Noobie Question: How To Treat Water (Water Report)

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

#1: Post by bcrdukes »

Hi Fellow HB'ers,

Hope you all enjoyed the holiday period!

I posted a thread in the Tips Threadon what I need to plumb my Rocket Giotto by using a 5-gallon water jug and a Flojet pump. I checked my municipality's water quality report and they don't even make it a point to lie that the water in my area is (in their own words) "moderately hard."

I'm planning to simply buy bottle water regularly but also considering a whole home water softener/treatment system like a Kinetico.

Based on the image and the municipal report (I'm served by Lorne Park Water Treatment Plant) could someone help decipher what all the data means and how I can best treat my water for espresso and drinking water? (Some of the data starts on page 53 onward.) The water in my area comes from Lake Ontario. Thanks in advance!


For what it is worth, I grew up in Vancouver and have been used to soft water my entire life until I moved to Toronto a number of years ago. Since moving to Mississauga, the water is a lot harder.

Regards,

Mike
LMWDP #685

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homeburrero
Team HB

#2: Post by homeburrero »

That water's 120-130 mg/L hardness and 93-100 mg/L alkalinity numbers indicate that it would deposit some scale at steam boiler temps -- at 125C it might deposit 50 - 60 mg of limescale per liter of water fed into the boiler. (See Jim Schulman's Insanely Long water FAQ for scale estimation info).

To avoid periodic descaling you could soften it, and a conventional sodium (or potassium) salt based cation exchange softener (including whole house salt based softeners) would be best. The conventional softener (as opposed to a hydrogen ion exchange softener or WAC resin softener) is advised here because of those chloride numbers.

Your chloride, at 25 - 39 mg/L is a corrosion concern. Some machine makers would consider it high enough that you should use RO filtration to remove it. (La Marzocco often recommends RO whenever the chloride is greater than 30 mg/L and Synesso recommends RO whenever chloride is above 15 mg/L.)

It is a borderline call in this case and your good alkalinity numbers should help mitigate corrosion risk. The reason that I advise against any of the popular hydrogen ion exchange WAC resin softeners (like BWT bestmax or Everpure Claris) in this particular case is because they reduce the alkalinity and acidify the water -- not something you want in this situation.

If you wanted to just be extra cautious about scale and corrosion I think your best choices here are: 1) RO with either a remineralizer cartridge or a blending valve, or 2) just avoid the tapwater and go with bottled or recipe water, pulled from a reservoir or plumbed via a carboy and flojet-like setup.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

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CarefreeBuzzBuzz

#3: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

Go with Pats #2. I use a similar set up. Easy to make the water.
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bcrdukes (original poster)

#4: Post by bcrdukes (original poster) »

homeburrero wrote:That water's 120-130 mg/L hardness and 93-100 mg/L alkalinity numbers indicate that it would deposit some scale at steam boiler temps -- at 125C it might deposit 50 - 60 mg of limescale per liter of water fed into the boiler. (See Jim Schulman's Insanely Long water FAQ for scale estimation info).

To avoid periodic descaling you could soften it, and a conventional sodium (or potassium) salt based cation exchange softener (including whole house salt based softeners) would be best. The conventional softener (as opposed to a hydrogen ion exchange softener or WAC resin softener) is advised here because of those chloride numbers.

Your chloride, at 25 - 39 mg/L is a corrosion concern. Some machine makers would consider it high enough that you should use RO filtration to remove it. (La Marzocco often recommends RO whenever the chloride is greater than 30 mg/L and Synesso recommends RO whenever chloride is above 15 mg/L.)

It is a borderline call in this case and your good alkalinity numbers should help mitigate corrosion risk. The reason that I advise against any of the popular hydrogen ion exchange WAC resin softeners (like BWT bestmax or Everpure Claris) in this particular case is because they reduce the alkalinity and acidify the water -- not something you want in this situation.

If you wanted to just be extra cautious about scale and corrosion I think your best choices here are: 1) RO with either a remineralizer cartridge or a blending valve, or 2) just avoid the tapwater and go with bottled or recipe water, pulled from a reservoir or plumbed via a carboy and flojet-like setup.
Wow, thanks for the detailed reply!

Ditto on the limescale; We boil our water regularly so the kettle gets a LOT of limescale buildup. We end up descaling it regularly using citric acid.

Since moving from Toronto to Mississauga, I had been using tap water exclusively for the Rocket and after a year, my machine got sick and I had to take it in to the shop because I couldn't figure out what the issue was until the service manager descaled it. Despite using the Rocket in-tank softener pack, I don't think it will help. Rubbing salt on the wound, Rocket does not recommend descaling whatsoever.

I think what I'll do is continue with the plumbing using the Flojet setup. Now to figure out what types of connection/hoses are required to make it work. Thank you both for the insight!
LMWDP #685

TheodorAdorno

#5: Post by TheodorAdorno »

Hi all,

Hopefully, a vaguely related question from another newbie ...

I've just started using Third Wave Water (Classic) and it's giving a rather odd reading.

I have a HM digital COM-100 TDS meter which seems well calibrated- it consistently measures 1.7 ppm when I test the distilled water I just bought.

When a use a 2litre TWW sachet mixed in 2 litres of that same distilled water, I am getting a reading of 227-230ppm (3 tests)

That's high isn't it? Or am I missing something?

I can use a sachet in 4 litres instead to get a lower reading (and it will be cheaper) but I was just curious as to what might be happening.

Many thanks in advance for any advice.

Paul.

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homeburrero
Team HB

#6: Post by homeburrero »

Per the FAQ on the TWW website:
Our formula is 150 TDS high in magnesium helping provide natural sweetness in the flavor profiles.
And although TWW does not explicitly say, I'm pretty sure that is the reading you expect when using the NaCl calibration factor ( which makes sense because the inexpensive conductivity TDS meters that most everyone uses are calibrated with that factor.) The conductivity reading should be around 300 microsiemens/cm at 25 ℃.

Your COM-100 will let you select to use the NaCL calibration factor, but if you were to read it using the '442' conversion factor you would expect to see closer to 200 ppm. The temperature of the water is important here - - even though these meters use temp correction they can be way inaccurate when you get away from 25 ℃.

There is a little variability in how much mineral gets into any given packet so you can't expect to be very exact.


TheodorAdorno wrote:I have a HM digital COM-100 TDS meter which seems well calibrated- it consistently measures 1.7 ppm when I test the distilled water I just bought.
To check the calibration of your meter you really need to use a calibration solution.


Note:
The old SCAA guideline that recommended an optimum TDS of 150 ppm for coffee brewing water was based on a '442' calibrated TDS meter, and if you wanted to exactly match that conductivity you would want to read around 115 ppm on a typical inexpensive NaCl calibrated TDS meter. It really doesn't matter much because hitting any precise TDS value is of very little importance compared to having a good mix of minerals that will avoid scale, corrosion, and taste problems with the brew.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

TheodorAdorno

#7: Post by TheodorAdorno »

Many thanks for taking the time to reply Pat.

Added info - I was using the 442 conversion factor to get my 230 figure and I have a 342ppm calibration solution I can use (I didn't use that initially because I assumed [wrongly?] that because the TDS machine was brand new it's factory setting should be okay), but I will calibrate it properly and see what happens.

Thanks again,

Paul.

TheodorAdorno

#8: Post by TheodorAdorno »

Hi again,

I just checked against the calibration liquid and got 346 so recalibrated down to the correct 342. The NaCl reading is now 165.

Thanks again,

Best,

Paul.

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bcrdukes (original poster)

#9: Post by bcrdukes (original poster) »

Thanks for chiming in Paul and Pat!

Curious where I can reliably buy a good, reputable water test kit for domestic use? I would like to test my water regularly. Thanks in advance!
LMWDP #685

TheodorAdorno

#10: Post by TheodorAdorno »

On a taste note ...

I use salt in my cooking but I don't add it to any of my food so maybe I'm a bit more sensitive to the taste than some, but my Third Wave brews are noticeably salty to my palate, to the point that it distracts from the other flavours. Am I an overly- sensitive outlier?

I'll experiment with more dilution, but it looks like I'll soon be going down the rabbit hole of mixing my own water concentrates, oh, joy, another coffee parameter to obsess about :D

Best,

Paul.