Well Water Analysis Test Results

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

#1: Post by girafboy »

I had my well water analyzed recently. I live North of Vancouver BC on the coast and the well is pulling from groundwater, not an aquifer. Im trying to make sense of the test results in regards to espresso equipment but this test doesnt have the same qualifiers referenced elsewhere. The water tastes incredible by the way.

I guess my questions are:

which values are important?
Will this water damage anything?
if they are outside of optimal standards, what would be a suggested remedy?


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#2: Post by homeburrero »

This water has very low hardness and relatively high alkalinity, which is unusual for a natural water. The alkalinity is mostly from sodium bicarbonate. Any chance this is a hard water that has gone through a cation exchange softener?

Your important values are:
total hardness: 3.6 mg/L (CaCO3 equivalent) which is very low. No problem with scale deposits.
total alkalinity: 180 mg/L (CaCO3 equivalent) which is unusually high given the low hardness, but healthy to the espresso machine.
dissolved chloride: 4.3 mg/L which is nice and low. (chloride above 15 - 30 mg/L can be a corrosion concern).

The alkalinity and the sodium are above what is typically recommended for optimum taste, but should make perfectly fine tasting espresso. For fun and enlightenment you can try diluting 1 part tapwater to 3 parts distilled or purified, then brew a regular pourover coffee to see if you can detect a taste improvement compared to your straight tapwater. Even if the diluted pourover coffee tastes better it probably won't matter when making espresso, which because of the small amount of water in the drink, tolerates much higher bicarbonate and sodium than regular brewed coffee.
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#3: Post by girafboy (original poster) »

That is extremely helpful, thank you!

The water goes 100ft deep well -> pressure tank -> tap. No softening whatsoever. The sodium could be from my proximity to the ocean.

I was thinking of trying some epsom salts to get to SCAA levels and maybe citric acid to neutralize the bicarbonate and bring the pH down.
Here is my math for the hardness, hopefully it benefits the internet:

from baristahustle I pulled their epsom salt formula to theoretically achieve 68mg/L hardness (SCAA)
https://www.baristahustle.com/blog/what ... ise-water/

246.366 is the molar mass of epsom salt, 68mg/L is the desired hardness and 3.6mg/L is the existing hardness.

246.366 ÷ 100000 × (68-3.6) = 0.159g added to 1L water

I can't seem to find a similar formula for dosing citric acid. I may just use a pH test.

I will certainly try the distilled water test

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#4: Post by homeburrero »

girafboy wrote:The sodium could be from my proximity to the ocean.
That does befuddle me. Salt water incursion is fairly common, and is a problem because it gives you undesirable high chloride along with the high sodium, and not high bicarbonate. You are fortunate in having relatively low chloride.

girafboy wrote:I was thinking of trying some epsom salts to get to SCAA levels and maybe citric acid to neutralize the bicarbonate and bring the pH down.
I'm not an advocate of trying to hit that old SCAA hardness number by adding magnesium sulfate. It's not clear that you really do need that for taste. If you want to try it your numbers are right though.

Same with trying to lower your alkalinity with citric acid. Doing the calculation is tricky because citric acid is a weak triprotic acid (each molecule is capable of dissociating three hydrogen ions), but is a weak acid so you won't get anywhere near 3 times the chemical effect of a strong acid like HCl. I'm guessing maybe 2 mmol/L of citric acid might drop your alkalinity from 180 down to 80 or so. For citric acid monohydrate (molar mass 210 g/mole) that would be about 0.4 g per liter of water. Instead of measuring pH you would be better off measuring the alkalinity with a drop titration kit. It would be an academic exercise though and I seriously doubt you would notice a taste difference in an espresso drink. Also it would add citrate to your water and that could in theory be a food source for microbe growth.
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#5: Post by Peppersass »

Your water looks great on paper. If the hardness level is really that low, you may no need any treatment at all, but the level should be high enough for good extraction. The pH is quite alkaline, so no problems with acidic corrosion.

That said, you don't have zero hardness, and the interaction between alkalinity and hardness plays a role in the formation of scale. I recommend that you read Jim Schulman's Intensely Long Water FAQ for information on that and other water topics.