What’s the difference between Chlorine and Chloramine?

Water can come from all kinds of places – lakes, rivers, wells, mountains, you name it. In order for water to get from where it came from to a homeowner’s tap, chances are that water is traveling through some, well, dirty places. Like, oh, dirt for example.

This means that naturally occuring germs need to be killed before distribution into the water supply, in order to make water safe for bathing and consumption.  

The two primary disinfectants water companies use to kill these germs are with chlorine and chloramine. Chlorine was first used as a drinking water disinfectant in Europe in the late 1800s, then in the U.S. in the early 1900s. Chloramine was introduced in the States in 1929 and used in states like Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.

Chloramines are formed when ammonia is introduced to chlorine. The main differences between chlorine and chloramine are as follows in the table below:



Pure Chlorine

Chlorine + Ammonia

Fastest acting at killing infectants.

Slower acting at killing infectants.

Is used up faster as it reacts with contaminants.

Stays active longer.

Stronger germicide.

Weaker germicide, but more stable.


It is important to kill the bacteria in water, and therefore chlorine and chloramine are great for performing this critical role. However, ingesting chlorine and chloramine, although technically safe, is not ideal. This is why we want to remove chlorine or chloramine from a homeowner’s drinking water before they consume it.

One way to think about this is to consider a banana. The peel of the banana plays the role of protecting the banana from germs and dirt before it gets to you. Once you have that banana, do you then proceed to eat the banana with the peel still on it?  No! At least we hope you don’t.

Most of us remove the peel of the banana before we consume the banana. The same concept applies to chlorine and chloramine – these disinfectants protect the water before it gets to you, but you want to remove the disinfectants before drinking (or bathing) in the water.

How do I know if my city uses chlorine or chloramine to treat water?

By law, your municipality is required to tell you what they are using to disinfect your water. An easy Google search should get you the information you need.

Cool, so how do I remove chlorine or chloramine?

Chlorine is easier to remove than chloramine, and there are many methods for removing either one. To keep things brief, we’ll give you our recommendation for how to ensure you’ve effectively removed either one. That’s with catalytic carbon.

Some water pitchers make use of carbon to reduce the amount of chlorine and chloramine in drinking water, but remember that you’re also showering in and washing food in untreated water if water pitchers are the only method used by the homeowner to remove chlorine and chloramine. That said, we recommend a whole-house filter that makes use of the highest grade of catalytic carbon.

Plumber’s Choice Water partners only with trained, certified contractors all over the United States. If you need help locating a dealer click here: http://plumberschoicewater.com/dealer