If you have ever lost your water supply for a week or longer due to storm power outages, you appreciate the benefits of city water. But public water systems have a notable downside. The water sometimes tastes chlorinated. Sometimes heavily chlorinated!
Modern homesteaders appreciate the value of water that is both germ-free and chlorine-free. We enjoy clean water that’s safe to drink. But the chlorine taste is terrible! So we want to give you ways to dechlorinate tap water at home.
For free! (Or cheap.)
But first, let’s go over why you need dechlorinated water for some of your most basic (and fun) homesteading activities.
Then let’s begin!
- Seven Reasons You Need Dechlorinated Water
- 6 Ways to Dechlorinate Tap Water for Free – or for Cheap!
- How to Dechlorinate Tap Water for Free – FAQs
Seven Reasons You Need Dechlorinated Water
There’s no doubt that modern rural and municipal water systems are a boon to good health. Chlorination eliminates some strains of bacteria and viruses that once were a significant source of disease and death that are essentially unknown today. However, some homesteading activities don’t work well when using chlorinated water.
Consider the following!
1. Baking Bread
Sometimes, chlorinated water gives the bread a chlorine taste. The bigger problem is that heavily chlorinated water can interfere with yeast growth. Your bread could take longer to rise. And it may not rise as high. You should never activate a sourdough starter in chlorinated water. (Chlorine kills the sourdough starter!)
2. Brewing Beer
Chlorinated water interferes with the action of yeast in the wort. It can cause off flavors. In high concentrations, it can corrode or darken various metals or stainless steel.
3. Clothing Care
High levels of chlorine can fade dark colors. They can weaken the thread of fabrics of any color. If the tap water causes brown laundry stains due to high manganese or iron, chlorine can worsen the stains.
- How to Prepare for Food Shortage [Practical Tips]
- Best Plants to Grow In Your Survival Garden, Part 1: The Basics
- How to Build Stone Stoves and Outdoor Survival Ovens
- Best Bushcraft Knife Under 200 for Home and Survival
- 13 Ways How to Keep Flies Away From Food at an Outdoor Party
4. Hair and Skin Care
Exposure to excessive chlorine can leave your hair dry and brittle. As well as make your skin itchy. We don’t think tap water has sufficient chlorine to cause dramatic hair damage. However, if your skin is sensitive, try using a filtered shower head when you shampoo and shower. It might make a big difference in how you look and feel.
Chlorine can interfere with the ability of hydroponic irrigation systems to deliver the trace minerals plants need just before they flower and set fruit. In an enclosed hydroponic system, there is no way for chlorine to escape just by shutting the system down for a few hours. Chlorine can also get absorbed by plants. (If your plants react negatively to chlorinated tap water, try distilled water.)
6. Keeping Chickens, Fish, and Other Pets
The digestive tracts of chickens and their manures can contain Salmonella bacteria. These bacteria can build a resistance to chlorine. Then decontaminating against Salmonella becomes more difficult.
Excessive chlorine can damage the gills of fish you keep in an aquarium or an outdoor pond. Even when you can’t smell chlorine, it may be present in concentrations that are toxic to fish.
Signs of excessive chlorine are similar to low oxygen levels. Look for fish floating to the surface and fanning the gills as if desperately trying to breathe.
Dogs that swim in chlorinated water may develop dull coats and dry, itchy skin.
Chloramines in drinking water are highly toxic to snakes, turtles, lizards, and amphibians.
7. Making Coffee and Tea
Many people don’t like the taste of coffee and tea made with chlorinated water.
You can solve any problem with excessive chlorination by installing a reverse osmosis system for your home and garden.
There is, however, a significant downside to using modern technology to get rid of chlorine. It’s the cost!
A whole-house reverse osmosis system will cost at least $150. A reverse osmosis system big enough for a small (two-acre or one-hectare) farm will probably cost around $7,500.
Fortunately, it is possible to get rid of chlorine from tap water for free. Or for cheap.
Here are some of our favorite methods.
6 Ways to Dechlorinate Tap Water for Free – or for Cheap!
Let’s start with the simplest zero-cost foolproof method of removing chlorine in tap water.
1. Let Tap Water Stand Uncovered Over Night
Here’s the easiest way to remove the chlorine flavor from water. Pour it from your faucet. Then wait a while!
We’ve read from multiple reliable sources that letting tap water sit in an open container for a day helps reduce the chlorine flavor dramatically. You can fill a pitcher of water in your fridge, for example.
(Make sure you let the water stand in an open container. The more air-to-surface area exposure the water gets, the better.)
2. Boil Water for 15 Minutes
Bringing tap water to a rolling boil for 15 minutes kills that nasty chlorine flavor. For sure! Even though chlorine is heavier than room-temperature air, it’s lighter than steam, so the bubbles of boiling water will carry it away. Boiled water, of course, tastes flat. But your plants and your pets won’t care.
(Let the dechlorinated boiled water return to room temperature before using.)
3. Adding Vitamin C
Vitamin C is likely the safest of all the chemicals used to remove chlorine from tap water. One of our favorite vitamin C dechlorination insights was on the University of Nebraska (Lincoln) Extension website. They say that adding 50 mg of ascorbic acid per liter of water improves the taste in chemically-treated water.
You can find ascorbic acid tablets for dechlorinating small amounts of tap water. And vitamin C balls to put in your shower head to dechlorinate tap water for shampooing your hair.
There is an additional consideration for using vitamin C to dechlorinate water for pet care. Vitamin C (1) removes free oxygen in tap water. And (2) lowers its pH. You should consider these two effects when using vitamin C to dechlorinate tap water for pet fish.
Aeration will compensate for the free oxygen removed by vitamin C. Making sure you use sodium ascorbate instead of other forms of vitamin C should impact pH minimally.
4. UV Treatment (or Sunlight!)
Sunlight can help expedite your chlorination-ridding process. UV light accelerates how fast calcium hypochlorite and sodium hypochlorite break down into chlorine gas.
UV light exposure is a surprisingly easy method for eliminating the chlorine in municipal water that you use for maintaining an outdoor fish pond. Just add a waterfall effect. Sunlight will break down chlorine, and recirculating water through the waterfall will help liberate the chlorine gas into the air.
5. Under-the-Sink Charcoal Filtration Units
If you have $50 to spare, there is an easy way to dechlorinate kitchen tap water for everyday use. Just install a charcoal filter unit under your sink.
Charcoal filters aren’t as effective as reverse osmosis filtration units. But they aren’t as hard to maintain. Charcoal filters will also remove odor-causing organic matter and some mineral contaminants.
(If you drink a ton of water, consider adding a reverse osmosis filter. Forbes lists the cost as low as $150 but upwards of $15,000. For small-scale residential use, the price is on the lower end of that range. It might be well worth the investment if you drink lots of water. Or if you detest chlorine flavor!)
6. Adding Lemon Juice to Dechlorinate Tap Water
Here’s one of the most underrated methods to dechlorinate water. Just add lemons! Any acidic organic substance will work. Consider lemon juice or lime juice. Either can remove chlorine from tap water. It has to get mixed well, and the mixture should stand for a couple of hours. A tablespoon (15 ml) of lemon juice will dechlorinate a gallon (4 liters) of water for kitchen use.
How to Dechlorinate Tap Water for Free – FAQs
We know water dechlorination is tricky. So we put together these tips for helping eradicate chlorine from water. We also share a few aquatic life tips. We hope they help!
No! Never use chlorine-treated water with your fish tank! Chlorine is dangerous for your fish. But you can treat the water so that it’s safe. One popular method of using chlorinated water for fish tanks is sodium thiosulfate. Sodium thiosulfate helps to remove chlorine from water, making it safe for an aquarium with water and fish.
No matter the source of dechlorination, we always recommend using an aquarium water testing kit to ensure the water is safe.
Yes! Drinking chlorinated water is considered a safe and viable practice. But we realize many homesteaders don’t like the taste. If it makes you feel better, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) limits how much chlorine your local water company may use.
Even still, we realize chlorine isn’t a natural method of removing parasites or bacteria, and many prefer a biological filter rather than a chemical treatment. However, we feel comforted to know some safeguards are in place.
No! Even if you have a 1,000-gallon tank, we recommend against it. Tap water should get dechlorinated before it’s added to the fish tank. Some fish hobbyists say that tap water may be safe if their tank has an aeration device. But we disagree. We say it’s always better to remove the chlorine first! (Keep your fish safe! One slight water quality mistake can cause your fish to get sick. Or worse.)
Having healthy and clean water is one of the essential elements of successful homesteading. So we thank you for reading our guide about how to dechlorinate tap water for free! (Or cheap!)
We shared our favorite methods to remove chlorine from water. And other potentially harmful substances! All without needing fancy water conditioners or filters. (We’re huge fans of reverse osmosis filters. But you don’t need one for healthy and clean water!)
Let us know if you have further questions about cheap solutions to dechlorinate home tap water!
And – if you have any tips or tricks for removing chlorine or additional chemicals, or if you know a better method, please chime in via the comments below.
Thanks again for reading.
Have a great day!