What Is Nitrate & How to Remove Nitrate from Your Water?

How water is treated to remove impurities like nitrates have been enhanced such that that the nitrate removal process is relatively simple. However, using the best nitrate removal method to rid your water of nitrates is more important. The reason is that water properties and several other factors will determine how you can remove the nitrate in water, the effects in your plumbing system, as well as how effective the nitrate removal process will be.

For example, typical filters like Britas, PUR, fridge filters, or other forms of carbon filters cannot remove nitrates from water. We recommend that you contact a good water treatment professional like Plumber Mate for the best advice on how to remove nitrate from your water.

What is Nitrate?

In nature, nitrates are compounds formed when nitrogen reacts with oxygen or ozone. It is a major component of the air we breathe and essential for all living things. However, high amounts of nitrates in the water you use can pose some health risks, especially in infants and pregnant women. Nitrates are used for fertilizers to improve crop production. They are also released to the environment through smokes and exhaust fumes from industries or automobiles.

Problems of Nitrates in the Water

The health effects of nitrate in water include blue blood syndrome, stomach cancer, colon cancer, and congenital disabilities (birth defects). Other problems associated with nitrates in water are gastric or bladder cancer and thyroid problems. These health concerns are mainly related to the conversation of nitrate to nitrite (another inorganic form of nitrogen).

The U.S EPA set a nitrate limit of 10 milligrams per liter for drinking water. Although the nitrate level in drinking water may be low, it could increase with increasing agricultural activities, which is why it is recommended that the underground water nitrate level be tested regularly to check for possible increased concentration.

How Nitrates Get into Water

According to the EPA, nitrates contaminates drinking water through runoff from fertilizer use, leakages from sewage or septic tank, and erosion of natural deposits.

Nitrate often enters drinking water through erosion and seepage of natural deposits on the earth surface. Generally, they do not cause any severe health issues. However, when activities like manure and fertilizer application increase the concentration, which are then transported into water bodies and through the soil to underground water, nitrates in water becomes a cause for concern. When this nitrate is ingested via food or water, it is converted to nitrites, which is hazardous to health.

How High is the Nitrate Level of Your Water

Perhaps, you have heard news reports or complaints from your neighbors about nitrate-contaminated water supply, and you find yourself wondering about the nitrate level in your water. Since nitrate is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless water contaminant, the surest way to determine how high your water nitrate level is would be through a lab test. You can find a local water treatment professional near you to test your water for nitrate.

If you get water supply from a water treatment plant, it is expected that the water must have been treated to meet the EPA guidelines for contamination levels. However, the problem of nitrate contamination could arise as the water is transported to your home through underground pipes. And the fact is that most homes are completely unaware of the nitrate level of their water.

Removing Nitrate from Your Drinking Water

Nitrate may be successfully removed from your water through water treatment processes like ion exchange, distillation, and reverse osmosis.

Just like some other chemical contaminants, heating or boiling your water will not remove nitrate. This is because as some of the water evaporates during the boiling process, the nitrate concentration also increases. Disinfection processes like chlorination, as well as the use of mechanical water filters and standard water softeners,  do not remove nitrate from water.

Even after installing a water treatment device for your water supply, also remember to test the water regularly, at least once a year, to ensure that you have completely taken care of the problem.

How to Remove Nitrate from Your Water

Nitrates are extremely soluble in water. Hence, they are a bit difficult to remove from the water, which is why the treatment of water for nitrate removal is typically expensive and complicated. Demineralization is one method that has been proven to remove nitrates and other minerals from water. Distillation and reverse osmosis are the two common types of demonetization processes. Below are the ways you can remove nitrate from your water.


Water distillation systems work by removing the dissolved chemical substances from the water and can be placed under the counter or on kitchen countertops. However, there are a few limitations to using this method of removing nitrates. The system produces only a small amount of water daily. Plus, the cost of use is on the high side, as it requires a significant amount of energy to boil the water in the first place.

Reverse Osmosis

In a reverse osmosis system, the home water pressure forces the water through a membrane, which filters out nitrates and other minerals. For a home setting, a point-of-sale reverse osmosis system is usually installed near the kitchen sink. Unlike the distillation method, the reverse osmosis is cost-effective and produces up to 100 gallons of water or more per day. It is important to note that the removal of minerals from water could affect the taste of the water.

Ion Exchange

The ion exchange process works the same way water softening works. Most of the time, the nitrate contaminant is exchanged with chlorides. A typical ion exchange system is a tank that contains resins that are charged with chlorides. When water containing nitrates flow through the tank, the resins absorb the nitrates and replaces it with chloride. As time progresses, all the chloride will eventually be exchanged for nitrates. The resins, which have become laden with a high concentration of nitrate, later backwash with brine for reuse. The backwash brine, now high in nitrate, must be treated and disposed of properly to avoid recontamination of underground water.

One other common way to reduce the level of nitrate in household water is to dilute the nitrate-contaminated water by blending it with another water source that is low in nitrate contamination. The blend results in an overall low concentration of nitrate, although still categorized as unsafe for children and infants by health organizations.

Whole House Nitrate Removal

When it comes to the application of a nitrate removal technique for the whole house, distillation and reverse osmosis may seem far-fetched. Most people who seek to remove nitrate at the point of entry of water to their homes tend to adopt the ion exchange option, and the nitrate-selective ion exchange filter is the best way to remove nitrate from your whole house water supply.

We are here to assist you every step of the way to get rid of nitrate from your water. For advice and more information about the best nitrate removal device for your home water supply, contact us at once. Apart from the portable water treatment devices that we offer, our services also cover installations of water treatment systems to ensure that your water is clean and safe for all household purposes.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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