High alkalinity and very high pH

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

#1: Post by Skoot1123 »

Hey folks - have a general question on my water testing results. Our current setup is well water in the Midwest and we have a Water-Right water softener that uses only solar salt for system regeneration. First I tested for a wide range of minerals (pH, Alkalinity, Chlorine and Free Chlorine, Hardness, Copper, Iron, Nitrate and Nitrite). The water softener does a great job on the water hardness as the reading came back below 30 ppm. Alkalinity and pH on the other hand were rather high at ~240 ppm and 8.4 respectively. (As I understand it a softener won't affect Alkalinity or pH). I didn't quite believe the test and thought perhaps there was user error so I went out and bought the API GH and KH test. I did the test twice and it confirmed the results of 240ppm alkalinity and a higher pH of 9. The GH reading came to ~30. So now my question is how will this affect the machine I am potentially going to buy? Would readings like this cause a bad taste in the coffee or hide some of the more nuanced flavors? Overall I am very happy with our water as it tastes great and I have been happy with our coffee when doing drip or pour-over.

How would these readings affect deposits on the steam and brew boilers if they were stainless steel? Am I making too much of this water quality test? Thanks for the advice!

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#2: Post by homeburrero »

Skoot1123 wrote:we have a Water-Right water softener that uses only solar salt for system regeneration.
I had to look that one up. Your salt is sodium chloride, chemically the same as other sodium softening salts.

And your result is fairly typical of conventionally softened water - you end up with very low hardness and with the same alkalinity as your local tap water. A decarbonizing WAC resin softener like you see in many popular cartridge systems (BWT Bestmax, Everpure Claris, Mavea Quell, etc) is different in that it would tend to reduce the alkalinity and lower the pH as well as reduce the hardness. But I think you have the better approach here*. The high alkalinity will help protect the machine especially if you have corrosives like chloride ion that may be in your water.

One argument against high alkalinity is that it may tend to overly buffer coffee acids and make the coffee dull and flat. This effect is way more pronounced in drip or pourover, and since you find that yours tastes fine you can expect fine tasting espresso.

* Another post related to this with some geeky detail about why conventional softening may be preferable to a decarbonizer in the case of ~300 ppm hardness water can be found here: Water filter to protect my espresso machine
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

Skoot1123 (original poster)

#3: Post by Skoot1123 (original poster) »

Pat - thanks so much for the reply and insight. I'll read up on the thread you linked to, should be some fun reading. Really appreciate you responding!

I'm located in central Illinois and our well pulls from the Mahomet Aquifer. If we didn't use a softener system I'd be drinking rust brown water filled with iron. So the softener system really helps. The results from the nitrate, nitrite, chloride, and chlorine were zero, so I am comfortable with that.

Just for fun I will use some bottled water with the "SCA" recommended readings and do a taste test to see if I can tell a difference in the taste of the drip/pour over coffee.