Difference Between Chlorine and Chloramine Water Treatment

Chloramines are used across various sources of water mainly to kill germs and disinfect. While these chemicals certainly have their benefits, in some cases, the wrong kinds or too many of them can have negative impacts on our livelihood.

Today we’ll discuss how to remove chloramine in water, what exactly it is, and how it differs from chlorine.

What is Chloramine?

You might be wondering, what exactly is chloramine?

The EPA classifies chloramines as secondary disinfection made up of chlorine and ammonia. We use them to treat drinking water, ridding it of germs to make it safe to drink. In fact, water treated with chloramines is safe not only for drinking but also for cooking, bathing, and more.

There are different compounds surrounding chloramines, including monochloramines, dichloramines, and trichloramines. The first on this list is the kind used in drinking waters. Proper levels kill germs while remaining safe to consume.

The latter two of these complex chemical compounds are mainly used in indoor swimming pools. While they also do an excellent job of keeping the water clean, too much can irritate your skin, eyes, and respiratory system.

Chlorine vs. Chloramine

Chloramine and chlorine are very similar in that they are both chemicals that disinfect by killing harmful germs and organisms. They are both effective methods of doing so; however, chlorine is more often used as a primary disinfectant—hence why chloramine has been deemed as a secondary disinfectant.

Chloramine is useful in certain situations, such as for your home’s drinking water. It lasts much longer than chlorine does, giving it a checkmark in the pro column. However, it does take much longer than chlorine to have an impact on water treatment for most utilities.

Because it lasts a long time, chloramine serves well as a secondary, or backup, disinfectant. When chlorine can’t be replenished right away, chloramine can keep things at the proper levels until the chlorine is stocked back up.

When talking about chloramine vs. chlorine, many people’s first choice is chlorine. It’s highly effective as a primary disinfectant because it kills the most harmful germs, and it does so quickly. There’s little to no wait time when you use chlorine.

Many people and systems will use a combination of chloramine and chlorine. The chlorine will not only get the job done, but it will enhance the effectiveness of the chloramine. Likewise, the chloramine makes for a reliable backup.

Chlorine Pellets
Chlorine Pellets

Reasons to Remove Chloramine From Your Water

Chloramine, as we’ve discussed, is not all bad, so why bother to remove it from your water at all? Though it can help fight against germs and bacteria, it does have some negative impacts, such as the following:

  • Skin Irritation
  • Eye Irritation
  • Foul Taste
  • Bad Odor
  • Rubber Deterioration
  • Corrosion
  • Toxic to Fish and Plants

One or more of the above reasons might impact you or your family, from cooking and drinking your own food and water to replenishing the water in your fish tank.

How to Remove Chloramine From Water

Because chlorine breaks down easier, removing it from your water is a simple process. However, chloramine removal is only possible with a chemical or carbon treatment.

When the complex compound of chlorine and ammonia is formed, it creates a chemical bond. Therefore, to remove this compound from water, you must break the bond. There are a few different ways to do this.

Catalytic Carbon Filtration

The most effective way to remove chloramines from your tap water is to use a catalytic carbon filter system. While these filters have highly productive contaminant removal methods, they also implement activated carbon that comes into long-term contact with your water and breaks up the stability of the chemical compound.

These are not to be confused with carbon filters, which are effective for chlorine removal but are not powerful enough for chloramine removal.

Catalytic carbon filters work by addressing your home’s entire water supply, which is what is recommended if you find you’re experiencing adverse effects to the chemical compound. You can install them into your home’s main water filter, and it will filter out the chloramines before they reach your faucets, showers, hoses, etc.

These types of filters are effective due to the catalytic carbon. Every chemical reaction needs a catalyst, so the catalytic carbon serves as the substance that will facilitate this action. Catalytic carbon has gone through treatment that increases its ability to foster a chemical reaction.

When applied to chloramines, the catalytic carbon triggers a chemical reaction and causes the chlorine and the ammonia to separate. After these components release from one another, they become ineffective and harmless in the water.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis is another effective method used for chloramine removal. This scientific process minimizes contaminants within water via pressure. Using a reverse osmosis filter, specialized semipermeable membranes block out contaminants and let newly cleaned water through, leaving the rest behind.

The trick to reverse osmosis systems is also carbon. While the filters involved cannot block out chloramines, the process takes long enough that the carbon within the filters can remove the chloramines.

Reverse osmosis filters are effective as long as they use quality systems. But many of these systems can’t be used with whole house water filters due to how slowly they work, so if you’re looking to clear out your entire home, you should stick with catalytic carbon.


Ultrafiltration is similar to catalytic carbon systems in that it’s powerful. Likewise, it’s also closely related to reverse osmosis systems, which use semipermeable filter membranes.

The difference in this method of chloramine removal is that it uses both sediment and carbon pre-filters in cooperation with a hollow fiber membrane. This means that it can filter out contaminants far smaller than the filter of a reverse osmosis system.

This, combined with the minimized flow rate, can lower your chloramine count by up to 95%. While this under-sink system may not work on your whole house, it is highly effective for things like drinking water or cooking – such as the sink in your kitchen.

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Tim Newman has been involved in water purification for over 20 years and loves everything about the topic of water purification. Along with his wife, Stephanie, they've owned and operated their highly successful water treatment business for several decades. They love bringing crystal clear and pure water to their customers, businesses, farms, homes, and ranches throughout Southern California.


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