Why is there iron in my drinking water?
Iron is the second most common metal in the earth’s crust, making up about 5% of the total. So, when water moves through the soil, it can pick up iron naturally. This is why iron can be found in surface water, like lakes and rivers, and groundwater, which comes from the ground.
But iron can also come out of rusty pipes, industrial waste, and the refining of ore.
Ferrous and ferric iron is what we usually deal with when it comes to drinking water. 0.7 ppm is the average amount of iron in rivers on average. 0.5 to 10 parts per million are found in groundwater. There are times when 50 ppm is possible. Drinking water usually has less than 0.3 ppm of iron in it.
Is iron contaminated water bad for my health?
Because iron is a naturally occurring element that is used by (and found inside) our own bodies, there’s no inherent risk to consuming small amounts of iron in your water.
That said, high levels of iron contamination are associated with a number of minor health risks.
When excessive levels of iron are ingested over long periods, they can accumulate in major organs. There’s little risk of this from most water sources, however, drinking water with iron concentrations above 200 mg per liter can result in iron poisoning.
Iron compounds and bacteria, in particular, have the potential to cause more serious health consequences. When the latter is digested, it creates an environment that may include extra germs, increasing the likelihood of becoming ill from it.
Skin and hair
Well water with a high concentration of iron may also have an adverse impact on your hair and skin. When used to wash your hair, it might cause it to become dry and brittle, as well as darker in color as a result. Blonde hair may become orange as a result of the sun. It is possible that your skin may wrinkle prematurely. When soap and iron are mixed, a scum is formed on the skin that is difficult to remove. Soap scum residue has the potential to clog pores, resulting in irritation and acne in some people.
Is iron contaminated water bad for my home?
When levels of iron in water reach significant levels, your home appliances and piping feel the effects. High iron contamination can cause:
- Iron staining. The most famous effect of iron contamination in the home is those orangey stains that can cause rings around your toilet bowl, shower tray, or sink drain. When iron levels are high these stains can even transfer onto laundry and can be difficult to remove (as the water used for cleaning stains contains iron itself).
- Clogged pipes and appliances. Iron particles can accumulate in pipes and home appliances, causing them to clog. What starts out as a small drop in water flow rate can become broken and non-functioning appliances over a longer period.
- Bacterial contamination. Iron bacteria are a type of microorganism that consume iron as part of their metabolic process. As a result, they thrive in iron-rich water and can quickly reproduce in water storage tanks, pipes, and unused appliances. Signs of iron bacteria include an orange scum or foul-smelling slime that covers the water’s surface.
Can iron be filtered out of well water?
Yes. Even though iron is a highly common and troublesome contaminant, it can be effectively removed from well water when the right equipment is used.
How do you filter well water with iron?
The most often used filter type for removing ferric iron and ferrous iron consists of a huge mineral tank filled with oxidation media such as greensand and sand, which is utilized to extract the iron.
In the case that the ferric and ferrous concentrations are exceptionally high, an additional pre-oxidation step may be necessary. The air injection oxidation technique is the most often utilized.
It is possible to treat iron-oxidizing bacteria with chlorine injection or shock chlorination, both of which are effective treatments.
Do whole house iron filters work?
Whole house water filters should work well to remove iron, so long as they contain filtration stages designed specifically to target it.
Most whole house water filters don’t contain the appropriate technology, however, so do your research and choose the right product for your water profile.