So You Want Pyrolox or Filox to Remove Iron or Sulfur?

You might want to re-think that.

Maybe you have heard good things about Filox or Pyrolox or for that matter, Oxylox, Adox, Catalox, Birm or Greensand Plus, and  you are thinking about using one of these systems for your water problems.  I would strongly advise you to think again. The side effects are bad and the systems  don’t work that well.  There are simply better ways to remove iron and sulfur from your water.

Look, we can (and do) sell these products, but they are old technology.  As I mentioned, there are much better ways to remove Iron, Sulfur and Manganese than Filox, Pyrolox or any of these manganese dioxide-based medias.  They have different names and different amounts of manganese dioxide, but they are essentially the same.  You probably wouldn’t be happy if a horse and buggy were your chief mode of transportation and you won’t be happy with Pyrolox or Filox in all likelihood.

If you want to remove iron, manganese or sulfur from the water, in most cases, it must be oxidized.  Oxidation can be accomplished by several methods, including oxidation with a manganese dioxide based media, if (BIG IF) the ORP (Oxidation Reduction Potential) and pH of the water falls in the appropriate range.  Watts, who sells a manganese dioxide based media under the name of Filox, says that their manganese dioxide media works from a pH of 5 to a pH of 9.  That is simply untrue.  There’s no need to elaborate.

Not only are Filox or Pyrolox or MOST of these manganese dioxide medias sensitive to pH and ORP, but they require massive amounts of water to backwash.  There are occasions when you may want to use a manganese dioxide based media, especially if you want to remove iron and/or manganese and you have no iron bacteria present.  However, it works best if you use KATALOX LIGHT, instead of Pyrolox or Filox.  KATALOX LIGHT weighs 66 pounds a cubic foot, while Filox and Pyrolox weigh in at 114 pounds a cubic foot and require a lot more water to backwash (about 50% more).  KATALOX PLUS weighs less because it does not contain 75 to 80% manganese dioxide – it is approximately 10% manganese dioxide.

The other problem is that Filox and Pyrolox don’t work well with iron-reducing or sulfur-reducing bacteria and when they is iron or sulfur in water, it is frequently accompanied by the iron or sulfur bacterias.  I suppose that there are a few applications where Filox and Pyrolox may work, but there are too many factors that limit and impair it’s function.  In most home applications, I recommend one of four methods to remove iron:  (1) Air Injection with Catalytic Carbon;  (2) Hydrogen Peroxide with Catalytic Carbon; (3) KATALOX LIGHT; or (4) Ozone.   I will summarize the advantages of each:

inFusion Air Injection Iron Filter


This is a method that we started using nearly 20 years ago, but finally perfected recently.  The system that we sell is called the inFusion.  During the backwashing process, the infusion introduces a pocket of fresh air (which is enriched with oxygen) into the top of the tank. As the water passes through pocket, it is infused with the oxygen in the fresh air, and the special catalytic media is a catalyst between the iron and sulfur and the air. The oxidation process is almost instantaneous – the iron and sulfur precipitate out and are trapped by the media bed. Some dissolved oxygen is added to the water supply in the process.  The electronic control valve of the infusion filter automatically backwashes the system to clean the media and flush the precipitated iron and sulfur down the drain.

Adavantages:  Air Injection handles up to 8 PPM of Iron and Sulfur, does not require and chemicals and does not need as much backwashing (less water) than Filox or Pyrolox.  The cost of the system is low.

Disadvantages:  If iron or sulfur bacteria is present, the Air Injection system will need should not be used.


OXI-GEN Hydrogen Peroxide System


We were one of the pioneers in the introduction of hydrogen peroxide as a viable technology in water treatment.  It successfully treats practically ANY level of iron or sulfur, but it is fed on a continual basis.  Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) is composed of the elements of water.  We call our H2O2 system the OXi-GEN system.

Advantages:  Complete elimination of iron and sulfur, regardless of the levels, without the use of dangerous chemicals.  You can always predict for a certainty that it will eliminate iron and sulfur and the rotten-egg odor, even if the water contains iron and sulfur reducing bacteria. It also has a relatively low cost – approximately double the cost of the Air Injection.

Disadvantages:  A Hydrogen Peroxide System does not remove manganese as effectivley as a KATALOX LIGHT system, so if high manganese is an issue, you may need something else.  The annual cost of hydrogen peroxide can be $200 to $300 per year (but you will have exceptionally good water).  That’s the only disadvantage.


Katalox Light Iron Filter


This is a new media manufactured in Germany by Watch Water.  The KATALOX LIGHT media is NSF and FDA approved and is Tested and Certified by the WQA to NSF/ANSI 61 and contains no silica which is banned by the State of California.  The KATALOX LIGHT iron filter can remove amazing amounts of iron and manganese and it only requires backwashing every other day for a few minutes.

The new Katalox-Light Advanced Oxidation media is a special Zeolite media with a coating of 10% manganese dioxide.  Katalox-Light has an angular shape with a rough high micro-porous surface to filter water down to 2-3 microns. The rough surface and very high porosity provide a huge surface area for efficient reduction of dirt, silt and suspended solids.  The Katalox-Light™ media structure creates very less pressure loss, high service and flow rates and high bed loadings combined with lower back wash frequency.

Other medias such as BIRM have less than .1% manganese dioxide which is the simple explanation as to why Katalox-Light works 100 TIMES BETTER!  On the other hand, media like Filox and Pyrolox are twice as heavy as Katalox and require massive volumes of water to properly backwash the media.  In may cases the backwash flow rate is DOUBLE that of Katalox!

Advantages:  Complete elimination of iron and manganese, regardless of the levels, without the use of dangerous chemicals.  If iron is present in conjunction with arsenic, it will aslo do an amazing job at removing the arsenic and other heavy metals.

Disadvantages:  It does not work well with sulfur or iron and/or sulfur-reducing bacteria.

Ozone System


Ozone is unquestionably the best oxidizer for iron and sulfur and practically any level of the contaminants can be eliminated.  Ozone Systems require custom-engineering for each application and must be properly sized to be effective.

Advantages:  No chemicals and total iron and sulfur reduction.  Low maintenance.  No annual chemical cost.  This is simply the best-available-technology for iron and sulfur reduction.

Disadvantages:  A considerable amount of space is required for the system and the cost is 3 to 4 times the cost of a hydrogen peroxide system.


There simply is not one system that does it all!  A good water analysis will reveal which is the best way to treat your water.  Cive us a call and we can help you figure it out.

UPDATED:  2/2/15

20 Responses to “So You Want Pyrolox or Filox to Remove Iron or Sulfur?”

  1. Alex Pfister says:

    We have sulfur odor, and filox has removed most of that, but we still have black stains in toilets, washing machine, showers, and dishwasher. What do we need to eliminate the black stains, which I assume are manganese?

  2. mark says:


    Never assume. It likely is sulfur that is not fully precipitated. You need a good well water test before I can help. This is what you need:

  3. chuck turbak says:

    I have iron bacteria problem – all of the vendors that I have met on site want to install a water softner. I have a 300 gallon holding tank with a house pump set a 60 psi. I purchased a pre filter and carbon filter before the tank – the quickly clogged up – I then purchased what is called the iron rival with back wash with filox – which clogged up and then replaced with birm which causes my well pump to go into oveload mode. Any ideas?? I am in Washington

  4. mark says:


    I will need to know a little more about your water and what you are doing with it. Is there a pressure tank before the 300 gallons storage tank? Why do you have a 300 gallon storage tank? Do you have a good water analysis? What size line into the tank and out? How many in the family and number of bathrooms?

  5. Johan says:

    What media are you using in your filters for air injection and Oxi-Gen systems?


    The Water Doctor replied:

    We have found that in practically every application, catalytic carbon is the best. It is more expensive that Birm and others, but we have extraordinary results with catalytic carbon.

  6. Ernesto says:

    I have a problem, originally working with a filter FILOX and I reduced the level of Fe from 3.3 to 1, after a chlorine injection Fe level increased to 2.8 and I could not lower it back to
    What could be the cause?


    I need more information. What is your pH? Do you have any iron or sulfur? What is your hardness level?

  7. James says:

    I’ve been researching ways to get rid of the bad smell that comes from the water in my deep well, which is most noticable from the hot water spigots.

    In your blog article, “So You Want Pyrolox or Filox to Remove Iron of Sulfur?”, the opening paragraph states, “Maybe you have heard good things about Filox or Pyrolox or for that matter, Oxylox, Adox, Catalox, Birm or Greensand Plus, and you are thinking about using one of these systems for your water problems. I would strongly advise you to think again. The side effects are bad and the systems don’t work that well.”

    So, I’m taking your advice and “…think[ing] again…” about a solution to my water problem, and I would like to know what the bad side effects are that you mention in the blog article? I’ve only found one article after 3 days of internet searching which says Manganese Dioxide is hazardous (, all other information tells me it is safe to use for filtration of iron, sulphur, and manganese from water. So, I’m a little confused by your statement regarding bad side effects and the other information I’ve been reading.

    Thanks for your help,


  8. Mark Timmons says:


    There are no physical or health side effects. The side effects that I am talking about are because the media is so dense, It is difficult to backwash and if you backwash it properly, you will have nearly 200 gallons of waste water, which will have a bad side effect on your septic tank. If you don’t backwash it properly, it loads up with the sulfur, iron or manganese. Also, if your water has any sulfur reducing bacteria or iron reducing bacteria, it will plug and foul quickly. We have a new type of Manganese Dioxide media that we are presently testing, but at this moment, I would advise you to avoid it.

    Here’s what we recommend, with NEVER a failure:

    Before installing one, I recommend a full water test, which would be this one:

    Once we know what is in the water, we can GUARANTEE we will fix it!

  9. Bruce S says:

    Note that greensand and greensand plus, which you say work better than pure manganese dioxide, are both sand with manganese dioxide coatings… not sure where you are going with this. I have noticed that most manganese dioxide medias are used in conjunction with oxidants, in fact the use of them alone is not, as far as I know recommended by any manufacturer. In general the metal dioxides are known to act as catalysts, ie titanium dioxide in your auto catalytic converter. Manganese dioxide is just another in the periodic group. I am not in the industry, but I think your article is inflammatory at best. Would be interested to see if you publish my comment.

  10. Mark Timmons says:

    Why wouldn’t I publish it?

    Because you say it is inflammatory? It’s a free country – you can say that water is composed of cottage cheese (doesn’t make it so).

    There’s nothing inflammatory about the truth.

    Most manganese dioxide media has critical problems and I spell it out based upon 42 years of experience – maybe if you had the same experience or had one of these filters in your home you would think differently.

    I didn’t say to NEVER use them, I just say that they are problematic.

  11. Mark N says:

    I’m currently stumped with my water situation. I have H2O2 injection (meter-driven), contact tank and catalytic carbon tank filter (Fleck 7000 head) followed by a dual density 1 micron dual density cartridge filter.

    My baseline water is roughly 6.8 – 7.0 pH, with IRB, iron around 2ppm and manganese around 0.180ppm. Hardness is around 70mg/L.

    The IRB and iron are completely neutralized: last lab test showed iron at 0.05ppm: I’ve had several tests done over MANY months (of tweaking) and the iron is either not detectable or extremely low.

    I cannot get rid of the manganese! Last lab test showed 0.143ppm, and I’d had (as measured with a Hatch test kit) a 2.0ppm H2O2 residual post-contact tank: I’ve tweaked it this high to try and force the issue- to no avail.

    If not for this manganese issue the water would be fantastic.

    All the research that I’ve done has suggested that the manganese should be managed by the system that I have.

    I’ve had my carbon filter backwashing every other day, but that didn’t seem to make any difference. Backwash output doesn’t go into the septic (goes to a ditch on my property), so no worries about the amount of water used (though, however, seems a bit excessive having 110 gallons used for backwash when I only use about 80 gallons per day).

    What are your thoughts?

  12. Sean says:

    I am currently researching manganese filtration and would like some recommendations.

    Well with a flow rate of approximately 16gpm, servicing 2 homes and a barn as well as irrigation around each home. Well outlet is 1.5″. Because this well services 2 houses, I would like to see as minimal pressure drop as possible from the manganese filter as water softener a are going to drop it even further.

    House 1: 1 full bath, 1 powder room (toilet sink only)
    House 2: 3 full bath

    Manganese: 0.507 mg/l
    pH: 7.7
    Hardness: 530
    TDS: 1000
    Sulfate: 220 mg/l

    No sulfur smell in the water, but definitely manganese problems. Would like to have manganese filtration within the pump house, water softener at both houses, and point of use reverse osmosis to handle the Total Disolved Solids issues.

    I would like a system that is automated as possible, without breaking the bank, as this would need to be maintained by my mother; so chem free if possible, but not completely necessary.

    Thank you,


  13. Mark Timmons says:


    We can solve your problem. Give one of our Certified Water Specialists (none on commission) a call at 800-608-8972 and we can painlessly solve your problems.

  14. Sean says:

    Thanks Mark. I have received an e-mail from you as well as Jacob. Hopefully we can come up with a reasonable solution that will fit my needs.

  15. Dan Entingh says:

    I find it interesting that you discredit industry standard medias and then turn around and do not disclose the “special catalytic media” you are using in your systems. So much for disclosure. To say that these long standing medias do not work is a misrepresentation of the facts, they do work and work well.

  16. Mark Timmons says:


    No where do I say these medias don’t work. They just don’t work as well as other methods and this is a blog that is ever-changing. What you are reading is 2 years old. We have a new manganese dioxide media called Katalox Light that weighs 66 pounds a cubic foot and is far superior to any of the above manganese dioxide based medias.

  17. Dan Entingh says:

    The first paragraph “The side effects are bad and the systems don’t work that well.”

    If your blog is ever changing, perhaps you could re-write this so that it is not mis-leading.


  18. Mark Timmons says:

    What is mis-leading about that? The side effects are wasted water, purple water, THM’s in your water and they do not work that well in many cases. I stand by that statement!

  19. wayne k says:

    you do not state the h2o2 strength or the size off the inlet on the system. these are important. I have one inch inlet and exit and can buy 3% h2o2 at walmart for 1.29 a quart. why is the cost 300 to 600 dollars a year. basicly i would like to know the injection rate. is there any problem clogging drain pipe on back flush?

  20. Mark Timmons says:


    We fixed the web page and added the strength of the H2O2 and the inlet size. Re-fresh your browser and it will show up.

    You can’t use 3% from Wal-Mart – it must be 7%… and stabilized because it loses potency very rapidly.

    I am re-doing the blog post. It was older and some information is outdated. Refresh your browser and re-read it. WE cannot know the injection rate unless we know the oxidation demand. We were one of the pioneers into H2O2 technology over 20 years ago and we have no issues with it.


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