Categorized | Iron Removal

How do you remove rust (iron) from your water?

How do you remove rust (iron) from your water?

A WATER SOFTENER CAN REDUCE IRON TO BELOW THE THRESHOLD OF STAINING, BUT IT CAN NOT TOTALLY REMOVE IT! Under some circumstances, a water softener will work for a while, but the resin bed will gradually become fouled with iron over months or years, decreasing it’s efficiency at removing the iron. To totally remove iron, one must utilize the following:(1) Oxidation and filtration; or (2) Sequestration using polyphosphates.POLYPHOSPHATES We will discuss sequestration of iron with polyphosphates first. Sequestration of iron with polyphosphates does not remove it from the water supply, but keeps the iron in solution, so that it does not produce stains. This is often used when individuals or businesses want to keep the iron from staining in irrigation systems. It is accomplished by injecting a small amount of polyphosphate into the water, typically with a chemical injection pump and a solution tank containing a supply of polyphosphate. However, it is not perfect in removing iron, as evaporation of the water can still leave an iron residue and the iron often precipitates when the water is heated. Results may very dramatically with sequestration, depending upon a variety of factors, not the least of which is water chemistry.

OXIDATION Almost any concentration of iron can be oxidized by feeding an oxidizer such as chlorine, ozone, potasium permanganate, hydrogen peroxide or even oxygen into the water supply. The oxidizer reduces the iron to a small particle (precipitate), which is then mechanically filtered from the water, typically by a backwashing filter with a dense media containing carbon or materials.

In my thirty-plus years of experience, I have personally tried every method known to man to remove iron. Today, I primarily tried use hydrogen peroxide, as it is a much better oxidizer of iron than either chlorine or potassium permanganate and does not leave excess air in the water like oxygen systems. Unlike chlorine, hydrogen peroxide is simply hydrogen and oxygen and produces no harmful chlorination byproducts. A hydrogen peroxide system consists of a chemical injection pump, solution tank, in-line static mixer, and a backwashing filter to remove the oxidized iron.

I prefer the hydrogen peroxide system because it completely removes iron and sulfur with totally predictable results. It is my opinion that other methods are not as predictable or reliable in function. A hydrogen peroxide system will remove 100% of the iron. PERIOD! For homebuilders that build large custom homes with irrigation systems on iron-bearing waters, the hydrogen peroxide system will totally eliminate any staining in irrigation systems, and throughout the home, for that matter. Additionally, a water softener will not have to work nearly as hard once the iron is completely removed. This is not to say that other methods can’t work. I am just stating my opinion based upon my extensive experience in treating problem water.

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98 Responses to “How do you remove rust (iron) from your water?”

  1. sandy says:

    Sorry…my first sentence should have read..

    I have some information on our system from the last time it was tested.

  2. mark says:

    Sandy,

    I could believe everything about you water analysis except the 300 ppm of sulfur. No way that’s right! I could believe 3 ppm, maybe even 30 ppm, but not 300 ppm!

    The plunbing should be simple: Just tell the plumber where you want the three different types of water to go, and have them each plumbed to your mechanical room. No reason to install the water treatment equipment during the “rough-in” phase. That’s the simple part.

    You don’t want to dip the water out of the well. It really needs to run for a while in order to obtain an accurate analysis.

  3. Neikl says:

    Mark, I would like your opinion on treating small amounts of sulfur (less than 1ppm)in my well.We do not have any iron problems. currently we have a 100000 grain mclean softner for hardness (80 grains), with a rented culligan system they call the “super s” to treat sulfur at .7 to 1 ppm. The above system works great how ever I would like to purchase my own sulfur system, since renting the “super s” is cost prohibitive. I’ve been looking at systems that use pyrolox they claim they can treat up to 4ppm sulfur. what do you think about these pyrolox systems or do you have any other reccomendations? your peroxide system seems like over kill for my purposes beside $350 a year on peroxide is close to what it cost to rent culligan “super s”.

  4. Neikl says:

    Mark, Somehow my last post seems to have been deleted.There are three of us in our family. I’m looking for your opinion on the most cost effective way on treating 1ppm sulfur? I would like to purchase a system soon.I am looking for minimum upkeep and resonable price. Thanx Neil

  5. mark says:

    Neikl,

    Where do you live? That will make a difference as to what I recommend.

  6. Neikl says:

    Mark Ilive in southeastern Michigan, Monroe county thanx Neil

  7. mark says:

    Neil,

    I would still recommend the OXi system.

  8. Neikl says:

    Mark, My well has a maximum flow rate of about 12gpm.Does this mean I need the oxi-3 system capable of handleing up to 13gpm. Thanx Neil

  9. Steve says:

    I have a well water iron level of 4.5 ppm, with a .7 ppm iron after softening. With my family of 2-4, what would the typical yearly usage of H2O2 in 7% be in gallons? I am wishing to determine roughly the operating costs for the OXI system. Do you have comments on other methods such as the iron curtain style/air oxidation systems? Thank you for your informative site!

  10. dan says:

    I apologise if this question is in teh wrong place.

    I have a well, with a rust remover and water softner in front of it. The water softner and rust remover are about 20′ away from the main drain. This 20′ 4″ pipe seems to be getting clogged by the runoff from these two systems to the point that when they regerate that now overflows. I have had the pipe rodded several times, first every year then every 6 months now every three months. Is there a way to clear out this pipe without having it totally torn out and replaced? Is there a way to stop this build up of what looks like rust in this pipe? It is a clay pipe.

  11. mark says:

    Steve wrote:

    I have a well water iron level of 4.5 ppm, with a .7 ppm iron after softening. With my family of 2-4, what would the typical yearly usage of H2O2 in 7% be in gallons? I am wishing to determine roughly the operating costs for the OXI system. Do you have comments on other methods such as the iron curtain style/air oxidation systems? Thank you for your informative site!

    Steve,

    1. Of course you would put the Oxi system AHEAD of the softener, so it would be removing 4.5 ppm iron, but the softener could be “dialed back” on salt as it would not be taking the iron out.

    2. Our “average” customer uses 50-60 gallons of H202 per year. This is the only “drawback” to the system – you have an annual H2O2 bill!

    3. Air is free, but the systems that use “air” are unpredictable – It’s hard (maybe impossible) to always get the right amount of air into the water. So, you usually end up with air bubbles in your water, which makes it appear cloudy, and you sometimes get too little, and the iron is not oxidized properly. You frequently get “spiting and sputtering” when you first open a faucet. They end up working about 90% of the time and during that time, you generally have cloudy water. With H2O2, we can always predict that it will work and you have none of the above issues.

  12. mark says:

    Dan wrote:

    I have a well, with a rust remover and water softner in front of it. The water softner and rust remover are about 20′ away from the main drain. This 20′ 4″ pipe seems to be getting clogged by the runoff from these two systems to the point that when they regerate that now overflows. I have had the pipe rodded several times, first every year then every 6 months now every three months. Is there a way to clear out this pipe without having it totally torn out and replaced? Is there a way to stop this build up of what looks like rust in this pipe? It is a clay pipe.

    Dan,

    It sounds like you have an obstruction somewhere, which causes water to stand in the pipe. There’s no way a 4″ pipe should plug that quick.

  13. Mark Wallace says:

    Mark,

    After installing the US Water Systems OxiGen Iron & Sulfur Eradication System do I need to insatll a Salt Based Conditioner as well.

    Thanks for the info.

  14. Rhonda says:

    Thank you so much for the information you have shared. We have been trying to figure out our iron problem for years! I do not recall the ppm of iron from our previous report but I think you can answer my questions without that info.

    We do have a softener and now I understand that is not sufficient to remove the iron. When our water sits sometimes an orange film develops in the bottom of the container. I notice this the most in the dog’s water dish and the toilets. We recently had a leak in the copper pipe that connects our pressure tank to the water softener. The pipe looked corroded. When my husband took things apart to fix the pipe, the pipe was full of that orange film, more like slick mud. He also replaced other joints in the area the were corroding. Is the orange slim in that pipe from the iron dissipating out over time or do we have another problem here? The house is 10 years old and is in the Piedmont of NC (lots of orange clay soil.)

    You recommend water testing from US water systems. Which do you recommend the Field Test or the NTL water check test?

    Can the OxiGen system be installed by a lay person? My husband is not a plumber but has always fixed all our plumbing problems. He did not install the water softener though.

    Can the GreenWave be installed by a lay person?

    Also how has the WaterDog system continued to do? I like the idea of a all-in-one type of system with very little maintenance!

    Rhonda

  15. mark says:

    Mark Wallace asked:

    After installing the US Water Systems OxiGen Iron & Sulfur Eradication System do I need to insatll a Salt Based Conditioner as well.

    Mark,

    If your water is over 10 grains of hardness, I would suggest that or a salt-free conditioner.

  16. mark says:

    Rhonda,

    I would recommend the NTL test – it is much more comprehensive.

    The WaterDog is very expensive and seems to work OK, but I would not install it unless you had a dealer closeby. The Oxi system works exceptionally well on water like that and is easy to install and maintain, as is the GreenWave.

  17. James says:

    Greetings Mark
    I am planning to have a irrigation system put in this year and don’t want the iron staining the house, sidewalk and driveway. I had my well water analyzed and it has 1ppm iron. Based on the tag on the pressure tank, I have a submersible pump at a depth of 140ft, with a capacity of 20 gpm with a horsepower of 1.5

    My questions are: based on the submersible pump, would I need the OXI-5 (max flow rate at 20gpm) if I had a zone or zones running at or near 20 gpm? How many gallons can run through the Oxi Backwashing Filter before it needs to get backwashed?
    How many gallons of water is needed to backwash the Oxi Filter?

    I appreciated and look forward to your response.

    Thanks.

  18. matt rousseau says:

    we have very bad rust and smell in our water. the softner worked ok by it self for 8yrs or so .before that we used a clorinie system form culligan i will never use asystem from them again!!! i hated it ,i was replaceing bolts , plastic pieces all the time from the clorine eating it. in the last month are softner has not benn getting the job done. looking at the h202 system but dont want to get into the whole replaceing parts thing. thanks matt

  19. Dave says:

    I have looked for a long time to find someone who sounded like they knew about iron in water. Amazing blog!

    I have a $4500 coagulation system using alum to remove 12.5 ppm iron with a ph of 7.1 ahead of a two tank water softner. The water softner removes the alum with the iron into our septic tank. After 3 years we are starting to get an orange ring in the toilets. Still test 0.0 iron. Would the H202 system do the job and get rid of the iron and water softner?

    Dave

  20. James says:

    Greetings Mark

    I am interested in the Oxi-5 system for lawn and plant irrigation use. My well water has 1ppm for iron. My questions are what is the capacity in gallons for the Oxi backwashing filter and how many gallons per min. is needed to back wash the filter? Could the hydrogen peroxided treated water cause any discoloration to brick and concrete pavers?

    Thanks.

  21. mark says:

    James asked:

    I am planning to have a irrigation system put in this year and don’t want the iron staining the house, sidewalk and driveway. I had my well water analyzed and it has 1ppm iron. Based on the tag on the pressure tank, I have a submersible pump at a depth of 140ft, with a capacity of 20 gpm with a horsepower of 1.5

    My questions are: based on the submersible pump, would I need the OXI-5 (max flow rate at 20gpm) if I had a zone or zones running at or near 20 gpm? How many gallons can run through the Oxi Backwashing Filter before it needs to get backwashed?

    How many gallons of water is needed to backwash the Oxi Filter?

    James, Sorry for the delay in responding, but we installed new servers and our e-mail was not functioning for a few days. Glitches….

    In response to your question, in “high flow” situations such as this, I prefer to see a system like the OXi-5 with an additional backwashing OXi filter where it is plumbed into the first filter and then into the second filter. If you are doing irrigation at night, one filter can backwash while the other one still supplies filtered water. The system will work much better and much longer withour maintenance. The Oxi filter backwashes about 90 gallons of water – you have to do that to properly remove the iron. If you do it less and you’ll get iron buildup in the media.

  22. mark says:

    Matt Rousseau asked:

    We have very bad rust and smell in our water. the softner worked ok by it self for 8yrs or so .before that we used a clorinie system form culligan i will never use asystem from them again!!! i hated it ,i was replaceing bolts , plastic pieces all the time from the clorine eating it. in the last month are softner has not benn getting the job done. looking at the h202 system but dont want to get into the whole replaceing parts thing.

    Matt,

    The beauty of the H2O2 system is that IT WORKS and REQUIRES HARDLY ANY MAINTENANCE! We have been using H2O2 systems for over 15 years and have learned what makes them work best. Chlorine is very corrossive and youy can expect to have problems with injection fittings, seals, bolts and the like. Since we use a Stennet Perastaltic Pump and pump H2O2, none of these problems occur. Our systems typically run more than 5 years without maintenance!

  23. mark says:

    Dave asked:

    I have a $4500 coagulation system using alum to remove 12.5 ppm iron with a ph of 7.1 ahead of a two tank water softner. The water softner removes the alum with the iron into our septic tank. After 3 years we are starting to get an orange ring in the toilets. Still test 0.0 iron. Would the H202 system do the job and get rid of the iron and water softner?

    Dave,

    I would use the OXi 5 or 6, but if the water is hard, you will still need a small softener. ALL of your iron will be removed!

  24. sheri says:

    Hi Mark,
    I live in Western PA & I’ve tried your links for additional info but none have worked. Where or who would I contact in order to get one of the Oxi systems?

    And thank-you Mark, your information has been extremely helpful.

    sheri

    Sheri,

    Have you tried here?

    http://www.uswatersystems.com/shop/products/US-Water-Systems-OxiGen-Iron-%26-Sulfur-Eradication-System.html

  25. Julia says:

    I’m bookmarking this page, and trying to absorb (no pun intended) as much information as possible.

    My problem: West Virginia well water with rust and sulfur—particularly sulfur smelly with the hot water. I’m inviting out a local treatment company for their assessment (read: sales pitch) this Friday, and want to be as intelligent as possible in assessing their suggestions.

    I have a whole-house filtration system (2 omni U-25 filters, 20 mg and 5 mg), plus some kind of interesting system involving 2 large blue tanks (with equally interesting timers on them) and a salt-pellet plastic barrel prior to the hot water heater. I bought this house a few weeks ago, the water tests reveal only that there’s no bacteria.

    Do I need a water analysis? I KNOW my problem is iron and sulfur-smell (hydrogen sulfide?).

    I don’t mind paying (a reasonable amount) for supplies (such as Hydrogen peroxide), but I’m not mechanically-inclined, and truly need an idiot-proof (preferably a hands-off) system.

    I just don’t want to fall for some slick sales-pitch that won’t get rid of the sulfur (ideally, the iron, too, but the sulfur is my higher priority). I have faucet-filter (charcoal) and I use another charcoal filter pitcher for cooking water.

    Thank you for your input!

    Julia

  26. I have an H2O2 injection system along with a softener that appeared to be working properly. Then I had a line added between the pressure tank and the softener. Since then, my H2O2 injector pump wants to run continuously. It appears to be powered/controlled from the switch that also controls the well pump. Should the injector run only when the well pump is running or is there something else that tells it when it should run? Any suggestions on what might be telling it to run non-stop?
    (I have turned it off for the time being…it seems to have pumped a considerable amount of H2O2 into the system). Thanks!

    George

  27. mark says:

    George,

    I am not quite sure what you mean when you say you “added a line between the pressure tank and the softener.” Please clarify.

  28. Ryan says:

    We have a water softener and whole house carbon filter and it’s clearly not enough to remove the iron in the water. We are considering the OXi system but I’d like to get a water test first. What to you recommend to get an unbiased water test? and do iron removing water softener pellets really work?

  29. mark says:

    Ryan,

    WE offer the best unbiased test in the county, at the lowest price in the country. We have negiotiated a special rate with National Testing Labs and we pass the savings on to you. You can buy it directly from them… at a higher price. Here’s the link:

    http://www.uswatersystems.com/shop/products/NTL-Watercheck-Test-Kit.html

    Iron removing salt pellets help remove a little iron (very little) but really don’t do much. Personally, I think they are a waste of money. They contain a chemical that you can purchase as Iron Out. That is a much better way to go, but to really remove iron, it MUST be oxidized, and the Oxi system does just that.

  30. jaimi says:

    Hi!
    I have very high iron in my well water.I have a aquapur water softner and a uv light.I still have rust in my bathrooms and rotten egg odor.I had the anode rod removed and hot water tank chlorinated but it still smells bad.
    For the high iron I was asked to get a comercial water softner which can cost a lot.I want to use the water for my irrigation as well so I dont know if this is the only method.I was reading about Water D.O.G will it help in a case like ours?

    The Water Doctor Replied:

    I generally do not believe it is appropriate to use just a water softener for high iron. What else is in your water? He’s the first thing you should invest in:

    http://www.uswatersystems.com/shop/products/NTL-Watercheck-Test-Kit.html

    P.S. I have tested the Water Dog and I would not use it. Too technical of a solution to a simple problem. Get your water tested by NTL and get back to me. Then I can tell your exactly what to do.

  31. Lynda says:

    I read your article on the best way to remove rust from well water is to use a hydrogen peroxide injector system and I live in Tampa, FL and would like information on whether there are any local dealers? Also, I have seen a “Metalmaster” system on the internet but it does not indicate what the “Metalmaster Media” inside the tank is made of, do you know?

    The Water Doctor replied:

    We do not sell through dealers as that would add 60 to 80% more to the cost of the system. We only sell direct. We can help you areange installation, however.

    We sell a system that uses Filox-R which is superior to Metalmaster.. Here’s the link:http://www.uswatersystems.com/shop/products/Filox-Backwashing-Filter.html

  32. Sheri says:

    Hi
    We live in Rural Southwestern Ontario. We have well water and a water softener. Most of the time it has been fine but then for a while we start getting alot of rust in the tubs, toilets, sinks. After 1 shower there are stains on the walls and if I don’t spray it right away after each shower with alot of stain remover chemicals it’s very tough to scrub off. I was reading about the hydrogen peroxide system. Where would we get one? And would we get rid of the water softener? How much are they to purchase and get installed?

  33. mark says:

    Sheri,

    Here’s the link:

    http://www.uswatersystems.com/shop/products/US-Water-Systems-OxiGen-Iron-%26-Sulfur-Eradication-System.html

    You would still need a softener if the water is hard, but it would not use nearly asuch salt.

  34. Sandy says:

    Hello,

    We live in the western suburbs of Chicago and we have a Rainsoft water system in our home. It does not remove the rust in our water like they said it would. We have 10 children with one bathroom. (It really isn’t that bad!!)

    I don’t know that much about water treatments and I just found your website after hearing a commercial for Easywater.

    The system I think that you are suggesting that we use would cost just under $4,000.00 dollars. WOW!! After that, how much in hydrogen peroxide would we use a year.

    Also, how often does this unit regenerate? I don’t know if you are familiar with Rain Soft, but those units (iron and softener) also regenerate.

    Even though we have a well, we are hooked up to the sewer so we get a “water bill”.

    Thanks for your time,
    Sandy

  35. mark says:

    Sandy,

    You could probably use your Rainsoft Softener and add the OXi-5 system ($2,595.00), which would use $300-$400 of peroxide a year. The iron would be eradicated and your Rainsoft would not have to work very hard to just soften the water.

    Here’s the link:

    http://www.uswatersystems.com/shop/products/US-Water-Systems-OxiGen-Iron-%26-Sulfur-Eradication-System.html

  36. paul h says:

    Hi I’m not a water expert or anything near to what some of these people are saying on here I’ve got an allotment with a small brook that run through it from a long pipe that runs from a reservoir a mile or two away. There is a mass of orange soil in the alloment in the pond where the steam runs into it.The water looks clear until it starts raining heavy then you can see the orange coming through the water. I would like to keep some fish in the pond eventually and would also like to clean the pond up is there anyway of catching or filtering the iron/rust from the pipes out before it hit the pond.

  37. mark says:

    Paul,

    I do not have enough information to even make a guess. I would need to see an analysis of the source water.

  38. I have rust STAINS ON A MARBLE SEAT IN MY SHOWER DUE TO THE IRON FROM MY WELL WATER. ALSO THE PORCLEIN TILES IN MY SHOWER HAVE ORANGE STAINS. I HAVE TRIED CHLORINE BLEACH BUT IT DOES NOT REMOVE THE STAIN. PLEASE ADVISE.

  39. mark says:

    To remove the iron, you may need to use a product like RUST -OUT or if that doesn’t work you could try 17% hydrogen peroxide or muratic acid.

    Try this:

    http://www.uswatersystems.com/shop/products/Pro-Products-1.5-LB-Rust-Out-%252d-Case-of-12.html

    The best thing to do is to remove the iron BEFORE it gets to your shower. Tell me more about your water…

  40. Esse says:

    Hi Mark,
    I am trying to find out where you purchase a hydrogen peroxide system for a well and how much does it cost. We built a new house with a well and have a lot of iron in the water. We thought about getting a softener but our water is not hard, they tested it and it was about the same as the city water except that it has a lot of iron in it and thus causes a lot of staining. From what I’m reading a regular softener will do nothing for that, but would you still recommend buying one plus using the “rust-out” with it? Thank you for the advice.

  41. Jeff says:

    i used rust out in my water softner now my water has a smell to it (not a rotten egg smell) i have tried regen twice but smell still there.

  42. mark says:

    Jeff,

    You need a water test. Try this:

    http://www.uswatersystems.com/shop/products/NTL-Watercheck-Test-Kit.html

    and, I usually don’t respond when you use a “Fake” e-mail address.

  43. Jeff says:

    PS. i forgot to mention that i didnt have a odor prior to using the rust out. thanks

  44. mark says:

    Craig,

    I always recommend an “oxidation” filter ahead of a water softener, when you have that much iron. It costs more, but it will work better. Here’s what I recommend:

    http://www.uswatersystems.com/shop/products/Fusion%252dR-Series-Water-Softener-%26-Non%252dChemical-Iron-Filter-Combo-%252d-Up-to-4-People.html

  45. Rose Hammond says:

    I have well point that uses strictly for irrigation system. I have problems with staining (Fe) my house, sidewalk and the driveway. I do not know how much ppm fe in the well water. I am a chemist myself, and I used test metals in the water for the Districtof Fl. I am no longer works there either. I read many articles in several website. I kind of like your thought using the hydrogen peroxide. Could you please give me a details about how the system could install.
    Thank you,
    Rose Hammond
    813-398-6225

    The Water Doctor Replied:

    Here’s a good link to how it works:

    http://www.uswatersystems.com/shop/categories/Iron-%26-Sulfur-Eradication/Oxi%252dGen-Hydrogen-Peroxide-Systems/

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