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Iron is a chemical element that appears in many of the earth’s substances including water. Although this mineral is crucial for the growth and development of the body, consuming it with your daily water is more harmful than beneficial. Increased levels of iron might be found in mineral water, tap water, and especially in wells. Knowing that well water is the main source of water for the whole household is a troublesome issue. But then how might one know that his well water is full of iron? If you have finally decided to address the iron contamination from your private well, this article will definitely help you find the cheapest way to remove iron from well water.
While there are many methods for solving the iron contamination from your wells, knowing the right approach will help you solve the problem a lot easier and faster.
How Iron contamination happens in water
During the perforation of rainwater through rocks into water aquifers, irons that naturally exist in rocks dissolve in the water. Because there is no oxygen underground, oxidation of the iron does not take place.
Oxidation of iron happens when iron comes into contact with oxygen and a chemical reaction takes place to form solid particles that settle down on the surface of the container holding the water.
You can enhance this method of oxidation and filtration by spraying water into an underground tank and then pumping it into a tank. Before water reaches the tank, it should pass through an air injector which adds more oxygen to the water.
Signs of Iron Contamination and How It Affects Your Home
While there is no evidence that consuming iron-contaminated water is harmful to your health, it can wreak all kinds of havoc in your household. Here are some common effects of iron in your drinking water:
Metallic taste and odor
Iron can give your water an unpleasant, metallic taste and odor, which can make it difficult to drink. When the iron combines with tea, coffee, and other beverages, it produces a dark, ink-like appearance and a dreadful taste.
Besides, if you cook vegetables in water that contains iron, they might take on a darker and unappealing look.
“Iron bacteria” naturally occur in shallow soils and groundwater and can invade your well water when it is constructed or repaired.
The iron in your well water fosters the growth of this and other types of bacteria. So, if you notice any dark-colored reddish, brown, or yellow slime in your sinks, bathtub, or toilet tank, there might be “iron bacteria” present in your water.
This slime can also clog pipes and plumbing fixtures and make your drains smelly. Although most of the smell might be coming from sulfur.
Stains on laundry and dishes
When you use iron-contaminated water in your washing machine, your clothes, sheets, and towels can become discolored with orange-colored stains.
The same thing goes for the dishes that go through your dishwasher.
Stains on plumbing fixtures and surfaces
Even in low concentrations, iron can leave similar stains on fixtures, tableware, countertops, etc.
Not only are these stains nasty and unpleasant, but they can be difficult to remove.
Types of iron
Iron is the most abundant mineral found on the earth’s crust. This is why iron is also almost everywhere. Most people who get their water supply from wells in American have iron in their water. There are three forms of iron found in underground water.
Ferric is iron in a solution form. If you put water with ferrous iron in a glass, the water is crystal clear because the iron is completely dissolved.
This form of iron can cause lots of problems because it stains your sinks and toilet bowls. The iron stain will only be seen when it’s exposed to the atmospheric air.
It has a chemical symbol (Fe2+). You can get rid of this form of iron by using a water softener. However, you should know when the concentration of this iron is very high it will shorten the life of the water softener.
Unlike ferrous iron which is pure iron, ferric iron is iron that has oxidized. In this state, iron is out of solution and it’s solid. In this state it’s is filterable as a particulate. This goes by the chemical symbol (Fe3+). Ferric is iron that has already been exposed to oxygen.
Ferric is insoluble in water, so it is visible as blown coloring when it comes out of groundwater. If you don’t get rid of ferric iron, it tends to clog your pipes. Ferric is iron that has already been exposed to oxygen.
Ferric is insoluble in water, so it is visible as blown coloring when it comes out of groundwater. If you don’t get rid of ferric iron, it tends to clog your pipes.
Iron bacteria are micro-organisms that consume iron. These bacteria are naturally found in soil and water.
When feeding on iron, these tiny organisms create an oxidation reaction forming rust and greasy material that is deposited on water equipment which results in staining and corrosion.
What makes iron bacteria very nasty is that it is very difficult to filter out. Iron bacteria use iron as their energy source. Because iron bacteria are common in North America, it’s very common to find iron bacteria contamination in well water in the US. It goes by the chemical symbol (Fe3+).
You can minimize iron bacteria problems by maintaining good hygiene when constructing the well by using clean drilling tools and using chlorine residual in the water used for drilling. You should never use surface water for the purpose of drilling.
Cheap Ways to Remove Iron from Well Water
In terms of its elements water can be improved simply by leaving it to sit undisturbed until larger particles like iron would settle on the bottom. This method is called sedimentation.
Although the sedimentation method has been practiced since ancient times it is still valid to this day. To sediment your water at home simply fills a bucket or a larger storage tank if needed and let it sit for a few hours.
After that time larger particles and microbes will be sedimented, yet for the smaller contaminants like clay particles and smaller microbes let the water sit overnight. After your water has settled carefully remove your cleared water without disturbing sedimented particles.
Although the sedimentation method is the cheapest for more effective results of sedimentation consider using sedimentation filters. These types of filters physically block any unwanted particles from your water making it clean for you to use daily.
Another easy and cheap way to remove iron from your water is by using activated charcoal. Because of its abilities activated charcoal filters your water from toxins yet keeps beneficial minerals and salts.
To create an activated charcoal filter simply crush your charcoal and place it tightly into a container made of dense material. Then let your water drip through the filter and enjoy a clean water supply.
This type of inexpensive homemade filter will clear only small amounts of water. Therefore, for larger quantities use activated charcoal filters that are inserted into the water cleaning systems providing free from iron water supply for your household.
A cheap way to remove all types of iron from your well water is to disinfect it. The cheapest and most effective way to do so is to use a combination of any form of household bleach and white vinegar. Before starting disinfecting your well examine your water for any types of iron, bacteria, and microbes.
Then turn your pump off and pour bleach and vinegar in a rapid, continuous flow. After that turn your pump power on and rinse the inside of your well thoroughly. Open all indoor faucets (if any) and let the water run until no chlorine smell can be detected.
For full protection let the chlorine residue set in your well and the plumbing for at least 8 hours and flush completely. At this point you might see rusty water coming from your indoor faucets – these are iron particles leaving your plumbing system.
Before the disinfection is completed make sure to change all of the other water treatment filters as recommended by the manufacturer. Although this type of treating your well from iron requires more effort it is one of the most effective ways to remove iron from your well water without excessive costs.
More Advanced Methods to Remove Iron
Water softeners are one of the most popular ways of clearing water. This includes treating your well not only for its hardness but also for the presence of iron.
Because they remove calcium and magnesium industrial water softeners can clear your well water from ferrous iron.
However, it is still seen that in some cases iron might be detected even after the treatment with water softeners. Consult a professional or consider adding another type of filtration for 100% quality.
Aeration is a method when water and air are brought in close contact to dissolve gases. In this way, turbulence is created which activates a scrubbing process and oxidation. After that iron particles can be easily filtered.
This method treats your water not only from iron but also other harmful elements like ammonia, chlorine, methane, and many more.
However, keep in mind that the excessive presence of oxygen in your water might become corrosive.
Reverse osmosis is a water purification process that uses a certain type of membrane to eliminate almost all of the elements from your water.
Making the purest water possible RO water is completely free of all types of iron.
Depending on the type of iron use different techniques of identifying the presence of this metal in your well water.
When ferric and bacterial iron is visible because of their color identifying ferrous water requires more time. In any case, put checking iron levels in your well water on your regular maintenance list as it might have negative effects on the health of your whole household.
With a variety of filtering methods varying from as simple and cheap as sedimentation to whole water cleaning systems and enjoy your iron-free well water!
Wayne is a water quality expert – The founder of Water Filter Data. He has a degree in microbiology and his field of expertise is drinking water. His goal is to allow for clean and healthy water for as many people as possible.