Chloramine in your garden water supply can cause damage to your garden you won't see.

Chloramine in your garden water supply can cause a decline in the bacteria your plants need to make nutrients available to the plant’s root system. Here is what’s going on.

Chloramine is used to decontaminate water in community water systems. Click here to learn more about Chloramine in Washington, D.C. The chemicals kill the organics in the water, allowing you and me to have water that is called Potable water or fit for human consumption.

When introducing Chloramine in your growing medium, it kills the bacteria that break down the organic material in your garden, potted plants to your lawn. I was forced to learn about Chloramine.

Generally, when making worm and compost teas, I aerate the water with an aquarium air stone for a  day before the production process. I made a batch of tea up and applied it to my garden.

Usually, I get a good growth bump from the application, but this time it didn’t seem to work as before. A couple of weeks go by, and I made another batch of tea using my standard method, and lo and behold, there wasn’t a smell from the tea.

What is Happening

The tea will give off a mild odor and this time it didn’t.  Checking the tea under a microscope, I didn’t have any bacteria nor fungi. No, nothing, no sign of life at all. I had nutrients but no bacteria and fungi. Bacteria and fungi the necessary ingredients for the organic decomposition of the alfalfa, straw, and compost. I didn’t understand what caused this problem. I followed my standard Chlorine removal via the aeration process.

Chloramine eroding iron pipe causing yellow water.
Chloramine eroding iron pipe causing yellow water.
Then I remember the change in the water chemistry everyone was talking about. It seems that the Chloramine was reacting to the water pipes turning the water a nasty yellow. I called a friend at city hall about the issue and was told that Chloramine was most likely the problem. I started researching the chemical and found it took weeks to remove it from standing water.

Chloramine and Chlorine Difficult to Remove

My research indicated that a few chemicals would remove Chloramine from the water. The substances are in microbrewers and fish aquariums. I found a local pet store that carried a product that removed Chlorine or Chloramine and was harmless to fish and humans alike. I have used it ever since, and my garden is thriving once again.

Below is more information on Chloramine removal. Chlorine is the easiest to remove from your watering system. Generally, if you let chlorine-treated water stand for a day or so, the chlorine will dissipate independently. Chlorine in community water will lose its potency rapidly. After a day, most of its harmful effects will be gone. Free bacteria that break down organic material are replaced quickly by the surrounding environment.

Chloramine is a chemical composed of Chlorine and Ammonia. The Ammonia is injected into the water last, and the two chemicals bond together. According to the EPA  boiling, using activate charcoal or reverse osmosis will NOT remove the chemical from the water.

It takes weeks to remove Chloramine from standing water. Chloramine is broken down through a chemical process or through a particular charcoal filtration system that moves the water slowly through the system.

Eliminate The Effects of Chlorine and Chloramine

These are the only chemicals to break the Chloramine molecule are Sodium Thiosulfate, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Hydroxymethanesulfonate, Sodium Metabisulfite, or Potassium Metabisulfite. For example, sodium thiosulfate is found in aquarium stores.

Any of the above chemicals will make Chloramine inert. Some of the chemicals are not optional for human consumption, such as Sodium Metabisulfite or Potassium Metabisulfite, nor are they ideal candidates for your garden. Use ascorbic or citric acid to nullify the Chlorine or Chloramine in your water.

Ascorbic acid or citric acid is found at your local grocery store. Ascorbic acid or citric acid is commonly used to keep apples and peaches from turning brown.

I use sodium thiosulfate found in aquarium stores. When traveling, I use a slice of lemon in my drinking water to nullify the chloramine.