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PH Balancing with a limestone


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This goes out to all the guys making rum with dunder.

Has anyone used raw limestone to balance the ph? I've used oyster shells but was also wondering if you could use any shells picked up off the beach?



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I had this discussion with a distiller friend of mine who moved from Tennessee to England and found his same recipe didnt work there. I surmised that it was a PH issue, considering it was limestone rich water he was using in Tennessee.

I had suggested limestone or chalk chunks in the bottom of the fermenter to give the same PH effects as the limestone water.

Seashells might not give their calcium up as easily as mineral Limestone or chalk, but it cant hurt unless it is dirty and becomes a source for infection.


Just my thoughts, but I dont think you are far off.

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Hey Rumbumm.
We have a spring on the property that flows through limestone and pops out at about ph 9.5. As it is lacking in other minerals it’s buffering capacity is a little lower then needed when using over 30% backset. 

I have played around with a few forms of lime over the years and now use hydrated lime. Cheap and readily available. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

So a little feedback.


The back with the limestone in it had a ph of 3.78 whereas the other batch had a ph of 3.2.

I'm thinking if I start the next batch with the limestone in it, then the ph shouldn't crash as bad.



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What's your end goal - what are you making?

What's your workflow for dunder additions?  Are you sterilizing your wash prior to fermentation?  What's your starting pH?  Generally, starting a fermentation at a lower pH typically results in a fermentation that finishes at a higher pH, which might seem entirely counterintuitive, except it's not. ;)  Have you had your water tested, if so, post the numbers.

Dosing anything to actively control the pH of your rum fermentations is going to have a impact on the flavor and aroma.  Not saying it's going to be better or worse, but there is an impact.  The more variability you see, and the variability in adjusting, is going to result in flavor inconsistency across batches.  Tying up carboxylic acids as calcium salts and then just distilling straight could be entirely counterproductive if your goal is funky rum.

Are you stalling?  Or are you not stalling?  A final pH of 3.2 with an acceptable final gravity is not in any way problematic.  Yeast are very happy at this pH - look at all the sour beer on the market today with similar pH - using brewing yeasts - this is no different than a sour mash, or funky rum ferment with high acids (yes, titratable acidity and pH are different, but not getting into that here).

You guys putting rocks and shells in your fermenter must not be using expensive pumps, that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.


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