Do Carbon Filters Remove Chlorine and Chloramine from Water?

Do Carbon Filters Remove Chlorine and Chloramine from Water?

Are you looking for a way to remove chlorine and chloramine from your drinking water? In this article, we explore the question – do carbon filters remove chlorine and chloramine.

Chlorine and chloramine give your water a chemical taste and odor. They can also cause skin and eye irritation. A carbon filter is a good way to remove these chemicals from your water.

Conventional activated carbon can remove 95% of chlorine and approximately 50% of chloramine from water. Coconut shell activated carbon performs slightly better and can remove up to 75 to 90% of chloramine. Catalytic activated carbon is extremely effective – it can remove 99.9% of chlorine and chloramine from drinking water.

There are many different types of carbon filters available, so it’s important to choose the one that is right for your needs. Some filters are better at removing chlorine, while others are better at removing chloramine.

In this blog post, we will discuss how carbon filters work and how you can find the best type to remove chlorine and chloramine from your water.

How Does a Carbon Filter Work

A carbon filter contains activated carbon, which is made of charcoal. Charcoal filters are porous, which means they have a lot of tiny holes in them. These tiny holes are what makes the activated carbon so effective at removing chemicals from water. They have an incredible amount of surface area – this is what creates the attraction force that draws the chemicals into the carbon filter.

When water passes through the filter, the pores in the activated carbon particles grab onto the chlorine and chloramine molecules. It then removes them from the water. This process is known as adsorption.

Chlorine and chloramine are disinfectants added to municipal drinking water to kill bacteria and viruses in the water supply. Both of these chemicals can be removed from drinking water using an activated carbon filter.

Read my carbon design guide for more information.

Do Carbon Filters Remove Chlorine

Bituminous coal based activated carbon
Activated carbon is effective at removing chlorine from drinking water.

Carbon filters are excellent at removing chlorine and other disinfection by-products like trihalomethanes from water. Activated carbon also removes bad tastes and odors, so you will be able to drink great-tasting water without any of the harmful chemicals.

Chlorine does not adsorb (stick) to activated carbon. Instead, the chlorine reacts with the carbon particle and is converted into a chloride ion. The chloride ion passes through the carbon bed and flows out to your water system.

Chloride ions are harmless and do not impart any bad taste or odors to your water.

How much chlorine can carbon filter out?

Carbon filters are very effective at removing chlorine from drinking water. Most activated carbons achieve a minimum of 95% chlorine removal. High quality activated carbon can remove 99.9%+ of the chlorine in your water.

Because the chlorine removal process does not occur through adsorption, activated carbon has a very high capacity to remove chlorine. This means that the carbon in your filter will have a very long service life – some carbon can last a year or longer.

Do Carbon Filters Remove Chloramine

Filtering water with carbon is not as effective at removing chloramine from water as it is at removing chlorine. If you are looking for a filter that will remove chloramine, you need one that is specifically designed for the task. Catalytic carbon filters are ideal at removing chloramine from your drinking water.

How much chloramine can carbon remove?

Chloramine is removed from water through a catalytic process. As water passes through the filter, the chloramine is decomposed into nitrogen gas, ammonia gas, and chloride ions. The nitrogen and ammonia gases are released into the atmosphere, while the chloride ions pass through the carbon bed and flow out to your water system.

Conventional activated carbon can remove up to 50% of chloramine from water. This means that a catalytic carbon filter is necessary for complete removal of chloramine from drinking water.

Type of Carbon versus Chlorine and Chloramine Removal

There are several different types of activated carbon. Each one has its own unique properties. Some are better at removing chlorine, while others are more effective at removing chloramine and other chemicals.

Coconut shell activated carbon

Coconut Shell Activated Carbon
Coconut shell activated carbon is effective at removing chlorine and chloramine from water.

Activated carbon made from coconut shells is a popular choice for chlorine removal. It has high levels of activated carbon, and the pores are very small, which makes it ideal for removing small molecules like chlorine from water.

Coconut shell carbon performs reasonably well removing chloramine. As much as 75 to 90% of the chloramine can be removed.

Read my comprehensive article on coconut shell activated carbon.

Coal-based activated carbon

Most carbon is made from bituminous coal. This type of coal is high in activated carbon and has large pores, making it ideal for removing larger molecules like chloramine from water.

Coal-based activated carbon can remove up to 95% of the chlorine from water. This makes it a good choice for filters that are used to treat municipal drinking water. This type of carbon does not perform as well with chloramine – it typically can remove 50% of this disinfectant.

Catalytic activated carbon

Catalytic activated carbon is the ideal choice for removing chlorine and chloramine from water. It is activated carbon that has a specially activated surface to catalyze the breakdown chlorine and chloramine into their component parts.

Catalytic activated carbon can remove up to 99% of both chlorine and chloramine from water. This makes it ideal for applications where high levels of either disinfectant is present in the drinking water.

Because the removal process is a catalytic reaction rather than adsorption, there are no capacity issues with this type of filter media

Which Carbon Filters Work for Chlorine and Chloramine

Carbon filters can be installed in a variety of locations to address chlorine and chloramine in your drinking water. They can be configured as:

  • point-of-entry – This type of filter is installed at the water entrance to your home. It will remove chlorine and chloramine from all of the water that enters your house, including water used for drinking, bathing, and washing.
  • point-of-use – This type of filter is installed on the faucet or under the sink where you will be drinking or cooking with the water. It will remove chlorine and chloramine from the water that you use at that location.

Refrigerator filters are a type of POU filters. Read my article on refrigerator filters and how well they remove chlorine.

Whichever type of carbon filtering method you choose, make sure it is specifically designed for removing chlorine and chloramine from water. Conventional activated carbon filters will not work as well with chloramine as they do with chlorine. Catalytic activated carbon is the best choice for removing chlorine and chloramine from water.

Alternatives to Activated Carbon Water Filter for Chlorine and Chloramine

There are several water treatment technologies that can be used to remove chlorine and chloramine from drinking water. They include:

  1. reverse osmosis
  2. evaporation / distillation
  3. boiling
  4. neutralization chemicals

While activated carbon filters are a popular choice for removing chlorine and chloramine from water, there are several alternative methods that are also effective in addressing these contaminants. Each method has its own set of advantages and drawbacks, which can influence the decision-making process for those seeking a water treatment solution.

Reverse osmosis for chlorine and chloramine removal

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a highly effective water purification technique that uses a semipermeable membrane to filter out contaminants, including chlorine and chloramine. In addition to removing these chemicals, RO systems are capable of reducing a wide range of impurities such as heavy metals, bacteria, and viruses. However, RO systems can be more expensive than carbon filters and generate a significant amount of wastewater during the filtration process.

Evaporation and distillation

Evaporation and distillation methods involve heating water to produce steam, which then cools and condenses back into a liquid state. As the contaminants have a higher boiling point than water, they are left behind in the original container, resulting in purified water. While effective in removing chlorine and chloramine, these methods can be energy-intensive and may not be suitable for large-scale applications.

Boiling water to remove chlorine

Boiling water is a simple and accessible method for removing chlorine and reducing chloramine levels. When water is brought to a rolling boil, chlorine evaporates rapidly, while chloramine takes a longer time to break down. Boiling is a practical option for small quantities of water; however, it may not be feasible for treating large volumes of water, and it does not address other contaminants that may be present.


Neutralization chemicals, such as sodium ascorbate and sodium sulfite, can be added to water to neutralize chlorine and chloramine effectively. These chemicals react with the disinfectants, forming byproducts that can be easily removed through filtration. While this method can be efficient in treating water, it requires careful handling and precise dosing to avoid potential adverse effects on water quality.

There are multiple alternatives to activated carbon filtration for addressing chlorine and chloramine in water. Factors such as cost, efficiency, and ease of use should be taken into account when selecting the most suitable method for a particular application.

Wrap Up on Carbon Filtration

Activated carbon removes impurities and contaminants through the chemical process of adsorption, making it a popular choice for water treatment. In fact, nothing else equals carbon’s ability to remove chlorine from water.

Carbon filtration systems, which utilize activated carbon filters, treat water by using a process called adsorption. This process involves the adhesion of chlorine and other contaminants to the surface of the carbon particles, effectively trapping them and producing cleaner water.

These filters remove do remove chlorine from water, and they can also effectively remove or reduce many other contaminants, making them a versatile option for water filtration.

Water systems that employ carbon filtration, such as water filters and filters carbon, are widely available for both residential and commercial use. These water systems come in various forms, including under-sink filters, countertop units, whole-house filtration systems, and even portable water filters for outdoor use.

Carbon filtration removes chlorine and other impurities, resulting in better-tasting and odor-free water, which is essential for cooking, drinking, and overall health. As more people become aware of the importance of clean water, the demand for activated carbon water filters and water systems continues to grow, providing an effective solution for reducing contaminants and improving water quality.


How long does it take for carbon to filter chlorine?

The reaction between activated carbon and chlorine is very fast. An empty bed contact time of 30 to 40 seconds is more than adequate for 99% removal.

What do activated carbon filters remove?

Activated carbon filters remove a long list of contaminants, including:

  • Bad tastes and odors
  • Chlorine
  • Heavy metals (specialty carbon)
  • Lead (specialty carbon)
  • Mercury
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Trihalomethanes (THMs)

What doesn’t activated carbon remove?

Activated carbon filters do not remove:

  • Fluoride
  • Hard water
  • Iron
  • Total dissolved solids (TDS)

Final Thoughts on Treating Chlorine and Chloramine with Activated Carbon

Carbon filters are one of the most popular ways to remove chlorine and chloramine from drinking water. The good news is that there are a few different types of carbon filters, and each one removes chlorine and chloramine to varying degrees.

Coconut shell activated carbon will remove the most chlorine but has the shortest lifespan. Coal-based activated coal offers great removal rates and is the least expensive. Catalytic carbons work extremely well and have the longest service life among the three types of carbon.

We hope this article has helped you better understand how carbon filters work and which type is best for removing chlorine and chloramine from your drinking water. Fortunately, carbon can effectively remove or reduce many contaminants from your water, including chlorine and chloramine.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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