Chloramines - How to Eliminate Chloramines After Swimming

April 08, 2014

Chloramines and Swimming

Chloramines cause health problems for swimmers.  The problems can be severe, often called “chlorine allergy” or “chlorine sensitivity.”  Some physical symptoms include itchiness and dryness, breathing problems, rash, hives, etc..  U.S.A. Swimming has discussed how chloramines are responsible for the "air quality issue."  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has explained that chloramines are a "chemical irritant," responsible for "stinging eyes, nasal irritation, or difficulty breathing after being in the water...."  The Atlantic just reported on some new work published by the American Chemical Society, showing how peeing in the pool causes chloramine problems.  Entire businesses have emerged with the purpose of eliminating chloramines from the air surrounding aquatic facilities.  See Paddock Evacuator.

The whole point of SwimSpray is that it neutralizes chloramines from hair and skin.  SwimSpray gets pool odor out of swimmers’ hair and skin by eliminating chloramines.  (When chlorine bonds to hair and skin it forms a layer of chloramines).  Here are 4 facts about chloramines that explain why all swimmers should rinse with vitamin C after swimming:

  1. Chloramines cause unwanted side effects for many swimmers. See above.
  2. Everyone agrees that chloramines are primarily responsible for swimmers' hair, skin, lung and eye problems. See above.
  3. Swimmers’ leave the pool covered in chloramines because pool chlorine reacts with human hair and skin, bonding to it.
  4. Vitamin C neutralizes chloramines.  See wiki("Ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate completely neutralizes both chlorine and chloramines but degrades in a day or two, which make it usable only for short-term applications.")

1. Chloramines cause unwanted side effects for many swimmers. 

Chloramines bond to the swimmers' hair and skin and do not wash away with conventional showering.  In the day(s) that follow, chloramines get released onto the hair and skin (this is why swimmers' report smelling like chlorine, especially when sweating).  

Once released, chloramines are irritating to hair and skin.  They can also irritate the eyes when released in confined areas.  

2. Experts agree that “chloramines” are primarily responsible for swimmers' hair, skin, lung and eye problems.  

People don't like ChloramineMost people refer to chloramine problems as chlorine problems.  Most people are actually complaining about chloramines.  This wording really upsets some people.  We often use the words somewhat interchangeably with the understanding that chlorinated pools lead to chloramines, which irritate people.  It's a technical point. 

Here’s the difference: chlorine is the chemical that we add to the pool.  The chlorine turns into chloramine because people bathe and pee in the pool.  (Sweat, cosmetics, and urine have nitrogen in them, which reacts with chlorine to make chloramines).  Those chloramines can be very harmful and irritating.

Here’s how it happens: We add chlorine to the pool.  Then swimmers’ add nitrogen to the pool.  (Swimmers’ hair and skin are made from nitrogen (protein); and swimmers excrete urea, which has nitrogen.  Chlorine reacts with nitrogen to make chloramines.  These chloramines smell and cause problems for swimmers.

3. Swimmers leave swimming pools covered in chloramines.  

Swimmers’ hair and skin are made from molecules having nitrogen.  That nitrogen (the hair and skin) reacts with the pool chlorine.  The chlorine reacts with the nitrogen of the hair and skin to make chloramines, which remain bonded to the hair and skin.  This bond makes them very difficult to wash away.  

The swimmer leaves the pool still covered chloramines.  During the course of the day the chloramines get released.  This is especially noticeable when sweating.  Many swimmers notice that they seem to sweat chlorine. (Again, it’s chloramines.  And, you’re not sweating it.  Technically it was there since you left the pool.  You’re just freeing it now).

4. Vitamin C neutralizes the chloramines.

Rinsing the hair and skin with concentrated vitamin C instantly destroys the chloramine.  Many “vitamin C serums” provide concentrated vitamin C.  They are usually sold as health and beauty products and marketed for their anti-aging benefits.  (Technically speaking, SwimSpray is probably the best value available for any vitamin C serum on the market).  

SwimSpray’s goal is to provide sufficient vitamin C with as few “other” ingredients as possible.  With SwimSpray, people continue using their favorite shampoos, soaps, conditioners, etc..  They just add vitamin C during the process.  We’ve basically bottled the answer to chloramine problems, but only the answer.  I really like the simplicity of the solution, especially since the problem plagued the swimming community for so long.  

Ironically, SwimSpray was actually a real challenge to develop.  We had to work really hard to get the concentration and pH perfected.  Getting the SwimSpray recipe wrong can be bad: DIY SwimSpray can burn skin, damage and, and sting eyes.  Also, if stored in a sealed container, it may explode.  Simply dissolving vitamin C in water (without adjusting the pH) does not make a stable vitamin C solution. 

5. Chloramine Conclusions

Chloramines (not chlorine) should probably be the scapegoat for all of swimmers' health problems.  Technically speaking, chloramines (often mistakenly called "chlorine") are the chemicals responsible for the smell, irritation, damage, itching, and other health problems.  When swimmers use chlorinated pools, they generated chloramines.  Those chloramines are irritating during swimming (especially in the air).  But, those chloramines also linger on hair and skin because they form a chemical bond to hair and skin.  Most swimmers leave the pool covered in chloramines.  To the extent that chloramine is considered a harmful irritant, swimmers would all be better off washing the chloramines away from hair and skin after swimming.  This can be easily accomplished with a vitamin C spray, like SwimSpray.


Why do I know (and care) so much about this topic?  Fair question.  Here's a video explaining my story of learning how to solve swimmers' chloramine (aka "lingering chlorine") problems.

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