Anyone have any experience with Palmer's Spreadsheet?

The way it was described to me and the way I read and understand it now states that for the water volume in Step 4 you just put the amount of water for the initial mash strike. So for my purposes right now only put 3 gallons, even though I will eventually have 6.25 gallons in my kettle pre-boil once the mash and sparge are complete.

Then adjust my salts and minerals for the 3 gallons until I reach the desired water profile. I was told to then split the total salt/minerals additions into two parts. Put one part into the mash and the other addition into the boil kettle once all the wort is collected.

Can anyone explain why you would only calculate for 3 gallons and not 6.5 gallons? Is the spreadsheet accounting for this? I feel like you would need to calculate for 6.25 gallons since that is what you would be boiling in the kettle.

I've read a lot of posts of other people saying they just put the total pre boil volume in there and not the mash sacchrifaction volume and it's starting to confuse me.

Listening to Brew Strong, Palmer states that you put only the initial 3 gallons for mash and then you have to calculate an additional salt/mineral addition for the other 4 gallons that would top off your kettle for say a 7 gallon pre boil volume. So thinking it over, was what my friend trying to tell me when he said split it into two additions, he didn't literally mean split it in half, but to do two separate additions of the equal value, since your mash & sparge volumes are almost equal?

  • Can you link to this spreadsheet?
    – baka
    Aug 17, 2012 at 11:53
  • 1
    howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-3.html Palmer also has three Brew Strong Podcasts all about water. In the 2nd one he talks about doing two separate additions, one to the mash and one to the kettle.
    – HopHead73
    Aug 17, 2012 at 12:37
  • IMO, another example of Palmer's depth of knowledge but poor ability to communicate it.
    – brewchez
    Aug 17, 2012 at 22:28

2 Answers 2


I think there are a couple of reasons.

One issue is that the salts need either lots of agitation or something to bind to, otherwise they'll just fall to the bottom of your Hot Liquor Tun and sit there. The easiest thing to do is just add them to mash or wort, rather than water, so you give them something to bind to without having to do as much work stirring things.

Another issue is that the salts will have an effect on mash pH, so you don't want to add the entire batch worth of them to the mash, because you'll have to do more work to adjust and compensate, and possibly produce some off flavors. Also, the salts in the sparge aren't going to have much effect as far as the mash, etc goes, so you put the remainder of the salts into the sweet wort as you're heating it up.

So if you're putting 5 gallons of water into the mash, you'll add the 5 gallons' worth of salts to the mash during or immediately after dough-in. After the mash, you extract maybe 3 gallons of wort, so you're going to have to add another 4-5 gallons to get enough water to boil down, so once all of your water is collected, you add that final addition of brewing salts for the volume difference between your total volume and your first runnings.


Most of these brewing salts are better dissolved at temperature and with the reduced pH of the mash and wort. Hence the additions at those points.

The primary reason to split them is there potential effect on the mash biochemistry (pH and enzymatic cofactors). Palmers main focus for water manipulations is in flavor of final product and partly for mash chemistry. Most mashes will attain the proper chemistry one there own without much change in water (unless your water is really bad; and in that case you'd be diluting the water with RO rather than adding salts).

So the main point being flavor of the beer he keeps some it in the mash and the rest in the kettle. Its taken me a long time to really figure that out, mainly because Palmer doesn't really come out and say it. You really need to hear "in between the lines", IMO.

  • Listening to his explanation and reading more I'm starting to get it now. I've come across some interesting points that state that on your second addition in the kettle (or for some people they add it to their sparge water) you would only treat for flavor & calcium and not Ph at this point. So you would only be adding epsom or gypsum or calcium chrloride, not any chalk or baking soda. I have found this is where Palmer's spreadsheet is lacking because he even states on Brew Strong that you want to treat your sparge runoff, but he never says how and neither does the spreadsheet.
    – HopHead73
    Aug 18, 2012 at 2:00
  • I used his spreadsheet for my mash and then I just entered my sparge runoff volume back into the spreadsheet and only adjusted for gypsum, epsom & calcium chloride to match the adjustment numbers of my initial mash calculations.
    – HopHead73
    Aug 18, 2012 at 2:05

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