Water Quality - Chloramine
Chloramine is a substance which combines chlorine with ammonia. While chloramine causes the same symptoms as chlorine (i.e., leaf burn and decreased flowering), it is important to distinguish the two, since chloramine will not respond to the same treatment and prevention methods as those recommended for chlorine.
According to the EPA, chloramine is used by about 20 percent of municipal water treatment facilities in the U.S. While the chlorine element serves as a water disinfectant, the ammonia serves to stabilize the chlorine. As a consequence, the chlorine gas cannot escape, as it normally does, from water treated with chlorine alone.
Note that many water suppliers claim that chloramine is safe for plants. This may be the case for some plants, but it is not for African Violets. By combining chlorine with ammonia, the chlorine element is stabilized. This exposes African Violets to more chlorine than they might otherwise be, thus increasing the likelihood that your African Violets will begin to exhibit those symptoms for which chlorine is known.
The only way to know with certainty whether your water contains chloramine is to contact your water supplier. Alternatively, you can have the water tested, although this will normally incur some cost.
The simplest way to treat African Violets, which have been exposed to chloramine, is to simply begin using an alternative source of water. If this is not possible, there are two ways which may help eliminate or, at least, significantly reduce the amount of the chlorine element.
First, you may want to try exposing your water to sunlight. Normally, it is enough to allow chlorinated water to stand overnight, since chlorine by itself will simply be absorbed by the air. However, when combined with ammonia, as in the case of chloramine, the chlorine is not allowed to escape in this way. As a solution, let the water stand outside where it is exposed to several hours of sunlight. While we have not tested this ourselves, it is said that the sunlight will break down the chloramine, so that the chlorine gas can escape.
Second, you may want to use carbon filtration. The carbon contained in household water filters will neutralize the chlorine. Specifically, you will need a granular activated carbon (GAC) filter. This is the type of filter contained in most water purification products.
Never use water which contains chloramine. If no alternative water source is available, try using one of the methods, described under "Treatment," to eliminate or reduce the amount of chloramine in the water that your African Violets receive.
For more about water quality and African Violets, see "Caring for African Violets."
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