Help with water quality

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

#1: Post by geraldk »

Hey everyone, I'm new here but have been lurking for a few days and have found great info so far! I'm fairly new to making espresso but have a new machine on the way and am super excited!

I'm trying to make sure our water is ok or find out what I need to do to treat it as I want to avoid descaling a dual boiler with rotary pump and want the best tasting coffee of course. I've spent hours online but find the information really confusing. I did get a lengthy detailed report from our municipality and have listed some data from the report below. I would appreciate any advice you would have. Also I can post any other specifics off the report if needed.

Everything is reported in mg/L
Chlorine, Total - 0.49
Chlorine, Free - 0.32
Hardness (from Dissolved Ca and Mg) Hardness (as CaCO3) - 81.3
Calcium (Ca)-Total - 22.9
Magnesium (Mg)-Total - 6.13
Potassium (K)-Total - 2.59
Sodium (Na)-Total - 139
pH - 7.72
Bicarbonate (HCO3) - 386
Alkalinity, Total (as CaCO3) - 317
Chloride (Cl) - 25.1
Chlorate - 0.078
Chlorite - <0.050

Thank you!


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#2: Post by homeburrero »

You have very high alkalinity (317 mg/L CaCO3 equivalent) and relatively low hardness, which is uncommon.* If you have a reservoir, and can get purified (distilled, de-ionized, RO) water I think your best bet for a non-scaling water would be to mix 1 part charcoal filtered tapwater with about 4 parts distilled. That would give you a healthy alkalinity of about 59 mg/L, and a low total hardness of about 16 mg/L with a calcium hardness of 11 mg/L, which should be nonscaling. And the chloride would be diluted down to a nice low 5 mg./L.

For a Cadillac plumb-in system this water would work fine with an RO unit with a blending valve.

With the very high alkalinity you would probably be OK with a BWT bestmax, although that would not help with your borderline high chloride. Chloride (not to be confused with chlorine) is undesirable for corrosion reasons. It can vary seasonally and some manufacturers advise using RO to eliminate it when it averages above 15 - 30 mg/L.

* That is very interesting tap water. The high sodium, high bicarbonate, and relatively low hardness indicates that La Crete is doing cation exchange softening at the water treatment plant. After a little googling I verified that was the case. You don't often see this. (DeKalb IL is another case where we've seen a water utility that does this.)
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geraldk (original poster)

#3: Post by geraldk (original poster) »

Hi Pat, thanks for the reply!

I wasn't sure what process they were using at the treatment plant but did notice the alkalinity was way higher than recommended for coffee. For now I'll just use the water reservoir and will use your advice and mix filtered with RO water. When I ordered the machine I didn't really know what I would need so I did buy a few of the Rocket in tank filters which are supposed to help with scale so I'll probably use those as well for now anyway.

Now I question if our water is healthy with the high sodium and alkalinity levels as this is what we drink everyday.


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#4: Post by homeburrero »

geraldk wrote:Now I question if our water is healthy with the high sodium and alkalinity levels as this is what we drink everyday.
If your doc has you on a very low sodium diet I think that might be an issue. Eight glasses (about 2L) of that water could give you nearly 300 mg of sodium, about as much as you'd get from an ounce of Parmesan cheese.

When googling about your water treatment plant I stumbled on an interesting Facebook post from a couple years back. If they run out of softening salt in the future you may experience a period of very hard water. If that happens you would not detect it using a simple conductivity TDS meter. I think you may notice it right off when washing your hair. Hard water is less slippery feeling and doesn't lather well.

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