The buzz for iron and sulfur (rotten-egg odor) removal these days seems to be the word “chemical-free.” However, let me remind you that things that sound too good to be true, usually are. The newest way many water treatment companies are trying to remove iron is with the use of oxygen or air. They simply use a water softener valve on a backwashing filter, and during the “brine” cycle, instead of drawing “brine,” it draws in some big gulps of air. The oxygen in the air helps oxidize the iron in the water on the surface of a media which contains manganese dioxide, such as Greensand Plus or Birm. Greensand Plus and Birm contain less than 1% manganese dioxide. While this is somewhat effective at removing iron, it is not nearly as effective at removing hydrogen sulfide or sulfur. Actually, I don’t consider it very effective at removing iron, because it doesn’t seem sustainable.
Two problems: After the system regenerates (backwashes and draws in some air) you may notice “cloudy” water because of massive amounts of air in the water. When you turn on a faucet of a shower, it may “spit and sputter” and when you flush a toilet, it may “bang” or even blow out the fill tube. I have tried the air systems and am not a fan. I believe in sustainability and durability. In my opinion, the air systems don’t offer that.
What to do? The ultimate way to remove iron, manganese and sulfur, in my opinion is with Hydrogen Peroxide. Our company offers a the OXi-Gen System which is 100% effective at iron and sulfur removal. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is hydrogen and oxygen, and doesn’t impart anything bad into the water supply. While technical a “chemical,” the fact that it is composed of the elements of water, makes it a desirable choice. The only drawback to this system is that you have an annual hydrogen peroxide bill (typically $200 to $300 per year). Beyond that, with a peroxide system you will have 100% eradication of iron and sulfur.
Another good way of removing iron (but not sulfur) is with a Filox filter. Filox is 75% to 85% manganese dioxide, and uses the oxygen in the water to oxidize the iron and manganese very effectively. It is not as effective on sulfur. In fact, I do not recommend it it be used on anything over “trace” amounts of sulfur, even though the manufacturer indicates that it can be used that way. It will effectively remove massive amounts of iron, but will occasionally need to have chlorine injected ahead of the filter ONLY DURING REGENERATION (backwash). The chlorine helps keep the media “activated” and prevents the buildup of “iron bacteria.”
While there is no absolute best way to do most things, if you have a detailed water analysis completed of your water, it becomes much easier to know how and treat it. Here are some examples of good lab tests:
With a good lab test, it is easy to predict how effective any type of treatment will be.