Process Improvement Tip – Water Quality

Mixing Your Way to Better Yields and Less Line Downtime – Our Meat & Poultry Blog Series

Process Improvement Tip – Water Quality 

Hard water can severely hamper certain brine / marinade ingredient’s ability to completely dissolve or hydrate. This has a large impact on yield causing purge, weeping and in severe cases, clogged injector needles. 

Hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of limestone and chalk which are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates. It is the presence of calcium ions and magnesium ions in the water that makes it hard. Typically, when water is lab-tested, the analysis report provides a number to describe the hardness. However, the USGS has developed a standard that gives us a better number based on the fact that it is the precise mixture of minerals dissolved in the water, together with the water’s pH balance and temperature that determine the behavior of the hardness. Using this method gives us a ppm (parts per million) reading as follows:

Classification  Hardness in PPM  Comment 
 Soft Water  less than 60  Great water for all uses
 Moderately Hard Water  61 – 120  Consult with your ingredient suppliers (especially phosphate) to ensure compatibility
 Hard Water  121 – 180  Yields likely being affected by 1-3%
 Very Hard Water  > 181  Severe yield impacts

Haven’t had a water test done? 

Consider that soft water readily forms lather with soap, but it is more difficult to form lather with hard water.  It is well worth the expense of having your water tested. If results show you have hard water, make sure to consider other factors as you try to justify a water softening system as that may cause serious problems in other parts of your plant such as boilers and cooling towers. Based on our experience when called into plants for what was suspected as a “mixing problem” and finding hard water, we have seen that when remedied, immediate 2-3% yield increases are the norm.  

With decades of process, applications, and ingredient experience, let us ponder your mixing dilemma. Ask Pete here!