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Most public water systems in the United States use chlorine for disinfection. It’s effective, largely safe, and it’s cheap.
But more and more utilities have been switching to chloramine, a disinfectant that has been in use since the 1930s.
This switch is because of two main reasons:
A bit more information on the second point: the chlorine in water produces potentially dangerous byproducts called trihalomethanes, chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer. They result from the reaction of chlorine with organic matter in water.
To meet EPA standards on the levels of these byproducts, some utilities use chloramine instead of chlorine.
To find out whether your utility uses chloramines, check your local Consumer Confidence Report or contact your water provider.
Water treatment systems use a type of chloramine called Monochloramine. As long as it is within the recommended limit, which is 4 mg/L, it’s safe for your health, according to the CDC.
But a few health concerns have been raised from the use of chloramine in tap water.
The most notable is the potential increase in lead exposure. Chloramine can cause lead to leach from fittings. But this is only an issue if your city uses older lead lines or you live in an older home that still has lead plumbing.
Like chlorine vapors, chloramine vapors – which you can inhale when showering –can irritate your respiratory system and even trigger an asthma attack.
Another issue with chloramines is the formation of byproducts. Though chloramine results in fewer trihalomethanes, they still form when it reacts with organic contaminants in water but at lower levels.
It’s not clear what the long-term effects of exposure to low levels of trihalomethanes are.
Chloramine can also produce other unregulated byproducts that can lead to cancer.
Chloramine has less of a ‘chlorine smell and taste,’ but you can still detect it in water. Its intensity depends on the amount of chloramine your utility uses.
If you want to get rid of chloramine in water – whether for health or aesthetic reasons –this guide is for you. Once the water reaches your home, it no longer has any benefits, and you can filter it out.
We recommend you first check with your water provider to confirm which disinfectant they use. If they use chlorine, refer to our chlorine removal guide.
If they use chloramine, read on.
Chloramine is relatively easy to remove from water. Here are the best chloramine removal methods you can use at home.
A carbon filter is an easiest and cheapest way to remove chloramine from tap water.
The same activated carbon filters that remove chlorine can also remove chloramine. But a primary carbon filter removes only some chloramine.
You’ll need a high-quality filter with more carbon media that increases contact time. A system with two or three carbon filters is even better for chloramine removal.
Alternatively, just get a catalytic carbon filter. It’s the best carbon filter for removing chloramine and many other chemical contaminants.
Chloramine-removing carbon filters are used in a wide range of filtration systems including whole house, under-sink, faucet and pitcher filters.
Reverse osmosis removes over a hundred contaminants from water, chloramine being one of them.
But it’s not the reverse osmosis membrane itself that removes chloramine. Instead, chloramine and chlorine are removed by the carbon pre-filters.
Most RO systems have at least two carbon pre-filters that are sufficient for removing almost all chloramine from water.
It’s not that the membrane cannot remove chloramine – it can. But exposure to chloramine and chlorine would degrade it quickly, significantly reducing its lifespan.
Distillation removes virtually all chloramines in water as well as chlorine and many other contaminants. Some home distillation systems incorporate a carbon filter for effective chloramine removal.
Adding ascorbic acid, its commonly known as vitamin C, to water effectively neutralizes chloramine.
A simple way to use vitamin C to remove chloramine is to squeeze some fruit juice into a jug of water and let it sit for half an hour.
For your shower or faucet, you can install a vitamin C filter. For bath water, add 1g of crushed vitamin C tablets to a medium-sized bathtub.
Note that vitamin C, which an acid, can slightly decrease your water pH and affect the taste of water.
The UV light is an effective, environmentally friendly, and low-cost way of reducing chloramines and chlorine in the water.
The only downside of using this method is that you need to plug the system into a power outlet, which may require some retrofitting under the sink or wherever you install the UV bulb.
Campden Tablets is a brand name for sodium metabisulfite and potassium metabisulfite tablets.
Both compounds are used by brewers to reduce chloramine and chlorine in the water to prevent them from adding off-flavors to the beer.
Chlorine is easily removable by boiling water or letting it sit for a few hours. You can remove chloramine using these methods, but it will take longer.
The San Francisco water utility recommends boiling water for 20 minutes to remove most of the chloramine.
But boiling and letting the water sit (aging) are not very effective chloramine removal methods, nor are they practical.
If you want all the water coming into the house free of chloramine, a whole house filtration system is the best choice.
Here are our top three picks.
This Home Master HMF2SMGCC has only two filter cartridges. The first one contains a multi-gradient sediment filter that captures sand, silt and other suspended particulates in the water.
The gradient design –where it has multiple layers with different micron ratings – allows it to capture sediment as large as 25 microns and as small as 1 micron.
The second cartridge is a combined KDF85 and catalytic carbon filter.
Catalytic carbon does a great job removing chloramine from water as well as chlorine. It also filters out a wide range of chemical contaminants including pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and VOCs.
The KDF85 media removes low levels (up to 1ppm) of manganese, iron, and hydrogen sulfide. It also prevents the growth of bacteria, algae, and scale on the filter.
Similar to other Home Master whole house systems, the 2-stage system uses large inlet and outlet ports that ensure fast water flow.
The filter comes with a steel mounting bracket and a housing wrench for installation.
With a capacity of 95,000 gallons, the filters are good for about a year. Replacement is fairly straightforward.
If you are looking for a high-capacity chloramine whole house filter, we recommend the Aquasana EQ-400 whole house filter.
It has a 400,000-gallon capacity, which should last about 4 years for the average family.
The main downside is the price tag. But if you don’t want to keep replacing the filters every year, it’s worth it.
The EQ-400 is designed specifically for chloramine removal. It has a catalytic carbon filter that removes chloramines, chlorine and a host of other chemical contaminants.
The EQ-400 has three stages.
The first is a sediment pre-filter that catches rust, silt, and sand to keep them from clogging the carbon filter.
The second stage is the one with catalytic carbon. It has a dual tank design, with a smaller tank on top of a larger one. This configuration increases contact time, which improves chloramine removal.
The final stage is a post-filter that removes any remaining sediment, odors, and tastes.
The system is easy to install with all parts, except PEX tubing, provided.
The Abundant Flow Water BWF-CC15-56SXTis a single-stage catalytic carbon filter that removes chloramines, chlorine, iron, hydrogen sulfide, and organic chemicals (including pesticides and herbicides).
Because it lacks a pre-filter, we recommend installing a sediment filter before this catalytic carbon filter. This will prevent sand and silt from clogging the carbon media and reducing filter lifespan.
The BWF-CC15-56SXT system is a bit different from other carbon filters. Instead of a carbon cartridge, it contains a catalytic carbon resin bed that needs to be back washed regularly.
The Fleck 5600SXT digital valve head takes care of the backwashing. It measures the amount of water passing through the filter and automatically triggers a backwash when necessary.
It’s expensive for a single-stage carbon filter, but it saves you a lot of money in replacement filters. After backwashing, the carbon resin is as good as new.
With a flow rate of 3 gallons per minute, the Abundant Flow Water catalytic carbon filter is ideal for small homes of 1-3 people.
Installation is easy; you only need basic plumbing skills. A bypass valve is integrated into the head for easy filter servicing.
A reverse osmosis filter is a good choice if you are worried about other contaminants in addition to chloramine.
If you also want to remove heavy metals, total dissolved solids, and waterborne microbes, an RO system removes them all.
Most RO systems are the point of use filters, either under-sink or countertop. There are some whole house RO systems, but they are expensive, cumbersome to install and waste a lot of water.
Here are our favorite RO systems – two under-sink filters and one countertop model that you can also travel with.
These filters remove at least 97% of chloramine as well as chlorine.
The Home Master TMAFC-ERP is our favorite reverse osmosis filter for removing just about any contaminant from water.
Whether you are worried about chloramine, chlorine, lead, pesticides, or bacteria, the TMAFC-ERP has got you covered.
Unlike most RO systems, the Home Master TMAFC-ERP has a catalytic carbon pre-filter instead of the usually activated carbon filter.
It does a much better job removing chloramine from water.
The RO membrane at the heart of the system deals with the hard-to-remove impurities like heavy metals and biologicals.
It also strips out all minerals from the water, including the good ones.
To make your drinking water a bit healthier and tastier, the Home Master TMAFC-ERP features two remineralization systems that add some of these minerals back into the purified water.
Another feature we love in the TMAFC-ERP is the integrated permeate pump.
It does two important things: reduce water wastage by as much as 80% compared to other RO systems and increase the flow rate out of the tap.
The filters have a 2,000-gallon capacity. You’ll need to replace them once a year. The modular filter design where the cartridge and filter housing are one unit makes filter replacement easy and quick.
For large families looking for an affordable RO system, we always recommend the APEC RO-90 under-sink RO system.
It has one of the highest daily production capacities at 90 gallons. That’s more than enough water for most families.
With a 1-year filter life, you don’t have to worry about replacing the filter every few months.
Water passes through 5 stages of filtration: a sediment filter, two carbon block filters, a semi-permeable membrane, and a post-filter.
The carbon pre-filters are not designed explicitly for chloramine removal. But any carbon filter will remove some chloramine.
These ones remove even more of it because water passes slowly. They are also carbon block filters, which have better filtration performance than granular carbon filters.
For the best chloramine reduction rate, we recommend purchasing the FI-CHLORAMINE filter. Replace the second carbon block filter (third stage) with it.
The FI-CHLORAMINE filter uses catalytic carbon, which as we have already discussed, does an exemplary job removing chloramines.
The APEC RO-90 lacks a remineralization stage. So the water may taste a little flat, especially if you are used to drinking tap or bottled water.
For RVs, boats, dorm rooms, apartments, and other places where it’s not possible to install an under-sink RO system, the APEC RO-CTOP-C is the best alternative.
It sits on the countertop and connects directly to your faucet via an adapter. It takes less than 5 minutes to set up.
It’s not just useful at home; you can also travel with it for use in hotels, vacation rentals, or your friend’s place.
When you order the APEC RO-CTOP-C, we recommend you also buy the FI-CHLORAMIN-1-4-QC filter, which seems to be only available on APEC’s official website.
It’s a 1-micron carbon block filter that’s very effective at removing chloramines.
The carbon filters that come with the APEC RO-CTOP-Care best for chlorine, not chloramines. Take out the second stage carbon filter and replace it with the FI-CHLORAMIN-1-4-QC cartridge.
The APEC RO-CTOP-C has four filtration stages: a sediment pre-filter, a carbon pre-filter (the one you’ll replace), a semi-permeable membrane and a carbon post-filter.
It works just as well as a full-size RO system except for one thing – flow rate. Water comes out in a slow trickle.
You’ll find it easier to fill a large pitcher or water bottle and get drinking from it rather than the RO filter.
If you want an under-sink filter but don’t need a reverse osmosis system, here are the three best non-RO alternatives.
The Aquasana AQ-5300 has three stages, one of them being a catalytic carbon filter that does a great job removing chloramines from water.
The other two stages are a 20-micron sediment pre-filter and an activated carbon filter that removes VOCs, pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals.
The filter comes with its own lead-free metal faucet. If you don’t have a spare hole in your sink, you’ll have to drill a new one for the dedicated faucet.
The filters have a capacity of 600 gallons or about six months.
If you want a faster-flowing system, get the Aquasana AQ-5300+.
The iSpringUS31 doesn’t have a catalytic carbon filter, but the two carbon block filters do a good job removing most of the chloramine from water as well as chlorine.
It also comes with a sediment filter that reduces turbidity and increases the lifespan of the carbon filters.
Like the Aquasana AQ-5300, the iSpring US31 also has its own dedicated faucet that you’ll need to install on your sink.
The Culligan US-EZ-4 EZ-Change is the right choice if you are looking for an affordable non-RO under-sink system.
The single-stage system is NSF-certified to remove chlorine, chloramines, turbidity, lead, and mercury among other contaminants.
Make sure you select the system with the Premium Filtration cartridge. The basic and advanced cartridges do not remove chloramines.
The cartridge is good for about 500 gallons of water, which translates to six months of use for the average family.
The filter comes with a dedicated lead-free faucet.
Like chlorine vapors, chloramine vapors produced when you shower or take a bath can irritate your respiratory system or trigger an asthma attack.
Chloramine in shower water and the byproducts it produces may also not be so good for your skin.
However, removing chloramine from shower water is a tricky business. The hot fast-running water makes it difficult to remove the disinfectant.
Many shower filters do a good job removing chlorine using multiple media, including vitamin C, calcium Sulfite, KDF, and activated carbon.
But chloramines are much tougher chemicals to remove with a shower filter.
Carbon shower filters will remove only a tiny bit of chloramines from the water. Carbon filters don’t work well with hot water, and a shower doesn’t provide enough contact time to remove chloramine.
Your best option is a vitamin C filter. It will likely not remove all the chloramines, but it will get most of it.
Our top recommendation is the Sonaki in-line shower filter.
It connects easily to your existing showerhead.
The Sonaki shower filter uses a PureMax filter to remove sediment, heavy metals, rust, and some chlorine and a Vitamin C filter to neutralize some of the chloramines in the water.
The filter is fairly pricey, and the replacement filters are expensive as well. Because the vitamin C filters don’t last long, you may find yourself spending well over $100 a year on replacement filters.
You can save some money by refilling the vitamin C capsules yourself with food-grade vitamin C powder. It does require some elbow grease to pry the cap open, but it’s worth it if you find the maintenance costs too high.
If you want to be sure you are showering or bathing with chloramine-free water, two solutions work better than vitamin C shower filters.
Vitamin C tablets in bath water: Instead of using a vitamin C shower filter, add the vitamin C directly to your bathwater. 1000mg of crushed vitamin C tablets is enough to neutralize chloramine in a medium-size bathtub completely.
Whole-house filter: Since a whole-house filter treats the water at the point of entry, your shower water, and all other water in the house, will be chloramine-free.See our favorite whole-house chloramine filters above.
If you are worried about chloramine only in your drinking water or you just hate how it tastes and smells, a water filter pitcher will do.
It saves you the trouble and costs of buying and installing an under-sink or whole house filter.
Here are the best water filter pitchers for chloramine removal.
The 8-cup Aquasana powered pitcher has an internal pump that forces water through a dense filter block that removes 96% of 77 contaminants.
The filter block consists of activated carbon that removes organic chemicals, catalytic carbon that reduces chlorine and chloramines, an ion exchange filter that reduces heavy metals and a sub-micron filter that removes cysts and asbestos.
The advantage of a powered water filtration system like this one is that you don’t have to wait long for the pitcher to fill up.
The main downside is the noise. It doesn’t exactly make a racket, but you can clearly hear when the filter is working even from another room.
The filter is good for 320 gallons or about 3 months.
For large families, we recommend the 16-cup (1 gallon) Aquasana powered dispenser.
The Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher is cheaper though smaller than the Aquasana Pitcher.
It’s NSF-certified to remove chloramines, chlorine, lead, fluoride and dozens of other impurities. The filter lasts for about 150 gallons.
According to test data provided by the company, Berkey water filter pitchers remove up to 99.9% fo chlorine and chloramines in the water.
They sell several pitchers ranging from the ultra-sized 6-gallon Crown Berkey to the compact 1.5-gallon Travel Berkey. The most popular one is 2.25-gallon Big Berkey.
Chloramine is deliberately added to the water at the treatment plant for disinfection.
Many water utilities have switched from chlorine to chloramines to reduce harmful byproducts and ensure the water stays disinfected over longer distances when it is distributed.
Water utilities adhere to strict limits on how much chloramine they can add. Below the required limit, chloramine doesn’t have serious health effects as far as we know.
But there are some health concerns regarding some of the unregulated byproducts it produces when it reacts with organic matter in water.
Chloramine vapors in shower water can also irritate your nose and throat or trigger an asthma attack.
Chloramine in water can also lead to increased leaching of lead from pipes, causing dangerous lead exposure.
A catalytic carbon filter is one of the best ways of filtering out chloramine. Reverse osmosis, distillation, and vitamin C are also effective at removing or neutralizing chloramine.
If you boil water for long enough – around 20 minutes –most of the chloramine will evaporate from the water. But this is not a practical method of removing chloramine.
Vitamin C shower filters are the best at removing chloramine, though most don’t remove all of it. Carbon filters are not very effective because of the water temperature and fast-flowing water.
If you want to shower with chloramine-free water, install a whole-house chloramine water filter instead.
Alternatively, take a bath. Vitamin C tablets crushed in bath water will neutralize chloramines.
Like chlorine, chloramine eventually evaporates from water if you live the water standing for long enough. But it takes much longer for chloramine to evaporate compared to chlorine.
It is not a practical way of removing chloramine from your tap water.
Ed is a water specialist in Tampa, FL. He built CleanerSofterWater.com to help his friends and family learn about DIY solutions to common water quality issues in the home.
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