smokemaster's witches brew revisted, as seen by a nerd

judo_and_peppers(Tampa FL)February 13, 2014

Fertilizer containing calcium acetate is expensive. Calcium acetate is easy to make. All you need is calcium carbonate and distilled white vinegar.

I like smokemaster's idea, but I'm too much of a nerd to have a go at a chemical reaction without working out the numbers first. the idea of pouring about an inch of lime in a yogurt container and filling it up with vinegar is very unappealing to me. I gotta do the math. so here we go.

since dolomitic lime is not pure calcium carbonate, for simplicity I bought pure calcium carbonate powder off amazon (for home brewing, etc). and I'm basing my numbers on the goal of getting a pH neutral solution.

The actual chemical reaction is:
2CH3COOH + CaCO3 -----> Ca(CH3COO)2 + H2O + CO2

The molar mass of CaCO3 is 100.0869 g/mol
The molar mass of CH3COOH is 60.05 g/mol

But since the vinegar is already diluted, mass isn't very useful to us. What we're interested in is moles/liter, which for 5% vinegar is roughly 0.87 moles/Liter or 0.87M. From this we get to the more useful number which is 1.14 liters per mole.

From the equation above, you need 2 moles of acetic acid to neutralize 1 mole of CaCO3. So following from that logic for every 100g (1 mole) of calcium carbonate, you need 2.28L (2 moles) of vinegar.

Let's have a bit more fun with this, since not everyone has a digital scale.
Per Wikipedia The density of CaCO3 is 2.83g/cm3. And there's 14.78 cm3/tbsp. following that logic there's 41.84g/tbsp.
so: (41.84g)/(100 g/mol) = 0.418 moles CaCO3

2 x (1.14 L/mole) x 0.418 moles = 954 mL vinegar

So for every tablespoon of CaCO3 you would need 954 mL of vinegar.

The molar mass of calcium acetate is 158.17.
Going with the tablespoon of CaC03 you would get 0.418 moles of calcium acetate, or roughly 66.13 grams.

I did all of this in excel, so I carried all my digits. You can round off as you see fit. I figure if you have a rounded tablespoon of calcium carbonate and about a liter of vinegar, it'll probably work out just fine.

This of course is based on going for a neutral solution to not mess with your soil pH. I just did the math tonight, I intend to try it out this weekend. I have a pH tester so I can see how accurate I was.

please feel free to check my numbers. I figured if I'm gonna sit down and work out the numbers, I might as well post it for others to make use of.

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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Very good, Judo.
Your numbers looks correct, to me.
BTW: you did not mention that specific gravity of acetic acid is 1.052. That leads to 0.87M/Lit. in 5% vinegar.

Be careful out there !LOL

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 4:59AM
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smokemaster_2007

Since I use Dolomite Lime which has other stuff in it...

Do you know what happens to the Mag. that gets dissolved by the acid/vinegar.

Without knowing for sure,I assume by using Dolomite lime I'm giving my plants both usable Ca. and Mag.
Are both an acetate?
Mag. and CA. are taken up by the same receptors in plants-so I've read.
It seems to me adding witches brew to a plant could be better than adding mag or ca by itself.
If a plant needs both,I'd think by not adding both mixed together could make it so a plant might take up either if it was given the nute first.
Assuming IF the plant is given a mix,it is able to take whatever it wants at the same time-both ca and mag.

Supposedly the Acetate is easily obsorbed by a plant on contact-no break down or ph stuff to deal with in general.

Blosum set is sold to directly spray on buds.
I like Foli-Cal,cheaper,a pint for $6.00 - $8.00.
An oz or 2 per gallon of water.

Witches brew seems to get me FAST results especially at budding time as an addition to a light fert watering.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 9:06AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Fantastic!
This makes me much more comfortable trying it out!

Josh

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 10:34AM
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woohooman

I tried it last year doing it smoke's way. Which is no specific formula. About an inch of dolomite and a couple inches of white vinegar in a jumbo sour cream container, let it sit for a day, then add it to my MG AP at about 3-4 TB/2 gal of mixed ferts.

You guys saw my harvests. Had very little blossom drop throughout the season and only an occasional pod with BER(larger podded annuums). Did it like this way throughout the season about every 3 weeks along with my weekly half-strength MG AP feedings. I also did epsom salts about once/month.

For those living east of the Mississippi, you probably have acidic water anyhow. So, just using straight dolomite shouldn't be a problem --- that's a general rule, so check your ph or call your water district for ph.

Like smoke has mentioned to me, don't put on a lid on the container unless you want an explosion.

Kevin

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 11:45AM
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sjetski(6b NJ)

Yep, learned about Smoke's Dolomitic lime + vinegar brew a few years back and have been using it ever since. I distinctly remember using some last August to give the last round of maters and peppers a boost.

Steve

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 11:51AM
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judo_and_peppers(Tampa FL)

smoke, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with your method. it's certainly easier. and it has the advantage of being tried and true for at least a few people on here. in fact I already tried it myself.

I think dolomitic lime must have a different/lower pH than regular calcium carbonate, because I put like 3 tbsp of crushed dolomitic lime in with like 100ml of vinegar, and a week later my pH tester says it's still in the 4.6 range. and my water is already acidic, so I don't wanna add something to make it more acidic.

that's why I decided to go with pure calcium carbonate, and do the math to neutralize it. YMMV

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 12:31PM
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woohooman

Judo: Another option would be to just add lime(dolomite or calcitic) to your soil mix. Since you already have pretty acidic water, it shouldn't be a problem. Btw, calcitic lime comes in the form of oyster shell flour.

Kevin

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 6:02PM
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scorpion_john(6)

Jason, i'll agree with you. You might be a nerd. Lol. John

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 6:49PM
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scorpion_john(6)

Jason, i'll agree with you. You might be a nerd. Lol. John

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 7:01PM
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leafericson(6)

I'll chime in here..
Thanks for the scientific explanation Nerd-Boy... lol just messing even though you claimed the name...
Ironic how things are.. I just finished making a final gallon of the stuff and decided to go on GW. Scrowling down I saw the thread and new exactly what it meant. Been making CA for a long time always wondered if the mix was netural, never bothered to dip the meter in and see or do the math. Just know the stuff really works well. I use it the whole way through not just at bud time.
Oh like the double post John.. keep it, the nerd thing keeps ringing along...
Hahaha..

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 12:05AM
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judo_and_peppers(Tampa FL)

hey, I have no problem with the title of nerd. I'm the guy that loved calc 1-3, and will sometimes do math problems for fun. yes, I'm that weird.

so I did a test with a teaspoon and 300 ml of vinegar. the reaction pretty much stopped at 4.6. so I put the mix in the microwave for a minute and kept stirring. now it's up to 5.1. closer, but still not neutral. I think the answer is that reactions happen at different rates at different temperatures, with most reactions happening faster at higher temps. I think added heat is the answer.

I'd love to get my hands on one of those hot plates with the magnetic stirrers we had in the lab. but lacking one of those I'm thinking I might just microwave it again. maybe I'll do it every night for a few days. I'm sure it's fine to put on the plants as is, but I wanna fight this battle on principle. and I'm gonna win.

I'm gonna email my writeup to my old chemistry professor to see if I did something wrong. I'm beaten, but not broken.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:36AM
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TNKS(7b)

Yall get this down to simple terms for less technical users it will no doubt be appreciated.
If it really doesnt (GREATLY) help super hot pepper production then by all means carry on with the nerdness.

Low on math skills with my cups and teaspoons

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:48AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

If we trust that the chemistry behind it is valid and correct, it should lead to a neutral solution. But then why it is still way too acidic ? Two possibilities pop in my mind:

1-- your pH meter is not measuring accurately.
2-- some of the vinegar still in there. Why? Maybe your Calcium Carbonate was not as PURE as you thought it was. So there was not enough of it to go around.
REMEDY: Increase its amount. The excess, if any , is not going to hurt too much. when applied.

JMO

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 5:53AM
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leafericson(6)

Judo.. I give you much respect with the math... I lost you at "The actual chemical reaction is: "
Me no so gud ah math... lol
Just so you know my formulation maybe all out of perspective since I use fast acting lime not the powdered lime.
Fast acting lime contains:
34% calcium
94% (of the 35% calcium is from) calcium carbonate (if I understand that right)
1% moisture
1.5% polymers
2% lignosulfonates as binding agent.
(Hmmm doesn't add up to 100% ?)
Not sure if the stuff works better or not but it is a small bag, dust free and saves me on a lot of storage space.
Dam.. I can't read labels right and I can't do math.. and why is one of my thumbs green and the other is not..

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 10:39AM
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lundaesundae(Zone 6)

i think i know the reason for your low ph. it could be what seysonn said which is impurity or it may just be the nature of reactions. as they progress they get slower and slower so heating and stirring do act as a catalyst to speed up the reaction. I agree with above that it may be beneficial to have excess calcium carbonate to speed up the reaction also. thanks for taking me back to chemistry class btw i remember doing all that =P

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:15AM
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woohooman

lundaesundae brings up a very good point. When doing your calculations, you want to use distilled water. At least, as a control.

Kevin

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:22AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Why exactly do you want to add calcium acetate? I know it is used as a medication to remove phosphate from the blood stream as it binds phosphate. It also helps increase the strength of cement.
I usually add calcium to peppers with calcium nitrate, and feed them too! It tends to raise the PH and helps keep magnesium and potassium in the soil longer. Works well with tomatoes or peppers. Not expensive either.
I'm still experimenting with it. So not sure of all benefits just yet. Or best way to apply. I would be interested in other experience with these products acetate, nitrate and why and how they use and apply them.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:56AM
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scorpion_john(6)

Jason, i'm just joking with you buddy. I forgot all that stuff along time ago. I've been out of school for 25 years. John

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:50PM
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ottawapepper

I'll admit it, I'm totally lost and confused.

I'm with LeafEricson on the math issues. Years ago cleaning my ears I went to deep with the Q-tip. Haven't been able to do math since.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 3:53PM
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leafericson(6)

Hahaha that's funny Bill.
I did the same but now the Q-tip comes out the other side..

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 5:10PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

My fellow nerd is essentially reducing the quantities of the ingredients to the lowest common denominator: the number of molecules of each (stated in moles, a constant). If you use exactly the same number of molecules / moles, and all the molecules react, then there is no left over ingredients, e.g. vinegar, to drive pH away from neutral.

That's the theory, anyway. There are all sorts of complicating factors:
* do the ingredients react completely?
* does the result in water have a non-neutral pH? (I believe Ca Acetate acts as a salt, but what about the CO2 in water?)
* if there are other ingredients present (there are) do they affect either pH or the completion of the reaction?

Bottom line is that you may not be able to get to get to neutral without some rejiggering. Fortunately, peppers seem to like acidic conditions...

Dennis

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 12:40PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

OK. I am dusting off this thread. for several reasons:

(1) I just bought a gallon of distilled vinegar and have a bag full of Dolomitis lime. Guess what :-)

(2)To be 101% sure, I will just add a little more lime and let the acetic acid run its course and vanish into calcium acetate. And I will spread the thing left at the bottom on my compost pile or on the lawn.

(3) How long should I wait for this stuff to brew ? anyway to speed it up, like sun, shade, heat ..?

(4) This is MORE important. Actually it should have been Number 1 :
How the heck am I going to give it to my plants to get drunk: -) hehe

This post was edited by seysonn on Tue, Jul 1, 14 at 3:38

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 2:28AM
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woohooman

#2 I wouldn't add the lime at the bottom to anything after use. Who knows what the ph is?? Because the stuff evaporates(because you don't want to cover it with a lid), I add more vinegar(per smokemaster's instruction) each time and do this for a few uses before tossing the remainder in the trash.

#3 Overnight is fine. Speed up? 8 hours too slow for you? If it is, don't try your hand at growing superhots! :P

#3 After the foaming subsides, give another quick stir. I usually add about 2-3 TB of the liquid(none of the heavy solids at the bottom) to my watering can along with my normal MG AP ferts. One of my watering cans has a head that can be removed though to prevent shower feeding. 2 gal watering can. Smokemaster says about 2 oz/gallon but I use less obviously.

Kevin

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 12:45PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Thanks much Kevin,
You answered all my questions comprehensively.
Today is the day, 1st day of July, 2014, to brew. I will make about half a gallon of it .

seysonn

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 3:20PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Maybe I did it wrong....

Small amount of Lime in a glass....then I added a teaspoon of vinegar, stirred until bubbling ceased, added another teaspoon vinegar, stirred until bubbling ceased, and then added another teaspoon vinegar, stirred until bubbling ceased. After that, there was no more activity. I assumed the Lime and vinegar had all reacted.

I immediately took the liquid and mixed it into a 2-gallon watering jug, which I then applied to my containers.

Did I jump the gun? How long do I really need to wait?

Josh

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 3:33PM
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djoyofficial(5-6)

I just posted this in a fertilizer thread and then saw this one. Sorry for the double post but I thought it fit here better.

Interesting note on the "witches brew". I just read an E.P.A. article, PC code 011470, on the use of calcium acetate as an attractant to eight different yellow jacket species in traps.

Calcium and More yellow jackets.... hmmmmmm.... :-) I'm OK with that.

dj

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 3:36PM
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woohooman

Josh: I can't remember the convo I had with Mike verbatim. I just wait overnight to give it longer to react.But i took it as not a very scientific routine. So here's what I do ---

1/4-1/2 cup of lime and about 1 1/2 cups vinegar in about a quart plastic container. Stir vigorously and let sit on a shelf in the garage overnight. Give another good stir in the morn and wait about an hour for it to settle. Then i add about 3 TB of the LIQUID to my 2 gal watering can, add a tad of water, add my MG AP and some epsoms(not always), fill up, and feed.

Whatever is left goes back on the shelf for a week or 2. Some of it will evaporate, so the night before I feed again, I add "some" more vinegar, give another good stir, and stir in the morning again about an hour before feeding again. I do it this way maybe 4-5 times before tossing the lime and making a new batch.

Seems to work for me, but it just may be the fast-acting gypsum I add to my mix at the beginning of the season that's providing all the Ca the plants need. This is why I don't use TOO much. Like you always preach, better than too little than too much.

Kevin

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 4:02PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I did it.
I brewed about 3 liters (quarts).
Clarification:

What I had was Fast Acting Lime (Not dolomitic)
The ingredients:
---- 95% Ca CO3
---- 1 % moisture (estimated )
----- 4% not mentioned.

also: by weight it is : 35% Ca. Now by volume/weight it has probably less than 0.5 % Calcium. Not a whole lot.

Observation:
Kept adding lime: MUCH MORE THAN 1 TBSPOON PER LITER OF VINEGAR. I continued until there was no chemical reaction, with a lot of sediment at the bottom. Now it is left overnight. It has a nice dark beer/ale color. Tomorrow I will bottle it: hehe

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 12:46AM
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tessa74(8)

Hi, has anyone heard from or talked to Smokemaster in the past few months? He's usually really good at replying to emails really quick, but haven't heard from him in months.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 11:21AM
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woohooman

tessa74: He's been active, but barely. Haven't seen a post of his in a month or so though.

Kevin

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 12:12PM
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Orekoc(7 Willamette Valley Oregon)

Just a thought, for the nerds, has anyone checked to make sure the vinegar is actually 5%? Seems like that could be another factor.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 1:30PM
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neoguy

Smoke, posted on another forum in late May, that he was dealing with some potentially serious health problems. Mike, I hope things are better.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 8:42AM
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Orekoc(7 Willamette Valley Oregon)

Smokemaster posted on another thread timestamped, Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 23:31, so he is around. Not sure why he didn't get to this thread though.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:49AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Posted by Orekoc 7 (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 20, 14 at 13:30

Just a thought, for the nerds, has anyone checked to make sure the vinegar is actually 5%? Seems like that could be another factor.
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Orekoc,

Whether or not the vinegar is 5% acetic acid or not does not matter UNLESS doing it as a CHEMISTRY experiment in the lab.
=============================
The actual chemical reaction is:
2CH3COOH + CaCO3 -----> Ca(CH3COO)2 + H2O + CO2

The molar mass of CaCO3 is 100.0869 g/mol
The molar mass of CH3COOH is 60.05 g/mol
=============================
What you want to do is to make SURE that all the acetic acid is neutralized and spent. You do this simply adding more lime. The extra lime will be settled at the bottom. You just separate the brew and bottle it . There is no need to be exact and scientific about it. Lime is cheap.

That is how I did it and I am sure my final product is 99.9% calcium acetate.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 3:02AM
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scgreenthumb1987(8)

And I'm going back to my linux/android mod and hack forum before yall make me feel like a COMPLETE idiot lol. Thanks for the headache guys.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 4:18AM
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tessa74(8)

Thanks guys. I finally did hear from him. All I can say is he needs prayers. If any of you folks are with God, please keep him in your prayers. Maybe he'll (Mike) share one day. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 10:03PM
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smokemaster_2007

I am still on the green side of the grass.
I just spent the last 3 weeks in the hospital...

Wouldn't have survived hospital food without the powders people have sent me.

Salt and fat free meals really suck,the powders really made the food almost edible. LOL

5 more chemo rounds to go.

Hopefully no more vacations in the hospital.

No hair or beard,I forgot what I look like beardless...old and ugly...

As far as witches brew goes,I don't know what the Mag. in the Dolomite lime turns into ,if and when the vinegar disolves it.
Don't know if it is plant usable or not either.
The reason to make Ca. Acetate is it is supposed to be easily accessable to the plants leaves and roots.

Also,you MUST stir the heck out of it to get the vinegar to disolve as much ca. as it can.
A pure Ca. source might be different than Dolomite Lime.

I toss whatever residue left over in my potting soil ingredients for next year,in case whatever it is is good for plants too.
It usually is a gray color,whatever it is...

Thanks to all who have sent me powder samples,they REALLY came in handy.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 1:27AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Now hang on here, buster. If you're gonna suggest that other vegetable powders are effective anti-chemo therapy then we have a political problem. Medical marijuana is our shiv against the New Prohibition. If you go providing an alternative, the whole movement may be jeopardized.

In your future public statements, please emphasize how various common medical condition such as hemorrhoids and common sense make your "little miracle" an alternative that is unacceptable to the medical profession and to the general population. Or else.

Vinnie Boombatz
NORML Deputy Advisor

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 11:22AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Cheez, having no hair would freak me out. I still have all of mine, plus a mustache that hasn't moved since the middle of high screwl.

Hang in there and know that we want you to stay around for a while.

Dennis

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 11:25AM
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woohooman

Wow! Sorry to hear it's THAT serious, MIke. But happy to hear from you and that things are looking up.

Since you're the cause of me having an abundance of powder from last season, you want some? I have some 7Pot, Bhut, and Naga. Nothing smoked, but it's free to YOU.

Btw, I bet your doctor is now going to tell you to grow something OTHER than peppers also. ;)

Kevin

This post was edited by woohooman on Wed, Jul 30, 14 at 12:14

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 11:32AM
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kentishman

Mike, Just got caught up with your news. You're in my thoughts and I wish you the best.

Tom

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 4:27PM
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tessa74(8)

haha, i like Kevin's train of thought. Hope you're feeling better Mike.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 11:12AM
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smokemaster_2007

Just finished round 2 of Chemo.
It was less harder hitting than round 1 in general,so far.
Things seem to be easier on me than I expected - so far.
1/3rd done ,4 more chemo's to go.
Lost about 80 lbs. ,I was about 100 lbs.overweight...
A salt and fat free diet sucks!
Better than the alternatives I guess...

Thanks for the good thoughts and prayers.
It means a lot.

Garden died so I'm sprouting new stuff,good thing we don't have a winter here.
Mostly going to be Manzanos and a few wilds and Annuums I think.
Did anyone figure out if the Mag. in Dolomite lime dissolves in the vinegar to make something the plant can still use or?

Does it combine with the Ca. to make a compound of some sort or do the Ca. and Mag. disolve to make 2 separate things?
It might make a difference since the same receptors in plants can take up either Ca. or Mag.
So if they make a compound in whatever ratio of Ca. to Mag. it would be interesting if said ratio matched the average ratio plants use.
No more hassle with possible Ca. or Mag. lock out due to overdosing a plant with either or...

A possible reason to use Dolomite Lime rather than pure Ca.

This post was edited by smokemaster_2007 on Sun, Aug 10, 14 at 13:37

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 1:14PM
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tessa74(8)

No idea. I failed Chem class, miserably. Hope you're feeling better Mike.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 1:53PM
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