How to Remove Chloramines From Water When Brewing

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How to Remove Chloramines From Water When Brewing

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Beer makers understand just how important water quality is to the overall taste of the beer they brew. The purity of the water that is used in breweries is essential to making great-tasting beer. Even a small amount of chloramine contamination can result in a plastic tasting beer that is not at all appealing. Thus, one of the main filtering tasks that breweries face today is removing chloramines from the water before beginning the brewing process.

The Chlorine to Chloramine Shift
Because there are some obvious unfavorable aspects regarding chlorination, a growing number of public water providers are switching to chloramine, as it also acts as a disinfectant. In fact, more than 22 percent of the municipal water treatment facilities in the U.S. use it – and that number continues to grow.

Chloramine, as a water treatment, has gained popularity for several reasons. It is quick dissolving with water, it’s more stable than chlorine, and it stays in the water for a much longer period of time. In addition to that, chloramines are safer. You see, chlorine disinfects, but it produces potentially harmful disinfection by-products called trihalomethanes (THM). THMs are volatile organic chemicals that can cause cancer.

The switch to chloramines is relatively simple, water authorities just treat water with ammonia, along with chlorine. This combination of chemicals causes chloramines to form. The reaction created by mixing ammonia and chlorine produces monochloramine, dichloramine, and trichloramine. Dichloramine and trichloramine tend to be volatile and they escape from the water soon after treatment. When you get the water at your brewery only monochloramines and some free chlorine remain. This is what you will want to remove.

Chloramine Removal Process

As you may know, removing chlorine from water is a fairly simple process. The chlorine will evaporate from water that is left exposed to air on its own in a short period of time, or the water can be boiled to remove it. Unfortunately, removing chloramines from water isn’t as simple.

Chloramine stays in the water for a longer period of time than chlorine, so you cannot just let the water set out for 48 hours to remove it. Boiling the water doesn’t work either. However, an effective filtration system can remove both chloramines and chlorine from your water.

Using a granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration system is the most effective way to remove chloramines from water and make a great tasting beer. GAC filtering not only removes chloramines and chlorine, but it also reduces the levels of other harmful contaminants like industrial chemicals, pesticides, trihalomethanes, as well as other halogenated organic compounds. It is also effective in removing bad odors and tastes.

Cartridge vs. Backwash Tank Systems

You have some options when it comes to GAC filtration systems, the most popular for breweries being cartridge-based systems and back washing tank systems.

A cartridge-based system is sufficient when you are using water at a slower flow rate, typically less than two gallons per minute. To make sure that your system is sized correctly, you should anticipate that you will need two to three times the contact time that is required for chlorine reduction. While this type of filtration system is less expensive, you may find that they are limited in what they can do because of the low flow capacity.

The backwashing tank system uses a tank that is filled with GAC granules that the water flows through. There is a valve that can be opened to back-flush the granules to clean them. This is a better option when you have a required flow rate that is greater than two gallons per minute.

Whichever method you choose, you do need to make sure that you know how much carbon you need to provide sufficient contact time to remove all the chloramine and chlorine. There are formulas that will help you determine that, or you can speak with a filtration professional who can provide you with recommendations.

Final Thoughts

The water that is used for brewing beer will have a huge impact on the taste of the finished product. While drinking water that has a small amount of chloramines present may not be harmful to people, it can potentially ruin the taste of the beer. Using a granular activated carbon filtering system will ensure that you not only have water that is safe to drink, but also tastes great and makes an awesome tasting brew.

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