Turbidity reduction by coagulation-flocculation in drinking water reduces microbes and organic matter, increasing effectiveness of downstream treatment. Chitosan is a promising household water coagulant, but needs parameters for use. This study tested the effects of chitosan dose, molecular weight (MW), degree of deacetylation (DD), and functional groups on bentonite and kaolinite turbidity reduction in model household drinking water. Higher MW or DD produced greater reductions. Highest reductions were at doses 1 and 3 mg/L by MW >50,000 or >70% DD (residual turbidity <5 NTU). Higher doses did not necessarily continually increase reduction. For functional groups, 3 mg/L produced the highest reductions by lactate, acetate, and HCl, and lower reductions of kaolinite than bentonite. Doses where the point of zero charge was observed clustered around 3 mg/L. Chitosan reduced clay turbidity in water; effectiveness was influenced by dose, clay type, MW, DD, and functional groups. Reduction did not necessarily increase with MW. Bentonite had a broader effective dose range and higher reduction at the optimal dose than kaolinite. Chitosans with and without functional groups performed similarly. The best of the studied doses was 3 mg/L. Chitosans are promising for turbidity reduction in low-resource settings if combined with sedimentation and/or filtration.

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