Ask a Question forum: Tap water?

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Greater Manchester
nessa76
Mar 17, 2018 3:11 PM CST
Is chlorine in tap water, good or harmful for watering fruits/and or vegetables?

Thanks
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Mar 17, 2018 3:43 PM CST
nessa - I have "tap" or chlorinated water. Personally, I try to avoid it when watering any plants if possible. I don't want to interfere with any of the "good" bugs in the soil. I do have 3 rain barrels though. If I time it right, I can get water out of the rain barrels even in the winter and just fill up multiple jugs to last me through the really cold spells when the barrels freeze up. Sometimes, though, I do have to resort to tap water rather than let things go dry.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Greater Manchester
nessa76
Mar 17, 2018 3:52 PM CST
Shadegardener said:nessa - I have "tap" or chlorinated water. Personally, I try to avoid it when watering any plants if possible. I don't want to interfere with any of the "good" bugs in the soil. I do have 3 rain barrels though. If I time it right, I can get water out of the rain barrels even in the winter and just fill up multiple jugs to last me through the really cold spells when the barrels freeze up. Sometimes, though, I do have to resort to tap water rather than let things go dry.


Thanks, there's a lot of contradictory over the internet, some saying it's okay and others saying not. I think I might boil water in a pan for 15/20 minutes to get rid of the chlorine if advisable, or if not, let the water sit for 24 hours!

Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Mar 17, 2018 4:30 PM CST
nessa - one thing that I do when starting seeds or cuttings is to used distilled water. I can buy it at the grocery for about $1US or less per gallon. I know there's a lot of contradiction on tap water use but I guess it's a personal preference of mine not to use it if possible. I used to let tap water sit for at least 24 hours for the chlorine to dissipate but I've read that, depending on the form of chlorine used to treat the water, it may not.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Mar 17, 2018 4:30 PM CST
I'm not sure if different cities have different levels of chlorine in their water but it is possible that some tap water may be more highly chlorinated than others, depending on city/county/state regulations.

Many people do fill jugs or pitchers with tap water and let them sit for at least 24 hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate before using it but sometimes tap water can contain traces of metals and other chemicals that may not dissipate. Tap water can contain chlorine as well as fluoride, calcium and other minerals. If you use tap water to continuously water your plants, at some point you will probably see a white crusty film on top of the soil which is due to salt build up in the soil. Plants with salt build up should be flushed with clear water to remove those unwanted salts. Fertilizer dissolved in water is also a soluble salt, which can build up in the soil and cause issues.

I used to buy bottled distilled water for my house plants but that began to get expensive as I began to collect more and more houseplants, so years ago when my husband installed a RO (Reverse Osmosis) system for use in the aquarium, I began using that water for my indoor plants. The filtration system is beneath the sink in the laundry room so I always fill my watering can or pitcher from that faucet for use on my indoor plants.

There are also filtration systems that can be attached to a kitchen faucet which will filter out a lot of unwanted stuff and many people use rain barrel(s) to collect water. I don't have a rain barrel so sometimes, on rainy days I will sit a couple of 5 gal buckets out to collect rain for my plants. Smiling
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 17, 2018 5:32 PM CST
The conventional wisdom has it that because most municipal water supplies have small amounts of chlorine and fluoride added it is best to let tap water stand overnight in an open container before using it.

In truth, both chlorine and fluoride can cause damage to certain plant species. However, the levels of concentration of both these substances in water supplies are so low that they are unlikely to damage even the most sensitive of plants. Heavily chlorinated swimming pool water, however, is concentrated enough to cause plant damage.

Although some chlorine does dissipate into the air from an open container, it is unclear if enough dissipates overnight to make a difference. Fluoride does not dissipate, it concentrates as the water stands and evaporates. Other than swimming pool water, neither chlorine nor fluoride additives to tap water should be a problem for your plants. Letting water stand in open containers offers no benefits.

Of greater concern is tap water that is hard, meaning having high mineral content that makes soap lathering difficult. That mineral content can concentrate in pot soil after repeated waterings and burn tender plant roots. In that case, it is best to use filtered or distilled water. Letting hard water stand overnight will not help.

Chemically softened water is also high in mineral content that can damage plant roots.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Greater Manchester
nessa76
Mar 17, 2018 5:41 PM CST
Shadegardener said:nessa - one thing that I do when starting seeds or cuttings is to used distilled water. I can buy it at the grocery for about $1US or less per gallon. I know there's a lot of contradiction on tap water use but I guess it's a personal preference of mine not to use it if possible. I used to let tap water sit for at least 24 hours for the chlorine to dissipate but I've read that, depending on the form of chlorine used to treat the water, it may not.


Thanks, I will buy distilled water from now on, I obviously don't want to kill off my plants.



Greater Manchester
nessa76
Mar 17, 2018 5:44 PM CST
Thanks everyone for your answers and comments, it's really appreciated!
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Mar 17, 2018 6:14 PM CST
Type your postal code into this page and will give you the chemical composition of your water.
It appears yours has chlorine and not chloramine so if you let it stand the chlorine will come out; this for the most part does not work with chloramine.
Chlorine dissapates quickly, Chloramine does not.

https://www.unitedutilities.co...

This is from the University of Illinois:
Water for our Plants & Garden Questions for Indoor Plants
This column was written by Marsha Overton, Coles County Master Gardener.

You know the easier our lives are supposed to be the more complicated they seem. Take water for instance. We no longer have to go to the well with buckets to retrieve this precious thing. Instead all we have to do is turn on the faucet. (I must admit I never had to go to the well....and I am very glad I didn't.) For those of you who have heard, you should leave your tap water out for 24 hours so the fluoride and chlorine can dissipate before watering your plants. I wasn't really sure why they used these two additives together when discussing tap water for plants, but they do. After checking this out a little further I came up with some interesting facts.

First of all, fluoride does not dissipate and probably is not harmful to our plants. Also, chlorine hasn't proven to be a problem at all, according to a propagation manager at one our state botanical gardens. Very likely, the reason chlorine rarely causes trouble in the tap water used for plants, is that in the course of moving through the municipal system, most of it volatilizes, that is, escapes into the air in the form of gas. Chlorine just doesn't remain long, which is why it has to be added repeatedly to swimming pools. That said, please take note–some municipalities add heavier doses of chlorine, or add them closer to the end user. So, it is suggested to let your nose be your guide. If you smell chlorine go ahead and age the water–it won't hurt and besides it really is best to have lukewarm water for watering.

While I am on the subject of water, I thought I would take it a couple of steps further concerning "softened water" and "recycled water". The things that make water hard are minerals like calcium and magnesium. Water softeners remove these minerals (which plants like) by exchanging them for the sodium part of the salt (sodium chloride) that is found in the softener. Not enough sodium goes into the water to affect its taste, but there is much more than would be there naturally.

Sodium is a very active chemical. It also exchanges places with the potassium in plants cells, which is necessary for dozens of cell enzyme functions. When potassium is replaced by sodium, these functions can't happen and the plant can die. Different species have different tolerances, but eventually the sodium build-up will get to all but those that grow naturally at the seashore.

Now about "recycled water" for our plants. I am talking about water that is removed from the air by a dehumidifier. This sounds like a great idea. In fact, some indoor gardeners have suggested to "broadcast" the water. But according to several manufacturers of dehumidifiers, they do not advise re-using the water from these machines for anything. One reason for not using the water is that if you use a solvent to clean your dehumidifier then these cleaners could contain some chemicals harmful to plants.

If you want to use the water then use it on a plant to experiment only. .


[Last edited by RpR - Mar 17, 2018 6:34 PM (+)]
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Greater Manchester
nessa76
Mar 17, 2018 6:34 PM CST
Thanks RpR, that has been a great help, it seems with my postcode my chlorine level is 0.4 and low in fluoride, that's if I've read it correcly.

I was still buy distilled water from now on though, better to be safe than sorry!
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 17, 2018 7:57 PM CST
Thanks all. I never really thought about tap water and my plants. I do think about not wanting to water them in the sink. Don't want dirt to eventually clog my drains.

I'm guessing that water from outside faucets is different.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Mar 17, 2018 8:01 PM CST
Unless you have a system installed for indoor use, it will be the same as the outdoor water.
Greater Manchester
nessa76
Mar 18, 2018 10:18 AM CST
I've just been to my local store, got 8 bottles of distilled water, hopefully I see a big difference with my plants!

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