Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

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Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby BrewMasterBrad on Wed May 25, 2016 9:56 pm

I wasn't sure if I should post this under Ingredients or Equipment, but here is a review of my first experience using the Exact iDip Smart Brew water testing kit. I have had my eye on this kit for a while now, but it is pretty pricey, so I finally bought it while I was in Philadelphia at the Craft Brewers Conference since the vendor (Industrial Test Systems) was running a show special.

Since I started using RO water, I have been wondering how accurate the spreadsheets that I have used to build my water up back are. That was my main reason for the wanting the buy the test kit. I want to be able to test my custom water to see if the Bru'n Water and EZ Water spreadsheets are actually getting me to my desired mineral levels. While I have great respect for the people that have put the time and effort into creating those tools, I want to see for myself if I am actually brewing with the water that I think I am. After spending countless hours doing research on brewing water and reading the Water book twice, this was really the next logical step for me to take in my brewing evolution.

I am brewing this weekend sometime, and I will do a final test then, but tonight I just tested my tap water so I could get used to the process. It does not do much good to test the RO water since the mineral levels are so low and the tests have a generally accepted range that they are good for. So, my plan is to test my RO water after I have added minerals back into the water.

Here are the results that got tonight on my tap water.
WaterTest1.jpg
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I'm not going to go into whether or not this result is good for brewing or not, but it is still interesting to see what my tap water is like. If you are like me, your tap water is a blend of water from different sources and the mineral content will change throughout the year.

Here is what the kit looks like.
20160525_210818_resized.jpg
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I got the advanced kit which also includes a pH meter which I did not use tonight since I don't have the calibrating buffer solutions yet.

The process is pretty straight forward. One of the reasons I liked this kit so much was the fact that it used Bluetooth to communicate with an app on your smart phone. The first step is to turn on the meter and open the app. Once the app recognizes the meter, you can select which test you want to perform. The way the device works is to put about 4ml of your water in the test reservoir. Each of the little bottles you see in the kit contains strips that are coated with specific reagents for that particular test. To test your water, you fill the reservoir, select your desired test in the app, and then use the corresponding test strip by submerging it in the test water reservoir for 20 seconds. The meter then reads the results. Pretty cool. After you have performed all the tests, you can save the results to the app. Once the test session is saved, the results can be emailed as a CSV file so you can open it in Excel.

I am glad I did a dry run (or wet run) through the tests tonight. Now I will feel more comfortable with the procedures when I test my brewing water later this week. I would also like to be able test the water of other brewers in club. I will post again once I have the results from my brew water.

http://www.sensafe.com/smartbrewkit/
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby lexuschris on Wed May 25, 2016 10:46 pm

Cool gear!!!
K:-)

Looking forward to seeing what my water .. I mean your water comes out at! :thumbup:
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby Justin H on Wed May 25, 2016 11:05 pm

Excellent write up. After using ward labs a couple times, I started to more seriously consider a home test kit similar to the idip or lamotte. I look forward to your further reviews and opinions.

P.s. My water is available for testing at your convenience.
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby rcwebrew on Thu May 26, 2016 7:47 am

+1 on write up!!
I am looking into that setup as well, cant wait to see your results!
While the water up here is awesome, I am curious about its makeup.
Am holding off of RO until I see whats coming out of the tap.
Cheers from Norcal
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby BrewMasterBrad on Thu May 26, 2016 9:03 am

rcwebrew wrote:+1 on write up!!
I am looking into that setup as well, cant wait to see your results!
While the water up here is awesome, I am curious about its makeup.
Am holding off of RO until I see whats coming out of the tap.
Cheers from Norcal
RW


Sounds like I might have to make a trip to Nevada City this summer.
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby Megastout on Thu May 26, 2016 6:36 pm

Yes, very interested in your results.
I also previously considered a test kit.
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby BrewMasterBrad on Sun May 29, 2016 9:01 am

Did my first brew day and test of the Smart Brew kit yesterday. The results were interesting. I am going to wait to publish any results since I am also sending a water sample to Ward Labs for analysis. Once I get the results from Ward Lab, I will publish all the results.
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby indianajns on Sun May 29, 2016 10:47 am

Uber excited for your results as I'm 100% reliant on EZ water. Thank you for taking the time to do the write up.
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby jward on Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:23 am

BrewMasterBrad wrote:Did my first brew day and test of the Smart Brew kit yesterday. The results were interesting. I am going to wait to publish any results since I am also sending a water sample to Ward Labs for analysis. Once I get the results from Ward Lab, I will publish all the results.


That's what I was going to ask, how well did the test kit compare to Ward Labs?. Please do share when you get the results.
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby BrewMasterBrad on Tue Jun 14, 2016 1:34 pm

Got the results from Ward Labs. Some of the measurements were very close and others were not. I am going to run some more tests since I am not convinced that the discrepancies are not due to user error. K:-)

Also, I think I am going to run a series of tests using the various calculators (Bru'n Water, EZ Water, and Beersmith). Also, I found out at HomebrewCon that BeerSmith will be updating their water tool in a month or so. I got a preview of it and it looks pretty slick. In addition, John Palmer is working on a mobile water app. All this means that my experiment is getting larger.
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby rcwebrew on Sat Jun 18, 2016 10:11 am

any chance you could post interim results? or hint at which were close and which were not? I wont hold your feet to the fire if it turns out to be user error because it is likely I will make the same user errors...Thanks for the great write up so far and looking forward to the final draft!
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby BrewMasterBrad on Sat Jun 18, 2016 10:27 am

My plan is to do some testing today. I will post what I discover.

And, by the way, I am now an official beta tester for BeerSmith. They are releasing some really cool water and mash pH tools in the next update that I am testing out.
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby BrewMasterBrad on Fri Jul 08, 2016 5:29 pm

Okay. Finally was able to do a full brew day to test out all these new toys. Used my pH meter for the first time with good results.
Here's a summary of my methodology. The recipe was a California Common. I had a mash volume of 7 gallons and a sparge volume of 10 gallons. 20.25 pounds of grain. To achieve my target water, I entered the same salt addition quantities in BeerSmith, EZWater, and BrunWater. My goal was to see which tool was the most accurate in predicting the finished water salt content and pH. Below are the versions of each tool that I used:
  • BeerSmith 2.3.2 (beta)
  • EZWater 3.0.2
  • BrunWater 3.4

Here are the additions I made to the mash:
AmberBalancedAdditions.jpg
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Here are the what each tool predicted would be the resulting water profile and mash pH along with the results of the iDip testing tool and the pH meter results.
AmberBalancedEZWater.jpg
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AmberBalancedBrunWater.jpg
AmberBalancedBrunWater.jpg (44.92 KiB) Viewed 740 times

AmberBalancedBeerSmith.jpg
AmberBalancedBeerSmith.jpg (48.58 KiB) Viewed 740 times


As you can see, most of the estimates compared to the measurements were pretty close with the exception of the Sodium and Chloride. The Chloride measurement is quite troubling since it seems to be way off. The Sodium is interesting since the iDip does not actually measure the Sodium, but does a calculation of the Sodium based on the other tests performed. For the next round of tests, I will not use Baking Soda to see if that makes a difference on the Sodium content.

I was pleasantly surprised by the pH estimates of BrunWater and BeerSmith. I had never added that much Lactic Acid to the mash before, but results were perfect at 5.2. In fact, I never added much acid to the mash at all before. I plan to use the new Phosphoric Acid from Five Star next time to see how it compares to Lactic Acid.

Comments or questions?
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby rcwebrew on Mon Jul 11, 2016 11:24 am

Thanks Brad great write up!
Cant help but ask a question.
Maybe I missed it. I assume you started with RO, and added the salts/acid based on that.
Did you use Brun to determine salt adds or some other tool, or did each tool predict about the same add for the amber?

BTW I just did my first batch with Brun (based on an unconfirmed local water quality report) and it gave separate adds for Mash and Sparge. Turns out the water up here has much lower pH so I didn't need to add Lactic to mash (pH tested out at 5.3). That brew is in the fermenter right now. I may see if I can get better intel on the water up here, but am leaning toward forking out the bucks for idip setup. Sounds like it has a Brewmasterbrad seal of approval!
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Re: Exact iDip Water Testing Kit

Postby bwarbiany on Mon Jul 11, 2016 3:20 pm

What were the calculations if you only added about 1 mL of the lactic acid to the mash? And what calculations did you use that told you you needed 3.6 mL?

Bru'n Water always tells me to add ~1 mL to mash and 0.1 mL to sparge for 10 gallon batches, so I usually add roughly 1/4 tsp (1.25 mL). But I'm wondering if I should increase that...
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