Affordable Water Treatments of Manitoba

Water Softeners & Iron

Many homeowners with wells have experienced high iron water, which is a frustrating problem. The water leaves ugly stains on your appliances, is discoloured and is a breeding ground for nasty iron bacteria. Water treatment experts all around say that iron is one of the significant issues that they are often called out to fix.

Many homeowners have already installed a standard water softener, so how come iron remains a significant issue?

Most people who use well water want a one-size-fits-all solution, which is very unrealistic. First and foremost, the quality of water is different from that of your neighbour. Thus a basic water softener won’t be a feasible solution for everybody. Here’s why.

Why should you remove iron in the first place?

Iron isn’t bad for your health. In fact, many people suffer from iron deficiency. However, the iron found in well waters presents several issues.

  1. Iron doesn’t taste good. In extreme cases, it will taste like blood. This will impact your cooking or the beverages that are made out of this water.

  2. It takes a small amount of iron in water to taint your appliances. The brown stain is unattractive and sometimes hard to remove.

  3. The bacteria and the iron in your water may clog pipes, reducing the water’s pressure and may result in expensive repairs.

  4. Iron is a breeding ground for bacteria. These bacteria form slimy gunk that may be found in pipes or at the back of toilets. The bacteria changes the smell of water, making it hard to drink. It also attracts other germs and bacteria, which are harmful to your health and may cause water-borne diseases.

Iron Bacteria in Plumbing
Iron Bacteria in Plumbing

Does a softener remove iron in your well water?

First, you need to know that it takes only a little iron, about 0.3 parts per million (ppm), to stain your appliances. 1ppm of iron is equivalent to one grain of sand, to put it into perspective.

A standard water softener can and does remove iron besides water hardness, which may be the reason why many households over-rely on water softeners. However, in cases with a high amount of iron, you might need more than a standard softener.

The resin bed in your water softener is designed to eliminate the hardness minerals; magnesium and calcium through a process called ion exchange. In this process, the salts in the water softener rinse the resin and knock over the magnesium and calcium ions, flushing them out of the softener. Excess iron does not go through this process; thus, it travels to your home for use.

When you use a water softener to remove iron, it remains implanted in the resin bed. Consequently, the resin bed’s life span is shortened. This also affects other parts of the water softener. As a homeowner, you will need to regularly purchase iron cleaners and resin beds to avoid wasting water. Resin beds are not like filters in systems that can be replaced often. If treated properly, their lifespan is between 15 to 20 years.


Why isn’t a water softener reliable to remove iron?

The problem lies in the regeneration process, and the water softener will not remove the iron embedded in its resin bed. Additionally, the softener may not remove all the iron. As mentioned previously, it only takes a minuscule amount of iron to cause staining. Some water systems may have iron content of more than 10 ppm. A standard water softener will be useless at this point, and you will need s specialized treatment system. Some regions in North America contain iron levels up to 20ppm.

How do you remove iron from well water?

Water can have two types of iron. The first one is ferric iron which is visible because it does not dissolve in water, and the second one is the soluble ferrous iron that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Water with ferric iron has particulates, and these can be filtered out easily with the suitable media. Ferrous iron, on the other hand, is a little tricky. It will first require oxidation to change to particulate iron before it is removed from the water. To remove both types of iron, you might need one of the following processes.

  • Reverse osmosis

  • Chemical oxidation

  • Oxidation filtration

  • Aeration

What’s more, using the above processes will also remove some types of bacteria that may be found in your water. Other systems employ multiple filtration techniques to get better results, while other older systems use chlorine. Sometimes a small chlorine generator may just be the perfect solution. You can insert it inside your filtration system, and this eliminates bacteria and prevents its growth inside your appliances and your water softener.

If you already have a water softener, the most feasible solution is to add an iron filter. You can call a professional to install iron filtration systems such as Plus Air Series, Water-Right’s Impression or Ion Pro, and the EVFE system from the Evolve. There are so many filtration systems out there you just have to choose the right one for you. It is better to get an additional filtration system to your softener rather than wonder if water softeners remove iron.

Iron Filter Cut Away
Iron Filter Cut Away

Fix the Iron issue in your home’s water

A standard water softener can remove a small amount of iron from your well water to answer the question. Have our team at Affordable Water Treatments test your water and we can tell you if your water softener will handle the iron in your water, or if you need to have a dedicated iron filter installed. You can run high iron water through your softener, however, this is not recommended because it is not what this system is designed for. Further, it may not entirely remove iron from your water. In fact, if your water contains excessive iron, it may damage your resin bed leading to cleaning and replacement. Avoid this by getting a water filtration system dedicated to removing iron.

The only way to prevent iron stains from becoming a problem in your home is to have the proper equipment installed. Affordable Water Treatments have experts that can test and evaluate your water situation and provide the right solution. Call for an appointment today.