Today, we’re going to talk about iron and how to get it out of your water supply.
How Iron Gets Into The Water
Iron is the most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust.
Iron is everywhere.
And for you well owners, you folks typically have iron in your water, and it can be a nuisance.
There are three types of iron found in water: ferric, ferrous, and bacterial.
It comes in a soluble state, meaning that it’s dissolved and it’s in solution.
If you pour a glass of water with dissolved iron in it, that water is crystal clear.
When it oxidizes, it becomes ferric iron, it’s actually filterable.
The third most common form of iron we see is bacterial iron, and that’s when bacteria bond with iron in the well and it creates this nasty, slimy stuff that is very hard to get out.
Iron is a nuisance and if you have as little as 0.3 part per million in your water, you know it because it’s staining toilets, it’s staining fixtures.
It’s creating havoc in your laundry, turning your clothes orange, and it could actually turn your hair and skin orange if concentrations are high enough.
So most people that have iron in their water, want it out of the water.
One of the reasons it’s such a nuisance, it doesn’t take very much at all.
In fact, as little as 0.3 parts per million, it’ll cause these stains.
Well, let me put that in perspective.
If you had a million beach balls and only one-third of one beach ball was iron, that would be enough to stain the fixtures in your house, so it doesn’t take much iron at all to cause problems.
It’s not really a health concern.
In fact, iron’s part of a healthy diet.
Although the iron that’s in the water really isn’t going to benefit us from drinking so much water, it’s a nuisance and it’s so much better if we get the iron out.
Remove Iron From The Water
In order to remove iron from the water, we have to have a firm understanding of what form that iron is in.
Sometimes iron can be in both forms.
It can be both ferric and ferrous.
So if the water has a tint to it, that means that some of that iron is already out of solution in the ferric form.
We can put a sediment filter and probably capture that, but we also want to know if there’s ferrous iron still in the solution.
And in order to find that out, we have to do a simple test.
Iron tests are available in test strips or in a chemical titration type that you can do yourself.
But it’s very important to understand that level of iron.
Because if it’s in solution, we have to do something to turn it into a ferric form or capture it in its ferrous state.
So let’s assume that we don’t have any tint in the water, all of the iron is in the soluble or ferrous form.
We might be able to get that out with an ion exchange water softener.
Sometimes we like to use an oxidizing filter to remove the iron.
When iron is in the ferrous form, if we oxidize it into the ferric form, and convert it into a solid, then it’s filterable; so, we have a variety of oxidation filters that we use.
Manganese greens and uses potassium permanganate.
And every once in a while, kind of like a water softener that regenerates some of that oxidizer which is very effective at reducing iron.
The next thing that we use often is Brim – another oxidizing-type media.
The media doesn’t require the oxidizing agent as it really requires that high pH and high level of dissolved oxygen.
Lastly, we have a variety of iron removal filters at our disposal, and those use some level of oxidizing agent to help us convert it to ferric and capture it in the media.
Often we’ll use a media called KDF, it’s a metallic-type material that’s really good at creating that oxidizing chemical reaction to convert the iron.
Those are really good when we’re not dealing with high volumes of water or high flow rates.
The point of entry would be where we don’t have a big need for big volumes and high flow rates of water.
But the stuff that would fit into a Big Blue housing, for example, can be effective if the rest of the constituents are right for what’s in your water supply.
The third form of iron we run into fairly frequently is bacterial iron, and a lot of times that’s introduced to the well in a maintenance schedule.
You had the well serviced, the pump raised, and other maintenance done to the well, and they didn’t sanitize it very well after they left.
That can create bacteria in the well, which grow and bond with the iron.
And when it bonds with the iron, it creates a real slimy, kind of gooey residue that clogs up filters.
It clogs up water softeners.
Anything that’s automatic or even a sediment filter, it’ll clog up.
The best way to handle bacterial iron is first to try shocking the well, and there’s a very succinct process to shock your well properly.
And we can help you through that, just give us a call.
If you shock the well, a lot of times that eliminates the bacteria that are bonded with the iron, and then we can worry about the ferric or ferrous type iron.
Once it’s bacterially bound, that’s easy for me to say, now we have to go to a different level of the treatment process.
And if you’ve got enough iron, you put chlorine to it, you can create a kind of tomato soup, so that becomes a challenge of treatment.
So hopefully you don’t have to deal with that.
One thing to keep in mind with an ion exchange water softer and taking iron out is it does a pretty good job at soluble or ferrous iron.
It cannot deal with iron that’s converted into the ferric state, that stuff will sail right through.
So there’s a good chance, or we hear it frequently.
That would be a great indication that there is converted ferric iron in the water prior to the water softeners, and that’s going right through.
And that’s why I always suggest that you put a sediment filter as the very first thing the water sees when it comes into the house with any level of iron.
That way if you have any conversion going on in the well where it’s converting from ferrous to ferric, from soluble to particulate, you’ll capture it with that sediment filter, and then you don’t have to worry about the ferric iron getting into the house.
Well, that’s all I’ve got on getting iron out of your water.