How do I remove iron from well water?
Well water is one of the most popular water sources, especially in rural areas. Apart from being a cost-effective way to access water, it provides a nearly endless supply. And since it is a groundwater source, it is often cleaner than surface water.
But that doesn't mean it's pure!
All groundwater, including well water, can be contaminated through seepage, naturally occurring chemicals, waste, and pesticides. And among the many water pollutants, iron is one that can easily make its way into your well.
Take, for instance, during the rainy or winter season.
When rain or melted snow seeps into soil that has high iron contents, the iron will dissolve into the water and the mixture can trickle into your well, contaminating it.
Additionally, if the pipes or well casing is made from iron and any of them oxidizes, they will corrode and dislodge the iron into the water, ruining the water’s quality.
This article focuses on the adverse effects of iron in water and ways to detect it, with a special focus on how to remove iron from water at home.
How to detect the presence of iron in water
Indicators that scream the presence of ferric or ferrous iron in water include:
- Reddish brown sediment after water is allowed to stand
- Yellowish, brownish, or reddish water flowing from your faucets
- Reddish brown or yellowish sludge in the piping system
- Metallic-tasting water
If you notice any or all of these three indicators, it's best to take a water analysis that tests for the presence of iron. The analysis will also show the iron's concentration and showcase the presence of other contaminants - if any.
The harm of iron to your body?
Iron is an essential mineral that helps in various biological processes such as transporting oxygen and building immunity. People will often get the recommended iron levels from food and rarely from drinking water. As such, hydrating with a cup that has traces of iron does not present a health risk.
However, considering that iron may encourage the growth of harmful microorganisms is a cause for concern. Worse still, drinking iron-polluted water for prolonged durations may lead to high iron quantities in the body, causing diabetes, nausea, liver damage, stomach issues, and heart complications.
Further reports show that bathing in iron-rich water might dry out the skin and hair, and exacerbate eczema as well as other skin conditions.
For these reasons, finding an effective well water iron removal system is an excellent first step to safeguarding your family.
How does iron in water damage your home
Iron is known to stain anything it comes into contact with. Since the polluted water will be a reddish-brown, yellowish, or brownish color, it will cause your faucets, showerheads, dishwashers, boilers, and washing machines to discolor.
Also, the iron is likely to oxidize when it comes into contact with water and air, forming rust. If left unattended, the rust formed will accumulate and clog your pipes and faucets, requiring immediate plumbing services.
Installing a filter for water beforehand is the best course of action to avoid such damages. Not only will it save you the trouble of costly repairs, but will also ensure your home is in top-notch condition for years.
Common types of iron in well water
Before you find out how to remove iron from water well effectively, you must understand the different types of iron - which are:
You can easily tell the presence of ferric iron because the water will appear red or yellow at first sight. Since this type of iron is in its oxidized state, it is insoluble - the reason why it is visible.
Bacterial iron occurs when bacteria found in the well mix with the iron, creating a thick viscous substance. Such situations result from poor well construction, and not properly flushing the water system after repairing or installing a water pump/heater.
Bacterial iron is notorious for clogging pipes as well as faucets. It also damages sediment filters and softeners, making it the worst form of iron you can find in your well.
You cannot identify the presence of ferrous iron right away because it dissolves in water and the contaminated contents flowing from the faucet will still be crystal clear.
However, if you leave the glass of water to stand for some time, the ferrous iron will oxidize and you will notice reddish-brown particles in the bottom of the cup.
Methods for removing iron from well water
Various ways of how to get iron out of well water exist. However, we are going to look at six of the most popular.Let's delve into the specifics.
Using A Water Softener
Water softeners are a popular treatment choice, especially when dealing with hard water. It works by attracting dissolved positive ions into its resin and interchanging them for sodium ions.
And since iron is a mineral, water softeners provide a viable well water iron removal technique. So, when the resin comes into contact with the ferrous iron, it will bind it into the resin, in turn, releasing sodium ions into the water.
Generally, water softeners will get rid of roughly 2 mg/l to 5 mg/l of iron, with some going up to 10 mg/l. Although you need to note that this method is only great when your water has low levels of iron.
If the iron concentrations are high, you might want to consider using it in conjunction with sediment filter cartridges. These will sieve the particles, preventing clogs. Also, you need to choose a system with powerful backwashing capabilities. That way, it will thoroughly wash out the trapped iron, allowing you prolonged access to pure water.
Sedimentation is the process where you put well water into storage vessels, wait for the iron to settle at the bottom, and then carefully transfer the clean water into another storage vessel. You need to be steady enough while transferring so as not to disturb the particles and cause them to dissolve again.
On the other hand, you can use sediment filters for water as they are another effective iron well water removal tactic. Specially designed to sieve out debris and particles, these cartridges will effectively trap the iron, leaving you to enjoy crystal clear water.
Oxidation And Filtration
This is another treatment of iron in well water that prevents iron from reaching your faucets and staining your household appliances/fixtures.
Being an effective decontamination solution, the oxidizing iron filter will turn soluble iron into insoluble particles before moving into the next stage of filtration where the purification cartridges will sieve out the iron particles.
KDF water filters are another powerful option that you can leverage to filter iron out of water. They take a different purification approach, reducing pollutants through a redox reaction. During the process, an electron exchange process between the media and the contaminants happens, creating new harmless elements. In this case, the media will turn ferrous iron into ferric hydroxide which is insoluble and easily removed by backwashing.
KDF water filters are ideal as POE treatment solutions and can be used alone or in conjunction with other purifiers for optimal results.
The aeration process involves adding large air volumes into the water so that the dissolved contaminants can oxidize and release from the water.
It is one of the best solutions for iron removal in water treatment as it removes naturally occurring iron, oxidizing it so that it forms particles that are easily sieved. Thanks to its efficacy, it's a treatment solution perfect for commercial and residential use.
Using Activated Carbon
Active carbon filters are a proven option for getting iron out of well water, thanks to their tiny loose granules that effectively rid the water of iron particles.
Additionally, charcoal filters for water are widely recognized for their ability to eliminate a wide range of pollutants, including but not limited to organic chemicals. They are the go-to treatment option for improving your water’s taste and getting rid of any unpleasant odors.
However, if you are considering it for iron removal, note that active carbon filters are only ideal when purifying small amounts of well water. Purifying large amounts calls for other sophisticated iron in well water solutions.
Having iron in your water may not have adverse health consequences but it can discolor your fixtures and home appliances, damaging them. If bacterial iron is flowing through your faucets, the chances of catching water-borne illnesses increases.
For this reason, finding the best system to remove iron from well water is of paramount importance. But considering every homeowner has their unique purification needs, you must pick a system that works for you.
At Filterway, helping you find the ideal filter for water that prevents iron from flowing into your home is our core business. Our years of experience in the water treatment industry have allowed us to accumulate immense knowledge of the different iron pollutants and contamination levels. Thus, we leverage our expertise to advise you on the best system for you.
We have a host of whole-house and point-of-entry systems for sale, as well as replacement cartridges for various filters.
Contact us today for more information.