Well water frequently contains iron, a naturally occurring mineral. While it poses no risk to people, it can have a number of negative effects on clothing, appliances, and plumbing fixtures.
Iron can create reddish-brown stains on sinks, toilets, and other surfaces in addition to giving the water an unpleasant taste and odor. Thankfully, iron can be removed from well water using a variety of techniques.
The kind and quantity of iron present, the pH level of the water, as well as the unique requirements and financial constraints of the homeowner, all influence the most efficient method for removing iron from water.
The most often used techniques for removing iron from water are chemical treatment, ion exchange, catalytic filters, oxidation filters, and reverse osmosis.
Each of these techniques on how to remove iron from well water in a different way, and depending on the circumstance, some are more successful than others.
While some techniques may demand a larger initial investment, others may require routine maintenance such as filter replacements or membrane cleanings.
Each of these approaches will be thoroughly examined in this article, along with its benefits and drawbacks, and their mechanisms for removing iron from well water.
Also, we’ll provide advice on how to choose the ideal approach for your particular circumstances and how to maintain and care for your selected iron removal equipment.
What Is Iron In Well Water?
Well water frequently contains iron, a naturally occurring mineral. Iron can exist in two different states: dissolved iron and particulate iron, making it one of the most often occurring pollutants in private wells.
Due to its full dissolution, dissolved iron is a form of iron that is invisible in water. Ferrous iron, a type of iron that is soluble in water and might seem clear when first extracted from the well, is typically found in well water.
Nevertheless, ferrous iron can oxidise in the presence of oxygen and transform into ferric iron, which is insoluble and gives water a reddish-brown hue.
On the other hand, particulate iron is a form of iron that is visible in water. It typically exists as ferric iron, which is already oxidised and can leave reddish-brown stains on clothing, appliances, and plumbing fixtures, in well water.
Although iron poses no health risks to people, it can still be problematic for homeowners. Well water containing iron can have a disagreeable taste and odor, stain furniture and clothing, and eventually harm plumbing and appliances.
Moreover, iron can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria and other germs, further lowering the quality of the water. To preserve the quality and security of your home’s water supply, it is crucial to remove iron from well water.
Types of Iron in Well Water
The types of iron that can be present in well water are ferrous iron, ferric iron, and bacterial iron.
- Ferrous iron is a type of dissolved iron that is soluble in water and can be clear when first drawn from the well. However, when exposed to air, ferrous iron can oxidize and form ferric iron.
- Ferric iron is a type of particulate iron that is already oxidized and can cause reddish-brown stains on plumbing fixtures, appliances, and clothing.
- Bacterial iron is a type of iron that is produced by certain types of bacteria in the water. This type of iron is often associated with a foul odor and can cause slimy growths in plumbing fixtures and on surfaces.
All three types of iron can cause problems for homeowners, such as unpleasant taste and odor, staining, and damage to plumbing and appliances. Therefore, it is important to identify the type of iron present in well water and choose the appropriate method to remove it.
Effects of Excessive Iron in Your Well Water
Although the mineral iron is necessary for human health, excessive iron in your well water can have a number of detrimental impacts on your house and your well-being. The following are a few of the most typical outcomes of having too much iron in your well water:
- Excessive quantities of iron in well water can leave reddish-brown stains on clothing, appliances, and plumbing fixtures. These stains can make your property appear dirty and are challenging to remove.
- Iron can give well water a disagreeable taste and odor that makes it unfit for consumption or use in cooking.
- Plumbing and appliance blockages and damage can be brought on by iron accumulation over time in plumbing fixtures and equipment. This can necessitate pricey repairs or replacements.
- Reduced water pressure is caused by iron buildup in pipes, which lowers water flow and lowers water pressure.
- Increased bacterial growth and lowered water quality can result from iron’s ability to serve as a food supply for bacteria and other microbes.
- Health risks: Although iron alone is safe for human health, high iron levels in well water might cause additional problems. For instance, iron may encourage the development of germs that lead to digestive disorders. Constipation, motion sickness, and cramping can all be brought on by drinking water with high iron levels.
It’s crucial to test your water frequently and take action on how to remove iron from well water is necessary to prevent the harmful effects of having too much iron in your well water. Reverse osmosis, ion exchange, catalytic filters, oxidation filters, and chemical treatment are a few techniques for eliminating iron from well water.
You can make sure that your well water is secure, pure, and iron-free by selecting the best technique for your situation and maintaining it appropriately.
How to Test for Iron in Water?
To ascertain whether the amounts of iron are too high and whether any remediation is required, testing for iron in water is vital. Here are a few ways to check for iron in water:
Visual inspection: Examining your well water visually is one technique to find out if it contains iron. Iron is probably present if the water has a reddish-brown hue or stains clothing and plumbing fittings.
Water test kits: You can easily find water test kits at home improvement stores or online. These kits use a color-change test strip or a chemical reagent to find the amount of iron in your well water. To get accurate results, please follow the directions.
Laboratory analysis: You can send a sample of your well water to a lab for analysis if you want more precise and thorough results. The laboratory will do a thorough examination of the water, including testing for iron, and give you a thorough report of the findings.
It is crucial to test for both dissolved and particulate iron in well water, as well as the type of iron present (ferrous, ferric, or bacterial iron). You can use this knowledge to select the best technique for iron removal from water.
How to Remove Iron from Well Water
Here are the finest water treatment methods for iron removal from well water.
Ferrous Iron Treatment
Ion Exchange Water Softeners
Systems for whole-house water softening do more than only get rid of calcium and magnesium, which are hardness-causing minerals. Several are also good at getting rid of iron. You can purchase a whole-house water softener that uses salt to purify well water as it enters your home.
Ion exchange is a procedure used by water softeners on a charged resin bed. The water softener resin binds to dissolved calcium and magnesium ions during the ion exchange process, releasing an equal number of sodium (salt) ions to balance the water’s charge.
This results in salt-softened water, and as the water softener regenerates, the undesirable ions are expelled from the resin.
Little quantities of clear water iron that are present in a hard water source are also removed by water softeners. Ferrous iron can be removed with a salt-based softener in the range of 0.3 PPM and 3 PPM.
Certain iron-focused softeners can remove up to 7.0 PPM of ferrous iron, which is more than this. For every PPM of iron found in your water, increase the water hardness setting by 4 to make iron removal easier.
Installing a sediment filter before your water softener is necessary if your water contains iron. This will stop the iron from blocking the resin in your water softener and decrease its efficacy.
If you have iron levels lower than 3 PPM, we advise purchasing a specialised iron removal device because too much iron could harm your water softener.
Oxidation Iron Removal Filters
Using an oxidised iron removal filter is the best way to get rid of excessive iron levels (5 PPM+) in your water supply.
Iron-contaminated water enters a tank holding an oxidation catalyst in this device (this could be an air pocket, a certain media, a certain chemical type, or a combination of several). The iron is trapped in a media bed after changing states and becoming oxidised.
The water system will backwash the minerals away when the media bed is overloaded with iron and other oxidised minerals.
As oxidation changes ferrous iron into ferric form prior to removal, it can be employed to remove either ferrous or ferric iron.
An oxidation iron filter may employ a variety of media and chemicals, including ozone, chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, potassium permanganate, birm, and manganese greensand.
Let’s start by examining the prevalent chemical-free oxidation technique:
Aeration/Air Injection Iron Filter
High quantities of ferric iron can be eliminated from well water using an air injection iron filter, also known as an aeration and filtration system.
This filter is a wonderful choice for anyone who has both ferrous and ferric iron in their well and water treatment system because it also changes ferrous iron into ferric iron.
An ‘nozzle and venturi’ assembly is used in an aeration iron filter to create a vacuum and draw air into the tank. In order to ensure correct iron oxidation, this air creates an oxygen bubble at the top of the tank.
A medium or resin bed, such birm or manganese greensand, where oxidised minerals are trapped, is where water enters after passing through the oxygenated air bubble. The water treatment system discharges iron-free water for usage throughout the house.
Large amounts of iron can be eliminated by aeration and filtration, often up to 30 PPM. High quantities of manganese and hydrogen sulphide can also be eliminated using these techniques.
Let’s now examine the various substances that may be incorporated into an oxidation system:
Chlorine Oxidation + Filtration
An efficient chemical oxidising agent, chlorine, is delivered into water by a feed pump in a chlorine oxidising system. To give the chlorine time to work, the water is kept in a tank. Chlorine normally needs 20 minutes of contact time to oxidise the iron in water.
Once the iron has precipitated out of the water, chlorine and iron are separated using a GAC (granular activated carbon) filter to make the iron-free water safe to drink and iron-free.
Aeration water systems and chlorine oxidation filters produce outcomes that are comparable, but the latter is less practical because you have to wait for the chlorine to work.
Another of the best methods for removing iron is chemical oxidation, which can get rid of up to 20–30 PPM of iron.
Following chlorine, ozone treatment is a popular chemical oxidation technique.
Although ozone oxidises water more effectively than chlorine, ozone systems are often more expensive to operate and use more electricity.
Iron and other minerals in raw water oxidise when they are exposed to ozone during the ozone treatment process. To remove ozone and the iron precipitate, a GAC filter is utilised.
Since they are so dependable and efficient, hydrogen peroxide injection systems are quickly becoming one of the most popular options for removing iron from water.
In comparison to other chemical processes, hydrogen peroxide, or H2O2, produces less iron sludge and oxidises iron more effectively than oxygen. A measured amount of H2O2 is easily injected into the water, where it begins to work right away with no need for contact time.
Potassium permanganate is an additional chemical component utilised in oxidation processes. This inorganic substance, which is frequently used with manganese greensand media, is made from manganese oxide ore and potassium hydroxide.
For water with significant amounts of iron minerals and manganese, potassium permanganate provides an efficient oxidation solution. Up to 10 PPM of iron can often be reduced with this kind of oxidizer.
Many iron removal technologies may also be found to use polyphosphate as a chemical iron treatment.
This chemical is a little different since it stabilises and disperses the iron instead of oxidising or physically removing it, which stops iron from staining.
Polyphosphate is injected into the water in the water treatment systems, just like with the other chemical treatments.
Birm is created from a natural substance, typically pumice, that has been covered in manganese dioxide. Birm acts as an insoluble catalyst that speeds up the oxidation process by facilitating the interaction between iron and aqueous oxygen.
The birm then removes the water-borne oxidised iron particles from it.
For Birm’s iron removal media to function, there must be sufficient dissolved oxygen in the water. An air pump is frequently used in birm systems to raise the water’s oxygen content.
Iron in well water can be reduced by up to 10-15 PPM using birm filters.
Beads or pellets coated in manganese dioxide are used to create manganese greensand filter systems.
The manganese oxide layer releases oxygen, which oxidises the iron in the water, and the media bed holds these oxidised particles until they are removed by backwashing. This medium is capable of oxidising and filtering iron.
The media bed is cleaned with potassium permanganate or chlorine during backwashing to avoid clogging.
For a manganese greensand filter to work correctly, the pH of the water must be higher than 7.5. When used properly, manganese greensand filters can also reduce water’s iron content by 10 to 15 PPM.
Filox, Pyrolox, and Katalox
In an oxidation system, there are numerous more media types that can be employed. The three media types katalox, filox, and pyrolox are all comprised of manganese oxide.
By causing a reaction between oxygen in the water and the dissolved iron, these materials create ferric hydroxide.
The majority of media can remove about 15 PPM of iron, while different media types have varying iron removal capacities.
A KDF water filter uses a copper-zinc medium to create an electrochemical process that transforms dangerous pollutants into harmless or removable forms.
While both soluble and insoluble forms of iron can be removed with this sort of water filter, ferrous iron is the most effective form.
KDF oxidising filters work better when water flows more slowly because it has more time to reach the media.
Iron can be removed by most KDF filters in the range of 4 to 6 PPM. If you have a greater concentration of ferrous iron, it’s recommended to consider a specific iron filter.
Ferric Iron Treatment
You can choose from the following whole-house treatments to deal with ferric, or insoluble, iron:
Iron that has already undergone oxidation can be removed using the same iron filters that can transform ferrous iron into ferric iron. They include air injection oxidation, manganese greensand, KDF, and birm.
Sediment Cartridge Filters
Products for water filtration of suspended material, such as dust, sand, and rust, are available. They can be used to remove iron from water, which typically appears as brownish-red flakes.
Water particles, which are smaller than the media pores, are the only particles that can flow through these filters because they use mechanical separation to trap iron particles in the filter medium.
For the removal of ferric iron, sediment filters typically have pores with a size of 5–10 microns.
Since soluble ferrous iron is dissolved in water and cannot be collected by sediment filters, it will flow through the filtration system alongside the water particles.
On average, 6 PPM of iron can be removed by most sediment filters. A sediment filter isn’t the ideal option if your ferric iron levels are higher than 8 PPM.
Bacterial Iron Treatment
A particularly problematic pollutant is iron bacteria, sometimes known as iron bacteria. Several iron treatment techniques are unable to treat iron bacteria.
It will be necessary to use physical removal techniques followed by shock chlorination or chemical disinfection.
A chemical injection usually follows, which will kill any remaining iron bacteria and, in the long run, stop iron bacteria from growing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can iron be effectively removed from well water?
Reverse osmosis, ion exchange, catalytic filters, oxidation filters, and chemical treatment are a few techniques for eliminating iron from water. The kind and quantity of iron in the water determines the optimal removal technique.
Can I get rid of the iron in my own well water?
Although certain iron treatment systems can be installed by the homeowner, it is typically advised to employ a professional to install and maintain the system.
A specialist can assist you in selecting the ideal system for your requirements and guarantee that it is installed correctly and securely.
How much does iron removal from well water cost?
Depending on the technique employed and the severity of the issue, the price to remove iron from water can change.
While more sophisticated systems like reverse osmosis and ion exchange process might cost several thousand dollars, simple systems like sediment filters and carbon filters may only cost a few hundred dollars.
To find out how much something would cost for your particular scenario, it is preferable to acquire an estimate from an expert.
How frequently should I check for iron in my well water?
At least once a year, or more frequently if you observe changes in the water quality, a flood, or another event that can disrupt the water supply, iron levels in well water should be tested.
Is iron in well water harmful to human health?
While low quantities of iron are not hazardous to human health, high iron levels in well water might cause various health issues. For instance, iron may encourage the development of germs that lead to digestive disorders.
Constipation, motion sickness, and cramping can all be brought on by drinking water with high iron levels.
How should my iron removal system be maintained?
To ensure that your iron removal system keeps functioning efficiently, it is crucial to maintain it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. This could entail routine maintenance chores like filter replacement and cleaning. Also, it’s critical to routinely have a professional inspect and maintain your system.