Home Distillation of Alcohol (Homemade Alcohol to Drink)

Acidity Requirements for a Sugar Wash

The other important thing is the acidity of the wash. Getting it right should achieve better utilization of the sugar, a slightly higher alcohol %, and less other alcohol congeners. The wash should also take less time to ferment. The "Autofuel Manual" recommends that the optimum pH for mash is between 4.8 and 5.0 to keep the yeast happy, and to retard the growth of lactic acid micro-organisms. They also state that .. "Most grain mashes have a naturally acid pH of between 5.4 and 5.6 after malting or conversion has been accomplished. Other materials, notably saccharine substances like molasses and fruit pressings, have a naturally alkaline pH and must be acidified prior to fermentation." For sugar washs, the optimum pH is more like 4.0 to 4.5
If using citric acid ....
To get a pH of you need to use grams per litre
ie grams in a L wash to use

Wal writes ...
    Wine makers aim for a pH of 3.5 which equates to 0.6% acidity and which is equivalent to 6g of citric acid/litre of water, or 2 lemons/litre of water.

    (1 lemon is roughly equal to 3g of citric acid or 1/2 tsp.)

    A pH of 5.0 equates to 0.4% acidity and is equivalent to 4g of citric acid/litre of water, or 1 large lemon/litre of water.

    1.2g of citric acid raises the acidity of 1litre by 0.13%.
    i.e. 1tsp. (2lemons) raises acidity of 5litres of mash by 0.13%
Tim Watkins comments ..
    for acidifying the mash, I've always used lactic acid (88%) that I bought at the local brewshop. Use it sparingly though. In a sugar/water mash there is practically nothing to buffer the acid, so a little goes a long way. I can recall acidifying only water (about 16l or so) in to the appropriate range with only about 1/4 of a teaspoon.
Don (Nighthawk) adds
    ..... as an amature wine maker I always test the must just before pitching the yeast, and adjust it to .6% using acid blend (a combination of malac and tartaric acids) available at most brewing supply places. During fermentation the acid level will usually increase by about .1% which is where I like my finished product (.7% acid). I understand a slightly acid environment gives the best results from the yeast and is a mild preservative, and have always had good results, so when I do a batch of sugar/water I balance it to a pH of .5% (using the ratio of 4 oz. acid to 30 Imp. Gal = .1% increase) as the basis for calculating how much to add. On a number of occasions when I was out of acid blend I've used canned frozen orange juice which seemed to work just as well, and once I even resorted to vitimin C, but this was when the stuff was dirt cheap. LOL Buying acid blend in bulk makes it very inexpensive, so I never brew anything without it, but this is just my way of doing it.
Asking at my local homebrew shop, I was told that the yeast nutrients in with the Turbo yeasts etc can often contain up to 45% citric acid, purposely to acidify the sugar washes. I can't confirm this myself, as I can't even find decent Litmus paper in this wee town ...

Using the new alcohbase yeasts, the mixture can ferment up to 21% alcohol.

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