LADistiller

Changing pH of wash

19 posts in this topic

I understand that most people use Calcium Carbonate to increase the pH, but what is used to do the opposite or decrease the pH?

Cheers

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Citric acid...

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Your local bulk chemical suppliers should be able to get you a 50 pound bag of USP grade citric for about 50 bucks, there is not much simpler than that.

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starting PH in our city water around 8.5. a tiny Citric addition brings us down to 6

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Bulk Apocraphy has the best priced food grade small order citric acid we have found. 

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If I go lower in pH, it is because I want to create a little bit more taste. Lower pH enhances the formation of taste molecules (Esterification). So I do it on rum and whiskey, but not on vodka recipes. When I make (or help develop) taste rich products, like rum or whiskey, I use (or advice to use) backset. It is sour and will sour up mashing and fermentation, enhancing esterification. Since you now add backset, instead of water, to the next mash/ferment/distillation cycle, you also increase taste, you don't need (so much) yeast nutrients, and it helps you stabilize on taste output (repeatability).

In general, I aim for a much lower pH, especially while fermenting (where most taste is formed). It does not only help create more taste (and a more interesting whiskey or rum), it also helps against bacterial infections, when pH is below pH 4.8. Low pH is good against all bacterial infections ... safe lactic bacteria infection, unfortunately. I usually aim for a starting pH, while fermenting, of pH 4.8 and will see it go down to pH 3.8, depending on wash type (malts having more buffering capacity than grains having more buffering capacity than molasses).

If it goes below pH 3.5, I know that next time I have to add a bit of lime to start with, so it does not get more sour than pH 3.8. I don't like it lower than that because (again, depending on sugar source) ferments tend to stall below that.

Regards, Odin.

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American tartaric and univar carry bulk.  Probably a brewers supply would too.  Most winery supply houses carry citric and Phosphoric can vary in %.

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Get a bucket with a liquid tight lid.  Weevils like to get into the citric.  Some other bugs do too. What a pain.  Nice thing about citric vs phosphoric is citric is dry.

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It really depends on your specific circumstances I think, theres so many variables. So trying to identify a source of the issue is a good idea. For small mash adjustments with H20 that began around 7 with moderate carbonate than Phosphoric is best, citric is alright. If your water is low in calcium to start with than you can use calcium sulfate or calcium chloride (or a combination) which will reduce ph some as well as adding calcium. Nothing beats backset if you are using mostly corn, but most will agree its not super manageable on a micro scale. If your water is high in carbonate to start with and you're mashing corn than I reckon it would be worth while to figure out backset.

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baking soda or koh also work to increase alkalinity. 

Backset is probably the most realistic option for you - Idk your particular situation though.  Citric acid is my preferred choice for lowering pH.  The other options work but you never said why you want to lower pH and in what circumstance you need it lowered... Citric is easy to handle and store though.  two 5 gallon buckets works. 

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