It’s all about the water…
Not all water is the same… especially when it comes to Water Kefir Grains and what they need to do their life’s work. I have been growing and selling fermented cultures for several years now. When customers have a perceived problem with their grains it is almost always comes back to the water type or quality they are using. Water kefir is a living organic culture of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that are sensitive to environmental changes, toxins and an unbalanced diet. When something is not right in one of these areas they will let you know immediately. They go on strike and stop doing what they do best… ‘fermenting and growing’. Water is intrinsic to all life and here are some of the ones you need to meet if you want happy and healthy water kefir grains.
1. Tap Water
If you live in a first world country you are lucky enough to have access to ‘clean’ drinking water via the tap in your home. I use the term ‘clean’ loosely as tap water has been treated in several ways to stop it from harboring any nasties that might make us ill. Water authorities add all sorts of chemicals to achieve their desired results including chlorine to kill any bacteria. This presents a problem if you want to grow water kefir in it (i.e. Beneficial bacteria). The chlorine is design to kill all bacteria good or bad, so must first be neutralized before you can use your tap water. The easiest way to do this to boil your water. The boiling process allows the chlorine elaborate and also kills any that might be organic and potentially harmful.
2. Filtered Tap Water
Same issue applies as noted in the above summary only instead of boiling your water, the filter removes the chlorine as well as most other impurities whilst retaining most of the mineral content of the water. (Please note that this is not the same as an osmosis filtering system. More about that a title later.)
3. Rain and Tank Water
Rainwater more so that Tank water (which can include municipal water) is ‘softer’ than tap water. ‘Soft’ and ‘Hard’ refers to the about of minerals that are presenting the water. Soft water has a low mineral content as it was evaporated before falling back to the ground where the minerals would naturally be added back but you have caught it in your tank before it could reach the ground. It will also contain contaminants both chemical and organic. Chemicals from the atmosphere and air and organic matter from your roof, dirt, dust, bugs (you get the ideas). So whilst you do not need to eliminate chlorine from your rainwater it is advisable to boil your water to kill anything that might be harmful to you or your grains to be on the safe side. (Remember you are going to be drinking it after it has been turned into kefir water!)
4. Bottled water (spring or mineral water)
Bottled water is a very broad general term for any water that has been processed in some way to to meet packaging and health regulations around the globe. These can include everything from ultra violet light to kill bacteria, to filtering out of organic matter and other pollutants from commercially collected rain water. The other to consider, depending on where you live around he globe are the governing bodies that control and police this industry and how strict they are on labeling requirements to tell consumers if the water has been processed or enhanced in any way. If the water you are buying comes in a plastic bottle, chances are that some of the chemicals from the plastic will leach into the water even if it claims to BPA free. And you may wish to consider the plastic burden you are adding to the planet. If you are considering this option, consider getting a cooler or dispenser setup where your water is delivered in reusable 20-30 litre dispensing bottles.
5. Osmosis & Distilled Water
Osmosis water filtering systems remove everything from the water including all minerals as with distilled water. It is not recommended for long term human consumption unless you have a medical reason to do so. If you are drinking osmosis water you should be supplementing your mineral and trace mineral intake. When using osmosis water with your water kefir you will also need to consider supplementing the trace minerals that your grains require to stay healthy and multiply. They will get most of the major minerals required to the fermentation process from the organic molasses used but they also require trace minerals which would be present to some degree in the water you use.
So whilst you can use the different water sources mentioned, you may need to boil it and/or add minerals to ensure that your grains have everything they need to do their job of making health promoting probiotics effectively.
Just an additional note on using ‘alkaline’ water:
It is best to use water that has a neutral pH of around 7.0. Water kefir grains much prefer this neutral pH.
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