The Alchemy of Copper and Zinc: How Shower Filters Remove Chlorine

How do copper-zinc shower filters remove chlorine from water? This fortuitous, accidental discovery is what makes hot water filtration possible for the shower filters we offer. Copper and zinc are two rather dissimilar metals that, when combined, can produce modern-day alchemy in everyday life.

Copper is a soft, malleable metal that is one of the best conductors of electricity on the planet. Zinc is an extremely hard metal that is an OK conductor of electricity but has far more insulating qualities than copper. The “theater” for this alchemy is in the chlorinated water that comes out of our water tap every day.

As we all know, the disinfection of our water supplies is paramount in order to keep microbial organisms from wreaking havoc in our bodies. I know first-hand that infection with bacteria and parasites can be devastating. I have visited developing nations with high infant mortality rates and seen many children with bloated bellies due to these infectious deceases.

The primary disinfection of water supplies in the U.S. is chlorine, both a blessing and a curse. Chlorine does an excellent job of killing harmful microbes in our water before it reaches our taps but also does great harm to our bodies over an extended period of time; the cumulative effect of chlorine in our drinking and bathing water has been linked to various types of cancer, including that of the colon and bladder. As it kills bacteria in the water, it also initiates a process of cell mutation inside our bodies. Here comes the alchemy.

The power of copper and zinc as an agent to remove chlorine in water was discovered quite by accident in 1984 by Don Heskit. He had a glass of chlorinated water colored pink because it contained chlorine reagent tablets. He observed the color of the water dissipate as he dipped one of his brass pen refills into the glass. It was at this moment that Don realized that the brass pen refill, containing copper and zinc, had some form of potential to absorb impurities from water, in this case chlorine.

What he uncovered was the age-old dissimilarities of these two metals act oppositely in the presence of moving water to become an electrolytic cell or battery. The soft, highly conductive property of copper readily becomes the cathode – or negative pole – of the compound, while zinc, with its hard and more insular property becomes the anode, or positive pole. Hence, the result of these two elements is the creation of a microvolt of electricity, enough to excite the outer electrons of highly unstable chlorine, break their bonds, and readily attach them to the copper-zinc compound.

In essence, a new compound is created in the process; zinc and cupric chloride, which is a chelate or body salt. So, where at the beginning there was chlorine, a harmful, toxic substance, in the end there is a chloride or harmless body salt. Since the 1990’s, copper and zinc have been effectively used to remove harmful chlorine in many of our water applications for drinking and shower water filters, for bath filters, and even for garden water filters. We have seen a wide use of it especially for showering and bathing where our bodies, with their millions of skin pores wide open in hot water, absorb more chlorine in a single shower or bath than is absorbed in drinking 8 glasses of chlorinated water. It’s for this reason that copper-zinc shower filters should be your first line of defense against chlorine.

The performance of copper and zinc as an excellent method of de-chlorinating because it actually catalyzes in the presence of hot water, making it the perfect solution for showers and baths. Copper and zinc have fulfilled the promise of the ancient “philosopher’s stone” as modern day alchemy in our everyday lives.