How to Make Water Kefir

Please note that our kefir grains are living cultures and for best results they should ideally be used within 48hrs of receiving them. The grains require settling as they adjust to their new environment (they are very temperature sensitive) and this usually takes just a few days. However, as you are working with a living product, it can be hard to predict exactly how quick they will recover from the shipping process and can at times take a week or two to fully settle in to their new environment. Always ensure your grains are at 18°C or above, especially during the colder winter months.

Water kefir is similar but not similar to milk kefir. Like Milk Kefir, it’s a fermented drink. And like milk kefir, water kefir is made by using special ‘yeast & bacterial’ grains. However, the bacteria cultures are a bit different, as is the texture and size of the grains. The mediums each type of grain lives in is different (water vs milk) as is the actual food the grains eat (milk sugar vs sugar in water).

Making water kefir has a definite fun factor to it, so let’s get started…

What to do once your kefir grains arrive?

As soon as the Water Kefir Grains arrive in the mail it’s always best to start the fermentation process as soon as possible. However, if you’re not planning to start your water kefir right away, go ahead an store them in the refrigerator, they will keep until the stated use by date.

The first fermentation.

You will need the following:

  • Live water kefir grains
  • Water (Filtered, free of chlorine)
  • Sugar
  • Non metal strainer
  • Plastic/wooden spoon (preferably plastic)
  • 1L or larger glass jar
  • Rubber band
  • Muslin cloth to use as a cover for the jar

Instructions for making water kefir.

  • Pour 500ml of non-chlorinated water per 25g of water kefir grains into a jar.
  • Add 20g of sugar per 25g of water kefir grains.
  • Stir the mixture until completely dissolved.
  • We prefer to use water that has been filtered through a Brita Filter. Warm water will help dissolve the sugar. 
  • Once at room temperature (20 – 22°C), add the water kefir Grains. Never add your water kefir grains to hot water!
  • Cover the jar and place in a warm spot, 20 – 22°C, to culture for 24-48 hours.
  • Separate the kefir grains from the finished water kefir with a plastic strainer.
  • At this point, you can drink the water kefir as is (with little or no fizz) or do a second fermentation for additional flavour and carbonation.
  • Make a new batch of sugar water (as above) for the strained water kefir grains and start the process again. The grains can’t live long without food so you need to repeat the process for each batch of water kefir.

Note: Water kefir will taste like plain, sweetened water after the first fermentation. To add flavour and fizz / carbonation, a second ferment is absolutely necessary. Please see the second fermentation page for further details.

Tip: As your grains grow & multiply you will need to remove some of the grains to keep to the correct ratio. Always use the same ratios as above: 25g live water kefir grains, 20g of sugar to 500ml water. The more grains in the jar, the faster it will ferment. Longer culture times make a more sour water kefir, shorter times make a sweeter water kefir.

Note: These instructions and ratios should only serve as a guide and are a reflection of what works for us. After a while, when you have gained some experience you are likely to find your own way and methods which is the beauty (and fun!) of working with water kefir.

Removing the water kefir grains.

The best option for removing water kefir grains from the cultured water kefir is to use a plastic sieve. Place the sieve on top of a jar and pour the contents of the finished water kefir through the strainer into the jar, the sieve will catch the grains and allow the liquid to pass through. Next, transfer the water kefir grains to a new jar with filtered, chlorine-free water and repeat the steps above for your next batch of water kefir.

Bottling the cultured water kefir.

Bottling the water kefir in airtight bottles will help to increase the carbonation.

Step 1: Remove the grains with a plastic sieve as outlined above.

You will notice that you now have more grains than you started with! Your original grains have grown and multiplied. This happens with every batch of water kefir you make providing you have followed the steps above.

Step 2: Add your Water Kefir to clean bottles.

We highly recommend simply pouring your water kefir through a funnel and into the swing top bottles, as it’s super easy.

These are by far our favourite bottles! They’re always available, strong, and can be reused for years. Plus, they are less likely to explode because excessive pressure can push the rubber gasket to the side to vent pressure safely.

Note: During the summer months in warm temperatures, you will need to burp the bottles once per day (burping just means releasing some of the gas that has been building up within the bottle), in order to avoid excessive pressure build-up.

Always leave 1/2″ – 1″ of headspace at the top of your bottle, then close your bottle.

After your water kefir is bottled, you can either:

  • Allow it to sit at room temperature for an additional 24-72 hours to increase carbonation OR
  • Place it straight into the refrigerator and serve cold later.

How long can I store the bottled water kefir on the refrigerator?

We recommend no longer than 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. Always open the bottles with caution as the contents are under pressure.

How to take a break from water kefir?

If you need to take a break for a few weeks for an upcoming holiday etc.. and you’re worried about what to do with your kefir grains, then follow the steps below:

Simply go ahead and place the grains in a fresh mixture of sugar and water. Now cover the jar with a tight lid and place them in the refrigerator. Cold temperatures greatly slow the culturing process, so the refrigerator is a good place to store your grains when a break is necessary.

The water kefir grains will be safe and healthy for up to 3 weeks!

For longer breaks, it’s a similar process but this time we will change the water and sugar every few weeks.

Making Water Kefir Again

Once removed from the refrigerator the grains will need to be activated again. See above for the activation method.

Troubleshooting & FAQs:

If you experience any problems with your kefir grains please contact us immediately as refunds/replacements will only be issued if you have contacted us within the first three days of receiving your live cultures.

It’s been a few days now and my grains have not arrived. Will they be ok?

We are the Ireland’s biggest supplier of live cultures and have spent years investing in and testing the safest and best delivery methods. Unfortunately delays within the postal service can and do happen from time to time BUT we absolutely guarantee our cultures will arrive safely and in top condition. In the rare event there is a problem, please be assured we will look after you fully with a replacement.

My grains are not showing any signs of activity after 48hrs:

All live kefir grains require settling as they adjust to their new environment (they are very temperature sensitive).  Water kefir grains may also struggle to settle as they get used to the minerals in your local water. This usually takes between 3-5 days but can take 1-2 weeks. It is important to continue with the daily fermentation process. Once settled your grains will produce great tasting kefir.

If I am making more than one cultured food types (kefir, kombucha, sourdough, etc.), how far apart should I keep the live cultures?

We recommend a minimum distance of 5 feet between the cultures. However when your cultures are being stored in the refrigerator and secured with tight-fitting lids, there is no requirement to keep distance between them.

Are all water kefir grains the same?

No, whilst the majority of water kefir grains are similar they are not the same. They are not exactly alike and they vary from one to the next. It’s possible that some water kefir grains will ferment faster than others, some may be more sweet, more tangy and some even more fizzy. Our grains are grown using finest organic ingredients available and they are extremely potent. Over time, your grains will grow and multiply. This means you can either make more kefir at a time or enjoy stronger kefir in the same time.

What type of water should I use to make water kefir?

We recommend using filtered water in order to remove as much of the chemicals and contaminants as possible.

What type of sugar should I use to make water kefir?

We use only the finest certified organic cane sugar but you do not have to use organic sugar and could use granulated sugar which also works well.

I followed your instructions and nothing is happening?

The first few batches you make may be off-balance as the live grains are are very temperature sensitive but once settled they will make top quality Water Kefir daily. This can usually take 3-5 days but it really depends if the grains are stressed or not and can take 1-2 weeks as the grains settle into their new environment and recover from the shipping process. It is important to continue with the daily fermentation process to help the grains fully settle.

The water kefir is done but there isn’t much fizz?

First of all, let the water kefir ferment for longer. We find allowing the initial fermentation to go for at least 48 hours will increase all of the activity.

Water kefir grains need time to settle and acclimatise to their new environment and they also need time to get used to the minerals in your specific water. This can take 1-2 weeks and it’s really important to continue with the daily fermentation process during this time. Don’t give up or think the grains are not working. We can assure you, this is 100% normal. It is perfectly fine to drink the water kefir even if it is flat after the first ferment. You will still get the health benefits. A great way to test if your fermentation is working is to simply taste the mixture when you make it and then taste the mixture again after 24 hours. If it tastes less sweet, then it is working. We get numerous emails from people who think their grains have gone bad or are dead. Grains don’t go bad or die if looked after properly. If the grains are growing and multiplying it is an indicator that they are being fed by the sugar and fermenting. Water kefir grains require some patience to begin with so please stick with it until they have fully settled into their new environment.

If you prefer to only allow the first fermentation 24 hours but you still want a good level of carbonation, then bottling the water kefir after the first ferment and moving on for a second fermentation is a must. Bottling the water kefir in airtight bottles will help to increase the carbonation.

What is a second fermentation?

To put it simply, the first fermentation is done when your water kefir grains are added to sugar and water and cultured for approx 24 hours. Now, once you strain out your kefir grains with a plastic strainer and pour the drained water kefir into a jar the resulting water kefir is then ready to consume OR…

You can add fruit to the jar, seal it and store the water kefir (with the grains removed) on your countertop for an additional 24hrs.

Fruit contains sugars which will continue to feed the bacteria within your kefir (even with the grains removed) thus boosting the overall probiotic content of the cultured water kefir.

Alternatively you can store the water kefir and fruit mixture in your fridge for a few days, again in a sealed jar. It will continue to slowly ferment. This is what is known as the second fermentation. Click here for more information.

How will I know if I have successfully made water kefir?

The easiest way to check whether or not you have successfully made water kefir is by tasting it. The finished water kefir tastes less sweet than the sugar water you started with. Most people expect water kefir to taste really sour and very bubbly – this is simply not true. Water kefir is mildly sour tasting with only a tiny amount of bubbles when strained after the first fermentation. If you then bottle it for an additional 24hrs or more (second fermentation ), it will greatly increase the amount of carbonation and reduce the sugar content.

Note: It may well take a few batches before the water kefir grains function reliably as they can become stressed from the shipping process and like all live cultures can take a while to master. These instructions should only serve as a guide and are a reflection of what works for us. After a while you are likely to find your own way and methods which is the beauty (and fun!) of working with water kefir.

Is it necessary to rinse the water kefir grains off between batches?

No. It’s not necessary to rinse the water kefir grains between batches. In fact, regular rinsing may damage the water kefir grains in the long-term.

Does water kefir contain gluten?

No, water kefir grains do not contain gluten.

Can the water kefir grains be reused?

Yes, our water kefir grains are reusable. Once you have cultured a batch of water kefir, simply strain the water kefir grains and put them in fresh water with sugar and repeat as before.

There you go!

Remember, like most live cultures, water kefir grains can be temperamental and will take a while to master. These instructions should only serve as a guide and are a reflection of what works for us. After a while you are likely to find your own way and methods which is the beauty (and fun!) of working with water kefir.

Important: As will all live cultures, start with a small amount each day (1 – 2 tablespoons). You can then increase consumption as your body adjusts to the beneficial bacteria.


When fermenting more than one live culture at home, we suggest a distance of at least 4 feet between the cultures at all times. This is to help stop cross contamination of the different cultures and is of particular importance when culturing dairy products. The only exception to this is when cultures are being stored in the refrigerator with tight-fitting lids.