How to Remove Iron from Water? 5 Tips from Professionals


Well water is hard and contains high levels of iron, making it a common problem for people with wells.

Iron is a common well water contaminant. Ranging from bright-orange streaks in bathtubs and toilets to drinking water glasses with muddy coloring, iron in well water causes discoloration, stains, and a foul taste.

Other issues with iron in well water include:

  • Clogged pipes
  • Stained appliances
  • Stained hair and iron in water effects on skin
  • Discolored and metallic water
  • Toxicity leading to hemochromatosis

Iron is an essential body mineral requirement in controlled amounts. However, high levels cause toxicity, leading to your intestines failing to absorb iron properly.

According to the EPA, iron is a secondary contaminant. This means it stains and has a foul taste but isn’t dangerous when consumed.

Despite being a common problem with wells, you can remove iron from water using various solutions. The right water filter can remove iron from well water fast and easily.

Whereas some water filters are ideal for eliminating lots of minerals and harmful substances from well water, others work only on water with mild iron traces.

Ranging from reverse osmosis to water softener filters, you can remove iron in drinking water to make it safe.


You need to determine the specific form of iron in your well water to deploy the most suitable solution for your water problem.

Here’s how to get rid of iron in water:

Top 5 Ways to Remove Iron from Water

1. Use water softeners to remove ferrous iron

What’s ferrous iron?

Ferrous iron is completely dissolved in water. Also known as soluble iron, it’s crystal clear when poured in a glass.

However, it becomes ferric and appear as a precipitate when exposed to atmospheric conditions and gets oxidized. This means that leaving the glass of water in the open overnight results in reddish-brown flakes at the bottom of the glass.

Found deep in wells, ferrous iron in well water has no exposure to sunlight and thus no oxidation. The iron has staining qualities atop affecting the smell and taste of water.

Water softeners based on ion-exchange are designed to treat water tasting like metal, removing ferrous iron from the well water. To make sure your water softener works efficiently, you have to clean it regularly. Check this source for must-follow tips from pros that will leave your water softener in a tip-top shape.

Ion exchange is the process used to remove water hardness minerals such as iron from well water. Iron reacts with sodium ions to stabilize the well water. A sediment pre-filter is built into the water softener system to prevent iron slugs from clogging it. If your water is soft, use an oxidizing filter to remove ion from the water.

Use a rust out iron remover to flush the resin bed and water softener system regularly to protect it and increase the lifespan of the resin beads.

How to get rid of iron in water that’s ferrous:

  1. First, run a water test or use iron test strips to determine your water conditions and find out the type of iron present.

  2. Choose a water softener designed for removing iron. However, if other harmful minerals are present in the water, choose a suitable water softener accordingly.

  3. Opt for another method of treating water tasting like metal if you’re on a low sodium diet; water softeners introduce more sodium into the water.

  4. Install the water softener system the DIY-way or hire a professional to get the job done.

  5. Opt for high-purity salts to use in your water softener.

  6. Test your water again to ascertain that the iron in drinking water is eliminated or reduced to safe levels.

Other solutions for removing ferrous iron include:

  • Manganese greensand for removing ferric iron
  • KDF filters for water with heavy metals
  • Birm for water with high pH levels

2. Use sediment filters to remove ferric iron

What’s ferric iron?

Ferric iron doesn’t dissolve completely in water, meaning it’s an insoluble iron. Bright red or orange coloration indicates the presence of ferric iron.

The best sediment filters are rated sub-micron, meaning they’re capable of removing emerging iron precipitates from your well water.

Water flows freely through the filters but prevents particulate solid matter from accessing and clogging plumbing systems. The filters trap debris, dirt, and cloudiness from getting into water in your home.

Micron-rating indicates a filter’s capability to eliminate iron from well water. Strong-wound sediment filters with natural cotton are the most popular for removing ferric iron from water.

Opt for this method if your water has low levels of ferric iron. However, if you have both ferrous and ferric iron to deal with, you need a different solution to remove iron in drinking water.

3. Use shock chlorination to remove bacterial iron

Bacteria bonds with iron to form bacterial iron, the most stubborn kind of iron in well water. Water with bacterial iron is a bright red sludge that looks like tomato soup.

Improper well servicing or poor maintenance often results in bacterial iron. For instance, failing to sanitize a serviced well pump can introduce bacteria into your well.

Bacterial iron clogs well pumps, sticks inside pipes, deposits swampy, slimy residues in tanks and toilet bowls, and congests plumbing fixtures. It also ruins sediment pre-filters, water softeners, and water booster pumps.

This form of iron isn’t harmful but harbors pathogenic bacterial growth.

Removing the slimy, invasive contaminant from your well is labor-intensive but worthwhile. High chlorine concentration (almost 200ppm) is introduced to a well in shock chlorination to disinfect both the well and its waters.

Shock chlorination is applied on the entire well, including its walls, depth, pressure and distribution systems, and pump. The bacteria bonded with iron is eliminated to leave behind iron for removal using an oxidizer, water softener, or a sediment filter.

If this technique doesn’t completely eliminate the bacteria, install a constant chlorination system just after the storage tank. However, bacterial iron is the easiest to remove because it’s available in precipitate form.

4. Install an oxidation filter to eliminate arsenic traces and water tasting like metal

Unlike water softeners, oxidation filters can remove harmful, arsenic chemical from your well water. Test your water for arsenic and iron traces to use this technique on how to get rid of iron in water.

Oxidation filters also remove bad odors and flavors from water. Handle chlorine-based oxidation filters with care; they disinfect water to kill pathogens such as bacteria.

Hire a professional to install the oxidation filter and conduct routine maintenance to prolong its life. Make sure to test the water pre and post oxidation filter installation.

5. Use a reverse osmosis filter to remove iron, arsenic traces and other minerals

Reverse osmosis is ideal in removing iron and other multiple mineral traces, including arsenic. It eliminates manganese, iron, salt, lead, and fluoride.

Although reverse osmosis also eradicates good minerals such as calcium, it’s effective in removing iron, arsenic traces and other minerals from well water.

Hire a professional to install the filter, if necessary. And, carry out routine maintenance every one to two years.

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