Two recent articles on growyourowngroceries.org have mentioned a method for removing chlorine from water that unfortunately won’t work for many people (‘Saving Water, Using Urine for Fertilizer, and Never Wasting Anything‘ and ‘Ferment Your Feed for Healthier and Happier Chickens‘). The method in question assumes that you can get the chlorine out of municipal water by allowing it to set out, open to the air, for 24 hours. That method did work when simple chlorine was used to disinfect water. However, in recent years, most water treatment plants have transitioned to using chloramines rather than chlorine to disinfect water.
The reason for the change is that chlorine will break down when exposed to air, sun, and motion; while chloramines will not break down in these same conditions. Chloramines are a combination of chlorine and ammonia. They are, of course, much more toxic to living things such as us, our animals, and our plants; and the larger environment. But they are not as effective as chlorine at disinfecting water. In fact, people with immune issues should boil chloramine-treated water for at least 10 minutes before using or consuming it.
Most water filter systems don’t remove chloramines because it takes a lot longer contact time with the carbon filter to remove the chlorine component; and then a second process is required to remove the ammonia component (reverse osmosis or cation exchange).
All this is to say that the method suggested for de-chlorinating municipal water will no longer work. Rain water is by far the best option to water our plants. For a lot more detail, including studies on chloramine’s effects on lung and mucus tissues, see this article by San Francisco’s CCAC, Citizens Concerned About Chloramine.
Click here to read Leslie Parson’s article, A Guide for Using Tap Water in Your Garden.
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