How to Remove Iron from Well Water : (Simple Guide)

Kindly note that this post has affiliate links.We may be paid commission at no extra cost to you.Learn More

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. 

However, higher levels of iron in the water can result in undesired effects, such as red, yellow, or brown stains on appliances and in sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. The iron elements will also oxidize, solidify, and collect in household pipes. 

Over time, the iron elements will start showing up in drinking water in a rusty appearance or the water will develop a metallic taste. The water heater will begin to give off a sulphorous smell to the hot water. If the iron deposits are not flushed and drained within four to six months, it will damage the heating unit.

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).

Types of Iron

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. Redwater iron is the cause of red rust stains in toilets, sinks, and bathtubs and also creates a bad flavor in drinking water.

·         Organic/bacteria iron

 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 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.

Organic/Bacteria Iron

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 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 multistage 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.

Water Softener for Well Water Buying Guide

best water softeners for well water with high iron

Before buying the best water softener for your home, you need to ask yourself several questions. These questions need to be answered before you can finally settle for the best water softener for your home.

Below are a few things to consider before buying a water softener for well water with iron.

Budget

Well, the first factor to consider before buying a water softener is the price. They all come at different prices. Therefore, you should settle for one that fits your budget. 

Besides, these softeners also come with different features and some programming capabilities. You should factor this into your budget too as they are purchased separately. 

Water Hardness

To choose the best water softener for your home, first, you need to determine the hardness level of your water, in this case, the hardness level of your well water and the level of iron.

Therefore, you’ll have to determine the level of mineral ions and chemicals in your water and, most importantly the grains per gallon within your well water supply.

But how can one determine the hardness level of water? Well, there are different ways to do this. First, you can request a water report from your city if you using city water. But if you’re using well water, you can buy a water testing kit.

After getting the results of your test, you can then go ahead and buy a water softener of the rating and capacity you want. You can only do this by looking at your water’s GPI.

Rating

Most household water softeners come with a capacity of 24,000 GPI to 96,000 GPI. The higher the capacity, the more the grains per gallon the softener will remove. Therefore, if you have a large household, you should go for a water softener with a higher capacity rating and vice versa.

Also if you have a lot of sediment and grains that need to be removed from your water, then you should go for a higher rated water softener.

Since we are talking about well water in this case, then you should go for a softening unit with a capacity rating of at least 80,000 grains per gallon since well water contains high levels of hardness causing metals such as iron.

Capacity

Recent studies have shown that an average person consumes at least 80 gallons of water per day. Therefore, if you’re looking for a water softener for your home, then you should go for one with a higher capacity.

But how do you determine the right unit for you? Well, to determine the perfect unit for your home, you will just have to divide the capacity of the softener with the number of individuals in your home.

For instance, a typical family of four will require at least 33,000 GPI of softened water daily. Thus capacity is another crucial factor to consider before buying a water softener.

The Ease of Use

Another crucial factor to consider before buying a water softener is the ease of use of that softener. One can select from a range of water softener systems, i.e. those that automatically regenerates to ones that regenerate manually.

Automatic water softeners come with a digital clock head which is found on the tank. It has a scheduled program for regeneration. On the other hand, manual water softeners will require an individual to start the regeneration. 

The automated one regenerates every day at a particular time thus giving you the flexibility you may need, unlike the manual one. This explains why most people prefer automated systems for manual ones.


Frequently Asked Questions 

How Often Do Ge, Fleck, and Whirlpool Water Softeners Regenerate?

Let’s start with GE water softeners, generally, GE water softeners regenerate every three to six days depending on the model and the consumption demand of the household. 

GE water softeners utilize SmartSoft Technology that learns your water consumption patterns and anticipates future demands so that your unit won’t switch into regeneration mode when you require soft water.

Whirlpool water softeners recharge once or twice a week. All Whirlpool water softeners models feature on-demand recharge technology. This technology ensures that they only recharge when needed to. In terms of frequency, it takes about two hours for on complete recharge cycle.

On the other hand, both Fleck water softeners also regenerate after a period of three to six days, depending on how the unit’s automatic clock head is scheduled.

How Can One Extend Whirlpool’s Full-Coverage Warranty?

Well in simple terms, if you want to extend whirlpool warranty is to buy two bottles of Whirlpool Water Softener Cleanser annually. This way whirlpool will give you a one-year labor and parts warranty extension. The PRO models are eligible for up to 10 years’ warranty.

Can You Install a Whirlpool, GE, or Fleck Water Softener Outdoors?

Yes, you can install a GE, Fleck, or Whirlpool water softener outside. However, you’ll just have to make sure that the unit is protected from elements and kept away from the rain.

Installing a fleck water softener outside might not be practical in some cases. First of all, water will freeze during the winter and wreak havoc. Secondly, there’s also a high temperature that might pose some concerns.Otherwise, you can just install the Whirlpool water softener outside without worrying about a thing.

Can you use a fleck water softener for industrial purposes?

Yes. Some of the Fleck models we reviewed above can work well for small and medium-sized businesses.

However, we will advise that you consult your local water specialist if your company might require a specific water conditioning unit.

Do I need a professional to install my water softener?

In simple terms, many models are designed to be installed by the homeowner, even if you have little to no plumbing experience. You can always refer to the installation kit that comes with the unit. 

But if you’re not comfortable installing the unit yourself, then you can just ask for the professional help from an expert.

How to Choose the Best Water Softener for Your Home?

The first thing you need to consider when choosing a water softener for your home is the size of your household and water usage demands. Also, you should have a clear understanding of the hardness level of your water.

Besides, you should also have a clear understanding of other water conditions such as non-ferrous iron. After getting a clear picture of all this, then you can go ahead and choose the best water softener for your home. 


Conclusion

It’s never easy to choose a water softener especially when you dealing with well water with levels of iron. We believe GE, Fleck, and Whirlpool water softeners will remove iron from well water as efficiently as they can remove other hardness causing metals such as magnesium and calcium. However, if your water contains high concentrations of iron then additional treatment methods may be necessary.

Marcus Reynolds
follow me
Latest posts by Marcus Reynolds (see all)