Municipalities add chlorine to drinking water to remove contaminants, including bacteria and pesticides. However, chlorine may also adversely affect human health, and it can alter the taste of water. A home carbon filter can remove chlorine particles, but the type of carbon filter used as well as the qualities of the water play a large role in how effective it is. In general, a fine-grained activated carbon filter is best for removing chlorine.
Some studies indicate chlorine may be carcinogenic, according to Duke University. Activated carbon filters, which are commonly available for home use, remove chlorine adequately, in addition to removing iron, benzene and manganese. Carbon filters can also remove pesticides and fuel products, providing healthier and better-tasting water for drinking purposes. Filters composed of sand, calcite, aluminum silicate or anthracite may not remove chlorine from your water.
Activated Carbon Filters
Activated carbon filters contain black, granular substances that appear similar to charcoal. They filter chlorine better than ordinary carbon filters and work by attracting and holding on to the chlorine and other contaminants. On the other hand, common chemicals in tap water such as chloride, fluoride, calcium and magnesium are not effectively absorbed by activated carbon filters. These substances may affect the flavor and hardness of water, but many of them also offer health benefits.
A number of factors determine the effectiveness of a given carbon filter at filtering chlorine. Studies indicate that powdered block activated carbon filters are more effective at removing chlorine than granual activated carbon filters, though both are effective. The more carbon in a filter, the better it works. For this reason, large purification systems using solid block activated carbon generally work best. Small pitcher filters with granular carbon are generally weaker but can still adequately remove chlorine. Furthermore, chlorine is filtered best when water is cold or when it is acidic. Filters are apt to remove chlorine better if water is flowing slowly through them.
For adequate chlorine removal, make sure you are using an activated carbon filter to filter your water. Activated carbon filters are readily available for home drinking systems. They are often sold and packaged for placement in a purification system, such as within a pitcher, refrigerator or in a cartridge attached to a faucet end. Eventually these filters become clogged with contaminants and require replacement. Low water pressure from the filter in a purification system is a sign that it has become clogged and a new filter is required.
- Photo Credit Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images