Iron in Your Water – Advantages and Disadvantages

Iron is a natural mineral present in nearly every water supply, whether municipally provided or drawn from a private well, and it has both beneficial and adverse effects. Trace amounts of iron in the water contribute to the water’s alkalinity, making it tastier, more nutritious, and easier to digest. However, high 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.

There are three types of iron that can be present in any given water supply:

Clear water iron exists in trace amounts in virtually all water supplies but is typically not an issue. It can, however, contribute to scale build-up on appliances and pipe walls in higher concentrations.

Red water iron is most often present in well water, but it may also be a concern in certain city water supplies. Red water 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 is a waste byproduct of microorganisms in water and can be present in both city and well water. This type of iron also gives water a bad flavor and causes brownish stains in appliances, sinks, toilets, and bathtubs.

How to Treat Iron in Your Water

Fortunately, there are some very effective solutions to the problems caused by excess iron levels. A standard water softener and reverse osmosis system will efficiently remove clear water iron in most cases. If you have abnormally high concentrations of clear water iron, any amount of red water iron, or organic/bacteria iron, an iron reduction system presents a more effective solution.

Iron reduction systems work by “trapping” the iron molecules in the water with the use of a special filter media comprised of a calcite, corosex, and sand mixture. The trapped iron is held in the mineral tank and then flushed down the drain during each backwash cycle.

These systems are very easy to maintain. All you need to do is simply replenish the filter media the same as you would the salt in a water softener.