Ask Mr. Wizard

The Salty Truth About Softeners

TroubleShooting

Scott A. Howard • Winona, Minnesota asks,
Q

I have been brewing for more than seven years now, mostly using extracts and specialty grains, with excellent results. I use city water, which runs through a water softener and charcoal filter to remove the chlorine. You’re probably thinking, “Softened water and all those sodium ions — your beer probably tastes like the ocean!” Actually, I use potassium chloride in our water softener instead of sodium chloride. The potassium chloride is readily available in our area as a substitute for more traditional softener salt and is advertised as a healthier alternative to humans and plant life. Are the potassium ions present in my brewing water a desirable addition?

A
Potassium chloride is commonly sold as an alternative to sodium chloride. Those companies that market potassium chloride make the point that it doesn’t do all the terrible things to the body that
Response by Ashton Lewis.