The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

If you don't have spring water what do you do with tap water

syllymom's picture

If you don't have spring water what do you do with tap water

I'm out of spring water for baking sourdough and remember reading that if you leave tap water out for several hours that the chlorine will disapate.... how many hours does it have to sit out?


arhoolie's picture

My understanding is that it's only for several hours, perhaps three or so.  If I think of it, I leave mine out overnight, though that's probably overkill. 


renoles's picture

if your water system free chlorinates the water - overnight is what I used to do. I've switched to a Brita pitcher and it's made an even more noticeable impact (and there's no delay).

umbreadman's picture

how much impact does using tap water have on the bread? I know everything I've seen or read has said to use de-chlorinated water, and maybe I should try it next time, but I've used tap and my doughs still rise okay. does the taste change? does rising time change because the yeast has to try and survive the chlorine?

Thegreenbaker's picture

I use tap and I use filtered. I find it makes no difference at all. :S


The chlorine thing, if you put the water in a wide  upen topped pan, like a skillet with high sides, it willl take an hour maybe 2 at the most to evaporate. Large area = quicker evaporation. :)  Or so my microbiologist chemist friends told me last week. ;)



Cooky's picture

I've used spring water, tap water left overnight for evaporation, and water straight from the tap, and have never seen any difference in the bread dough. Most modern water systems use a charcoal filtration process that radically reduces the need for chlorine, so even straight from the tap the chlorine level is very low. You might give a call to your local water department to find out if they use the low-chlorine system.


"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

goetter's picture

(Though my samples aren't identical to yours. ) I'm using rural well water, tap water from metropolitan Seattle left overnight to dechlorinate (and pick up cat dander), and filtered tap water, maintaining starters of both fine-ground rye meal and white AP flour.

The biggest difference is between the well water and the filtered tap water in a white starter.  Well-water-fed white starters very easily acquire a cheesy odor and a rather ropy texture that persists across multiple refreshments, whereas the filtered water starter stays quite clean.  The raw tap starter seemed feebler than filtered tap, though that could have been a characteristic of the health of the then-only-recently-transplanted starter; either way, it wasn't picking up any flora from the water system like my well-fed starter.

Curiously, the rye meal starter seems less picky about its water.  It goes gamy quickly from its whole-meal components, but also refreshes responsively.  Perhaps it just tolerates my well water better, that being native from its inoculation.

rudolf's picture

Umbreadman, I concur. I think we can be too particular over the making of bread whether using naturally leavened or Bakers yeast. While by preference I would use spring/bottled water, they are not always available. Cooled boiled water might well be a substitute so I take it from a kettle where possible. I must admit, my baking is spontaneous, so i never prepare water in advance, no boiling, no leaving out overnight in the fridge, so mostly I just bake using tap water (chlorinated). While I own that the chlorine is there to destroy unwelcome bacteria, I have found even sourdough yeast to be very hardy and seems to thrive nevertheless. So happy baking and do not get too hung up over your choice of water

SourdoLady's picture

There are two ways to Chlorinate water in water treatment plants. One is Chlorine (the most common) and the other is Chloramine. Chlorine will dissipate upon sitting awhile but Chloramine will not, and most sourdoughs will not tolerate Chloramined water. My city tap water is very lightly chlorinated and my starters and doughs do fine with it. If you can smell chlorine in your tap water I would be wary of using it. I cannot detect any smell of chlorine in mine.

rcornwall's picture

According to Peter Reinhart "Bread Baker's Apprentice" this is not necessary at all, unless you live in a water district who just has really bad water. He feels that the chlorine flavor will completely dissapear during the baking process. Does anyone have a thought on that?


zolablue's picture

Maggie Glezer states in A Blessing of Bread, page 82; “…Ordinary tap water is fine to use in a sourdough starter—if we can drink it, so can the microflora…”


Jeffrey Hamelman states in Bread, page 51; “…In the creation of a sourdough or levain culture, there is another consideration.  If the water used is highly chlorinated, the chlorine can have a negative impact on the culture by inhibiting the metabolism of the developing microorganisms.  In this case, simply leave a bucket or jar of water out overnight, uncovered.  By the next day, most of the chlorine will have dissipated…”


On page 353 Hamelman states again; “…Chlorinated water impedes fermentation and can be harmful during the fragile beginnings of culture development.  Chlorine gas rapidly dissipates, however, and by keeping an open jug of water on the counter for several hours, most all the chlorine will dissipate.  Filtered water and well water can, of course, be used to begin a culture…”


It is interesting what Sourdoughlady said and I really didn’t know about chloramined water.  So I just looked up what we have here in our city and it is chloramined water – chlorine mixed with amonia.  I have always used water right out of the tap without problems for starting and maintaining my starter or my bread doughs. 


I wonder why there seems to be so much disagreement on this issue.

pumpkinpapa's picture

And what about hard well water?

I am on a farm where the well water doesn't smell off but the taste is off. We have it tested for the use for poutry and livestock and it is safe but I know the calcium level is incredibly high too.

I should try it with a batch of bread, then it would be an authentic pioneer style bread. Hopefully not something to build a house with :)

As for the smell of chlorine burning off during baking, I would support that as I have used bakers ammonia in some cookies and the ammonia bakes off there completely. 

rcornwall's picture

I wonder if there have been any real studies done on this topic. Certainly there is a logical consideration being taste. I was at our local community fair on Sunday and ran into someone selling water filtration systems. He had me try the filtered water and then our home tap water. I was blown away by the difference. Its probably better to be safe then sorry and use filtered water.


rcornwall's picture

All I know from my own experience is that I have used both tap and bottled water and have always had excellent results. In fact I have a sourdough starer that came from tap water and I love it. Maybe there isn't that much chlorine in the water where I live? I don't know, but I do wonder if there have been any conclusive studies done.


dulke's picture

I use spring water for the starter itself (out of an abundance of caution), but tap water for anything else. If I have some cool boiled water in the tea kettle, I'll use that too, instead of spring. My water does not smell of chlorine, but it is chlorinated. It is quite tasty to drink, straight out of the tap.