Iron In Your Water: 3 Things You Need To Know

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Iron may be a critical element in many industries as well as an essential nutrient -- but that doesn't mean you want it in your water. If you're dealing with foul-tasting water or reddish stains on your possessions, then you may need to rid yourself of this uninvited guest. Here are three bits of knowledge that can help you identify and deal with iron in your water, from tracing its source to employing iron filters against it.

1. Where It Comes From

Iron is a plentiful element in rocks and soil. When water comes in contact with these items, a quantity of iron dissolves into the water. Well water from a natural underground water source is thus a natural place for iron to collect. The pipes, pumps, heaters and tanks that transfer water to your well or throughout your home can also shed iron into your water. This can make tracing the exact source of your contamination is tricky business. But you can eliminate some of these culprits by having a plumber inspect your water heater and other components.

Sometimes a change in the local environment can spur a sudden boost in water iron levels. Has mining or some other industrial activity recently commenced or increased in your area? This can increase your water's potential exposure to iron.

2. What It Can Do

Fortunately, iron in water is not generally considered a menace to healthy individuals (although people with iron disorders such as hemochromatosis may have reason for concern). But it can spoil the taste of drinking water and foods prepared in household water. They can also react with the ingredients of certain beverages to produce an unappetizing sludge -- even if the water you use looks crystal clear.

Iron in water also causes reddish-brown stains on fabrics and other items where traces of iron may accumulate. This effect may ruin your cooking implements, eating utensils and clothing. To make matters worse, ordinary detergents or dishwashing liquid won't get these stains out. Iron can also interact with bacteria in your toilet or bath, creating a disgusting layer of slime. 

3. How to Get Rid of It

If you have iron in your water supply, your reaction to this problem will hinge largely on where you get your water. If you rely on the city water utility, then it's up to that entity to take the necessary steps to track down the source of the infiltration and remedy the problem, so contact the city and alert them to the situation. If, on the other hand, you get your water from a private well, then you may have to extract this unwelcome additive yourself. Fortunately, there are a variety of iron filters and treatment products that can help, such as the following:

  • Air injection/aeration iron filters - Air injection filters add oxygen to the water, encouraging the iron to turn itself into rust, while aeration filters spray the water into air to achieve the same result. The rust can then be removed with a separate filter.
  • Manganese greensand iron filters - The "greensand" in this system, a natural product called glauconate, can filter iron, manganese and hydrogen sulfide out of your water.
  • Chlorination-filtration iron filters - This system uses chlorine to oxidize iron for removal. It requires two filters -- a sediment filter to remove the iron and a carbon filter to remove the chlorine.

Less effective solutions include phosphates, which dilute the iron without actually removing it, and water softening systems, which can get clogged up and fail to function if too much iron collects inside them. These solutions are best reserved for very mild iron problems.

Now that you're educated on iron in your water, take action to minimize its effect on your life. You don't have to live with nasty-tasting drinking water, stains on your clothing and slime on your plumbing fixtures! For more information, contact a business such as Bonnyville Water Conditioning.