Water treatment - How to compare before/after

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.
tasseloff19

#1: Post by tasseloff19 »

Greetings!

I created a thread last year to decide on which filtration system to use and got great help from a team member: Help with water treatment options
I bought a standard 2-filter softening system.
Having 2 babies in-between, I didn't have time to install everything until now. So this week I set myself to finally install everything, go to the local coffee-repair shop for some missing parts, and there the repair guy tells me that its not sufficient and that I should rather go with BestMax (and that he's repaired a few machines from people coming in with a similar softener/carbon filter setup).
He seemed genuine, so now I'm concerned about installing these filters and it not being enough to prevent calcar buildup in the boilers...

So my question: Is there an easy way for me with a kit to test the water before/after the filtration to be confident enough that I won't have any issues down the road (I don't wish to disassemble my ECM Synchronika for decalcifying unless really absolutely necessary...).

Any advice?

Quote from my other thread:
Long time lurker, but not a frequent poster. I just acquired an ECM Synchronika (upgraded, or lets say switched, from a Micro Casa A Leva). I am hoping to plumb-in the new machine and getting a bit overwhemed with the complexity of info out there on water treatment.
I was looking at Bwt or Mavea filters, but one of the common issues I see concerns the alkalinity levels which can be too low after filtering. From the water report below I seem to be at around 90ml/g in average. Would that cause an issue with a Bwt or Mavea system? How just a softener and carbon filter (if so, any recommendations?)?

Alkalinity: 90 mg/l
Hardness: 167 (measured with the Zero Warer TDS meter)
Chlorides: 26 mg/l

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Until I figure my water filtering strategy ill probably just continue with straight Zero water in the reservoir.

Water profile (from 2016 but its as recent as I can get)
https://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal ... NTREAL.PDF
Top

Nate42

#2: Post by Nate42 »

You need to do an analysis of your water post treatment to really know what you've got. Your input water looks to be not that bad to me so I suspect post softening it's probably fine but if you don't have measurements you are guessing.

Your zero water meter gives you TDS by measuring conductivity, it doesn't actually tell you hardness. Many type of softeners change the type of ions present without actually reducing the TDS. I would suggest taking a sample of your softened and filtered water and either buy test kits to test the calcium hardness yourself, or send it to a lab.

Alternatively if you want to be lazy (which I've certainly been guilty of, and I work for a company that makes water analysis instruments) just go for it for a while and check your mushroom for signs of scale. I would suggest at a minimum though you use pH test strips on the filtered water and make sure it isn't acidic, which promotes corrosion. You want pH to be slightly greater than 7.

tasseloff19 (original poster)

#3: Post by tasseloff19 (original poster) » replying to Nate42 »

Would you have a suggestion as to what kind of test kit I should be looking into?
It would be convenient if i could regularly test the water to ensure everything is working as it should (and in case the composition changes a lot in-between the seasons).

Would this work out?
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B004BGTGMC/ref ... J2MB8QXBDM

User avatar
homeburrero
Team HB

#4: Post by homeburrero »

tasseloff19 wrote:Would you have a suggestion as to what kind of test kit I should be looking into?
Would this work out?
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B004BGTGMC/ref ... J2MB8QXBDM
That would work to give you a calcium hardness estimate, then if you also get an alkalinity drop titration kit you can do limescale estimation.

What most people use that is cheap and easy would be the API Fishcare GH & KH kit. It's a little imprecise, but you can fix that by getting a 10 ml container and using a 10 ml sample, in which case each drop of the titrant corresponds to 8.9 ppm CaCO3 equivalent.

The KH is a total alkalinity measure, and the GH is a measure of total hardness (both calcium and magnesium hardness) and it's really the calcium that causes limescale. But with natural water you just assume that most of your total hardness is calcium hardness when deciding whether or not you may have scale-prone water. The bible for doing those sorts of estimates is still Jim Schulman's Insanely Long Water FAQ , which was posted nearly two decades ago on the alt.coffee forum.

Another place to get high quality drop test kits would be Hach.


tasseloff19 wrote:... and there the repair guy tells me that its not sufficient and that I should rather go with BestMax (and that he's repaired a few machines from people coming in with a similar softener/carbon filter setup).
I would disagree. Your alkalinity is below 100 and you have borderline chloride, which argues against the WAC resin decarbonizer that they use in the Bestmax. You don't want to acidify the water and lower the alkalinity (which the Bestmax does) especially when you have potential chloride corrosion. You don't say, but I suspect your two cartridge system is a carbon+particulates filter along with a conventional sodium exchange softener. As long as you replace the filters at the proper intervals there's no way that setup should cause machine damage. If you were on hard water and depleted the softener capacity but failed to replace it, then you would expect scale buildup and maybe that's what your repair guy has seen. That would be the case with the Bestmax as well. Do feel free to show him this post and see if he agrees.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

tasseloff19 (original poster)

#5: Post by tasseloff19 (original poster) »

Thank you very much for your detailed response. Just to make sure, with the fishcare GH & KH kit on its own I should have all the info needed to know if I'm safe with my current setup?

Maybe the guy at the repair shop didn't know the full story of the people who brought in the machines for repairs, or they came from a different area of town, either way I will be better off if I can confirm everything else on my own, its no use to just 'hope' all is good. :)

My setup:
https://www.amazon.ca/Pentek-WS-10-Soft ... B002711V44
And
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0031OGM2W/ref ... Q2QCQS45YG

User avatar
homeburrero
Team HB

#6: Post by homeburrero »

tasseloff19 wrote:Just to make sure, with the fishcare GH & KH kit on its own I should have all the info needed to know if I'm safe with my current setup?
I think so, and your setup looks good to me. Note that the 2016 water report you linked indicates a total hardness of about 120 mg/L as CaCO3. Your softener cartridge has a 750 grain capacity, so at your total hardness level it should treat a little over 100 liters (26 gallons) before the softener resin is used up. Your TDS meter reading will not change when it's used up, but your GH drop test would go up noticeably, so can keep an eye on it with your GH kit. Best to use a 'stretched' sample (10 ml rather than 5 ml) on your GH tests because you expect and want it to be very low, maybe a drop or two of the GH titrant on a stretched sample. You could also add a flowmeter to the line if you want to be extra cautious about swapping out when it's time. This filter system should not change your alkalinity (KH). I should note that some coffee people prefer a very precise test kit for low level GH measurements, and the Hach HA-71A kit can do that (but costs way more).

If you use your GH and KH numbers to do limescale (Langelier Saturation Index) calculations it will overestimate the scale risk slightly because your calcium hardness in Montreal is less than 70% of your total hardness.
Pat
nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h

tasseloff19 (original poster)

#7: Post by tasseloff19 (original poster) »

Ok, i am planning to install my filters today or tomorrow and found a place locally to get the api fishcare kit, i'll post some before/after numbers when I get them! :)

Nate42

#8: Post by Nate42 »

Yeah, something like those GH KH kits that homeburrero suggested is exactly what I had in mind.

tasseloff19 (original poster)

#9: Post by tasseloff19 (original poster) »

Everything is plugged-in, but I think I need to install a reducer for the pressure going to the boiler, right now I'm at around 3.5bar and from what I read it should be at around 1.5-2bar.

In the meantime I bought the api kit, ill run the tests tonight :)

User avatar
BaristaBoy E61

#10: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

I'm also in Montreal, so I'm familiar with your/our water. We have a BWT Bestmax filter that has kept our machine from scaling. After 1-year the water still tests as when the filter was install with very low hardness. I still prefer the taste of the unfiltered tap water.

I would recommend installing the smallest size filter if you don't make a lot of espresso. The filter will expire long before it's exhausted.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"