I have successfully made sourdough whilst living in Texas - USA then back in Australia and now i am currently living in Nashville - USA.

Since moving to Nashville i began a new starter and have currently been feeding my starter for 2 months. Every day i feed it 100grams of tepid filtered water and 100grams of strong bread flour. I used the exact same flour in Texas and my starter was fine.

I cannot figure out why my starter isn't becoming active and rising. Do you think it's possible that the water in Nashville is different? i literally cannot figure out why its not working for me. The starter isnt rising and it doesn't float when i put some in a glass of water.

Any help would be much appreciated! - Bonnie

  • 2
    The water will definitively be different - but the same was true when you lived in Australia. Do you have anything particular in mind, like high levels of chlorine?
    – Stephie
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 7:19
  • You might need to edit the question for clarity, because as I'm reading the question, it seems to be asking why the starter isn't rising - it's not supposed to - too much liquid to hold together for that. Is it a matter of your bread dough not rising, when the starter is used to make the dough? Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 16:38
  • @PoloHoleSet In my experience (which is NOT a lot), healthy starters do rise after feeding. Not hugely, but measurably. Am I wrong?
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 8:48
  • @Jolenealaska - since there are bubbles in the starter, and that means some air taking up space, yes, but not anything like with dough, which is why I'm not clear on whether that's what she's talking about, or if it's a starter that can't get dough to rise. Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 15:20

2 Answers 2


Filtering water may not remove all or even any of the chlorine in your water, it depends upon the filter. Chlorine is the bane of sourdough starter's very existence.

In 2017, Nashville tested the free chlorine (the chlorine 'left' in water after it has done its job of killing nasties in the water treatment facilities and the pipes on the way to your home) in city tap water as from a home faucet. The result was 1.82 mg/L chlorine. That is approaching the federal recommended maximum of 2.0 mg/L free chlorine in nearly fresh tap water. So, you have highly chlorinated water. I think that's probably your problem.

I recommend you do three things now to save your starter.

  1. Switch to bottled water (no chlorine) to feed your starter, or very carefully choose your next filter.

  2. Give your starter a "snack" of unsweetened pineapple juice, replacing all of the water of your next feeding and half of the water the feeding after that (so give it a 50/50 mix that feeding). See this article for reasoning.

  3. Feed it with whole grain flour for a few feedings. Since your starter is wheat, use whole wheat flour for a while. That will give it a bit of extra nutrition while it's trying to get healthy.

Good Luck

  • 2
    There's a difference between chlorine and chloramine used in water purification. Chlorine will come out in boiling, or just letting the water sit in an open container for a day will do it. Chloramines will last longer but can be removed, see this answer: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/67027/…
    – GdD
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 10:49
  • 2
    @GdD Letting water sit works to remove chlorine, just like it works for sensitive aquariums. Bottled water is just easier (At least it is for me, I always forget to put water out to dechlorinate). Nashville water (where the OP is) seems to contain chlorine, not chloramine, because that's what is reported on their annual quality test. I could be wrong in that assumption, though.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 12:13
  • I think you're completely right @Jolenealaska, I thought a broader context might be useful for those living in other areas, hence the comment.
    – GdD
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 12:21
  • Meh. I've used tap water for ages without ill effect. But the tap water in my area doesn't smell like chlorine as it does in some cities like Chicago.
    – Rob
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 13:02

I don't weigh out anything. I go by looks and feel. Too much water and it will bubble but not rise. The gas escapes because the dough is too thin to capture the gas. I just had a starter bubbling for 3 days. This morning I fed it less water so it was like a thick pancake batter and it doubled in 1 hour. It floated like a cork! I took pictures of it sitting in front of a clock to show what a change.

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