Softened Water Home Brewing Uses
Soft water is most common in houses that have installed a water softener system. Water softeners commonly work by replacing the calcium and magnesium minerals with sodium using an ion-exchange column using polystyrene sulfonate resin beads. Water softeners remove the hardness caused by the minerals, but leave the alkalinity behind. Alkalinity, which is opposite of hardness, is a high concentration of carbonate and bicarbonates.
However, many publications state that if your water is softened or highly alkaline, you should not use it for either extract or all-grain brewing. The alkalinity of softened water can be reduced by aeration and pre-boiling or by diluting it with distilled or reverse-osmosis water.
Others have fixed softened water by adding calcium sulfate (gypsum) and/or calcium chloride back during the mashing process.
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