Chloramine disinfects water, making it safe to drink by killing germs. Unfortunately, too much chloramine may irritate your eyes/skin, lead to stomach discomfort, and even ruin the taste of your drinking water.
Fortunately, you can eliminate chloramine from water using ultrafiltration, Reverse Osmosis, carbon filtration, and dechlorination.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to remove chloramine from water.
Step 1: Identify The Source of Chloramine in Your Water
Where do you get your home water supply from? If your water comes from one of the municipal water supply companies, it most probably contains chloramine.
The use of chloramine to treat public water started way back in the 1930s. Public water supply companies use it as a secondary disinfectant to prevent bacterial growth and other harmful contaminants.
The most straightforward way to know if your water company is the source of chloramine is to call them. Ask about the chemical they’re using to treat the water.
But how do they form chloramine? Chloramine doesn’t exist naturally as an element or compound. Instead, it’s formed when two components react together. The reaction between ammonia and chlorine generates chloramine.
Many water supply companies add ammonia to chlorine-treated water before pumping it to end-users.
As long as this water meets all EPA regulatory standards, it’s safe to drink and use in other household chores.
Water companies have been using chlorine in water treatment for a long time. Why then change to chloramine now? The reason is that chloramine stays longer in the water than chlorine, providing a longer disinfection time.
Chloramine also exists as a disinfection byproduct when using chlorine as your primary water disinfectant. This case only occurs when water contains dissolved ammonia. Ammonia will react with chlorine, forming chloramine.
At acceptable levels, chloramine is beneficial since it acts as a disinfectant. However, chloramine only becomes problematic at higher levels in the water.
EPA considers chloramine levels up to 4 milligrams per liter (4 mg/L) safe for drinking and use in other household duties. Anything beyond that level can cause adverse health complications.
How do you test your water to determine the levels of chloramine? There isn’t any single EPA-approved direct method to establish chloramine levels in the water. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s no way to calculate the same.
Thankfully, there are several approved methods to measure free chlorine and total/combined chlorine levels in the water. With these two measurements, you can get chloramine levels in your water.
Free chlorine refers to the amount of chlorine available to inactivate water contaminants. It’s chlorine that hasn’t yet interacted with contaminants or other water chemicals.
Total chlorine is a merger of free chlorine and chloramines, formed when free chlorine mixes with organic compounds like ammonia.
To determine chloramine levels in your water, subtract the result of the free chlorine test from the total chlorine test.
Ensure you use the EPA-approved test kits or dip-and-read test strips available in most retail stores.
After determining high chloramine levels in the water, the next step is picking a method to eliminate chloramine. But do you know how to remove chloramine from water?
Below are treatment options for chloramine in your water.
- Reverse osmosis
- Catalytic carbon filtration
- Activated carbon
- Chemical dechlorinating products
1. Remove Chloramine With Reverse Osmosis (RO)
You can use a reverse osmosis system to remove chloramine from your water. RO systems contain several carbon pre-filters that can clear up to 99.9% of contaminants as small as 0.001 micrometers.
The Reverse osmosis process works slowly, It removes chloramine by passing water through a semipermeable membrane.
The semipermeable membrane will then reject all the water contaminants, including chloramine, sending them to the drain while the pure water goes to the tank.
Chloramine is quite a stable compound, so disrupting it can be challenging. Thankfully, reverse osmosis is a slow method.
The carbon filters in front of its RO membrane stay longer in contact with the water, breaking chloramine entirely to remove it from the water.
2. Use Ultrafiltration To Remove Chloramine
Ultrafiltration is yet another efficient method to remove chloramine from your water. This method uses a hollow fiber membrane to trap contaminants commonly found in tap water.
The ultrafiltration and carbon filters create a double protection system for eliminating chloramine.
This double protection can remove as small as 0.025-micron contaminants from your water, making it safe to drink and use at home.
That said, the ultrafiltration method can only remove up to 95% of chloramine from water. The remaining percentage isn’t too much to cause health complications.
3. Catalytic Carbon Filtration Can Remove Chloramine
An effective way to remove chloramine from your water is by using catalytic carbon filtration.
You get catalytic carbon from altering the activated carbon’s surface structure.
The traditional activated carbon passes through gas processing at high temperatures to make it a stronger option, changing its structure to catalytic carbon.
When water contaminants such as chloramine get into contact with catalytic carbon, a powerful chemical reaction occurs.
This reaction causes ammonia and chlorine to separate, rendering them harmless in your water.
Catalytic carbon filtration not only removes chloramine from your water but also reduces hydrogen sulfide and VOCs.
You get several benefits from using catalytic carbon to filter water. These include:
- It is more effective than the traditional activated carbon
- It causes a faster chemical reaction
- You can reuse your catalytic carbon after a thermal reactivation process, making them cost-effective.
- It removes chloramine, VOCs, and hydrogen sulfide.
Installing a catalytic carbon filtration system to your water tank ensures your home only gets safe water. There will be no chemical taste or odor in your drinking water.
Also, after having your shower, you won’t experience the burning and itching sensations that usually occur from water contaminated by chloramine.
4. Activated Carbon Filters Chloramine From Water
Chloramine removal from water using activated carbon remains a deeply contentious issue.
Some skeptics claim that activated carbon effectively removes chlorine but doesn’t do much in removing chloramine from water.
Chloramine has high stability requiring a slow-reacting method to remove it from water. So, activated carbon can remove chloramine from water, provided you reduce the flow rate.
Otherwise, it will only remove the chlorine leaving behind ammonia, which is still not safe for consumption.
If you must use carbon to remove chloramine from your water, opt for the catalytic carbon instead of the standard activated carbon.
5. Chemical Dechlorinating Products
Want to know how to remove chloramine from water easily and without spending too much money? The quickest solution is to use a chemical dechlorinating product.
When shopping for one, read the label carefully to assert that it treats chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia.
If it doesn’t mention ammonia, the product will only separate chlorine and ammonia, removing chlorine alone.
Depending on the method you chose to remove chloramine from your water, you still must confirm if the water is finally free from this chemical.
Doing so will give you the peace of mind that you’re now safe from chloramine’s health complications.
The quickest way to check if the water is finally free from chloramine is by tasting or smelling the water.
Drink a little water from your tap to see if there’s still some funny taste or odor associated with chloramine.
To ensure the water is chloramine-free, you may want to test chloramine levels again. This test will tell you the levels of chloramine remaining, so you know whether it’s safe for consumption or not.
When adding ammonia to water containing free chlorine, the reaction gives you chloramines.
This reaction can form three different types of inorganic chloramine, depending on the pH level of the free chlorine used. These are monochloramine, dichloramine, and trichloramine.
Most water supply companies use chloramines to disinfect water because they provide longer-lasting disinfection than chlorine.
Several signs will tell you there’s chloramine in your water. The most common signs include metallic taste and odor.
When you drink water containing excess chloramine levels, there will be an unpleasant taste in your mouth. You can also smell an awful odor, making it hard to enjoy and swallow.
This taste and odor of chloramine can also change the taste and the aroma of your tea, coffee, juice, and other drinks you make with the water.
Drinking chloramine contaminated water can lead to:
- Eye/nose irritation
- Shortness of breath
- Skin itches/rashes
- Swollen/red eyes
For patients undergoing kidney dialysis, drinking chloramine contaminated water can be catastrophic. Chloramine will contaminate your dialysis fluid and find its way into your bloodstream. Then, it will alter your hemoglobin, causing death in the worst-case scenario.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-CDC, the acceptable chloramine levels in water should be four parts per million (ppm) or up to 4 milligrams per liter (mg/L).
Your water is safe for drinking, washing, bathing, and other household activities at these chloramine levels.
The harmful health complications such as eye and nose irritation, skin itching sensations, and shortness of breath are unlikely to happen.
The cost to remove chloramine from water depends entirely on the treatment method you’ve chosen to eliminate it.
There are five treatment methods: activated carbon, catalytic carbon, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, and chemical dechlorinating products.
For activated carbon filters, either block or granular, the cost ranges from $50 to $500 to install on your water tank. However, you will have to replace its filter cartridge annually, which may raise the overall cost slightly higher.
On average, using the catalytic carbon method may cost you $1000.
Ultrafiltration systems cost between $150 and $200. These units may look cheap but will cost you more in the long run as you have to replace their hollow fiber membrane and filters more frequently.
A whole-house reverse osmosis system costs anywhere between $750 to $8000. But there are other cheaper alternatives if you only want to filter your drinking water.
The cheapest way to remove chloramine from water is by using a chemical dechlorinating product. However, you should be careful as others will only remove chlorine, leaving ammonia behind.
To be sure, buy a 3-in-1 chemical dechlorinating product containing ammonia, chloramine, and chlorine treatment.