How To Get Rid of Iron In Well Water

Reynold Aquino
3 min readApr 17, 2024


If you’re noticing rusty stains in your sinks, a metallic taste in your water, or problems with clogged pipes, iron in your well water could be the culprit. Iron is a naturally occurring mineral in groundwater, but excess levels can cause a range of problems for your household. Fortunately, there are effective ways to remove iron from your well water, improve water quality, and protect your plumbing. This article will explain how to identify an iron problem, understand the different types of iron, and guide you through choosing the best removal method for your situation.

How do I know if I have iron in my well water?

Iron contamination in well water often leaves telltale signs:

  • Rusty Stains: Reddish-brown stains in sinks, toilets, tubs, and laundry are a classic sign of ferric iron.
  • Metallic Taste and Odor: Your water might have an unpleasant metallic taste. Sometimes, a “rotten egg” smell is present due to hydrogen sulfide, which often co-occurs with iron.
  • Water Testing: For definitive confirmation, test your well water for both ferrous (dissolved) and ferric (precipitated) iron. You can use home test kits or send samples to a state-certified lab for analysis.

What are the different types of iron in well water?

Understanding the types of iron helps determine the most effective removal method:

  • Ferrous Iron (Dissolved): This form of iron is clear and soluble in water. When exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns into ferric iron.
  • Ferric Iron (Precipitated): This is the visible, rusty form of iron that causes most staining problems. It appears as solid particles in your water.
  • Iron Bacteria: While not iron itself, these bacteria feed on naturally occurring iron, creating a slimy buildup, clogs, and unpleasant odors.

How can I remove iron from my well water?

Several treatment methods exist, ranging from DIY options to professional installations:

  • Aeration: Aeration introduces oxygen into the water, oxidizing ferrous iron into ferric iron, which can then be filtered out. This works best for mild to moderate iron levels and might need a separate filtration step.
  • Water Softeners: Designed primarily to remove calcium and magnesium (hardness minerals), water softeners can also remove low levels of ferrous iron through an ion exchange process. They are less effective for severe iron problems or if iron bacteria are present.
  • Oxidation Filters: These filters use various media (like Manganese Greensand or Birm) and an oxidizing agent to convert ferrous iron into ferric iron for filtration. They can handle moderate to high iron levels.
  • Chlorination Systems: Chlorine is a powerful oxidizer that kills iron bacteria and aids in iron removal. It’s often combined with a filtration system to remove the oxidized iron particles and requires careful management for water safety.
  • Reverse Osmosis: This advanced filtration method removes a wide range of contaminants, including iron. However, it can be expensive and may waste water. It’s an option if you have additional water quality concerns beyond iron.

Choosing the right iron removal method

The best method for you depends on several factors:

  • Severity of Iron Problem: Test results will indicate the treatment level needed.
  • Type of Iron: Some methods are better suited to specific iron types or iron bacteria.
  • Budget: Solutions vary in cost from DIY to professional systems.
  • Well Characteristics: Water flow rate, pH levels, and the presence of other contaminants can influence the best approach.
  • Professional Assistance: For complex issues or to get specific system recommendations, consult a water treatment specialist certified by organizations like the Water Quality Association.

How do I maintain an iron removal system?

Proper maintenance ensures your system works efficiently:

  • Regular Backwashing: Follow manufacturer instructions for any filters requiring backwashing to remove trapped iron.
  • Media Replacement: Replace filter media according to the manufacturer’s recommended lifespan.
  • Sanitizing Systems: If iron bacteria is a concern, regular sanitization of your system may be needed.
  • Water Testing: Monitor iron levels after installation and periodically to ensure the system remains effective.

Remember, clean, safe well water is essential for your household’s health and well-being. By understanding the signs of iron contamination, the different treatment options, and the importance of proper maintenance, you can enjoy pristine water free of the problems caused by excess iron.



Reynold Aquino

Reynold Aquino is an expert in water treatment and home improvement with years of experience as a plumber and home developer.