How to remove iron from well water?

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How to remove iron from well water

Well water is an excellent alternative for public water sources that are sometimes considered unsanitary and unhealthy to rely on. However, private well water comes with its consequences and is sometimes littered with contaminants. 

Iron is known to be one of the most prominent contaminants present within well water. Though scientists argue that an appropriate percentage of iron is viable for water, i.e., 3ppm (Parts per million), there is a thin line between the appropriate amount of iron and an excess. 

If you’re wondering how to determine if your water is contaminated with iron, we’re here to help you out and also to provide cheap and effective solutions for decontamination! This article discusses how to remove iron from well water.

Apart from being reliable and healthy, private well water is cost-effective and tastes better than bottled water. Since your private wells are always in your sight, you can trust the water to be pure and clean as well. 

However, there are no specific criteria or mandatory health standards imposed by the US government to ensure the cleanliness and safety of private well water, which leave the owners of private wells on their own to ensure that their health isn’t being compromised. How to remove iron from your well water is often one of the most important debates.

There are plenty of ways to determine if your well water is contaminated with iron and how to remove that iron from well water naturally. We will cover all these areas along with the different types of iron that pollute well water, the cheapest way to remove iron from well water, the costs, and their effectiveness.

Cheapest way to remove iron from well water

The cheapest way to remove iron from well water will include sedimentation, using activated charcoal, and chlorination. These cheap and effective methods will range in price between $5 to $25.

Disadvantages of iron contaminated water


As a result of its potential to inflict damage and ugly stains at such low amounts, many homeowners with well water find it frustrating. When iron is present in your water, it causes an orange stain on everything from your toilet bowl to your sinks, showers, and bathtubs. 

Unknown to many, discoloration does not end there. As a result of repeated washings, laundry and dishes and hair may become discolored.

Skin and Hair Damage

Your hair will grow dull and brittle if you take a shower with too much iron in the water. You may also taste the difference in the water. As well as imparting a blood-like metallic taste to your water, iron also affects its odor. 

Clogging and Weak Water Pressure

Iron residue can accumulate in your pipes as it runs through them, resulting in a reduction in water flow throughout your home. Sinks and toilets will clog, and your household appliances will operate worse due to reduced water pressure. 

When the showerhead pressure drops, the water flow becomes unsatisfactory. In particular, bacterial iron can produce significant clogging difficulties. Water pressure can be disrupted, and dangerous bacteria can flourish when bacterial iron is present in pipes. From your dishwasher to your lawn sprinkler, any equipment that uses water will generate waste heat. 

You’ll notice a drop in water pressure at your shower head, dishwasher, or water heater. When it piles up enough, these devices may malfunction. No one wants to replace or repair equipment earlier than necessary.

Medical Side Effects

Iron can be harmful if consumed in excessive doses. Hemochromatosis is a medical disorder that is inherited and inhibits your intestines from absorbing iron efficiently. Cirrhosis of the liver and fatigue are all symptoms of hemochromatosis. 

It is important to note that hemochromatosis is a hereditary ailment that cannot be contracted by consuming well water with high iron concentrations.

How does iron get into well water

Iron is a naturally occurring element that is embedded deep within the earth’s crust. However, the iron travels from the earth’s crust to rocks and soil alongside the rainwater through rainfall. This iron-soaked rainwater sometimes makes its way to aquifers, which are the primary source of underground water. 

It is essential to determine if the iron levels with your private well water surpass the normal percentage. Your well water can also include iron if it has been exposed to rusted or corroded plumbing. You’ll notice brown flecks from old iron pipes and orange stains on your drains. 

Over time, the iron castings in your well will begin to rust, because Iron oxidizes and deteriorates when exposed to air and water. This long-term exposure to the elements induces the breakdown of iron, which results in the formation of rust. 

It is possible to fix this problem by changing the pipes that run from your well. If your well is old and in disrepair, you may want to consider drilling a new well.

Types of Iron

Ferric Iron

This type of iron is not soluble in water because the iron minerals do not completely dissolve in the water. The presence of ferric iron in your well will be evident if your water has an orange or red hue. 

A well’s bacterial iron is the easiest form of iron to remove because it is in a precipitate state.

Ferrous Iron

This type of iron is completely soluble in water. In contrast to ferric iron, ferrous Iron induced water appears to be clear with no signs of strange discoloration. However, if left overnight within atmospheric conditions, the water will ultimately start to precipitate and will leave brownish-red flakes at the bottom of the container. Moreover, it will also affect the taste and the smell of the water.

Bacterial Iron

Bacterial iron is the trickiest and most dangerous form of iron that may be found in water. Bacterial Iron is caused by bonding between iron and bacteria in the well. 

Bacterially produced iron appears as bright red, and is caused by insufficient well maintenance. A well pump serviced without being thoroughly sterilized can introduce germs that will bond with the iron. Pipes and plumbing fixtures get congested as bacteria-laden iron adheres to the inside of pipes, clogs pumps, and leaves a slimy residue in the toilet bowl and tank.

Organic Iron

Organic iron is a chemical generated by combining an organic acid with ferrous metal. The presence of organic iron and tannins can be found in very shallow and surface-water-affected wells. 

Water softeners, aeration systems, and iron filters may not perform appropriately because organic iron and tannins can inhibit or prevent iron oxidation.

Cheapest way to remove iron from well water

1. Sedimentation

Sedimentation Cost: $10 – $20

Iron may be removed from water through sedimentation, which is the cheapest method. Simple storage containers like buckets, pots, or even enormous tanks can be used. 

Consider sedimentation filters for more effective sedimentation results, even if sedimentation is the least expensive approach. 

Water that passes through these sorts of filters is free of any impurities and is safe for you to drink every day. 


Allow all the pollutants to settle to the bottom of the storage vessel once it has been filled with water. Pour the water into a separate container to avoid disturbing the particles that have collected. 

As a result, the sediments can dissolve back into the water when it is transferred to the recipient tank, which is a severe drawback. 

It is essential to carefully remove your cleaned water after it has settled without disturbing the sedimented particles in it. The process is repeated over and over again. 

2. Activated Charcoal method

Activated Charcoal Method Cost: $25 

You may also consider using activated charcoal to remove iron from your water, as it is also a cost-effective and simple way to remove iron from well water. 

Activated charcoal removes pollutants from your water while retaining essential minerals and salts.


Crush your charcoal and place it tightly in a container made of dense material to produce an activated charcoal filter. 

Next, let the water trickle through the filter to obtain clean water. Using this form of homemade filter, which is quite inexpensive, will only be able to filter tiny amounts of water. 

Water purification systems that provide iron-free drinking water can be equipped with activated charcoal filters for filtering larger amounts of water. 

Activated carbon filters are capable of removing a wide range of pollutants, unpleasant tastes, and odors from water.

3. Chlorination

Chlorination Cost: $5 – $10 

Disinfecting your well water is a cost-effective approach to remove all sorts of iron. Bleach and white vinegar are the most cost-effective and efficient cleaning solutions. 


Examine your well’s water for iron, germs, and microorganisms before beginning the disinfection process. 

When the pump is turned off, quickly and continuously pour bleach and vinegar into the sink. Next, turn your pump on and thoroughly rinse the inside of your well. 

Allow the water to flow until no chlorine smell can be noticed in any interior faucets. Keep your well and plumbing chlorinated for at least eight hours before flushing it out. 

As a result of this, you may notice rust-colored water pouring from your interior faucets. Most manufacturers recommend that all other water treatment filters be changed before the disinfection is performed. 

Even though this method of iron removal from well water requires more effort, it is one of the most cost-effective ways to remove iron from well water.

How to remove iron from well water More Advanced methods

1. Water Softeners

A water softener is one of the most popular methods of removing impurities from the water. If your well is iron-rich, you should treat it accordingly. 

Industrial water softeners can eliminate ferrous iron from your well water because they remove calcium and magnesium. Despite this, iron can still be discovered in certain water after treatment with water softeners. Normally, water softeners cost between $300 and $1,500.

2. Filtration

Iron filters are a safe and effective way to remove iron from water. It is possible to extract all types of iron from well water by using a filter

The system is supposed to be rewashed every three days to eliminate all impurities that have been removed. Flushing the filter after sediments have been removed ensures that bacteria that feed on the iron will not be able to survive or multiply. 

As a result, the system must be regularly back-washed in order to deliver safe, clean water.

3. Oxidation and Filtration 

Iron bacteria thrives in well water because of its high iron content. A method that removes iron bacteria from well water is chemical oxidation.

The introduction of a Manganese-Oxide media is required for oxidation to occur. The process absorbs and retains the oxidation of iron and manganese, which then needs to be filtered out. Iron and Manganese removal is discussed in more detail here

Potassium permanganate or chlorine is then used to regenerate the Manganese-Oxide media.

Purification tablets are another option I would recommend. It is most effective when iron levels are low. Another iron removal process should be considered if there is too much iron.

4. Aeration

With the aeration process, water and air are brought into close proximity to dissolve gases. Turbulence is created, which starts the scouring process and causes the metal to oxidize. It is then possible to remove the iron particles by filtering them through the water system. 

Other hazardous elements such as ammonia and chlorine are removed from the water with this process, along with iron. Keep in mind, though, that an excessive amount of oxygen in your water could be detrimental to your pipes.

5. Pasteurization

When working with foods or certain types of beverages, the pasteurization procedure is well-known (e.g., milk). Your well water is pasteurized for 30 minutes using steam or hot water. Despite being quite effective, this method of removing iron from well water could prove to be pricey.

6. Reverse Osmosis

A reverse osmosis system employs a special membrane to remove practically all elements from your water. RO water is iron-free, resulting in the purest water conceivable.


There are numerous methods for detecting iron in your well water. Ferric and bacterial iron can be easily identified by the color of your water. 

Your household’s health could be adversely affected if you don’t regularly test your well water for iron. This is why it is important to ensure that your well water is not being subjected to iron and if so, removing iron from well water is essential for good health. 

If you are willing to opt for the cheap iron removal methods, make sure you take all the precautionary measures and do your research beforehand. On the other hand, advanced iron removal methods can be far more reliable and effective as well as pricey.

The H2Home Lab team is dedicated to helping you find the best solutions to your specific water needs, as well as provide troubleshooting tips and guides for water filtration, heating, softening and plumbing. We hope you will find the info you need on our site from any one of our buying guides or subject matter articles.

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