How to Remove Iron From Well Water

Iron is one of the most common secondary contaminants in well water. Water containing iron gives you a tough time while cleaning washrooms and sanitary appliances as it leaves its residue behind. Therefore you will experience dirty rusty orange stains all over your plumbing and washroom tiles. Not only this, these orange stains look so disgusting on plates and cutleries.  

If you are a well owner and experiencing more or less similar problems then here we will unveil some best ways to remove iron from well water.

Is Iron an Important Component of Water?

The answer is a big no. iron is only a contaminant which is considered a secondary contaminant by U.S EPA. 

Secondary contaminants are the contaminants that cause the water to appear cloudy or colored or to taste or smell bad. EPA believes that Secondary contaminants are safe to consume up to a certain level.

Our body requires iron for different functions. Unfortunately, our body cannot absorb iron from water. Therefore it is confirmed that there aren’t any harmful consequences of well water iron.

Drinking a low level of iron is not dangerous to the body but yes it may cause long-lasting damage to your appliances and plumbing.

Who Adds Iron in Well Water?

Literally no one! Water with iron does not have any appreciating health benefits. So no one deliberately adds it. They come naturally into the well water. Iron seeps into the well water from the earth’s crust. You will be amazed to know that iron makes up about 5% of the earth’s crust. It is one of the most abundant minerals in the crust of the earth. There are many places where the soil naturally bears some iron. At such places when there is heavy rainfall or even when the melted snow water reaches there, the iron quickly dissolved into the water. Such water when seeps through the groundwater supplies, incorporates iron into the well water sources.

Another source could be rusty and corroded plumbing. Such pipes and fixtures will leave brown-colored flecks in your water which later on becomes the source of dissolving iron in the water

This is how well water becomes iron-containing water.

How Harmful Is Iron in Well Water for Home?

According to EPA iron is a secondary water contaminant that can cause many harmful effects in your home. These effects are categorized into three categories which are:

Aesthetic Effect:

iron in well water is responsible for undesirable taste and odor. You will experience a bitter metallic aftertaste when you consume a glass of well water. Not only this, but iron also gives an unpleasant odor to the water. This means when you make anything in iron-contaminated water, like tea, coffee, or daily meal, it will also bear that harsh metallic taste that will ruin your food. In short, you can’t use iron-contaminated water in the kitchen. Indeed it’s a big nuisance.

Cosmetic Effect: 

iron-contaminated water damages your skin and hairs. Since iron leaves stains on everything. Be it dishes, washroom tiles, or plumbing. Therefore, it is potent enough to leave stains on the human body as well. Besides this, the heavy iron content in well water will leave your hair dull and brittle. So you will get bold before time. Iron-contaminated water ruins your skin conditions. A high level of iron in water will make your skin dry and rough.

Technical Effect:

 iron-contaminated water is responsible for damage to plumbing. It leaves disgusting stains on the plumbing and appliances. You will notice some bright orange streaks in your toilet seat and your sink. Not only this, your bathtubs and showers will also show some bright discoloration due to the high concentration of iron in the water.

The staining property of iron doesn’t only confine with the appliances and plumbing, you will notice some unsightly brown and red stain even on your clothes that are washed using iron-contaminated well water. Furthermore, iron is also responsible for clogging pipes and plumbing that is really big trouble.

Clogged pipes and plumbing will reduce water pressure and reduces the performance of water-based appliances. The clogged pipes promote the growth of bacterial iron that is quite harmful. In short, if you have well water with iron contamination, you are not safe. Not only are you, your appliances, your home’s plumbing in short everything is in danger.

How to Remove Iron From Bore Well Water:

 Iron in well water is a pervasive nuisance to the well owner and his family. It’s almost impossible to clean the complete well water to get rid of iron but yes, you can treat this iron-contaminated water to enjoy stain-free laundry and sanitary tiles. For this purpose, we have gathered out some effective and cheapest ways to remove iron from well water.

But wait!

Before moving towards the method of iron removal you need to have complete information about the types of iron. The reason is, depending upon the form of iron, it is available in different solutions. For this purpose, you need to do a water test to check which form of iron is present in water. This way you can easily select the appropriate method for removing the respective form of iron.

 Types of Iron in Well Water:

In well water iron is available in three types that are as follow:

Ferrous Iron: 

Ferrous iron is a soluble form of iron. This means that water has completely dissolved iron within. If you see a glass of water with ferrous iron it will appear crystal clear. For a moment you will get a doubt that either it’s an iron contaminated well water or not. But after exposing this water to atmospheric conditions, the iron in the water oxidizes and convert into the ferric form of iron. This ferric form of iron will precipitate as reddish-brown flakes at the bottom of the glass.

Though ferrous iron is not visible in water but yes, it is there in the water and has staining properties also. Water with ferrous iron has a bitter metallic aftertaste. Ferrous iron is found in a deep well, where there is no sunlight and has no exposure to sunlight. Ferrous iron is also known as Clear-Water Iron.

Ferric Iron:

Ferric is the insoluble form of iron. This means iron is not dissolved completely in the water. While water test, you can quickly identify this form of iron as soon as the water comes out of the faucet. Water with ferric iron appears red or bright orange/yellow. It is also called as Red-Water-Iron.

Bacterial Iron:

It is one of the toughest and stubborn forms of iron. Bacterial iron is a bright red sludge that looks like tomato soup. You will found this type of iron in wells that are not properly maintained and cleaned. Once a bacterium enters the well it starts forming a strong bond with iron which will appear in form of red sludge.

This nastiest form of iron sticks inside the pipes and therefore clogs your pumps, plumbing fixtures. Not only this, you will observe dirty slimy red reside in your toilet bowl and bathtub. Bacterial iron promotes the growth of other pathogenic bacteria so it should be removed from the water. Iron filters can also be used for this.

Treatments for Ferrous Iron-Contaminated Water:

Getting rid of ferrous iron from the well water is a quite easier task. Following are the cost-effective and best methods for the removal of ferrous iron from the water:

Water Softeners: 

water softeners are most commonly used to convert hard water into soft water. Interestingly, this device is also effective against removing a low level of ferrous iron. Water softeners work on the mechanism of ion-exchange where a positively charged mineral ion is attracted to negatively charged resin beads. This mechanism is also helpful for the removal of the low level of ferrous iron.

The reason is, ferrous is a positively charged ion that gets attracted to the resin beads, just like calcium and magnesium. It is advisable to use a pre-sediment filter in your water softener which will filter out any ferric iron. This will protect your softeners’ valve from clogging.

Water softeners are quite efficient in removing ferrous iron. To increase its performance, we will advise you to periodically flush the system using Rust Out which will wash and clean the resin beads.

Manganese Greensand:

Manganese greensand is a potent and powerful oxidizer that removes the ferrous form of iron by oxidizing it into ferric form. Since ferric is an insoluble form of iron so it can be easily removed out of water. For this purpose, we use oxidizing filters that have manganese greensand. The ferric form of iron appears as small precipitates which are then pulled out of the water by the manganese greensand media.

Therefore you will get iron-free water in your house. To maintain the life of manganese greensand media, it is advisable to periodically back-wash with potassium permanganate. This is one of the most effective methods which can remove up to 15ppm of iron from well water.


Birm works on the same principle as manganese greensand does. Birm oxidizes the ferrous form and converts it into the ferric form so that it can be easily removed out of well water. Birm is only affected in water with a high pH level. So for this purpose, people use it with Calcite which is responsible to elevate.

Treatments for Ferric Iron Contaminated Water:

Ferric iron is the simplest form of iron that can be easily removed from the well water. It appears as precipitates in water therefore it can be easily removed.

Sediment Filters:

 For the removal of ferric iron sediments filters are used. These sub-micron-rated sediment filters are capable enough to remove any solid particulate matter from the water, be it dirt or debris, or ferric flakes. In order to get rid of ferric iron, you need to use a sediment filter of a very small micron rating which will capture even the minute ferric flakes from the water. Sediment filters work best with a low level of iron.

Treatments for Bacterial Iron Contaminated Well Water:

Bacterial iron is the most stubborn form of iron. You cannot use water softeners and sediment pre-filters for removing bacterial iron as it will ruin them. Removing bacterial iron is indeed a labor-intensive process. For this purpose, we perform shock chlorination.

Shock Chlorination:

You can say it’s the disinfection process of well water and well. In this process, a high concentration of chlorine is introduced into the well, the well pumps, pressure, and the distribution system. Because of which the bond between bacteria and iron breaks. Therefore, iron becomes free in water which is, later on, catch by the water softener, sediment filters, and oxidizers.

Final words:

Though iron is not harmful to the body but it’s not wise to consume iron-contaminated water as an excess of anything could be harmful. Plus, well water with iron causes long-lasting damages to your plumbing, sanitary tiles, and appliances. So it’s better to get rid of it by using the above-mentioned treatments. But before starting any treatment make sure to perform a water test to know the type of iron your well water has.

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