Iron is one of the most troublesome contaminants of home water supplies. Dissolved iron can discolor water or give it a metallic taste. When combined with tea, coffee, or alcoholic beverages, a black appearance and a harsh, offensive taste may result. Vegetables cooked in iron-rich water turn dark and look unappetizing. Iron also causes reddish or rust-colored stains on plumbing fixtures, tableware and laundry. Certain types of bacteria may thrive in water with high iron content and give it a rotten egg smell.

Iron can be removed from water in a variety of ways. Choosing the right one depends on finding the source of the iron. A good first step is to test your water for iron.

How is Iron Removed from Water?

Iron and manganese are both known to stain the water supply. They can make water appear red or yellow, create brown or black stains in the sink, and give off an easily detectable metallic taste. Although these can all be aesthetically displeasing, iron and manganese are not considered health risks. Fortunately, they can be removed from the water easily. First though, the type of iron that is contaminating the water supply must be determined.

Ferrous iron - The water appears to be clear, but after standing, black or rust colored particles settle to the bottom.

Ferric iron - Water straight from the faucet has a red, yellow, or rusty color to it. This type will also easily settle to the bottom.

Iron bacteria - Plumbing fixtures have a slimy brown, red or green film, or there is a gelatinous sludge in the pipes. Occasionally chunks of this slime can be dislodged from pipes yielding colored water. These bacteria feed on iron found in pipes or fittings.

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