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Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Chlorine from Drinking Water?

Scott Winfield
Written by Scott Winfield
Last Updated on

Reverse osmosis systems are among the most popular water filters. They are capable of providing dependably clean water, but users often wonder how reverse osmosis filters work and if they’re capable of removing chlorine, salt, and other contaminants from water.

Reverse Osmosis Removes Chlorine

Reverse osmosis water filtration systems effectively removes 98% of chlorine from drinking water. They’re one of the most common ways to remove chlorine from drinking water.

Reverse Osmosis Removes Chlorine
RO and chlorine removal from drinking water

While RO filters don’t guarantee the 100% removal of any contaminant from water, they do a good job of removing 98% of chlorine.

Popular personal and industrial filters remove salt from seawater through reverse osmosis via a process known as desalination. These filters utilize the same membrane used to remove chlorine to filter salt particles and more from water.

Reverse osmosis filters can remove more than 95% of salt from seawater, along with 95% of all other contaminants. These commonly-used filters are sometimes employed to recycle wastewater and remove organic material, bacteria, and other particles.

It’s essential to monitor all RO filters for signs of damage, assess the need for one or more pre-treatment systems, and replace crucial parts, like the filters and membrane, when needed.

The elements of reverse osmosis filters are reasonably simple, as is the process itself, making yearly maintenance an easy task. These filters are a great, affordable option for someone looking to ensure a water source’s quality, including removing chlorine, salt, and other contaminants from drinking water.

Are RO Filters Affected by Chlorine?

Reverse osmosis filters are affected by chlorine over time. It won’t damage the entire system but will likely hydrolyze and affect the semi-permeable membrane and filters. When this happens, the openings in the membrane will deteriorate, growing larger and letting in more contaminants.

Are RO Filters Affected by Chlorine
Reverse Osmosis Filters

Chlorine is famous for its corrosive nature but how fast corrosion occurs depends on the amount of chlorine in the water. Water significantly contaminated with chlorine will affect a RO filter much quicker than water that’s only lightly contaminated.

As the membrane degrades, it will less effective in filtering chlorine and other water contaminants.

Chlorine damage is irreversible, but one of the ways to prevent this kind of damage is through pre-treatment of a reverse osmosis filter. It’s possible to pre-treat the filtration membrane with activated carbon or carbon produced from materials like bamboo, wood, coal, and more.

Activated carbon removes the excess chlorine, transforming it through a chemical reaction into chloride, a non-corrosive and non-oxidizing substance.

Another way of reducing the effect of chlorine over time is through a water softener. It can help protect the reverse osmosis system by exchanging damaging for non-damaging ions.

Users may also find a multi-media filter system or a micro filtration system helpful. Both systems can help extend the lifespan of a reverse osmosis filter.

It is essential to monitor RO filters for damage. Even if a filter appears to be working, damage may exist in a few of the membrane fibers. The possibly unnoticed damage may mean that the filtered water is not as clean as it could be.

The damage will accrue over time till the RO filter is no longer effective. But, this is a prolonged process.

RO membranes are well-regarded for their ability to last between 2-3 years. The filters, of which there are usually three, should be changed every 6-12 months of use.

Chlorine can also damage other parts of the filter besides the membrane. The rubber parts of the filter, like the seals and o-rings, are affected by the presence of chlorine.

Over an extended period, the destruction of these elements may reduce the quality of a reverse osmosis filter.

While reverse osmosis filters are affordable for someone looking to remove chlorine or salt, they can become expensive over time. The maintenance cost rises as the filters degrade and users have to replace the membrane itself.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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