The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can hard water interfere with my yeast?

jlanderson0723's picture

Can hard water interfere with my yeast?

I just moved to California, and we have very hard water.  Ever since we've moved I've been unable to get my bread to rise.  Could the hard water be keeping my bread from rising?  And if so, is there anything I can do about it besides using bottled water?

mrfrost's picture

First, you might confirm that your water supply is the problem by successfully getting your dough to rise by using bottled water. If you are successful using bottled water, then maybe too high chlorine(fluoride, etc) levels are the culprit. You might try one of the following:

Leave a pitcher full of your tap water for the chlorine to diffuse out of the water. This should take a day or so. Cover the pitcher with only a napkin or paper towel secured with a rubber band, etc. After a day or so, try it. I've read that this is not always effective, depending on the chlorination(florination?) methods used by the utility.

Obtain a Brita(Pur, etc.) water pitcher/filter in lieu of bottled water. They effectively give you bottled water at a potentially much lower price. They also make filters that attach to the faucet.

I've only been baking bread for eight months or so and always let my water set out, before shortly thereafter moving to a Brita pitcher that I found in my father's(now mine) basement.

Have never, ever failed to get commercial yeast to raise dough. I think I've read that hard water itself, is not harmful to yeast. In fact, some of the minerals may be beneficial. Of course there are certainly degrees(of of mineral concentrations) to that.


LindyD's picture

Are  you using well water or water supplied by your city?

If it's well water, an analysis by your local health department will give you details on the mineral content.  If it's city water, your water department should be able to provide the same information, especially the chemical used for chlorination.  

Are you using a water softener? 

Actually, hard water contains a lot of minerals and those minerals benefit fermentation and can make your dough stronger.  

I had to replace my well a bit over a year ago and have the mineral analysis of my water.  It's quite hard and I get excellent results with my levain and when I use yeast. For me, hard water is a positive factor.

jlanderson0723's picture

I'll try letting my water sit out.  It may be something I did, but I never had problems before I moved, so I thought maybe that could be it.  Thanks for the help.

CeraMom's picture

Have you checked your yeast?

Are your loaves not rising at all? Are they rising then falling? Are they just slow to rise or never even a little bit?

We have ridiculously hard water and my bread does rise quite well. Easy enough to test using bottled water though!

jlanderson0723's picture

Last time it rose very slowly.  This time it just seems not to have risen at all.  I ended up with a focaccia brick.

gildee's picture

When I first got interested in bread making the first thing I read when making a starter is to use bottled water, I apply that measure to anything that has to do with making bread doughs;  what kind of water did use before u moved? what's wrong with bottled water if it is going to keep u from having headaches?

And yes, check the yeast; is it outdated, that is the #2 rule I read when making bread!

After I did not do anyone of the above and failed a couple of times, I listened to the bakers on TFL and follow their tried and true recipes w/o any trouble., but that only came after reading and reading and reading!