a softener that also may reduce the ph a bit? Based on your previous response, WAC resin still a good choice, correct?

Thanks for the input.

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homeburrero
Team HB

#4: Post by homeburrero »

Feca wrote:So I went investigating and found a different report, which looks more legit , and it looks like this:

PH: 7.5
Alkalinity: 56 mg/l
Hardness: 205 ppm
Chloride: 20.6 mg/l
Chlorine: 1.5 ppm
Very different!


Feca wrote:It seems I'm in need of a softener that also may reduce the ph a bit? Based on your previous response, WAC resin still a good choice, correct?
No, with these numbers you want to avoid a WAC softener. It will be scale prone if you don't reduce the hardness, but given the water's moderate alkalinity and borderline chloride you don't want anything that might reduce the alkalinity and acidify the water. A conventional SAC softener would be the ticket here. These don't have a bypass - they reduce the hardness drastically until the resin is depleted, and you must take care to replace them (or for some, you can manually recharge them) before they are depleted.

P.S.
WAC - weak acid cation. Also called a decarbonizing resin. It exchanges hydrogen ions for the hardness ions, and results in lower hardness and alkalinity by an equivalent amount. It tends to acidify the water and drops the TDS reading a little.

SAC - strong acid cation. This is the conventional softening resin which exchanges sodium (or sometimes potassium) ions for the hardness ions. It does not reduce the pH, the alkalinity, or the TDS reading.
Pat
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Feca (original poster)

#5: Post by Feca (original poster) »

Ah, awesome, thank you! I feel like I owe you a consulting fee. Let me know if you're ever in central PA and I'll invite you a coffee with perfectly :wink: filtered water. :mrgreen: