Water Kefir Grains Troubleshooting FAQ


Q. I just received my water kefir grains and they don’t appear to be working.

A. Water kefir grains require 3-5 days to rehydrate. It is common for the taste of the kefir and the activity level of the kefir grains to change over the first 6-8 weeks after the kefir grains are rehydrated. If you have questions or concerns about your water kefir, please contact Customer Support.


Q. When I rehydrated my kefir grains, I didn't see any bubbles. Is that normal?

A. Yes. There may or may not be any bubbling with newly rehydrated grains. Follow the instructions for making the first batch of water kefir, even if there are no visible signs of culturing after 3-5 days of rehydration.


Q. The kefir grains have been rehydrating for 5 days and they look rehydrated but don't appear to be doing anything. Should I wait longer?

A. Avoid leaving the water kefir grains to rehydrate longer than 5 days. Longer periods without fresh food can starve the grains. After 3-5 days of rehydration, even if there are no visible signs of culturing, transfer the kefir grains to new sugar water to start the first batch of water kefir. 


Q. I'm not sure my kefir grains are working properly. What should I do?

A. Always test aroma and flavor to make sure the kefir grains are working properly. The finished kefir should smell pleasant and maybe a bit sour, and it will be less sweet than the sugar water or juice you started with. The liquid will generally lighten in color and turn cloudy during the fermentation period, as well. 


Q. I've made a few batches of kefir and it tastes okay but it smells yeasty or funny. Is that normal?

A. Maybe. It is normal that the kefir smell a bit yeasty at first.  In the beginning, the yeasty smell is a sign that the yeast and bacteria in the kefir grains are still getting into balance. Normally the yeasty aroma will lessen significantly within a few batches.

If the yeasty or unpleasant aroma continues, the kefir may be over-culturing, which can cause an imbalance. Make sure to reduce the culturing time in warmer temperatures, to keep the grains well-fed and in balance.

It can help to add ⅛ of a washed organic lemon to 2-3 batches, to increase acidity and reduce yeast.


Q. I've been working with my kefir grains for a few weeks and the taste of the kefir seems to be changing. It's more fermented than before, a bit less sweet. Is that normal?

A. Yes, it is normal that the newly rehydrated grains will mature for the first several weeks, and the flavor of the finished kefir may change.


Q. I've been working with my kefir grains for a few weeks and they still aren't bubbling. What can I do?

A. It is normal that water kefir not be very bubbly when using a refined sugar. Try a darker sugar or add mineral supplementation. To get a carbonated finished kefir, bottling the finished kefir in a tightly-sealed bottle is usually necessary.


Q. My water kefir grains aren't multiplying. What can I do?

A. Water kefir grains are known to multiply, but at times they are reluctant to do so. Even if they do not multiply, with proper care, kefir grains can be used indefinitely to brew water kefir. Learn more about Encouraging Water Kefir Grains to Multiply.


Q. My water kefir looks cloudy. Is that normal?

A. Yes, it is normal for the liquid to turn cloudy as it ferments. 

Q. My kefir grains have been working well but suddenly they've become slimy.  How can I get them working again?

A. The grains may have become contaminated or gotten out of balance. Consult our article on Rehabilitating Damaged Water Kefir Grains to give the grains a rest and get them back to work.


Q. My kefir grains have become tiny and mushy. What's wrong?

A. Grains can break apart, disintegrate, and become mushy for a few reasons:

  • Over-culturing: In warmer temperatures, shorten the culturing time and transfer the grains to new sugar water more frequently. 
  • Over-mineralization: An unrefined sugar and water that is high in minerals may be too much for the grains. Too much mineral supplementation can also cause grains to break apart and turn mushy. Reduce the mineral content of your sugar water solution as soon as possible, to allow the grains to recover.
  • Improper ingredients: Coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, and other sweeteners are not the best food for water kefir grains. Consult our article on Choosing Water Kefir Ingredients for more information.


Q. I forgot about my kefir on the counter and it's been culturing for more than 72 hours. What should I do?

A. The grains are likely very hungry after more than 48 hours without fresh food. Change the sugar water out every 24 hours for the next 2+ cycles until the kefir grains start behaving normally again. If it has been longer than 6 days, the odds of saving the kefir grains are significantly reduced. 


Q. Some mold has developed on top of the liquid. Can the kefir grains be saved?

A. While it is uncommon to find mold developing on a batch of kefir, it may occasionally happen. White formations on the surface of the kefir may be mold or may be yeast. Please contact Customer Support before discarding anything.

If mold does develop, immediately toss the entire batch, including the kefir grains. Do not try to salvage a moldy batch, even if you do not see mold on the kefir grains themselves. Doing so may be dangerous to your health. Obtain a new set of kefir grains, clean the jar thoroughly, and try again another day.


Q. Is there something I can do to prevent mold if I’ve had it previously?

A. If mold has been a problem in the past, or if you know there is mold in your environment, dip, drizzle or spray the jar cover (coffee filter, cloth napkin, etc.) with distilled white vinegar. Follow up by spraying the cover every other day to deter mold formation.


Q. My kefir grains have multiplied and I'd like to save some as a backup. How do I do that?

A. Kefir grains can be stored short-term in the refrigerator or long-term by drying them. Follow the same procedure for Taking a Break from Making Water Kefir


Q. My kefir grains are multiplying quickly. What can I do with the extras?

A. Kefir grains make a wonderful gift to friends. Alternately, they can be eaten, blended into smoothies, or shared with chickens or pets.

Q. My water kefir tastes flat. How can I increase the amount of carbonation?

A. There are a few ways to increase the amount of carbonation in water kefir:

  • When working with grains that were previously dehydrated for shipment, it can take a few batches for the finished kefir to be bubbly. This is normal.
  • Whole unrefined sugars will normally produce a more bubbly kefir than water kefir made with white sugar. 
  • Once the culturing process is complete and the grains have been removed, bottle the finished water kefir with or without added flavoring for 24-72 hours in a tightly-sealed bottle, to allow carbonation to build.  Bottling water kefir is necessary for a very fizzy finished water kefir drink.

Q. My water kefir flavored with fresh fruit tastes off or too strong or like alcohol. What have I done wrong?

A. When using fresh fruit to flavor water kefir, remove the fruit after 24 hours. Add fresh fruit every 24 hours if a longer culturing period is desired. See Flavoring Water Kefir for more detailed information.

Water Kefir Troubleshooting FAQ

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