Does water softener remove chlorine?

Last updated on: December 1, 2022.

Nearly 85% of water in America is hard water, according to a U.S. geological survey. Different parts of the country receive hard water to varying degrees, depending on the region. Testing the water at home is quite common and the results highlight the need to use a water treatment system to ensure clean and safe drinking water. These results have also increased the popularity of water softeners in American homes.

Hard water can come from city water and groundwater and contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium. It may also have trace amounts of other hard minerals and iron. Water softeners reduce the number of such minerals, making the water softer, more palatable, and easier on household appliances, clothing, and washing. 

The public water supply draws water from lakes, rivers, and streams and purifies it through filtration processes. The contaminants like bacteria and viruses in the water are removed by disinfecting the water with chlorine and chloramine. That is why the water that comes into your home has a different smell and taste.

Water softeners in your homes may remove the hardness that accumulates as the water flows through the pipes and plumbing system before entering the water supply at home. But, you may find that there are still remnants of chlorine in the water. Read on if you want to know whether water softeners can remove chlorine and chloramine from the water after entering your home.

Do Water softeners remove chlorine and chloramine?

The primary purpose of water softeners is to eliminate or reduce the high concentration levels of minerals in tap water. It is beneficial when the water is very hard and has high levels of calcium and magnesium.

Water softeners help by using an ion-exchange process through the sodium-filled water softener resin bed. The water passes through the resin tank, and the sodium ion in the resin is exchanged for the hard minerals. These minerals, including some of the chlorine and chloramine, get captured by the resin beads.

The operative word here is ‘some’ as water softeners are not effective in removing all the chlorine present in the water.

How do you remove chlorine from tap water?

chlorine in tap water test

There are a few ways by which you can remove chlorine from tap water – reverse osmosis, evaporation, or chemical neutralization.

1. Reverse Osmosis 

Water filtration systems that use reverse osmosis have carbon block filters. These filters can remove up to 98% of chlorine in the water. The carbon filter will absorb chlorine during filtration and keep the reverse osmosis membranes protected from chlorine. 

2. Evaporation 

Evaporation is one of the easier ways to remove chlorine from water. Leaving the water at room temperature is quicker than placing it in the refrigerator. It is also a natural solution that doesn’t cost money.

Boiling water for 15 minutes is a sure way to speed up the evaporation process. Chlorine weighs less than air and can evaporate if the water is kept at room temperature. But, boiling can speed up the removal process. Boiling large quantities of water every day may not always be feasible. However, it is worth a try in small families. 

3. Chemical neutralization   

Chemical neutralization is possible with potassium metabisulfite. They are small tablets that dissolve in the water and can neutralize chlorine and chloramine. 

What chemicals does a water softener remove?

Water softeners help remove harmful chemicals and other hard minerals. They are also designed with ion exchange technology to remove nitrates, barium, cadmium, chromium, sulfate, and selenium.

How Chlorine Can Affect Your Water Softener Resin

Public water supply companies treat water with around 0.5 – 1.0 ppm of chlorine to kill bacteria from the drinking water. However, when the chlorine level goes above 1.0 ppm and passes through a water softener, the chlorine oxidizes the resin beads. This oxidization can have an impact on the softening process and also reduce the lifespan of the resin. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Does a water softener remove calcium?

Yes. A water softener removes calcium along with other hard minerals such as magnesium.

2. What neutralizes chlorine?

One of the more common methods to neutralize chlorine is using potassium metabisulfite. It comes in the form of tablets that dissolve in the water and can neutralize chlorine and chloramine.

Two forms of vitamin C are also used to neutralize chlorine in tap water. They are ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate. Vitamin C is not toxic, and it also does not lower the dissolved oxygen as much as sulfur-based chemicals do. Neither of these is harmful. 

3. Will a water softener remove scale from pipes?

Water softener by itself does not remove scale from pipes. But, it is a good system to remove scale-causing hardness in the water.

Softening the water ensures that the water flowing through the pipes is soft as soft water can dissolve the scale buildup. Softened water can remove the minerals that cause limescale to form in the pipes and the plumbing systems. 

4. Do you need a water softener with well water?

If the hardness levels in your water are higher than 7 grains per gallon, or 120 mg/L, you will need a water softener. Whether it is water from a well or from the city, the hardness-causing minerals will continue to exist in varying quantities across the country. It is better to test your water with a water testing kit or have a professional study your water quality before deciding on installing a water softener. 

5. Is Softened water bad for plants?

Generally, plants do not tolerate water with high sodium content. Due to the sodium exchange, softened water may have small amounts of salt that are not good for plants. Therefore, hard water may be better for plants.

6. Is conditioned water safe to drink?

A water conditioner neutralizes unwanted metals, chlorine, and chloramine, thereby making the tap water safe to drink. Water conditioning may also refer to water purification or filtration. Essentially, water that doesn’t contain an excessive amount of minerals or disinfectants such as chlorine and chloramine is safe to drink. 

Conclusion

We know that chlorine and chloramine are useful to keep bacteria and other microorganisms away from drinking water. And, according to the EPA, water should not contain more than 4 milligrams of chlorine per liter of water. Therefore, we need a way to remove the lingering amounts of disinfectants after it reaches our home. A good water filtration system above a water softener may be ideal. 

About The Author

Our Web Producer

Judith— a passionate water treatment specialist — is a waste water management enthusiast, clean drinking water advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about various water equipments. Her work was mentioned in countless notable water associations. Previously she was an editor at Water Alliance.