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Reverse Osmosis vs Filtered Water

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I was curious if anyone has used non-RO water to proof their gin and if that has had any set-backs. e.g. chill haze or louching.

On small test batches I have been using just filtered water with no issues, but perhaps once I get up to 1000 liters per batch I might run into something different.

Any advice on this would be great.

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Opps,

Sorry about the multi-post! The page kept going to an error page so I did not realize it was actually posting. Trying to figure out how to delete the other two.

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I use RO water for ALL of our distillery operations .... We make and store 200 gallons on site... No issues at all with either proofing or mashing....

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RO water is great to have for your blending down of your high wines.

RO water is not ideal for fermenting, There are valuable minerals in water that the yeast like in the water.

I conducted an experiment using tap water, filtered tap water and RO water for fermentation all at the same time. The filtered tap water gave us the highest abv yield anhad the best flavor out of all three.

All the conditions were the same.

RO water machine is a must in my mind for a craft distillery vs bottled water. They are not that expensive and take up less space than 5 gallons of water. Having RO pure water in demand is so convinent.

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If your water is hard, make sure you get a softener before the RO. Will save the filters and extend the life of the system by a lot. Good RO filters are pricey, water softener salt is cheap.

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RO water is great to have for your blending down of your high wines.

RO water is not ideal for fermenting, There are valuable minerals in water that the yeast like in the water.

I conducted an experiment using tap water, filtered tap water and RO water for fermentation all at the same time. The filtered tap water gave us the highest abv yield anhad the best flavor out of all three.

All the conditions were the same.

RO water machine is a must in my mind for a craft distillery vs bottled water. They are not that expensive and take up less space than 5 gallons of water. Having RO pure water in demand is so convinent.

I would think, if you have decent mineralization and no other issues like presence of iron in your water, you would be best just removing the chlorine and not much else for use for fermentation.

But agree, for all else, RO makes sense, if you have it.

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We had a water analysis done by White Labs, the analysis is done specifically for brewers so you will know what you are lacking in or have too much of. Well worth the expense I think it was about $100. Also water softeners can add to much salt so make sure you keep that in mind. Most of this information is in In Chris White PHD's book Yeast which I feel is a must read. 51vJdl%2BOa-L._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrohttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=yeast

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GE made a great small RO system called the Merlin, it has since been replaced by the Evolution model (I have not used an evolution) retail is US$ 800.00; it is supposed to do 700-1500 US gallons (3.785 liter = gallon) per day depending on your water conditions. They are tankless, on-demand and require no pump or external power other than water pressure. The new model needs 60 psi inlet pressure which I think is higher than the older Merlin version.

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For dilution I would recommend RO/DI, as opposed to straight RO. The overall cost wouldn't be much higher, and the overall purity is higher. I'd recommend against storing RO or RO/DI for too long, unless you are meticulous in the cleanliness of your RO storage. Remember, RO or RO/DI no longer contains disinfectants, which may make it a nice place for bacteria to grow.

For mashing and fermentation, you might be able to get by with a newer nano filtration unit. Less pure than RO, but significantly less waste too. And based on your source water tests, might save money on adding salts/minerals to RO.

Highly recommend reading:

Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers

by John Palmer and Colin Kaminski

Part of the same series as White's Yeast book above, a bit harder to read if you slept through chemistry though.

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For dilution I would recommend RO/DI, as opposed to straight RO. The overall cost wouldn't be much higher, and the overall purity is higher. I'd recommend against storing RO or RO/DI for too long, unless you are meticulous in the cleanliness of your RO storage. Remember, RO or RO/DI no longer contains disinfectants, which may make it a nice place for bacteria to grow.

For mashing and fermentation, you might be able to get by with a newer nano filtration unit. Less pure than RO, but significantly less waste too. And based on your source water tests, might save money on adding salts/minerals to RO.

Highly recommend reading:

Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers

by John Palmer and Colin Kaminski

Part of the same series as White's Yeast book above, a bit harder to read if you slept through chemistry though.

DI would run you 2-4x more in capital cost, and probably in operating cost, for any reasonable size system (at least a few hundred gallons a day). Also, DI water is "corrosive" so you will need to avoid metal in your downstream plumbing. RO you can get away with SS. And to actually deliver DI to point of use, all the plastic in between would have to be very expensive PP or even PTFE. So I wouldn't bother with DI. JMO.

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Wish I had those kinds of problems, a few hundred gallons a day for dilution purposes.. :D

You can put together a standalone DI at your point of use for a few hundred dollars, plumb it off your house RO system. You shouldn't need any more than a couple of feet of silbraid or ptfe tubing. Operating cost shouldn't be more then 2-3 cents per gallon above your RO costs. Agree for large volumes this wouldn't at all be sufficient, but if you can deal with 12-15 gph flow rates it can be done relatively inexpensively. You could probably plumb a set in parallel if you don't have time to wait around. YMMV.

Put all your process water through RO/DI? Agree, it will cost you a small fortune and is largely unnecessary.

Realize that a few hours in 304 or 316 is irrelevant from a corrosion standpoint (it's probably better described as aggressive, since people tend to associate corrosive with acids). If you are worried, you could easily add a small known quantity of product to the empty tank and calculate accordingly. A couple of ml of product to 1000l is more than enough to sufficiently pollute the DI to where it is no more corrosive than RO. Hell, extremely low final mash pH is probably even more corrosive than DI. Even better, if you rinse down with RO or Tap, they'll leave enough minerals on the surface after evaporating to negate the aggressiveness of the DI.

We obsess about everything else, why not the water?

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We had a water analysis done by White Labs, the analysis is done specifically for brewers so you will know what you are lacking in or have too much of. Well worth the expense I think it was about $100. Also water softeners can add to much salt so make sure you keep that in mind. Most of this information is in In Chris White PHD's book Yeast which I feel is a must read. 51vJdl%2BOa-L._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrohttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=yeast

Excellent recommendation

+1

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If your water is hard, make sure you get a softener before the RO. Will save the filters and extend the life of the system by a lot. Good RO filters are pricey, water softener salt is cheap.

In general I think this is good advice, but it may be overkill if we're talking about a residential scale RO system (<150 gpd). Membranes for these systems are pretty reasonably priced. When yu jump up to commercial RO units, the membranes get pricier, and the cost/benefit of using a softener starts to look better.

Russ

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GE made a great small RO system called the Merlin, it has since been replaced by the Evolution model (I have not used an evolution) retail is US$ 800.00; it is supposed to do 700-1500 US gallons (3.785 liter = gallon) per day depending on your water conditions. They are tankless, on-demand and require no pump or external power other than water pressure. The new model needs 60 psi inlet pressure which I think is higher than the older Merlin version.

Be careful however in that the Evolution - which is just a name given to a system by a vender, includes a next to useless carbon prefilter. If you use the system much at all, you'll very quickly burn through the capacity of the carbon block, and you'll expose the membrane to chlorine. We just replaced one of these with a system that uses the identical membranes, but we installed a backwashing carbon tank ahead of it to handle the chlorine.

Russ

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I believe Hydro-Logic recommends you use the sediment and carbon pre filter they call Pre-Evolution with chlorinated water systems for that very reason.

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Generally, you'd put a stand-alone carbon filter and (if you have hard water) a brine-softener before the water goes through your carbon block and then sediment filter. All of this in the interest of keeping your membrane working well.

The carbon prefilter and softener will re-gen themselves (depending on how much water you demand/use) every day or three. It's a good idea to flush your membrane once a month or more, and most RO systems will have a bypass valve that allows you to do this.

I have found that a softener is worth putting in just to avoid the down time and mess with a hooped membrane.

Good Luck!

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For our customers with residential scale systems (generally less than 200 gpd), the replacement filters are inexpensive enough, and a softener expensive enough that few buy the softener.  

For customers we provide with commercial RO's, the replacement filters get more expensive, and most with hard water opt for pretreatment with a softener (and a carbon tank appropriately sized to remove chlorine and or chloramines).

 

Russ   

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