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September 22nd, 2018

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De-Chlorinating Your Bath & Shower with Vitamin C: Pros & Cons

Vitamin C is an excellent de-chlorinating agent. Ascorbic acid is a synthesized form of Vitamin C which is gaining popularity for use in bath & shower filters. Vitamin C reduces chlorine instantly, leaves no spent material for the landfill, and is actually beneficial to fish*, the end recipients of our drain water.

Vitamin C works instantly in baths

You have probably noticed how quickly powdered Vitamin C fizzes and disappears when put in water. This extreme solubility makes it well suited for use in a controlled volume of water. That’s why Vitamin C is our top choice for de-chlorinating your bath.

Sustained effectiveness needed for de-chlorinating showers

Shower filters must perform efficiently for thousands of gallons of hot running water. Although Vitamin C shower filters are increasingly popular, we feel more confident in the consistent and lasting effectiveness of a premium quality KDF shower filter because, unlike Vitamin C, KDF is not soluble. Our top choice is Sprite KDF shower filters which are certified by NSF to Standard 177 for effective and sustained chlorine reduction –a claim that Vitamin C shower filters (and calcium sulphite shower filters) cannot make.

How shower filters work

Shower filters utilize either a chemical or a galvanic action to neutralize chlorine. Manufacturers use KDF, ascorbic acid or calcium sulphite to accomplish this. For instance, ascorbic acid reacts with chlorine converting both into a benign combination of inorganic chloride and dehydroascorbic acid.

Carbon isn’t suitable for shower filters because it fouls so quickly in hot water conditions that bucket loads would be required to sustain any benefit.

Vitamin C lowers pH

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) may make your bath or shower mildly acidic, a beneficial property for contact with the acid mantle of your skin.

THMs and shower filters

It appears that Vitamin C has no ability to neutralize THMs and other chlorination by-products present in chlorinated bath and shower water. Unfortunately, this shortcoming is true of all types of shower filter media that we know of, except carbon. However, as mentioned above, carbon cannot sustain this benefit in hot water conditions.

Shower filters and chloramine

Regarding chloraminated water** (chlorine plus ammonia), no shower filter manufacturer has clearly demonstrated to our satisfaction that their product can effectively reduce this challenging-to-remove disinfectant. Evidently some amount of ammonium chloride is produced when using a chemical de-chlorinator like Vitamin C. The writer has yet to learn whether this by-product of de-chloramination is benign.

* Chlorine Concerns and the Endangered Species Act: Vitamin C and Fish
by Greg Peterka, P.E., Engineering Manager, Public Utility District No. 1 of Skagit County

** Chloramine is used to disinfect water in Abbotsford, Mission, Victoria and many other municipalities in North America.

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