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How to remove Iron from water cheaply is one of the most common water quality problems because of the metallic taste caused by too much iron. This mineral is present in nearly every water supply whether municipally provided or drawn from a private well.
Its presence has both beneficial and adverse effects. In its dissolved state, trace amounts of iron in the water contribute to the water’s alkalinity, making it tastier, more nutritious, and easier to digest.
So, when confronted with the question of how to remove iron from drinking water, first consider the amount and type of iron in the water; sometimes the iron can be in two forms (ferric and ferrous).
What type of Iron is in Well Water?
Three types of iron can be present in any given water supply:
Ferrous iron/ Clearwater iron
Ferrous iron is a soluble form of iron present in virtually all water supplies. Normally its presence is not an issue. However, it can contribute to scale build-up on appliances and pipe walls if it’s in high concentrations.
Ferric iron/ Red water iron
It’s usually in particulate form and it’s most often present in well water. Red water iron is the cause of red rust stains in toilets, sinks, and bathtubs and also creates a bad flavor in drinking water.
It’s a waste byproduct of microorganisms in water and can be present in both city and well water. Organic iron has a characteristic of a bad flavor and can cause brownish stains in appliances, sinks, toilets, and bathtubs.
Fortunately, there are some very effective solutions to solve the problems caused by iron regardless of the levels or type present.
How to Remove Iron from Well Water Cheaply
Iron is so common in the ground that there is hardly a square foot of soil that does not have some iron content. It usually leaches into water supplies throughout the United States from rock and underground soil formations.
The high concentrations of iron generally occur in drilled wells, since iron is a naturally appearing element in groundwater.
Ferrous Iron/Clear Water Iron
Sometimes this iron is called ferrous bicarbonate iron. If the iron is in its soluble form, you can remove the iron with an ion exchange softening resin with a positive charge. It is one of the cations that’ll be attracted to the resin in the water softener; however, it must be in the invisible soluble form until it is filtered.
When the iron is in the ferrous form, it has to be oxidized with a powerful oxidizer to convert it into a solid so that it becomes filterable. The whole of this process is known as Oxidation/retention/precipitation/filtration.
In areas of low concentrations, a simple filter will remove it. There are a variety of oxidation filters that one can use. One of them is;
iSpring WGB32BM 3-Stage Iron & Manganese Reducing Filter for Whole House Water Filtration System w/ 20-Inch Big Blue Sediment
iSpring Whole House Water Filter is a three-stage water filter that uses high capacity polypropylene sediment filter that can achieve filtration down to 5 microns and a CTO carbon filter made from high-quality coconut shell carbon for maximum filtration efficiency.
Once the iron is in particulate form, the filter works by “trapping” the iron molecules in the water with the use of a special filter media comprised of a polypropylene sediment filter and CTO carbon filter.
If you have abnormally high concentrations of clear water iron, any amount of red water iron, or organic/bacteria iron, an iron reduction system such as standard water softener and reverse osmosis system will efficiently remove clear water iron in most cases.
Several chemical cleaners can be used to reduce the red water iron to clear water iron. A pH of around 6.7 would be ideal for the best reduction of iron.
iSpring (RCC7AK ) Under Sink RO Drinking Water Filter System 6-Stage Superb Taste High Capacity with Alkaline Remineralization
iSpring RO water filter system is an effective water softener with a powerful oxidation filter that uses potassium chloride pellets to oxidize the soluble ferrous iron into particulate ferric iron.
As the water enters the tank, it runs through the resin which has a negative charge and oxidizes the soluble ferrous iron into particulate ferric iron. The trapped iron is held on the resin surface.
If the iron is trapped on the resin, fouling will occur, as well as within the matrix of the bead. To prevent this, the resin is flushed down the drain during each regeneration cycle and the water is cleaned from iron. During the regeneration cycle also, some of the oxidizer, the potassium chloride, goes up through the media.
Hence, the reason softened water has a higher salt content. Eventually, they will cause the pellets to dissolve and they’ll need to be replenished.
Water softeners used for clear water iron are effective for residential use but require a larger resin bed in case large volumes of water is to be used regularly.
After softening the water, you may also want to know if there’s ferrous iron still in the solution. This requires a simple test. Iron tests are available either in test strips or in a chemical titration-type home test that you can do yourself. It is very important to understand that level of iron.
Ferric Iron/ Red Water Iron
So if the water has tint in it, usually yellowish or reddish, it means that some of that iron is already out of solution and it’s in the ferric form. That’s filterable. This happens when clear water iron, or soluble iron, is exposed to an oxidant or oxygen.
Water softeners are usually effective at removing soluble or ferrous iron. However, they can’t remove effectively ferric iron. Iron in this state must be removed by activated multi-media filtration. You can use a sediment filter and capture it. This process is Aeration/ retention/precipitation/filtration.
5 Micron 10″ x 2.5″ Compatible Whole House Sediment Water Filter Replacement Cartridge
This sediment filter is designed with a density of three pp layers to remove most particles and sediment. The inner pp layer is an absolute 5 microns; the middle layer is a normal 7 microns while the outer most layer is nominal 10 microns pp layer.
For best performance, put a sediment filter as the very first thing. It sieves the water coming out of the house with any level of iron. That way if there is any conversion going on in the well where it converts from soluble to particulate, that way you’ll capture it with that sediment.
KDF media can also be used. It’s a metallic-type material that’s good at creating that oxidizing chemical reaction to convert some ferrous iron into ferric iron. These filters are good when dealing with high volumes of water or high flow rates. For example;
iSpring F4-CUA4 KDF Replacement Pack for 4-Stage Ultra Filtration System
This is a four-stage PP sediment filter that removes larger particles like rust sand and dirt. The Ultra filtration filter of KDF and GAC offers much better control of metals. Fine activated carbon filter removes possible residues of chlorine tastes odors.
Multi-media filters are more expensive to purchase but the cost per gallon of water filtered is much less and require little or no time to install.
This is that iron which is bound in organics that are made from a breakdown of dead vegetation. It is most common in surface water and shallow wells. They occur when favorable conditions exist at very low levels of iron. Oxygen creates oxidizing energy to precipitate ferrous iron into bicarbonate which is necessary for iron bacteria to exist.
The Iron bacteria water will have a yellow to brown color and an objectionable odor. Due to its organic nature, it’s the most difficult to remove and control. These organisms’ growths cause a jelly-like bio-mass. This mass can render media and resin filtration ineffective, reduce the effectiveness of an oxidizing agent.
This type of iron cannot be removed easily by softening resins. The best way to handle this bacterial iron is first to try shock chlorination.
In this process, an intense concentration of chlorine is used. If you shock the well, it will eliminate the bacteria that are bonded with the iron allowing you to catch the remaining iron.
LabChem LC246304 Sodium Hypochlorite 5% W/V Solution
This solution is used to oxidize both tannin and iron followed by a suitable retention time for the oxidation then filtration media to remove the oxidized iron.
Following the oxidation, the iron and organics require one ppm of sodium hypochlorite and a retention time of 20 to 25 minutes in a pH range of 6.5 – 7.5. A sediment filter is then used to remove the oxidized iron and the organics.
If the water still has traces of iron, you have to go through a constant chlorination process. Try filtration first and if it does not remove the iron sufficiently add the sodium hypochlorite solution. Repeat the oxidation/retention/precipitation process.
How to Choose the Best Water Filter
Many people are dissatisfied with the quality of their water, whether from city supplies or wells hence the reason a lot of people are turning to water filtration systems of one type or another.
Determining water filter system is the best for a homeowner will depend on what problems their water supply presents, and on what price one is willing to pay for a quality water supply.
The best water filter is not limited to cost only. There are some systems which are extremely effective at removing sediments, clay particles, sand, iron in well water/ iron traces from water but simply fail to work for other impurities like chlorine and pesticides.
When shopping, the best purification unit should be one that is powerful enough to remove all types of organic and inorganic impurities. For example, a multi-stage water purifiers that employs more than one filtration techniques i.e., carbon filtration, ion exchange, and sub-micron filtration are the best.
They are successful in providing 99.9% of clean and pollutant-free water. Water that contains excessive iron may also have a sulfur smell. You need a filter that will also remove this odor from the water.
Check whether it retains the essential minerals present in natural water or not.
Again some purifiers like Reverse Osmosis, strip off the essential minerals present in natural water and make it mineral deprived. Consuming this water is strictly not recommended as it leads to various ailments caused due to multiple mineral deficiencies.
You need a system that retains these essential minerals while removing the contaminants at the same time. Multi-stage water purifiers again win a point here as they retain the minerals and also additionally enhance the pH balance in the water.
Check whether it is economical to maintain or not. There are a few purification systems that are available at a low price but are expensive to maintain. Taking the example of Reverse Osmosis purifiers again, they consume nearly 4 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of pure water. They thus shoot up the electricity and water bill and hence are expensive to maintain.
In contrast, the multi stage ones are not only reasonably priced, they are economical to maintain too.
With these easy checks, you too can successfully find the best one from the various water purification systems available in the market.
Most homeowners that have used water treatment systems report that for complete treatment Oxidation/Retention/Precipitation/Filtration yielded a complete treatment of removing iron from water followed by Aeration/ retention/precipitation/filtration then Multi-media Filtration and finally Softening resins systems.
There other variances of iron mineral that requires special and unique methods, or combination of methods, to be effectively removed. Orange iron for instance is difficult to remove by regular multimedia filtration but is effectively removed by one old media presently used very little.
Do Water Filters Remove Iron?
The presence of Iron in water is an annoying problem and especially when it starts to stain clothes, bath tubs, sinks and cause discoloration. So which method is the best in removing iron? Does water filter remove iron?
In cases of high content iron in the water, whole house water filters with manganese greensand can be used to remove the iron.
If you are really on a tight budget and are willing to filter from at least one point in the house, then you can look at a standard countertop water filter or under counter water filter. These filters will filter your drinking water but the solution to your washing and bath tub being stained red won’t.
You can use also Reverse Osmosis water filters. RO water filters are used to remove more than just iron if you have a problem with other chemicals or contaminants too.
Many pollutants will be removed from this system but the downside is that all of the minerals in the water will be removed too. If you have a lot of iron sediments it would be a good idea to get sediment pre-filters. This is so that you don’t have to change the main membrane (which is quite expensive) too often.
Is Iron In Well Water Bad For You?
When considering water quality, one more common problem with well water is iron in drinking water. The presence of iron is not considered a health but if you end up with a water source saturated with iron, you will have a water supply that will have a strong odor and a dark color or dark tint to it.
This will make food and drinks made with the water have foul odors and bad tastes. When washing clothes with these water sources, whites will always look dingy and not bright.
Excessive iron in drinking water is not good for the body either. While our bodies can overcome some minerals, we actually need certain levels of other minerals. Any mineral in excess is unhealthy. If your water source has been tested and in fact has a high iron level, you will need to consider a filtration system.
The heavier the contamination, the more important a professional will need to be contacted to ensure what systems can handle your situation and pose minimal maintenance needs.
Does Boiling Well Water Remove Iron?
Boiling water is a traditional and widely practiced household water treatment method used for water purification. This method is very simple. This process kills parasites and bacteria but does not remove iron.
Thankfully if you have a problem with iron, technology today has provided solutions that are fast, convenient and effective in removing iron from water. Understanding the type of water available in your home is the starting point. Getting a simple test done can point to the right solution of effectively removing the iron content.
How Can You Tell If There Is Iron In Water?
Water containing soluble iron is clear and colorless. When the iron is oxidized through exposure it turns reddish in color. Drinking water will also taste metallic. To establish that its iron you’ll require to use test kits.
How Can I Test My Water For Iron At Home?
You can detect the presence of iron at home through the metallic taste of drinking water and beverages. When iron particles combine with tea, or other beverage, it produces an inky black appearance and distasteful taste. You’ll spot also reddish-brown stains on fixtures, tableware and laundry.
Daniel Keringet is a market researcher and publisher (Best Osmosis Experts) who got an interest in topics related to
Water safety out of curiosity and passion from the time he got into college. Now he is a full-time writer living in Naperville Illinois.