Common Water Issues: Iron

Understanding Iron in Water

Iron is a common contaminant in water that can cause several problems, both in terms of taste and appearance. Iron in water can exist in two forms: ferrous iron and ferric iron.


Problems Caused by Iron:

1.      Disagreeable Metallic Taste:

Iron imparts a metallic taste to water, making it unpleasant to drink.

2.      Affects Beverages:

Iron combines with tannins in tea, coffee, and alcoholic beverages, resulting in an unpleasant grey to black appearance.

3.      Staining:

Iron causes red stains on toilets, plumbing fixtures, tableware, and laundry, which can be difficult to remove and aesthetically unpleasing.


Solutions for Treating Iron in Water

To effectively remove iron from water, the treatment method depends on the form of iron present:

Ferrous Iron:

Ferrous iron is clear and colorless when drawn from the tap. Upon exposure to air, it oxidizes into ferric iron, which is insoluble and reddish-brown.

Water Softener:

A water softener can remove up to 5 ppm (parts per million) of ferrous iron, depending on the size and type of the softener. Very large water softeners can remove up to 10 ppm of iron.

Ferric Iron:

Ferric iron, indicated by a reddish-brown color, is already oxidized.

Sediment Filter:

Install a sediment filter ahead of the water softener to remove a portion of the insoluble ferric iron. The water softener will then handle the soluble ferrous iron.

Oxidizing Iron Filters (Greensand Filters):

Oxidizing filters can remove up to 10 ppm of both ferric and ferrous iron. These filters work by oxidizing the iron, converting it to an insoluble form that can be filtered out.

Special Considerations for Low pH Water:

Water with a pH below 5.5 requires special attention. In such cases, it's important to send a water sample for analysis and receive specific recommendations for treatment.

By identifying the form of iron in your water and choosing the appropriate treatment method, you can effectively address the issues caused by iron contamination, ensuring your water is clear, great-tasting, and free from unsightly stains.

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