I'm following a recipe for making dough for a challah bread, and the recipe calls for warm water. How warm should the water be (in degrees)? Do I need to heat it, or is room-temperature good enough?

And, whatever the correct answer is, does it apply to all recipes that call for warm water?

4 Answers 4


As a rule of thumb- you can comfortably hold your finger in warm water.

100°F (38°C). Yeast wake up well at this temperature.

This time of year my house is 80°F (27°C). but I heat my water a little past that (~120°F or 50°C) to compensate for cooler ingredients- you really want the dough to be around 80F.

This will apply to all yeast recipes that call for warm water.

  • 2
    If directly mixing the water with the yeast, you want to avoid going over 42°C because above that, you will start damaging the yeast. Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 10:22

All recipes that are using warm water to activate yeast are looking for water in the 104-112F range. Much hotter than that and you run a chance of killing them, cooler and it won't bloom as sucessfully, especially 'instant' yeasts which do not react well to dissolving in cool water.

Be sure you take into account the temperature of the bowl or other vessel the water will be going into.

GOOD WATER is crucial to GOOD BREAD. Use filtered water if you possibly can, I just use water from the filtration system on my fridge, some people will go further. One benefit to using the water out of my fridge is that it is always the same temp, winter or summer, and so I know exactly how much time it will need in the microwave to hit the temps I need for cooking.

  • 1
    I've read many places that water is crucial and it makes sense... but I've always just used tap water and never done anything special and never had any problems with flavor or yeast development. I wonder if I've just had good tap water in the places I've lived or if it really doesn't matter so much after all. Have you had bread not turn out due to bad water? If so how bad did the water have to be? Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 2:36
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    Filtered water is by no means necessary. Maybe if you have really nasty well water, both otherwise... just no.
    – BobMcGee
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 17:26
  • There are plenty of cities with terrible water, and it does make a difference. Kind of have to experience it I guess.
    – renegade
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 19:35
  • The problem with some water supplies is that they are heavily chlorinated/flourinated, which messes with the yeast - and it is questionable whether any random water filter will do much about that... Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 10:24
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    @rackandboneman - generally allowing the water to sit out in an open container will allow the chlorine to dissipate/evaporate. Carbon filters and filter cartridges are often certified for chlorine removal. Do you have any links that call into question the claims of effectiveness for the filters? Even so, since you can let it sit out, and the chlorine will evaporate into the air, it's not a huge deal, either way, I guess. sciencing.com/remove-chlorine-from-water-4516999.html Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 20:29

I have used tap, distilled and filtered water and have not seen a significant difference in my sourdough bread. I stick to filtered water as “best compromise.” As far as temperature, I go for a range:100-110


110°F is the standard in baking for warm water.

  • 4
    110 F is warm enough to kill yeast if you're unlucky. If the recipe calls for directly dissolving yeast in hot water, this temp is a bad idea. 100-105 is a better range.
    – user141592
    Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 19:47

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