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Using Vitamin C To Neutralize Chlorine in Water

Photo of two water tanks sitting side-by-side.

The tech tip, Using Vitamin C to Neutralize Chlorine in Water Systems (0523–1301P–SDTDC), addresses safety concerns of sanitation engineers and operators of water and wastewater systems.

Seasonal water systems must be sanitized for safe human use at the beginning of each season. Often, a strong chlorine solution is added to the water to kill bacteria and other organisms. If this water is allowed to enter a lake or stream, it can kill fish and other aquatic life. This water could upset the bacterial balance in a septic system or small wastewater treatment plant if the water were directed there.

Over time, air and sunlight would neutralize chlorine in tanks or ponds, but chemical treatments are much faster. Although sulfur compounds can be used as dechlorinators, sulfur-based chemicals are oxygen scavengers and will lower the amount of oxygen dissolved in water. Many sulfur compounds also are classified as hazardous chemicals.

Vitamin C is a newer chemical method for neutralizing chlorine. It does not lower the dissolved oxygen as much as the sulfur compounds and it isn't toxic to aquatic life at the levels used for dechlorination.

This tech tip reports the results of a series of dechlorination tests using two forms of vitamin C: ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate.

For additional information about using vitamin C to treat water, contact Brenda Land, project leader (phone: 909–599–1267, ext. 219; e-mail:

To order the tech tip, contact Kene Owu, SDTDC publications (phone: 909–599–1267, ext. 235; e-mail:

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