What is iron and how does it get in your water?
Iron is one of the most common elements on Earth forming most of the inner and outer core, so it is not surprising that it shows up in our water supplies.
In water, iron exists in one of three common forms: ferrous (Fe+2), ferric (Fe+3), or bacterial.
- Ferrous iron is soluble and not visible in water.
- Ferric iron is insoluble and may tint water.
- Bacterial iron bonds with living organisms and leaves slimy residue in toilet tanks.
When in contact with air, dissolved iron (ferrous) will oxidize into the ferric or particulate form, which causes orange staining. Occasionally, oxidation through an air injection or a chlorine injection converts iron into the insoluble form to be filtered. Depending on the concentration of dissolved iron and the pH level of water, an ion exchange water softener may effectively remove iron.
How to remove iron from your water
Techniques used to remove iron from water depend on understanding what form(s) are present and at what concentrations. Other factors like pH, can also play a role in determining the best process for reduction.
Frequently, iron appears in both the dissolved and solid forms and requires multiple steps such as mechanical filtration and ion exchange to work together to capture it.
Iron bacteria can be treated by ‘shocking’ the well with chlorine periodically or a permanent process in the house with a constant chlorination system.