The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water - I Have My Suspicions

Rosalie's picture

Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water - I Have My Suspicions

Early on in my bread baking - at least this latest go-round - I noticed that my reverse osmosis water was not working very well in my yeast breads.  I read my recipes a little more closely and saw that they recommended spring water.  So I went out and bought Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water and found a big improvement.

(For those not in the know, the reverse osmosis process removes everything from the water except the water itself; so you end up with theoretically pure water.) 

Lately, my bread has had the same kind of stickiness that I'd been experiencing with the reverse osmosis water.   So today I used tap water instead.  The dough is doing very well.  It is undergoing stretches-and-folds and  I may yet see a windowpane on my 100% WW.  (The bread is a double-batch of Peter Reinhart's 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread.)

Is there anyone else out there who uses Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water?  How are your yeast breads doing?  What about other spring waters?

I have my suspicions.


AnnieT's picture

Good morning Rosalie, I live in an over 55 park where we have our own water supply which I assume is chlorinated. Have to say it is good tasting but I won't risk using it for bread, especially my starters, so I buy the 99cent gallon bottles from the grocery store. So far, so good, A.

Rosalie's picture

I became set in my ways and just assumed that I was doing the right thing with the spring water.  But I remember some time ago noting to one of my listservs that I was always adding more flour, no matter what the circumstances, that I never had enough.  The only thing my various doughs had in common was the water, and that my water "must be wetter than normal water."  (I actually said that, joking, of course.)

But with this dough, I didn't even add all the flour in the recipe.  And I did get my windowpane, first time ever!  It's definitely the water.  I'm sure I've been using Arrowhead all this time and that it worked at first.

So, again, does anyone else use Arrowhead in their yeast bread?


LindyD's picture

Nestle owns Arrowhead. The Arrowhead site states their water is purified by reverse osmosis.

When I come across a formula listing "spring water," I ignore it and use water from my faucet. While it is hard water, it tastes wonderful and flour seems to love it. The only way I would pay for water is if my well became contaminated.

An interesting note: for the past week I've been mixing up Peter Reinhart's sourdough starter using pineapple juice. At the same time I started Dan Leader's levain in preparation of making his blue cheese loaf. The pineapple juice starter is a dud and will probably go into the compost pile. The water based levain is doing just fine.

That's just my experience and given recent news reports regarding pharmaceuticals found in city drinking water, I'd probably have a different outlook if I didn’t have well water.

Rosalie's picture

Thanks, Lindy.  I found a PDF on the web site that gives their "14-Step Quality Process".  Step 4 is reverse osmosis/distillation, and step 6 is "Remineralization (Mineralized Water Only)".  Since the label on my water doesn't mention anything about minerals, I have to assume that I was right.

Somewhat misleading.  You expect "spring water" to have natural minerals and not have undergone processing.  I knew that some bottled water is processed tap water, but I've been had with spring water.

Ergo, >IF< I decide to try spring water again, I'll make sure it has minerals in it.  But the tap water may be just fine.  It certainly worked here.

Edited to admit error:  see next post


Rosalie's picture

You really have to keep your wits about you.  The 14-step process refers to "Drinking Water" ("Source may be either a well or a municipal supply.").  The process for "Spring Water" is 10 steps and does not include reverse osmosis.  So we still don't know what's going on here.


tananaBrian's picture

If it's only chlorine that you are worried about, then you should be OK with just aging your tap water for a few days before using it.  This works for dechlorinating water for aquariums, so why not bread?  As far as I know, no city uses reverse osmosis to process their water, but do use filtration and chlorination, and sometime flouridation as well. It's hard to remove flouride, but I doubt it would hurt your bread in any way.


PS: I use water-softened well water and it works fine... no chlorine or other additives, no monitoring of mineral content of any kind.

CountryBoy's picture

Well, regarding pharmaceuticals, I too have my own well and have the water tested every 10 years.  However........ most of us private well people have never tested specifically for pharmaceuticals, nor do many labs have tests specifically for pharmaceuticals.  It is not part of the standard tests normally run.

I happen to be a person who is a member of his Town's Master Plan Committee and water is an important part of our future since 90% of the town is on private well water.  We have towns at all points of the compass surrounding us with serious ground water pollution problems and actually have some major Hazardous Waste sites in town.  However the Town refuses to do major testing and the Committee refuses to have a geo hydrologist participate in the planning.  No one wants to know or hear about it.

Don't get me on water.......... 8-) 


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, CountryBoy. 

 Check with your County Health Department. They should have an Environmental Health division that tests wells, probably at no- or minimal cost to you. In your locale, testing may be done by a State lab, but your local Health Dept. should be able to tell you what resources are available and what contaminants are prevalent in your area's water. 


CountryBoy's picture

When you say the

 what contaminants are prevalent in your area's water.

You are, if in a perfect world, being

  1. intelligent
  2. practical
  3. sensible

However this is not a perfect world and since 9/11 many people in Westchester County outside NYC have become very paranoid.  So when indeed I did ask the question..what contaminants are prevalent in your area's water...I was told they would not tell me.  When I filed a Freedom of Information request they still refused.

Life is not always nice or fair so I stick to trying to learn how to bake bread and not discuss water. 


dmsnyder's picture

Paranoids do often have delusions of persecution, indeed. However, it sounds like there is a real conspiracy of silence. It does make one wonder what they are hiding and on whose behalf. 


LindyD's picture

I don't think that private wells in rural areas are affected as much as metropolitan areas, presuming you also have a septic system and maintain it. The testing that was reported took place in major metropolitan areas. According to one report, reverse osmosis removes all such contaminants (but could result in lousy bread). See for a more in-depth discussion.

And it's not that pharmaceuticals are being poured into the city sewers. Much of the stuff people take is not completely metabolized and what's not gets flushed. I'm pretty sure the small town where I work doesn't do such testing on their water...but I don't drink the stuff as I find it quite awful since they started chlorinating it.

That said, since you have hazardous waste sites in your town and your politicans refuse to do any major testing, perhaps it's time to put a bug in a local reporter's ear?


Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

I've been rereading "The Taste of Bread" by Professor Calvel.  He stresses the importance of water quality.  Minerals are very important.  If the water hardness is not at 25 or higher, you'll have a very soft dough.  25 ppm of minerals is a very low level, so most tap waters should be OK.


On the chlorine front, I have had no problems with chlorinated water in seven different cities.  The starters start well, and remain well as long as I keep feeding them.  However, all these cities had water which did not taste of chlorine and which tasted good.  (Well, except for the city where I live now.  It's not chloriney, but it's not very pleasant either... but the starters still like it.)


I have heard that chloramine, a more persistent form of chlorine, is a real problem for sourdough.  I haven't tried this for myself.  If you think you have a chlorine issue, try bottled spring water and see what happens.  Some people filter their water, however, most home filters do little to remove chlorine and nothing to remove chloramines, so check the product documentation.  Also, make sure that your filter doesn't remove minerals.  I'm just happy I haven't been using the R/O water my refrigerator produces!




ehanner's picture

If taste isn't really the issue, it's probably the PH. I bought a digital PH tester on ebay for $20 something last year so I could figure out what my sourdough is doing and do tests on various water sources. What I discovered is that most of the water in this area (Milwaukee) comes from Lake Michigan. If you know what you are looking for you can tell who bottled the bottled water just by the Ph number. Coca Cola bottles a lot of water under a number of names but it all comes from the same place.

As an aside Miller Brewing here makes over 70 kinds of beer for the world market. All those old and recognisable tastes from one water source. Even that one from the mountains with the reservoir high in the Rockies. Good water!


Trialer70's picture

DeeDeeBakes reminds me of a story my husband, a hydrogeologist, likes to give when he does his bottled water talk.  A small diner/cafe/truck stop in North Dakota was renowned for the coffee it served.  Truckers brought empty thermoses to carry back full with them; townspeople and farmers from miles around made it a habit to always stop by to have at least a couple of cups of java from this diner.  In short, it was judged by everybody who had a cup, the best coffee, bar none.  On a lunch stop, a couple of geologists passing through were also impressed with the coffee.  They asked the cafe owner what his water supply was and they were informed that the cafe drew its water from a well out back of the place.  The two geologists did some research and found the well was drilled smack in the middle of what was an old livery stable for nearly fifty years.  So, guess what kind of things the water was passing through?  It's all in what you're used to. 

Many times, what people call "bad" water is high in sulfates and yeasts would love that kind of environment.  Reverse osmosis water is most likely killing or retarding the growth of yeasts to a degree, especially in repeated use in things like starters.  I avoid using our tap water for my starters and use Sparkletts bottled water, which we have delivered for our five-gallon water dispenser (it's an old-fashioned kind that is a glazed jar style, not the new electric chilled dispensers).  I have had no problem keeping starters happy and alive, nor have I ever had a problem with my yeast breads using this water.  I have even had no problem using the chlorinated tap water when I bake yeast breads, though when I'm working with sourdough, I use the Sparkletts water.

Janknitz's picture

I live in a Northern California Bay Area town and there was a local plant on a busy street corner that bottled "mountain spring water".  Believe me, there were no pipes directly to that bottling plant from any mountain, nor was water trucked in to be bottled.  They were bottling local city water (which tastes great, by the way), probably treated in some way. 

The plant is no longer there, but I used to laugh when I'd see their label with the picture of the pure mountain spring. 

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

When I was in the Air Force I was involved in an explosion in a missile launch command center. They tested us for all sorts of toxins because the ballast that exploded was an old one that didn't meet any sort of OSHA standard and scared the bejeesus out of the flight surgeon when he checked the warnings on the hazardous substances. We had blood samples lost about 4 times until finally, about a year later, all of our samples from the final draw all came back negative. The only batch not to get lost. Naw, no conspiracy or paranoia. Just government cover-up at it's finest, as only the top-secret side can do.