How is my water?

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

#1: Post by elpolymath »

Hey everyone, I'm somewhat new here and just got Breville Oracle recently. I use filtered water from my Frigidaire fridge (https://www.frigidaire.com/Filters--Acc ... ers/WF3CB/) and also have a filter in the machine's reservoir. I stsrted reading threads here and everything got a bit overwhelming with different types of filtration systems.

How would you rate my city's water and what filter would you recommend that I get?

Newly published 2020 report:

http://imgur.com/a/le8wMvr



2019 report:

Chlorine as CI2: 0.85 ppm
Nitrate as N: 0.31 ppm
Barium: 0.02 ppm
Chromium (total): 1 ppb
Lead: 4.1 - 1 ppb (min-max)
Copper: 0.12 - 0 ppm (min-max
pH (treatment plant): 7.00 - 7.33 SU
pH (distribution system): 7.24 - 7.47
Alkalinity: 36 - 84 mg/L as CaCO3
Chromium (UCMR3): ND - 0.31 ppb

Secondary Standards - water quality parameters related to the aesthetic quality of drinking water
Alkalinity: 30 - 59 ppm
Aluminum: ND - 0.06 ppm
Calcium: 14 - 15 ppm
Chloride: 64 - 142 ppm
Hardness (as CaCO3): 62 - 93 ppm
pH: 6.99 0 7.6 ppm
Sodium: 35 - 74 ppm
Sulfate: NA - 8 ppm

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homeburrero
Team HB

#2: Post by homeburrero »

That's a pretty good report.

It tells you three things:

1. Your calcium and alkalinity levels are high enough that you *may* get slight limescale in a hot steam boiler. You can watch for that and descale if necessary, or if in doubt use a conventional softener to reduce it to never-descale levels.

2. Your alkalinity is about optimum. You don't want to reduce that, so you want to avoid decarbonizing softeners (AKA hydrogen exchange, aka WAC resin filters) like the BWT betsmax, Everpure Claris, Mavis/Brita C/Quell. The BWT Bestsave in-tank filter is also a decarbonizing filter. The Rocket and Oscar pouch filters are conventoinal softener resins and would be OK. This is especially important because of the high chloride discussed next.

3. The chloride ion level is unfortunately very high at 56 - 142 ppm over the past couple years. This is a corrosion risk, and is your major problem as it can't be easily filtered. Chloride ion in excess of 15 - 30 mg/L is enough for some manufacturers to recommend using reverse osmosis (RO) filtration systems. (See Chloride in Water - Recommended Acceptable Ranges .) Your other option would be to go with bottled water or recipe water involving minerals added to purified water.
Pat
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elpolymath (original poster)

#3: Post by elpolymath (original poster) »

Thank you for your response Pat!

Are you saying that since Chloride levels are too high that options recommended in points 1 and 2 (The Rocket and Oscar pouch filters are conventoinal softener resins) wouldn't work?

My options are:

1. Reverse osmosis system - probably not viable since I'm renting, unless it's easily installed/uninstalled.
2. Bottled water service - any recommendations?
3. Distilled water and add minerals - need to look into this.

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homeburrero
Team HB

#4: Post by homeburrero »

elpolymath wrote:Are you saying that since Chloride levels are too high that options recommended in points 1 and 2 (The Rocket and Oscar pouch filters are conventoinal softener resins) wouldn't work?
The Rocket or Oscar pouch solution should work to avoid the need to descale the machine. They won't reduce alkalinity or pH, and so they won't make the chloride corrosion issue any worse, but they also won't reduce the chloride. Some people might just live with that issue, it depends on the value of the machine and how many years you expect to keep it in service. Machines with brass and copper boilers are more vulnerable. Your chloride is high, but not up in the 200+ mg/L levels of Cambridge Mass, which is where La Marzocco experienced high corrosion issues in commercial machines, and started advising us about chloride and corrosion risk.

I have no advice about bottled water services. Online information from suppliers like Culligan are surprisingly devoid of any hard information about their bottled drinking water.

For grocery store water you often see recommendations to use Crystal Geyser, but you have to be careful because it comes from seven different water sources, some of them not a good choice. See Best bottled water for espresso machine

For do-it-yourself water you will see tons of discussion on this forum. The simple 'rpavlis water" (Named for late chemistry professor Robert Pavlis, who posted here on HB as rpavlis) is probably the best for a start. It's simply 100 mg/L potassium bicarbonate in purified water. You can also just use plain baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). In a 5 gallon jug of purified (RO, de-ionized, distilled) water you would add about 1.9 grams of potassium bicarbonate, or 1.6 grams if using sodium bicarbonate. It dissolves easily, gives you a nice 50 mg/L of alkalinity, and has nothing that might deposit scale inside the machine.
Pat
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elpolymath (original poster)

#5: Post by elpolymath (original poster) »

My machine is Breville Oracle (same internals as BDB). Machine came with Breville Water Filter in the water reservoir. Value of it is around $2k and I would like to use it for as many years as possible (or sell it to someone in near new condition once I get an upgraditis).

Thank you for the link for bottled water. My local BJ's has Poland Spring, Crystal Geyser (noted on the source) and Polar Artic Water. I will go there to get more info on each one and see what I can find out. I live in North East so I assume water for CG will be from NY, which is too hard. If these waters are not suitable, I think Rocket or Oscar pounch might be best ideas. Where do you reckon that I get one of these? I see that Clive Coffee has Oscar Water Softening Pouch.

Wholesale retailers do not have distilled water and local grocery stores do not have distilled or purified water in bigger than 1 gallon bottles. I will have to check if there are any water treatment businesses that sell it in 2.5 - 5g jugs. If I do find a place that sells it, would you recommend rpavlis water and not any of the recipes from baristahustle that additionally recommend adding epsom salts? DIY Coffee Water Recipes

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Peppersass
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#6: Post by Peppersass »

For more background on hardness, alkalinity and softening, read Jim Schulman's Insanely Long Water FAQ.

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homeburrero
Team HB

#7: Post by homeburrero »

elpolymath wrote:My machine is Breville Oracle (same internals as BDB). Machine came with Breville Water Filter in the water reservoir.
That 'Claro Swiss' filter does have a softening capacity, although it's not clear what type and how much. Most likely it is a conventional resin, and would soften your water well enough if replaced every 2 or 3 months.


elpolymath wrote:I see that Clive Coffee has Oscar Water Softening Pouch.
That should work. That's the large size so before buying it you might want to ask Clive if it fits in a BDB reservoir. The Rocket pouches are just rebranded Bilt/Oscar softening pouches.


elpolymath wrote:Wholesale retailers do not have distilled water and local grocery stores do not have distilled or purified water in bigger than 1 gallon bottles. I will have to check if there are any water treatment businesses that sell it in 2.5 - 5g jugs. If I do find a place that sells it, would you recommend rpavlis water and not any of the recipes from baristahustle that additionally recommend adding epsom salts?
I'm partial to the simpler rpavlis recipe because I'm not convinced that hardness minerals are really that necessary and think it may be safest to just leave out the Epsom (which has magnesium hardness but also has sulfate ion). You can try it and If you don't taste an improvement with the Epsom just leave it out.

I think if it were me, I would go to the trouble of making water and avoiding the possible corrosion due to the chloride level in your tap water.


Peppersass wrote:For more background on hardness, alkalinity and softening, read Jim Schulman's Insanely Long Water FAQ.
Absolutely. Written a long time ago it's still the best thing out there related to hardness and alkalinity, including a taste test, and especially useful in estimating and dealing with scale in espresso equipment.
Pat
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elpolymath (original poster)

#8: Post by elpolymath (original poster) »

Thank you again for all of your help Pat! I found a water store and bought a 3 gallon jug of purified water. I mixed in a tad bit less than 1g of sodium in it. I bought Hach 5B kit and tested the hardness with it just to make sure and it turned purple right a way. Fridge filtered water took 3 drops.

I assume there is no difference between using potassium bicarbonate vs good ol' baking soda, right?

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homeburrero
Team HB

#9: Post by homeburrero »

elpolymath wrote:I assume there is no difference between using potassium bicarbonate vs good ol' baking soda, right?
No difference in terms of machine health. Possibly a difference in taste. Using baking soda in your recipe would give your water a sodium ion of 23 mg/L. That's not much -- the old 2011 SCAA water quality handbook recommended 10 mg/L sodium ion for superior brew and 0 - 30 mg/L for adequate brew. I suspect that some very fussy recipes out there that have you using half sodium bicarb and half potassium bicarb are doing that to hit that 10 mg/L value. Take all that with a grain of salt - the newer SCAE publications and the 2018 SCA water quality handbook have no recommendation for or against sodium.

Proponents of potassium bicarbonate believe that even that small amount of sodium might affect taste for some people, and argue that potassium would be better because the coffee itself is loaded with high potassium and therefore a small amount of added potassium from the brew water is not going to affect taste.

You can get potassium bicarbonate from winemaker supply shops or online. The cost is negligible. Potassium bicarbonate is a heavier molecule than sodium bicarbonate ( 100 g/mol rather than 84 g/mol) so you use a little more of it by weight to get the same alkalinity.
Pat
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elpolymath (original poster)

#10: Post by elpolymath (original poster) »

Thank you again! I will go to a local home brew store today to pick ups 2oz for $2. I see that Amazon has 1lb for $8.99, but going thru a whole pound of it might take few years.