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I'd just like to get some opinions on the most efficient way to prepare the water for my brew day. I'm pretty new to brewing and still using extract with a few specialty grains.

I've read it's good to steep the grains in just a gallon or two of water, then add 1-2 more to boil the wort, finally adding more in the end to hit the 5 gallon goal. I'm using city water, which needs to be dechlorinated before use. I'm using (pieces of) campden tablets for this purpose, but it seems rather complicated and likely wasteful to individually dechlorinate each addition of water.

I'm considering preparing a 6-7 gallon bucket of water, dechlorinating it once and then pouring water into the brew as needed but I'm concerned about possible contamination, particularly in the final water addition. If I make sure to clean and sanitize the bucket and then keep it covered while dealing with everything else will it be okay after 1-2 hours of sitting?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

There's no risk of microbial contamination from anything you add before or during the boil. The act of boiling itself will sufficiently purify the water.

Water that you add at the end of the boil is a slightly different story. For the majority of people in the majority of circumstances, adding clean and unboiled water is no problem so long as it has been handled properly between tap and fermentor. Your water source should not infect your wort if your city's water treatment department is doing its job. But, it's possible that there's something nasty growing in your pipes, that something is stuck to your faucet, or that your water department isn't doing its job.

Boiling top-off water before use is the safest option, but you can probably get away without doing it.

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I've been using city water since i started and have never dechlorinated or sanitized my water in any way. The chlorine in your boil will be boiled off and I've never had a problem. Now this isn't the kosher way to do it. A lot of home brewers would have an exception with what I do but I'll leave it here for reference.

They have been brewing beer for thousands of years with much worse than common tap water, (Also fermenting without an airlock) If you ruin you're beer something went WAY wrong because it's not that common.

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For clarification I'm not against sanitization or taking precautions. But I've found that whatever benefit may be gained through use of Bottled/Special/Sanitized water is minimal and to me not worth the hassle. YMMV –  Jared Meyering Feb 23 '13 at 21:46
    
Your city water may be low enough in chlorine that you don't notice a taste. Thats the way mine is. But if a brewer has more chlorine than that or the dreaded chloramine, boiling it with the wort creates flavor problems. For standard chlorine, boiling the water for 10minutes prior to adding any wort will drive off the Chlorine no problem. –  brewchez Mar 2 '13 at 14:13

If you store the water in a sanitized bucket with lid then you'll be fine. The water will still be sanitary 1-2 hours later, assuming it was sanitary in the first place.

1 campden tablet is enough to declorinate 20 gallons. At higher dosage, it acts as a sanitizer. If you were declorinating just 1-2 gallons of water at a time, then it's possible you were also using a high enough dose to sterilize, since cutting up a tablet into 1/20ths is pretty tricky! If your city water isn't 100% sterile, then you may not have noticed that due to the sterilization affect of the high dosage. When you then switch to declorinating the whole amount at once, the dosage will be more accurate since you can use half a tablet which is easier to prepare but you'll lose the sanitization affect, which may be a problem if your water isn't sanitary to begin with.

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