How to Get Rid of Iron in Well Water, One of the most typical contaminants that well-meaning owners deal with is iron. Iron leaves a trail of stains, discoloration, and bad tastes in its wake, from murky-colored drinking glasses to bright orange streaks in toilets and bathtubs.
Although it is one of the most frequent problems with water quality that well owners encounter, there are many ways to get rid of this unwanted mineral from your water.
How To Remove Iron from Well Water
What causes iron to enter well water?
The main way that iron gets into the water in your well is by seeping in from the earth’s crust. Since iron is the most prevalent mineral in the earth’s crust, owners all over the world have to deal with its omnipresent annoyance. Heavy rainfall that percolates through the soil dissolves iron, which is then carried into underground aquifers.
Iron is introduced to well water sources as snowmelt seeps through the earth and into groundwater reserves. Iron is one of the most abundant and widely distributed natural resources on the planet, making up over 5% of its crust. As a result, no matter how meticulously a homeowner maintains their well, iron will inevitably be present in the well water. Three different forms of iron can be found in wells: ferric, ferrous, and bacterial. A different iron filter or treatment method is required for each form of iron.
Your well water supply may also contain iron if it comes into contact with corroded, rusted plumbing. Old iron fixtures and corroded iron pipes will leave orange drain stains and brown flecks in your water. Your well’s iron casings will eventually start to rust.
Iron starts to oxidize and deteriorate when it is exposed to oxygen and water. This is due to the fact that iron corrodes and turns into rust when exposed to the elements for an extended period of time. The pipes coming from your well can be replaced to fix this. Drilling a new well from scratch can solve your iron problems if your current well is old and in poor condition.
What kind of damage can iron in water cause to your home?
As little as 3ppm of iron will cause your pipes to become clogged, lower your water pressure at home, ruin the flavor of your tea and coffee, and leave bright-colored stains on your appliances (parts-per-million).
Even though iron is rarely found in concentrations greater than 10 ppm, its capacity to harm organisms so severely and visibly at such low levels makes it a particularly challenging contaminant to deal with.
Appliances with stains
Iron is infamous for leaving rough stains in its wake. Any appliance connected to your well will start to discolor after being exposed to iron-rich water. You’ll notice bright orange streaks in your toilet bowl.
Your sinks’ rims and the area around the drains will start to show bright red and yellow trails. The bright discoloration caused by iron concentrations in water will be visible in bathtubs and showers. Even after being washed in water that contains iron, your dishes and laundry may still develop unsightly brown and red stains.
Water with metallic and rusty hues
Even at very low concentrations, iron imparts a metallic aftertaste and gives water an unappealing hue. Water also has a strong, unpleasant smell due to iron. The cool glass of water you pour from the kitchen sink may turn brown, orange, red, or yellow due to the well’s iron content.
Additionally, any beverage made with water (such as tea, coffee, and espresso) will have a bitter, metallic aftertaste. Any food cooked in iron-contaminated water will darken and have a lingering taste of filth and earth, whether it is boiled pasta or steamed vegetables. Water also has a strong, unpleasant smell due to iron.
Iron residue can build up inside your plumbing as it passes through your pipes and start to obstruct the flow of water throughout the house. This will result in decreased water pressure throughout your house, clogged sinks and toilets, and decreased appliance performance. Dropping showerhead pressure will result in inadequate water flow.
Iron from bacteria is particularly nasty and can lead to the worst clogging issues. Bacterial iron leaves behind a thick, brown slime that builds up in pipes, which can lead to fluctuating water pressure and promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Iron build-up will damage any water-using appliance, including your dishwasher and sprinkler system, which will force early and expensive replacements.
Skin and hair stains
The same way that iron can leave stains on your sinks and dishes, it can also do the same to the human body. If you take a shower in water with a lot of iron, your hair will turn orange, and the heavy mineral content will make it dry and lifeless.
Your skin may turn red if you take a bath in iron-rich water. Water with a high mineral content harms the skin in addition to drying out the hair. High iron intakes can also worsen skin conditions like eczema and acne by drying out the pores.
Learn more about issues with hard water and acidic well water.
Is drinking water with iron harmful?
Low iron intake is not harmful and won’t have a negative effect on your health. The EPA regulates iron as a secondary contaminant. Secondary contaminants are impurities that have undesirable aesthetic and cosmetic effects, such as bad tastes and stains, but are not thought to be ingestible.
Iron helps produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body, and is crucial to a healthy, balanced diet. Eggs, spinach, lentils, and shrimp are all foods high in iron that give your body this necessary mineral.
Toxic effects are possible if you consume iron at very high concentrations. An inherited medical condition called hemochromatosis keeps your intestines from properly absorbing iron.
Lethargy, weight loss, mental confusion, and liver cirrhosis can all be symptoms of hemochromatosis. However, since hemochromatosis is a hereditary condition, it cannot be acquired by drinking iron-rich well water.
The three kinds of iron that are present in well water
Three different types of iron may be present in your well water. Understanding the different types of iron that are present in your well in detail and accurately is necessary before you can remove it. Depending on its form, iron poses specific problems that require a variety of answers.
You need to know exactly what form the iron is in in order to remove it. A water test will show you precisely what conditions you are dealing with and give you the most direct path forward. You can also get a more general idea of the parts per million of iron present in your well by using iron test strips.
Ferric iron is 1
Ferric iron is insoluble iron because the iron minerals have not completely dissolved in water. Your well likely contains a significant amount of ferric iron if your water has a bright orange or red coloration. Bacterial iron is the easiest form of iron to remove from your well because it is in precipitate form.
How can I get my well water to be free of ferric iron?
1. Filters for sediment
The iron precipitate that has formed in the water is capable of being removed by a sediment filter with a sub-micron rating. Sediment filters let water pass freely through them while preventing the entry of solid particles into the home’s plumbing.
Thanks to sediment filters, the water in your house won’t become contaminated by dirt, debris, or cloudiness. Ensure that your sediment filter has a micron rating that is small enough to effectively capture the iron.
For the purpose of removing ferric iron from their well water supply, many well owners favor natural cotton string-wound sediment filters. Since all of the iron in this solution is in ferric form, it is perfect for people with low iron levels. If your well also contains ferrous iron in addition to ferric iron, a sediment filter will not be enough to remove the stains from your toilets or the metallic taste from your water.
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2 ferric iron
Because ferrous iron is soluble iron, it has completely dissolved in water. Ferrous iron will appear crystal clear in a glass. Even though ferrous does not become apparent right away, as soon as the water is exposed to atmospheric conditions and oxidizes, it turns into ferric and begins to precipitate.
In other words, if you left that glass of clear water out on a shelf over night, you would find reddish-brown flakes at the bottom of the glass when you woke up. Ferrous iron still has staining qualities and will affect the flavor and odor of your water even though it is not immediately visible. In deep wells, where the water hasn’t been exposed to as much sunlight and the iron hasn’t oxidized, ferrous iron is frequently found.
How do I get the iron out of my well?
Softeners for water
Low concentrations of ferrous iron in the water can be easily removed by ion-exchange water softeners. Through ion exchange, in which sodium ions are traded for positively charged mineral ions, water softeners are primarily used to remove hardness minerals from water.
Iron is a positively charged cation, and like calcium and magnesium ions, it will be drawn to the spherical anion resin beads and exchanged for a sodium ion. To keep your water softener from getting clogged with iron slugs, a sediment pre-filter will be required if there is any ferric iron in the water.
Additionally, water softeners are the most effective at removing iron from hard water. For the ion exchange to effectively remove iron from the water, there needs to be a suitable ratio between water hardness and iron.
An oxidizing filter will work better to lower the iron content of your water if you have soft water. In order to safeguard the system and guarantee the durability of the resin beads, if you are using a water softener to lower the iron content, you must periodically flush the resin bed and system with Rust Out.
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Greensand with manganese
Converting ferrous iron to ferric iron and then removing it from the water is one of the most popular and efficient ways to remove ferrous iron. These techniques are employed by oxidizing filters, which are water treatment systems. Greensand, which is made of manganese, is a potent oxidizer.
Iron and manganese are oxidized out of a dissolved form and transformed into solid particulate matter when they come into contact with the media. The manganese greensand media then draws the precipitated ferric iron out of the water, preventing it from entering the house.
This medium must occasionally be back-washed with potassium permanganate, a purple powder. Potassium permanganate regenerates the greensand media, regaining its ability to oxidize, as well as flushing the iron flecks that have been gathered down the toilet.
Potassium permanganate should be handled carefully because it can irritate the skin and eyes, just like any strong chemical agent. Manganese greensand can remove up to 15 ppm of iron from well water.
Another oxidizing medium used to remove dissolved iron from well water supplies is birm. Birm does not need a chemical oxidizing agent to remove the iron, unlike manganese greensand. Birm, however, only functions in water with high pH levels.
As a result, birch is typically used in systems along with calcite. In this application, calcite media raises the pH of the water, allowing the birm media to effectively oxidize the ferrous iron and remove it from the water.
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KDF is a high-purity granular zinc bacteriostatic medium with bold claims for chlorine reduction. KDF filters are also effective at lowering heavy metals. To transform ferrous iron into insoluble ferric iron oxide and remove it from the water, many inline iron filter cartridges use KDF media.
Low water volumes and low flow rates are ideal conditions for KDF filters. These filters function most effectively when mounted in a Big Blue filter housing and placed at the water’s point of entry into your home because prolonged contact time is crucial to the KDF oxidation process.
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3 bacterial iron
The most challenging and harmful form that iron can take in your body is bacterial iron. When bacteria in the well bond with the iron, it results in “bacterial iron.” Bacterial iron looks like tomato soup and is a bright red sludge.
The main reason that bacterial iron accumulates in wells is due to improper well servicing or poor maintenance. For instance, bacteria could be introduced if your well pump was serviced but the pump was not thoroughly sanitized before being returned to the well. The bacteria would then bond with the iron.
Bacterial iron will clog your well pump, clog your plumbing fixtures, stick to the inside of pipes, and leave a slimy, red residue in your toilet bowl and tank. Water softeners, sediment prefilters, and water booster pumps will all be damaged by bacterial iron. Although bacterial iron by itself is not harmful, it can promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria that are harmful.
How can I clean my well of bacterial iron?
It takes a lot of work to get bacterial iron out of your well, but it’s well worth it to get rid of the invasive, slimy contaminant. To thoroughly disinfect both the water and the actual well, shock chlorination injects a high concentration of chlorine (around 200 ppm) into the well.
To achieve satisfactory results, the entire depth of the well must be exposed to shock chlorination. Included in this are the well’s entire depth, its walls, the well pump, and the pressure and distribution systems.
By shocking the well, you can get rid of the bacteria that is tying the iron together and then use a softener, oxidizer, or sediment filter to collect the remaining iron. A continuous chlorination system may need to be installed after your retention tank if shocking your well is unable to completely remove the bacterially bound iron.
FAQ: How to Get Rid of Iron in Well Water
How can iron be effectively removed from well water?
The best way to get rid of this and, if your well water contains it, sand, mica, dirt, or sediment, is to filter it. The Kinetico® Mach Super Kit cartridge filter may occasionally be able to remove ferric iron. A chemical-free backwashing filter is a better filtration choice when levels are high.
How can iron be inexpensively removed from well water?
Disinfecting your well water is a low-cost way to get rid of any type of iron present in it. The least expensive and most efficient way to do this is to combine white vinegar with any type of household bleach. Check the water in your well for any iron, bacteria, or microbes before beginning the disinfection process.
How can iron be naturally removed from water?
Serious health problems like diarrhea, cholera, recurrent cholic infections, and even weakened immunity can be brought on by iron in water. The various methods for removing iron from water are as follows: Chlorination is in shock. Oxidation by chemicals Filtration using catalysis The phosphate process uses oxygenation filters. Softeners for water filters remove iron.
What filter gets rid of iron in water?
Using an iron filter is the only risk-free and efficient way to remove iron from water. Magnesium, hydrogen sulfide, and both forms of iron can all be eliminated by a Katolox filtration system from well water.
Is it safe to drink iron-containing well water?
Iron in well water is regarded by the Environmental Protection Agency as a secondary contaminant, which means it has no immediate effect on health. The EPA’s secondary maximum contaminant level is 0.3 milligrams per liter, but this is only a recommendation and not a legal requirement.
Is it safe to drink water that contains iron?
Similar to how salt in your body does not harm your water supply, iron out of your body does not harm your drinking water. Water passes through a mineral bed in every softener. Iron and hardness from the water are captured by the mineral bed.
What natural means are there to purify well water?
Yes, boiling well water is the most reliable way to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Heat the water to a full, swirling boil before using it to ensure its safety. Before using the water, let the swirling boil continue for at least a minute. The boiled water should be kept in the refrigerator in a tidy, covered container.
What amount of iron can a water softener get rid of?
The majority of water softeners are only rated to remove 1 mgGARINGL (one part per million) of contaminants. However, the majority of the U.S. has more iron than that. Some American states’ water sources contain up to 20 ppm of iron.
How can iron in groundwater be reduced?
Oxidation, followed by sedimentation and filtration, is the suggested treatment to remove iron. Aeration and settling (Figure 1), chlorination, and the use of potassium permanganate are some of the techniques used.
Is well water that has too much iron harmful?
How Do They Affect Your Health? While a small amount of iron cannot be harmful to your health, it does contain bacteria. Additionally, a high iron content in the water results in an overload that can result in diabetes, hemochromatosis, stomach issues, and nausea. The liver, pancreas, and heart can all be harmed by it.
Does well water iron get removed by aeration?
Iron and manganese can be precipitated and removed using aeration before filtration. Aeration increases pH by taking carbon dioxide out of the water.
Will iron be removed by a whole-house filter?
The best way to remove ferrous iron from water is with a whole-house iron-removal water filter system. Your choice of water filter will depend on how much iron you need to remove. A whole-house water softener from Clearwater Systems can remove iron in some homes.
Is iron removed from water by Brita?
Seamlessly. The iron and manganese removal and water softening processes are seamlessly integrated by Brita PRO® iron filtration water softener systems.
The ideal filter for well water is what?
Express Water’s 3-Stage Whole-House Bucket Water Filtration is the best overall. iSpring 3-Stage Whole House Water Filter: The Best Value The Aquasana Whole House Water Filter is ideal for hard water. Pentair’s whole-house water treatment and disinfection is best for eliminating bacteria.