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Author Topic: Relation between alkalinity/acidity and hardness/softness in water  (Read 298 times)

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Offline Yael

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Alkaline water is soft water, isn't it?  ???
Under 7 it's acidic, so I wouldn't call it soft...
Are softness and hardness related to pH at all? Can a hard water (with a lot of mineral salts) be either acidic or alkaline?
Softness and hardness are definitely related to pH level. Here's a good article on the subject: https://opentextbc.ca/ingredients/chapter/water-hardness-and-ph/

As a continuation to https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=64334.20;topicseen in which I started to go off-topic, I started here a new thread:

Thanks for the link.
So what they say is that:
>7pH = alkaline = hard water;
<7pH = acidic = soft water.
It's interesting, I didn't know there were such a link between both characteristics (hardness and pH).

So not only soft water doesn't restrain yeast activity like hard water does, but also provides a better acidic environment for it. Hard water retrains yeast activity plus doesn't give a good environment. So in both cases that would make a double impact?

Months back I made an internet research about hardness and softness, first I mistakenly thought that "pure" water ("pure" from the mountains like the Alps for instance) was soft and "dirty" water from the cities were hard. Water from the mountains have a lot of mineral salts thus are hard, same for water from the cities. In France, water from the mountain "Massif Central" ("central mountains", a wide part of the middle of France), mostly formed from dead volcanoes, is said to be soft water.

Do you guys have other interesting links about this subject?
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Offline texmex

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Re: Relation between alkalinity/acidity and hardness/softness in water
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2020, 05:20:07 AM »
We have medium hard water 175mg/liter with a hardness factor ranging from 7.8 to 8.1.  I never really thought of it in terms of pizza dough except there had been discussions  in the differences of Italian water, and NYC water (making those styles what they are).
Only recently do I use filtered water in cooking since our newest fridge has a dispenser.
My previous doughs were made with water straight from the tap.
I thought my dough recipes since I started up again this year were acting and feeling different using sd, but I never thought about if the water was an issue, and haven't really made that much dough lately to compare anything. My SD breads have been exceptionally improved. must be the water.

I did notice my idy with dough enhancer really puffed up and had very fast and robust fermentation, but I chalked that up to forgetting how it always behaved rather than the change in water ph.  I'll have to try side by side comparison.
Here's a few links:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=9472.msg81984#msg81984

This one talks about the Brabender Farinograph and the relation of hard water effects on dough softening.
http://www.thehomepizzeria.com/pizza-dough/effects-of-hard-water-and-soft-water-on-pizza-dough/#

Tom Lehman wrote an article about the impact of water in PIZZA Today https://www.pizzatoday.com/departments/in-the-kitchen/dough-doctor-water-works/



Serious Eats did a blind comparison study to determine the effects of TDS in the final product:
https://slice.seriouseats.com/2010/01/does-nyc-water-make-a-difference-in-pizza-quality.html
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 05:36:55 AM by texmex »
Reesa

Offline Yael

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Re: Relation between alkalinity/acidity and hardness/softness in water
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2020, 09:28:50 AM »
Thanks Reesa! I already read the seariouseats link, I loved it!! And it's very interesting!
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Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: Relation between alkalinity/acidity and hardness/softness in water
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2020, 09:32:07 AM »
I never use straight tap water for cooking. Not so much because of hardness/softness but the Chlorine/Chloramines in the water are pretty potent. Especially during the warmer months I can smell the chemical odors of the additives.

When I used to brew beer I would take out the chemistry set that many brewers use to adjust the water for trying to replicate styles of beers around the world. It got pretty intense to do all that. So for better info on water and making dough I'd head on over to one of the beer brewing forums for more info than you probably need.

btw - here the water is pretty soft and to brew a great beer you really didn't have to do much.

Offline Hanglow

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Re: Relation between alkalinity/acidity and hardness/softness in water
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2020, 10:33:40 AM »
Hardness is usually about the amount of calcium and magnesium in the water. You can have low/no alkalinity  and high hardness. Or low hardness and high alkalinity. Or the same but with acidic water.

I add calcium sulfate to my soft, low alkalinity water as the good Dough Doctor mentioned that doughs benefit from moderate hardness (about 0.2% bakers percentage in my case). IT is less sticky when I do this.

If your water source is acidic at all, your water company will (or certainly should!) adjust your water so it is not acidic -otherwise your copper pipes would corrode.

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Offline texmex

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Re: Relation between alkalinity/acidity and hardness/softness in water
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2020, 11:22:23 AM »
I never use straight tap water for cooking. Not so much because of hardness/softness but the Chlorine/Chloramines in the water are pretty potent. Especially during the warmer months I can smell the chemical odors of the additives.

btw - here the water is pretty soft and to brew a great beer you really didn't have to do much.


We have heavily chlorinated water as well, and I used to always set out a pitcher of water each evening to off-gas. I could then accept it for drinking, otherwise I would never drink tap water. Did the same thing with coffee pot water.  I now understand that my 2 in 1 IDY is giving me a double softening effect with the use of filtered water. I will make a point to use tap water the next time I use that IDY and make another batch with filtered water.


I find it interesting that beer and soft water meld well. Soft water does suds up really well, so it makes sense.
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Offline RHawthorne

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Re: Relation between alkalinity/acidity and hardness/softness in water
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2020, 01:40:09 PM »
Softness and hardness are definitely related to pH level. Here's a good article on the subject: https://opentextbc.ca/ingredients/chapter/water-hardness-and-ph/


As a continuation to https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=64334.20;topicseen in which I started to go off-topic, I started here a new thread:

Thanks for the link.
So what they say is that:
>7pH = alkaline = hard water;
<7pH = acidic = soft water.
It's interesting, I didn't know there were such a link between both characteristics (hardness and pH).

So not only soft water doesn't restrain yeast activity like hard water does, but also provides a better acidic environment for it. Hard water retrains yeast activity plus doesn't give a good environment. So in both cases that would make a double impact?

Months back I made an internet research about hardness and softness, first I mistakenly thought that "pure" water ("pure" from the mountains like the Alps for instance) was soft and "dirty" water from the cities were hard. Water from the mountains have a lot of mineral salts thus are hard, same for water from the cities. In France, water from the mountain "Massif Central" ("central mountains", a wide part of the middle of France), mostly formed from dead volcanoes, is said to be soft water.

Do you guys have other interesting links about this subject?
  I don't know if I'd say that soft water is categorically better for pizza dough per se. There is a fairly broad pH range between "too soft" and "too hard" in which yeast activity will work just fine. Soft water is definitely better than water that is on the extreme high end of the pH scale, but it can be just as problematic if it's overly acidic. Overly acidic water can create dough that is sticky and slack, and incapable of forming gluten properly at all. And even RO purified water or distilled water, while being free of harmful contaminants, is still lacking in any sort of mineral content that actually helps feed the yeast. Tap water that is free from harmful contaminants but still has a fairly high pH level (not overly hard) is probably better than purified water that has not had any sort of minerals added, in my opinion.
 I was using purified water from a water filter pitcher for a while, but I've since gone to using cold tap water. And I also switched from using regular sea salt to Himalayan pink sea salt, as it's got a very wide distribution of minerals in it (at least compared to regular table salt), and I think that's been helping me get better dough. Yeast definitely benefits from certain minerals (calcium and magnesium, in particular), and if you can use a salt that helps feed it the proper minerals, instead of just keeping it in check, that is a bonus, I think.
Anyway, this is a topic that merits deeper research, in my opinion. A google search I did for "Himalayan pink sea salt in baking" led right back to post started on a this forum about three weeks ago: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=64046.0 . So I can't say that I have a wealth of scientific information to draw from on this topic, but I don't want to go too far off-topic anyway. Suffice to say, mineral adjustment of baking water by means other than just salt is a topic worth exploring.
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Offline amolapizza

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Re: Relation between alkalinity/acidity and hardness/softness in water
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2020, 05:13:57 AM »
To vastly simplify it.  Hard water has a high mineral content, often Calcium and Magnesium carbonates, bicarbonates, and sulfates.  This is often referred to as permanent hardness.

Then you have something referred to as temporary hardness which is determined by the amount of bicarbonate ions in the water.  These can be made to precipitate out of solution by boiling the water.

The temporary hardness also gives the water a property called alkalinity, that is it's ability to buffer against pH changes when introducing acids.  A water with no alkalinity (like distilled or RO water) will not have a stable pH as the amount of dissolved CO2 (or other acids) will have a big influence on the final pH.

Supposedly in areas which have a really hard water you'd need less salt, and in areas with very soft water you'd need more salt to achieve the same dough properties.  A water with low alkalinity would probably produce a dough with a low pH due to the effects of CO2 and lactic/acetic acids.

FWIW back when I started making pizza I googled Naples water and came away with the impression that it's hard.  Since I also have a hard water I concluded that I was good and haven't really thought much about water hardness anymore.
Jack

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