Most water taken from well carries a high amount of iron. It results in a metallic taste of water and leaves staining and clogging marks everywhere in the house.
This troublesome situation has made various homeowners so annoyed and frustrated that they even decided to drill a new well. Unfortunately, this is not the best solution.
So, is there anything we can do to deal with this problem? Don’t worry! We have come up with many effective solutions with the help of a simple iron filter.
Iron is a mineral found in soil, sediments, groundwater, and rocks. Iron can naturally appear in rivers, lakes, and underground water or seep into the water source from wastes, ores, and some iron-relating reactions.
When combined with well water, iron exists in two primary forms: the soluble ferrous iron and the insoluble ferric iron. Ferrous iron is colorless while ferric iron is reddish brown.
Different components of iron require different treatments. Besides, another factor like the water pH level can affect the treatment process.
Therefore, the high concentration of iron is considered the second most prevalent problem, after hardness, in using well water.
However, as long as you can detect the water conditions, you will find no difficulties in choosing the best iron filter.
Besides the two primary forms mentioned above, iron also appears in well water in the form of organic iron and bacterial iron.
Also known as clear-water iron, ferrous iron can be found in well water that doesn’t carry oxygen. This compound of iron makes no turbidity or discoloration to the groundwater.
However, once exposed to the air, ferrous iron gradually turns into ferric iron and makes the water cloudy.
Usually known as rust, ferric iron originates from clear-water iron that has been oxidized after exposed to the air.
Hence, ferric iron appears in the oxygen-rich water source and gives the water a red rust color. Unlike ferrous type, it is insoluble and sticky, which causes blockages in the water system.
It is the combination of iron and naturally occurring organic matter found in shallow wells and surface water. It can severely stain the water source. Besides, this combination is very stable, causing difficulties in treatment.
It occurs in water containing iron bacteria. These iron bacteria form red or brown slime in places such as toilet tanks, softeners or filters. They can also cause severe stains, blockages, and odors.
You can quickly determine the high level of iron in your water source by the appearance of a reddish or yellowish color and a taste of iron.
However, to accurately check how much and what type(s) of iron is present in your water supply, you should contact a water quality testing laboratory.
An authorized laboratory will inform you about sampling instructions and containers. You can either send a sample of your water or have a laboratory staff collect the sample.
This method can cost you a significant amount of money. Are there any budget-friendly options?
You can do the testing yourself. There is a wide range of iron water test kits available in the market, but make sure that you test the water taken directly from the well.
And of course, due to its low cost and unprofessional nature, this method doesn’t bring the most accurate result.
As a major component of hemoglobin, iron is an essential trace element for human bodies, but it can be toxic at high doses. So, is iron in well water harmful to your health?
Luckily, it’s quite impossible to drink enough water to reach the toxic level of iron. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regards iron in well water as a secondary pollutant, NOT a health threat.
However, the problem is that iron can affect drinking water appearance and cause severe damage. The acceptable iron level in well water is below 0.3 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or parts per million (ppm).
Above this level, the water will have a rusty color and a metallic taste or smell. High concentrations also leave staining marks on bathroom appliances, clothes and clogging problems in the water system which can be costly to repair.
Designed to remove cations that cause hardness, water softeners can also remove ferrous through an ion exchange process. It can be an effective and economical method to solve iron problems.
Unfortunately, water softeners can only remove a limited amount of iron up to 3 or 5 mg/L, varying to different models of softener. Also, softeners may add some alkali metal to your water.
Even worse, after a while, the iron can block and contaminate the softener resin bed which is very hard to clean. Therefore, a water softener is NOT a perfect solution to iron removal.
High levels of water pH enable ferrous to turn into ferric faster, preventing the softener from achieving the best performance.
On the contrary, low pH levels help expand the softener resin’s lifespan because the contamination is slowing down.
If your water contains different compounds of iron beside ferrous or the concentration of ferrous is higher than 5 mg/L, you shouldn’t use a water softener.
Some compounds can cross the system without being involved in the ion exchange process, causing blockage and rapid contamination of the resin bed.
If the amount of ferrous iron is about 7 to 15 mg/L, you should apply an iron filter. It can remove iron in well water by oxidizing the soluble ferrous iron into the insoluble ferric iron or rust.
Then, the rust will be sorted out, along with ferric that has been in the water from the beginning. There are two common ways to apply this method:
We highly recommend using ozone because it has the most considerable oxidizing potential and doesn’t pollute your water.
However, when using an iron filter, you must backwash and regenerate it once in a while to maintain the work performance.
Iron filters reach the highest potential when the water pH levels stay between 7 and 8.5. Lower levels of pH can damage the filter system. You should add some sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide in case the pH gets too low.
If there is organic matter in your water, you should not use an iron filter. Moreover, iron filters cannot treat iron bacteria in the well water.
For a higher amount of ferrous above 10 mg/L, we suggest using chemical oxidation in combination with a water filter treatment system. It may be the cheapest method for iron removal.
The method is to add the oxidizing agent like chlorine or hydrogen peroxide into the water stream. This agent will then oxidize or destroy the iron in well water within about 20 minutes.
Finally, manganese greensand or activated carbon filter will remove the chlorine or hydrogen peroxide before you use the water. However, this system also requires regular chemical refilling and filter media’s backwashing.
In addition, the chances are that chlorine or hydrogen peroxide may not be entirely removed which can contaminate your water.
This method can remove an amount of ferrous up to 30 mg/L. The principle is to oxidize the iron by injecting air and then use a filter to strain out the precipitates.
Because ferrous converts into ferric iron in the oxygen-rich environment, you can use an injector to pump more air into the water and quicken this conversion.
After that, the iron can be removed using a filter. The biggest drawback of this method is that the sticky ferric can cause clogging in the system.
Another problem is that there is only 20% of oxygen in the air, so probably NOT ALL iron will oxidize.
Now you may have known that a filtration stage can easily get rid of the insoluble ferric iron. Rust water purifier is also a great choice.
However, when the concentrations are 15 mg/L or above, you should apply special treatments.
It is quite challenging to remove organic iron. The best treatment involves the use of an oxidizing chemical paired with a filter. Things can get harder if some iron works as a small-size colloid.
For easier removal, you should use a coagulator to stick the particles together and form bigger ones.
Each type of filter has its advantages and disadvantages. You need to consider carefully to choose the best filter method for yourself.
The requirements to use greensand are:
The most common chemical oxidant used in iron removal is manganese greensand. It has a high removal capacity that can work at high flow rates and requires only average backwash.
It can also oxidize hydrogen sulfide and manganese in the water. Moreover, you can use synthetic greensand as an effective alternative. It’s a granular mineral coated by manganese dioxide.
Synthetic greensand is much lighter and requires less regular backwash. However, greensand regenerates with potassium permanganate, a toxic chemical that can irritate your skin and even reduce fertility.
You can use Birm in these conditions:
Birm can remove iron and manganese in groundwater, but it cannot treat hydrogen sulfide. It works as a catalyst to stimulate reactions between the iron and oxygen dissolved in the water.
The biggest benefit of Birm is that it’s easy to maintain and doesn’t require any regeneration and addition of salt or chemicals.
However, the Birm filters may need pre-oxidation if the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the water is too low.
In such cases, you should apply aerations (injecting air).
Performing best at water pH levels between 7 and 8, this treatment can be useful for not only iron but also manganese and hydrogen sulfide. It’s a black granular with a high catalytic activity that can remove iron by the process of catalytic oxidation.
However, similar to Birm, it requires a certain amount of dissolved oxygen in the water to achieve the best results.
We have discussed about the issues of how to treat ferrous and ferric as well as organic iron in the groundwater.
What about iron bacteria?
Although iron bacteria is NOT harmful to our health, they can make iron problems even worse. When the situation goes out of control, special treatments should be performed.
We can put iron bacteria under control by using chemical treatment, pasteurization, or physical removal. The most commonly-used method is periodic shock chlorination. The process occurs as follows:
To remove the excess chlorine in the water, you should apply a filter media using activated carbon. Please note that this method only controls the number of iron bacteria at an acceptable rate, not thoroughly removes them.
The simplest way to remove iron in your water is to install a filter cartridge. Here is our choice for the best.
For those who don’t know, iSpring is a well-known manufacturer in household appliances, especially for water treatment.
The 2-stage iSpring WGB22BM whole house water filter is one of their leading products.
Why did we vote it is one of the best iron filter?
A recent study showed that this product could remove up to an incredible 98% of iron, sediment, manganese, heavy metals, and other contaminants.
Let’s take a closer look at iron removal. The water filter can reduce iron in your water from 3 ppm to only 0.01 ppm!
And you don’t have to worry about its lifespan. Although the product conducts such a heavy duty, it requires low maintenance and can last up to 3 times longer than greensand!
The product does a great job in removing iron; however, it doesn’t provide similar fantastic effects with hard water. If hardness is another big problem in your water, we suggest you install a water softener before it.
Now you can see that this filter is a great choice to remove iron from your water. Install this product, and you can say goodbye to the costly bottled water.
Our second option for filter cartridge is a product from Home Master.
The 3-stage whole house water filter is a wise choice for households using water from well.
This product has an excellent purification effect. It can remove up to 95% iron, manganese, sediment, chemicals and other pollutants that bring foul tastes and odors.
And the maximum combined pollutants that can be removed is up to 3 ppm. With a high filtration capacity, this product can provide a total of 100,000 gallons of water.
This clean-water supplement is enough for your family of four people for a whole year round. Now feel free to do the washing or take a shower for as long as you want.
However, the water filter is not able to treat iron bacteria in your water. Besides, the product doesn’t work for acidic water which has a pH level under 7, and high chlorine city water.
Overall, the Home Master company did create an outstanding water filter. With this product, the metallic taste and rotten egg smell of water will no longer be your problems.
This product is our final recommendation for the iron filter, and equally worth buying. This one comes from Express Water.
The water filter consists of 3-stage: Sediment, KDF, and Carbon Block. With these specialized stages, the product can remove all heavy metals in your water including chlorine, iron, rust, lead, odors and other contaminants.
Therefore, we vote for this product as the best solution for all types of water. This 3-stage system can purify your water whether it’s from a well or contains high chlorine as city water.
The effects that this product brings about are also incredible. The system can maintain contaminant’s level at only 5 microns. It seems that nothing can get through this excellent filtration.
When using this product, you must change the filter regularly to maintain the excellent taste of water. However, the process is quite messy and exhausted as water can spill all over your house.
In general, the removal effect of this product is so satisfactory that it deserves to be listed in your shopping cart.
Filters alone may not be the perfect solution to your iron problem. So now, we will provide another product list for a combination of filters and softeners.
On top of the list is another iSpring product. The set includes a 6-stage RO filtration system, a water softener with Alkaline Remineralization, and a pump.
An iSpring WGB22BM alone is such an effective option to remove iron, now let’s see how this combination do better.
This large set can filter up to 99% of more than 1,000 pollutants in your water source. What an enormous number ever!
The removed pollutants includes iron, chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, pesticides, and other substances that pollute your drinking water.
And guess what, there is another surprising number relating to this product. The filtration system removes contaminants down to just only 0.0001 microns.
Can you think of any other products that perform better than this?
However, this incredible product has some drawbacks. You will need to repeatedly fill and empty the tank to prevent fouling resin bed and extend the lifespan.
This combo of filter and softener can restore healthy minerals and achieve a natural alkaline balance, while producing a more natural taste. There is no need to hesitate.
The next position in the list belongs to an excellent combination provided by Fleck.
This company has gained its reputation for producing tools and equipment for households. And this product does live up to that reputation.
The removal ability of the filter is quite surprising. It can remove up to 6 -8 ppm of iron, 6 ppm of manganese, and 75 gpg hardness.
You can see that this filter has solved almost all the problems with your water.
What about the water softener?
It has a special fine mesh resin that reaches up to 64,000-grain capacity.
This design has improved the effect of iron removal as well as prolonged the lifespan of the product.
Moreover, the combination includes a Fleck 5600SXT digital metered valve, which has been the pride of Fleck company over the past few years.
This addition makes the removal process easier and more convenient than ever.
Please note that because this system has a huge grain capacity, it will consume lots of salt which is necessary to operate the water softener and prevent fouling.
In general, this combination provides you an effective and easy way to treat the iron in your water.
This product is at the bottom of our list, but believe us, it won’t make you disappointed.
This combination provided by ABCwaters includes a fine mesh water softener, a Fleck 5600SXT digital metered valve, and a safety float.
With up to 48,000 grain capacity, this product can supply clean water for homes of 2 – 5 people with 2 – 3 bathrooms.
Whether you have a small family or a big one, this product can handle all.
Now let’s see how well this product can remove iron. It removes iron up to an incredible 6-8 ppm range.
What’s more? It can also remove all hardness minerals as well as manganese, sand, sediment, and rust.
This combination is an effective treatment for ferrous and ferric iron. However, when it comes to iron bacteria, this combination may not achieve the best performance.
On the whole, this product brings you a huge supplement of clean and metal-free water for an affordable price. That’s such an economical purchase for all in one.
For the final product review, we provide you an excellent alternative method to solve your iron problem: air injection with filter media.
The best air injection we have picked is from Air injection Silver.
The basket includes a 2510SXT Air Injection Control and a filter media for trapping the iron and sulfur.
Why did we select this one among numerous other air injectors?
Your health is always our priority. And with this product, the iron in your water will be removed without using any chemicals.
If you have kids or your wife is pregnant, you will have nothing to worry about when using this unit.
Now you may wonder can it remove iron better without chemicals. Well, this will surprise you!
The air injection can remove up to 15 ppm of ferrous and rust as well as 15 ppm of sulfur and 6 ppm of manganese. Yes, chemical free but very efficient!
However, because this device removes iron by pumping air to promote precipitation reaction, it’s only useful in treating ferrous and ferric. Hence, bacterial iron can be a problem when using this product.
In general, this outstanding air injection is a safe choice to remove iron from your water.
Now It’s Your Turn
Although it’s not harmful to drink water with iron in it, high concentrations of iron can badly foul the taste of your water, cause staining on your clothes and bathroom fixtures, and block the water stream.
The damage made by iron can cost you quite a fortune to fix. It’s essential to remove iron from well water, but how?
We’ve introduced you various effective solutions such as water softener, iron filter, oxidizing agent, air injector, greensand, etc. And remember to test your water first to choose the most suitable solution.
Also, we have provided a selection of outstanding products for iron removal, including filter cartridges, water filter and softener, and air injector. We hope that our product reviews can help you with your iron problem.
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