Chloramine is a chemical compound consisting of ammonia and chlorine. The particular type used in disinfecting water to kill germs but is safe to drink is known as monochloramine.
Chloramines are formed when ammonia is mixed with chlorine to treat drinking water to better protect against bacterial growth in water distribution systems.
Chloramine lasts longer in water pipes while producing few disinfection byproducts. However, removing chloramine from healthy water for drinking is difficult and this is a problem for individuals who use filters that work better with chlorine and those who are undergoing certain medications.
How to Remove Chloramine from Tap Water
Chloramine is an excellent disinfectant for water, but it presents disadvantages such as eye and skin irritation, corrosion, rubber damage and it is toxic to plants and fish. These factors warrant the removal of chloramine from water to prevent harmful side effects.
Removing chloramine from water is somewhat an uphill task because of the low molecular weight of the chemical compound. Therefore, methods such as softening water, distillation, or boiling will not be effective. The application of chlorine removal substances does not work either.
However, catalytic carbon filtration, granular carbon active filters, use of specific carbon filtration systems, reverse osmosis, and sunlight are effective in removing chloramine from water.
1. Catalytic Carbon Filtration
The filtration method is the best way of removing chloramine from water. Catalytic carbon is activated carbon whose capacity has been enhanced to remove contaminants. The method is one of the few that successfully removes chloramine from drinking water.
The quality that makes chloramine such a powerful disinfectant is its stability and it is also the reason why it is difficult to remove from water.
Catalytic carbon has great adsorption properties of activated carbon but it is supercharged to target contaminants such as chloramine.
When the catalytic carbon comes into contact with chloramine, there is a chemical reaction that catalyzes a separation of chlorine and ammonia contained in the chloramine compound converting them into harmless compounds.
Whole-house filtration is the best way to remove chloramine from the water in your house. The catalytic carbon should be installed at the entry point of the water flowing into a home so that all the water getting into the home passes through it.
2. Granular Carbon Active Filter
The carbon filter reduces the chloramine level from 1-2 ppm to less than o or 1 ppm. While removing the chloramine from the water you must ensure that the filter is in contact with the chloramine for a considerable amount of time.
The Activate carbon filter is selective meaning that it removes other compounds in the water such as chlorine reducing it to chloride, pesticides, hydrogen sulfides, organic compounds, and Redon. The presence of these compounds in the water influence the carbon active filter capacity.
The amount of chloramine contained in water can be determined by measuring the total residue of chlorine which means measuring the total amount of chlorine or its compounds.
The process of removing chloramine from water by carbon active filters requires pumping water into a column containing the filter. While water goes through the column the substances required to be removed will accumulate in the filter.
Therefore, the filter needs to be replaced periodically. The method of using carbon filters is effective in removing unpleasant tastes, odor, and chlorine from water.
3. Reverse Osmosis (RO)
The RO membrane alone cannot get rid of chloramines. However, an RO system equipped with multiple pre-filters is quite effective. The carbon contained in the pre-filters can remove chloramine due to the slow process of reverse osmosis.
The process purifies water one drop at a time passing it through a semi-permeable membrane that rejects contaminants such as boron, salts, and arsenic. The rejected contaminants are sent to the drain and purified water is collected in a storage tank.
The process begins by installation and then filtering the tap water via a reverse osmosis unit. However, you have to ensure that the unit is that of a quality model specifically designed to eliminate chloramines, ammonia, and chlorine.
The under the sink unit filters drinking and tap water in your home. The system also eliminates by-products and heavy metals found in water.
4. Sunlight/Ultraviolent Light
UV light is able to neutralize and kill bacteria and germs contained in your water. The method has been tested and proven by municipal water systems in the United States. The method is excellent and a low maintenance way of disinfecting drinking water.
How do you neutralize chloramine?
Chloramine can be neutralized using a vitamin C filter. The amount of vitamin C required is 1,000 mg in the ascorbic form to eliminate the chemical compound from 40 gallons of water. Another way is using neutralizers supplied tanks that are resistant to corrosion.
For aquarists, the neutralization of chloramine can be done safely using a product like Amquel that neutralizes both chlorine and ammonia parts of the chloramine molecules. Through a bio filter the ammonia that has been neutralized will convert to nitrates.
Another way is aging the water while performing biological filtration simultaneously. For instance, filling a plastic garbage can with tap water and using sodium thiosulphate to dechlorinate it, and then connecting a biological filter to the can. The ammonia will be converted to nitrate by the bio filter after which it can be added to the fish tank.
Why is chloramine dangerous?
Chloramine in water can be dangerous because it can cause the lead from lead pipes that transport water to leach. The leached lead can result in lead poisoning which will, in turn, cause health problems, neurological damage, and death in younger children.
The exposure of humans to chloramine comes from drinking water treated with the chemical compound and it can be toxic to the blood to some people such as those undergoing chemotherapy or kidney dialysis.
The chemical compound can aggravate or cause respiratory problems, asthma, and damage to the mucous membrane. The fumes of the chloramine cause congestion, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, choking, asthma, and shortness of breath.
The chloramine can also cause skin problems such as itching, rashes, welting, dry skin, cracking, blisters, and pigmentation. The chemical compound can aggravate skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
It can cause dry throat and mouth and bleeding lips. It can result in dry, red, and burning eyes. Other problems triggered by chloramine include gastric, digestive issues, blood, and kidney problems.
Chloramine presents two major issues for aquarists. First, the chemicals that neutralize chlorine only neutralize the portion of chloramine that contains chlorine neglecting the deadly ammonia.
That has devastating consequences to fish since the time a fish tank’s filter takes to transform the ammonia to nitrate is long and the fish cannot tolerate it.
The second is water changes that remove nitrate build-up. If the replacement tap water has ammonia it means that nitrogen will be put back in the tank and reducing the concentration will be difficult.
Can you smell chloramines?
Chloramines can cause pool smell because of the chemical compounds that are created in pool water when it is not properly treated. Chloramines form when chlorine disinfectants and organic substances such as sweat and oil combine.
The chlorine disinfectants are normally applied in pool water to kill germs when hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion are unleashed.
The two chemicals together are known as FAC which stands for “free available chlorine.” When they react with organic substances like sweat they form chloramines which in turn causes the pool smell.
Daniel Keringet is a market researcher and publisher (Best Osmosis Experts) who got an interest in topics related to
Water safety out of curiosity and passion from the time he got into college. Now he is a full-time writer living in Naperville Illinois.