You’ve likely heard of chlorinated water, which comes from water treatment facilities and sometimes has a swimming pool odor by the time it reaches your tap. However, chlorination and at-home chlorine removal aren’t the only considerations when it comes to municipal water disinfection. There’s also chloramine, a similar but separate chemical compound used in some treatment plants.
If you rely on tap water in a city that uses chloramine disinfection, you probably want to know exactly what you’re drinking, cooking and cleaning with. Here’s a closer look at this disinfectant and why you may want to consider chloramine reduction with a house water filter.
The Best Way To Address Chloramine in Your Water
Although any disinfectant added at your local water treatment facility is intended to protect your family, home and more, there are plenty of reasons you may want to remove chloramine from your water supply. However, not just any water filter or treatment solution will work. Here’s a look at some common options and whether they’re reliable choices:
You may have heard of a “boil advisory,” or a recommendation from your local water authority to boil tap water so it’s safe to use. However, that doesn’t mean boiling is a solution to all kinds of water problems.
First, it’s important to know that these advisories only apply to certain types of potential contaminants, such as bacteria. Additionally, because disinfectants aren’t considered “contaminants” by local authorities, you’re not likely to hear any official advice or orders on chloramine removal. On top of that, boiling doesn’t work on chloramine anyway — and even if it did, you’d probably find it to be a time-consuming and inefficient way to treat your home’s entire water supply.
All of this leads to one important takeaway: While you can treat certain issues by boiling your water, this approach won’t work effectively for addressing disinfectants like chlorine and chloramine.
Letting water sit is sometimes used as a chlorine removal solution, but it isn’t perfect and it certainly isn’t fast. Although chloramine is a similar disinfectant, it can’t be addressed in the same way. Even if you let the water sit out for several days, the chloramine levels won’t be reduced.
Filtering with Carbon
An activated carbon filter can remove certain contaminants, particularly organic chemicals like hydrogen sulfide or chlorine. These carbon filters are often found in refrigerators or standalone water filtration solutions, though they may also be one step or stage in a more comprehensive filter system.
Although an activated carbon filter can be effective for chlorine removal, one carbon solution on its own isn’t generally the most efficient choice for chloramine reduction.
Filtering with Reverse Osmosis
There are lots of water treatment solutions that don’t work on chloramine — but there’s one that does. Better yet, this same solution can address a host of other potential contaminants and water problems, giving you a virtually unlimited supply of drinking water right when you need it.*
The answer is a reverse osmosis system. Reverse osmosis, or RO, is a process in which water is forced through a semipermeable membrane that can trap certain contaminants, including lead, arsenic, bacteria and more. However, the best RO water filtration systems don’t exclusively rely on this single process; they have multiple stages that help address other causes of common water problems.
Take, for example, the Aquasential® Smart Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filtration System. It can be customized with up to seven stages of filtration and 14 filter options — and, better yet, it’s certified to reduce over 70 contaminants (including 15 emerging contaminants). That means you’ll be able to reduce chloramine levels and address plenty of other water problems at the same time, leaving you with water that looks, tastes and smells better and is safer for your family.
Chlorine vs. Chloramine: What’s The Difference?
If you’re thinking about reducing or removing chloramine, it’s helpful to have some background on this disinfectant and what it’s doing in the municipal water system to begin with.
Water treatment as we know it today really got started in the early 20th century. It can be traced back to the U.K. first, quickly expanding to the U.S. and then Canada — all in around 15 years. While the kind of chlorine used and the specific treatment methods were much different at the time, the goal was the same as it is today: improving drinking water safety. Good water treatment was found to help limit the risks of various health issues, including typhoid fever, cholera, hepatitis A and more. Although chlorination itself wasn’t (and still isn’t) enough to address all possible water quality problems, it helped lay the foundation for modern water treatment facilities.
Over time, experts learned more about chlorinated water and its possible effects — both good and bad. For example, because chlorine compounds are highly reactive, they’re a great choice for quickly addressing pathogenic contamination; however, this same characteristic makes chlorine more likely to react with naturally occurring organic compounds to create “disinfection byproducts.” As the name suggests, a disinfection byproduct is the result of disinfectant activity. Some are harmful and have been regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.
Although disinfection byproducts aren’t generally present in types or amounts that pose a risk to human health, municipal water authorities wanted another option. That’s where chloramine came into the picture. This disinfectant acts differently from chlorine, creating fewer byproducts and lasting longer in the water supply.
However, chloramine on its own isn’t perfect. It’s considered a poor oxidant, meaning that it doesn’t work as effectively in some cases, and it’s also not the best choice for controlling unpleasant tastes and odors. That’s why you might find that some municipal water supplies are treated with both chlorine and chloramine, while others switch back and forth.
Is Chloramine in Water Dangerous?
If your city uses any type of disinfectant, it’s responsible for ensuring that the process is safe and effective. It’s true that chloramine levels are more difficult to monitor and regulate than chlorine, but your water provider has plenty of methods for ensuring drinking water safety. In the U.S., Consumer Confidence Reports, also called drinking water quality reports, give you an inside look at how your water is treated and how disinfection is managed, tested and overseen. You can find similar information in the Canadian Water Quality Index.
While chlorine and chloramine are generally present at safe levels, that doesn’t mean they have zero effects on the water system. For example, chloramine can sometimes cause higher corrosion levels in pipes, leading to metal leaching into drinking water. In this case, the chloramine itself isn’t the problem — but if it travels through certain kinds of plumbing, you could end up with copper or lead contamination. This disinfectant can also deteriorate natural rubber products (like those in your toilet tank) at a faster pace than chlorine. The good news is that specific measures, such as pH control, can help limit corrosion and other issues when a water treatment facility uses chloramine.
However, it’s important to note that chloramine itself can cause problems in a few unique cases. This is most relevant if you use tap water for dialysis; if this is the case, it’s important to ask your doctor and review the dialysis machine’s manual for information about treating water before use. Chloramine can also be toxic to fish, reptiles, amphibians and animals that absorb water directly into their bloodstream, although it’s generally safe for humans and other household pets.
Signs of Chloramine in Water
If chloramine is present in your water, the chances are high that it’s just doing its job and won’t cause any huge problems. After all, this disinfectant may have less of a swimming pool odor than chlorine, which means it might not be as noticeable or disruptive. Most of the signs of chloramine in water will be far less obvious — such as possible plumbing corrosion or rubber product deterioration.
That’s why it’s best to start with a professional water test. These tests can tell you exactly what’s in your water supply and how it may be affecting your home, even if you can’t see it. This is valuable information because chloramine isn’t the only substance that has few noticeable effects; contaminants like lead can’t be seen, smelled or tasted, which means you may not know about a problem until you get a test.
Deciding to Treat Chloramine in Drinking Water
Maybe you looked at a water report and found out that your water is treated with chloramine, or maybe you got a test that indicated this disinfectant is present in your drinking glass. No matter how you came to this conclusion, you’re left with one question: Do you want to address the chloramine?
The truth about tap water disinfectants is that they’ve generally already done their job by the time they reach your home. There’s no significant reason to leave them in your water after they’ve removed or reduced relevant safety concerns. On top of that, they can lead to disinfection byproducts and metal leaching that could be more worrisome. Whether you’re on dialysis, have aquatic pets or just want more control over your drinking water, filtration is likely a great choice.
Plus, if you choose a reverse osmosis filtration system, you won’t just be addressing chloramine levels. You’ll also get solutions for other drinking water quality issues, from health and safety issues to unpleasant tastes, odors and appearance. On top of that, comprehensive filtration systems are far faster and more effective than boiling water, letting it sit or relying on pitcher or fridge filters that can’t handle a wide range of contaminants.
Find Your Drinking Water Filter Solution
Chloramine doesn’t pose a significant health risk to most people and pets, doesn’t have a strong odor like chlorine and won’t noticeably impact your favorite drinks or recipes. However, it can cause other issues — like corroding your pipes, ruining rubber and potentially causing lead or copper to leach into your water supply.
Simply put, there are plenty of reasons to want chloramine out of your water.
The good news is that a professional water test can tell you exactly how to do it. You’ll get test results and personalized recommendations for filtration systems.
Get started today. Schedule your free, in-home water test and consultation.
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