Free Chlorine vs Chloramines in Tap Water

Lathis

Chameleon Enthusiast
Something that has been nagging me, so I decided to do some additional research is the issue of the use free chlorine versus chloramines in treated tap water.

I've seen in numerous places on this forum (and given it myself, I freely admit), where advice is given to people to boil water or let it sit out to remove chlorine and chloramines that might be detrimental to chameleons. Turns out this may be misleading or even inaccurate information to give to new owners who are trusting the forum to provide reliable information.

Depending on the treatment process used by your local water department, your tap water may be treated with either "free chlorine" or "chloramines". Free chlorine is less stable, more volatile, and can be removed by allowing water to sit or boil. My local water treatment plant uses free chlorine, but the only way for me to know that was to contact them. Chloramines are a reaction product between chlorine and ammonia that is used in probably most larger municipal water treatment systems. Chloramines are far more stable, can remain in standing water for days, and are significantly more difficult to remove by boiling.

From Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chloramine#Removing_chloramines_from_water

"Chloramine, like chlorine, can be removed by boiling and aging. However time required to remove the chloramine is much longer than that of chlorine. The time required to remove half of the chloramine (half life) from water by boiling is 26.6 hours, while the half life of free chlorine in boiling water is only 1.8 hours.[20]"

[20]http://hbd.org/ajdelange/Brewing_articles/BT_Chlorine.pdf​

Local water departments are required by the EPA to report water testing. They are called "Consumer Confidence Reports". I acquired one from KCMO along with a very detailed water testing report by calling the water department (I am actually not on the KCMO water system, though, I needed it for work).

EPA Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR)
http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw000/ccr/index.html

How many of us honestly are going to boil water for 2 solid days to remove chloramines? Honestly how many people boil water for even 2 hours to address free chlorine? This is brought up occasionally on a home brew forum that I am a member of... I am embarrassed that I didn't make this connection before.

Discussion?
 
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littlefoot3

New Member
Water filters? I'm not so knowledgable on what exactly they filter, I just know we've had one on our faucet for years.
 

Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
Um...no one should have been suggesting boiling or setting out tap water overnight as the way to remove chloramines. Those methods only work for free chlorine. Unless as you mentioned you boiled it for days!

When I see the classic question about treating tap water the first response should be "get your water tested or ask your utility which chemical they use!" Then we'll know how to advise them.
 

ferretinmyshoes

Veterinarian
Staff member
Yeah chloramines are not ever removed by boiling or allowing water to sit. Aquarium owners will be familiar with this because you have to get drops specifically that remove chloramines before adding water to the tank.
 

Lathis

Chameleon Enthusiast
Carlton, I have seen you correct posts where people recommend letting the water sit to make it chlorine free by letting folks know that doesn't work for chloramines, but I would say you and a few other well-informed posters are the golden exception rather than rule. Honestly, I hadn't seen those posts until I started doing some extra digging on this issue over the last week.
 

Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
Water filters? I'm not so knowledgable on what exactly they filter, I just know we've had one on our faucet for years.
You have to look at the filter type to find out what it removes and what it doesn't. If a filter has been on your faucet for years it's most likely pretty useless. Most filters such as the faucet types from Brita, Pur, etc. have elements or cartridges that need to be replaced periodically. There are many different types of faucet filters. Some remove just enough of the mineral or organic content to improve the taste. Others remove sediment, rust, calcium, chlorine, organics, all sorts of things. The only chemically pure water is distilled water...because it is produced from re-condensed steam. Everything other than H2O was left behind when it boiled. Reverse osmosis filtered water is very very pure as well (trace levels of natural minerals are still there), but you can't get that in a "faucet filter".

Again, to find out what's in your tap water either ask your public utility what chemicals they use (chlorine, chloramine, fluorides, etc), or get a test kit and find out for yourself. Many water utilities can give you a test kit and will analyze it for you. If not, an aquarium water test kit can tell you a lot! Then you can choose a filter to do what you want it to.
 
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Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
Carlton, I have seen you correct posts where people recommend letting the water sit to make it chlorine free by letting folks know that doesn't work for chloramines, but I would say you and a few other well-informed posters are the golden exception rather than rule. Honestly, I hadn't seen those posts until I started doing some extra digging on this issue over the last week.
I guess I learned that years ago when keeping frogs. They are so sensitive to everything in their water the learning curve is steeper. Plus, I've been on my own wells in several houses over the years and you just have to be aware of this kind of thing. Thank Dog for RO filters!
 

littlefoot3

New Member
You have to look at the filter type to find out what it removes and what it doesn't. If a filter has been on your faucet for years it's most likely pretty useless. Most filters such as the faucet types from Brita, Pur, etc. have elements or cartridges that need to be replaced periodically. There are many different types of faucet filters. Some just remove just enough of the mineral or organic content to improve the taste. Others remove sediment, rust, calcium, organics, all sorts of things. The only chemically pure water is distilled water...because it is produced from re-condensed steam. Everything other than H2O was left behind when it boiled. Reverse osmosis filtered water is very very pure as well (trace levels of natural minerals are still there), but you can't get that in a "faucet filter".

Again, to find out what's in your tap water either ask your public utility what chemicals they use (chlorine, chloramine, fluorides, etc), or get a test kit and find out for yourself. Many water utilities can give you a test kit and will analyze it for you. If not, an aquarium water test kit can tell you a lot! Then you can choose a filter to do what you want it to.
The filter gets changed out pretty regularly, it's just one of those things we've always done I'd never really given much thought to before. Distilled water will most likely be my cham's route though, that's all I've ever used in the past for that sort of thing.
 

Lathis

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thanks for jumping in. I'm still very much learning about these issues, and this was something that jumped out at me that I thought might interest others.
 

Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thanks for jumping in. I'm still very much learning about these issues, and this was something that jumped out at me that I thought might interest others.
And, your post was a great explanation! You didn't just ignore it, but went to the horse's mouth and found out what you needed to know. :)
 

juice28

New Member
very interesting..i am a reptile and fish, all of my aquatic set ups are saltwater reef systems and your right about the fish people.. gotta use your drops in to remove chlorine and chloramines if your using tap water assuming theres noting else in like in OK theres a high level of arsenic in tap water...terrible.. i usually just buy my water from a local fish store because its already good, i dont have to wait 2-5 days to use it and its pretty cheap.. get a 5 gall on jug for cents on the gallon usually id do 10 gal freshwater and it be like 2.50...ill apy for not having to have a RODI system and go through all that lol
 
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