Surprised and Troubled by Water... - Page 2

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

#11: Post by homeburrero »

Jake_G wrote:I'm sure Pat will chime in.
Sorry I'm a little late to the discussion.

One problem is that while San Francisco is known to have nice water, that's not necessarily the case for the entire bay area. For example, some sources supplying the East Bay MUD are pretty hard, and the water that Calwater supplies to Livermore looks downright awful, with chloride as well as hardness issues.

I'm a little leery about the report that it was your your anti-vac that was clogged. If the anti-vac is constantly leaking then the water in the steam boiler will become highly concentrated in minerals. The same thing happens if you use the steam wand a lot and don't take care to periodically drain or flush the steam boiler.

Given their advice:
ZebcoKid wrote:The Service Manager wrote, "Please note, scale accumulation is not normally covered under warranty and I must strongly recommend that you change water sources immediately or risk a full void of your remaining warranty. Seattle Coffee Gear has had good results with Poland Springs and Crystal Geyser bottled water in espresso equipment."
I would say that you can start using Crystal Geyser IF it's from the Weed/Mt Shasta bottling plant. That water is non-scaling provided you take care to not let it become over-concentrated as a result of using your steam wand without periodically draining or purging the steam boiler. Better yet you could buy purified water (distilled, de-ionized, RO) and spike it with a little bicarbonate, like the very popular is the 'rpavlis' water. It has zero minerals that might cause scale. See Easiest way to make rpavlis water? .

Down the road you can start looking into options that might let you treat and use your tapwater. Before doing that you need to know a lot more about your tapwater, especially the hardness and the alkalinity. You might get this data from your local water authority, You might also measure your tap water yourself with titration kits, including the simple and inexpensive kits sold for aquarium people, for example the API Fishcare GH & KH kit.

Be aware that your local utility may shift between different water sources, so if you measure yourself it's good to periodically check. You can use an inexpensive TDS meter to keep an eye on your tapwater to quickly detect if they have made a significant change in their water sources.

Once you know your hardness (GH) and alkalinity (KH) numbers you can calculate limescale risk for your water. The best reference for doing this is Jim Schulman's Insanely Long Water FAQ. That FAQ is loaded with information, and for the never-descale adherents has this handy table:

Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

ZebcoKid (original poster)

#12: Post by ZebcoKid (original poster) »

BaristaBoy E61,

I see a Morris Code Key as your icon. Are you a HAM? Do you do code?

I'm W9FOG. I learned code a couple years ago, but remain too shy to use it on the air. Top speed has been 18 wpm (on a good day). I'm getting rustier by the day!
ZK

ZebcoKid (original poster)

#13: Post by ZebcoKid (original poster) »

Pat,

Thank you for your thorough reply. I must admit that it's a bit overwhelming. I was busy trying to make an exceptional espresso. I wasn't prepared for this nuanced level of detail (especially if I am causing damage).

I will start with locating the appropriate water...after I carve out room in my garage for the cases required!

As far as the steam wand and steam boiler are concerned, I have a single boiler.

So...this all begs the question...and here it is:

Can I simply commit to descaling my Appartamento on a quarterly basis. Will this allow me to use my tap water and keep things simple? Or...does descaling damage the machine...otherwise known as the lesser of two evils: scale vs. descale.

Thank you for your thoughts.

By the way...I don't mean to come of as lazy...but it's simply a question of bandwidth. My attention is focused in other places, and I fear I don't have much available for water solutions...if descaling periodically/regularly will get it done.
ZK

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homeburrero
Team HB

#14: Post by homeburrero »

ZebcoKid wrote:As far as the steam wand and steam boiler are concerned, I have a single boiler.
Technically you have an HX, which is not the same as what's usually called a single boiler machine. Unlike a typical single boiler, your brewing water does not go into and out of the steam boiler. If you use the steam wand, and don't drain or flush water out the hot water tap, then your water in there will gradually become more and more concentrated. Most HX machine manuals advise that you periodically flush or drain the steam boiler. The Rocket manual fails to tell you this. If you use a nonscaling water you can manage that effect by periodically flushing out of the hot water tap. (See Using hot water tap to manage steam boiler water concentration .)


ZebcoKid wrote:Can I simply commit to descaling my Appartamento on a quarterly basis. Will this allow me to use my tap water and keep things simple? Or...does descaling damage the machine...otherwise known as the lesser of two evils: scale vs. descale.
You can do prophylactic descales, but you want to do that only after a small amount of scale has accumulated, and before a large amount of scale has accumulated. If a lot of scale has accumulated you risk loosened blobs of scale clogging small passageways. If you do it too frequently, or use harsh acids, you are stripping away protective oxide layers and exposing metals to acid, increasing corrosion risks. That's why more and more vendors of home espresso machines are recommending that users not descale.


ZebcoKid wrote:y the way...I don't mean to come of as lazy...but it's simply a question of bandwidth. My attention is focused in other places, and I fear I don't have much available for water solutions...if descaling periodically/regularly will get it done.
I think that treating your tapwater may require a lot of tedious attention to your water. If you use the reservoir and think your water is probably non-scaling but want a little more assurance you can use the Bilt/Rocket softening pouch in your reservoir, and fill the reservoir at the end of the day, and replace that pouch every 6 months. The one bulletproof, reliable, no-brainer water solution for machine health and tasty espresso is to just make rpavlis water. It can be fairly inexpensive, low waste, and easy. Find a store or kiosk with a purified water refill station. RO is OK but de-ionized even better. (Just avoid the 'alkaline' or other mineralized water.) Fill re-usable 2 - 5 gallon jugs of that, then spike it with sodium or potassium bicarbonate - use appx 0.2 - 0.4 grams of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) per gallon of purified, or appx 0.3 - 0.5 grams of potassium bicarbonate per gallon. You're done - never need to descale, even if you let your water in the steam boiler get concentrated.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

baldheadracing
Team HB

#15: Post by baldheadracing »

I think that the Appartamento has an uncoated copper/brass boiler. If so, then you really want to minimize/eliminate chlorides in water to avoid "bronze disease." Bronze disease is unstoppable copper-chloride corrosion - the corrosion will slowly eat away at the copper and bronze and there is nothing (at reasonable cost) that you can do about it.

Note that descaling does nothing for chlorides. Chlorides have to be taken care of before the water enters the machine.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

ZebcoKid (original poster)

#16: Post by ZebcoKid (original poster) »

Hello Home Burrero,

This is definitely something I can handle. In fact, I have a dispenser near my home:

I'll look into whether it is de-ionized...or whether there's some available nearby.

Can you recommend a favorite way of getting water out of the jug and into the reservoir? Seems like a dumb question...but there seems to be nuances to everything!

Below is the RO station I'm talking about in my neighborhood.

The one bulletproof, reliable, no-brainer water solution for machine health and tasty espresso is to just make rpavlis water. It can be fairly inexpensive, low waste, and easy. Find a store or kiosk with a purified water refill station. RO is OK but de-ionized even better. (Just avoid the 'alkaline' or other mineralized water.) Fill re-usable 2 - 5 gallon jugs of that, then spike it with sodium or potassium bicarbonate - use appx 0.2 - 0.4 grams of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) per gallon of purified, or appx 0.3 - 0.5 grams of potassium bicarbonate per gallon. You're done - never need to descale, even if you let your water in the steam boiler get concentrated.
ZK

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Jeff
Team HB

#17: Post by Jeff »

I'm not familiar with Primo water, but the Whole Foods near me in the Bay Area have RO/DI bulk at $0.49 a gallon. You can even use the self checkouts with the lookup-by-name feature. I use glass, gallon jugs that are relatively easy for me to manage the way I make a liter or two of mix at a time.

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homeburrero
Team HB

#18: Post by homeburrero »

ZebcoKid wrote:In fact, I have a dispenser near my home: <image>
Those Primo Kiosks sell RO, which should be fine for you. There's always a chance that the RO unit might not be well maintained*, but you can assure that the water is well filtered using an inexpensive conductivity 'TDS' meter. If it reads less than 10-20 ppm it's fine to use in your recipe.

If you have a Whole Foods nearby you may want to check there. Their FreshPure dispensers sell RO and de-ionized at the same price, and the de-ionized is reliably less than a few PPM.


ZebcoKid wrote:Can you recommend a favorite way of getting water out of the jug and into the reservoir?
I refill into cumbersome 3 gallon jugs, then pour that into a smaller 2 gallon container with a dispenser spigot, and add my minerals when I fill that one. That container is easy for me to lift with the spigot above my machine's water reservoir.





* I've been told that some of these RO dispenser systemss have a TDS meter that shuts them down if the RO water goes above 50 ppm. I asked Primo about that a few years ago and they didn't say whether or not their systems had that feature.
Pat
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ZebcoKid (original poster)

#19: Post by ZebcoKid (original poster) »

This is great!

I'm super happy the way this is turning out. Not such a big deal after all. I do in fact have a Whole Foods right down the street from my home, as I live in downtown Novato.

I purchased this unit for dispensing into the reservoir. I'll leave the jug in the garage.



One more silly question (notice I didn't say the last!). The jugs? Where does one pickup those?
ZK

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Jeff
Team HB

#20: Post by Jeff »

Your favorite big box store, Whole Foods, and Amazon for the 5 gal plastic ones. The glass ones are harder, with wine and beer supply stores a good option to check.