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, Katalox, 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 used to sell those 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.  Filox and Pyrolox weigh in at 114 pounds a cubic foot and require a lot of water to backwash.

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; or (3) Ozone.   I will summarize the advantages of each:

inFusion Air Injection Iron Filter

AIR INJECTION:

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.

Advantages:  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
OXI-GEN Hydrogen Peroxide System

 HYDROGEN PEROXIDE:

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 effectively, 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.

 

Ozone System

OZONE:

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.

Conclusion:

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.  Give us a call and we can help you figure it out.

 

This article has 36 Comments

  1. 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. 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

  3. Chuck,

    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?

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

    BR
    Johan

    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.

  5. Hello
    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?
    thanks

    Ernesto,

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

  6. 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 (http://tagis.dep.wv.gov/tri/cheminfo/csfs81.txt), 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,

    James

  7. James,

    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:

    https://www.uswatersystems.com/fusion-superfilter-oxigen-professional-grade-backwashing-filter-for-iron-sulfur-and-manganese-removal.html

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

    https://www.uswatersystems.com/deluxe-water-test.html

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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,

    Sean

  12. Sean,

    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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Dan,

    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.

  16. 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.

    Thanks.

  17. 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!

  18. 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?

  19. Wayne,

    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.

  20. This guy is a complete idiot. As a 25 year water treatment veteran I have pulled out dozens of ozone oxidation systems. Using a maganese dioxide resin has a lot of parameters and you need more than a couple paragraphs to be able to learn them.
    in fact the only time I even use ozone anymore is in a bubbler storage tank.

    Using a maganese dioxide filter media weather gets anything from green sand plus to Magnavox Pro there are certain rules you must follow whether they are batch regeneration or continuous regeneration. Take what this article says at face value you cannot learn water treatment from reading an article that takes many years of training and learning in the field. there’s literally hundreds of different technologies for water treatment something like Fand its wind vessel system with continuous regeneration done properly can remove 30 parts for opartof iron along with hydrogen sulfate for years and years if setup correctly with the right valve head right backwash rate and write chemical injection system.

    Just be careful what you guys read on the internet. There are problems that only maganese dioxide resin can still handle properly even if you have to use high amounts of chlorine in continuous regeneration in a twin vessel unit like a fleck 9000 valve backwashing 10 inch x 54 inch vessels at eight and a half gallons per minute.

  21. I debated whether I should post this since he called me a complete idiot, but I decided to go ahead and let you make up your own mind!

    I’m not even going to say anything in rebuttal. Some things speak for themselves!

  22. I have a yellow or gold type color water and wanted to know what you recommend. The water reports illustrate:

    Iron = 5400 ug/L
    Manganese = 290 ug/L
    Sulfate = 309
    Bicarbonate = 266
    Copper = 0.061
    Zinc = 0.12
    Tubidity = 9.9 NTU
    Color = 9.4
    pH = 7.6

    Which system do you recommend?
    Thank you, Bill Saumier

  23. Hi Mark:

    My questions surround the possible use of peracetic acid (PAA) as a resin bed sterilizer and as a potent oxidizer to remediate small amounts of clear water iron, sulfur, and iron/sulfur metabolizing bacteria. Currently I use citric acid and potassium chloride to clean and regenerate my resin bed.

    I suspect that the bacteria are also interacting with the water heater anode to produce more noticeable levels of hydrogen sulfide than those in the cold water lines. It’s important to note that the sulfur odor is most noticeable in the cold water lines immediately prior to cleaning with citric acid and KCl.

    I have two questions. I have been unable to locate a “retail source” of PAA (e.g. Enviro Tech’s Perasan® A). It seems to me that PAA would be an excellent oxidizer to pair with a catalytic carbon (e.g. Calgon-Carbon Centaur), or Watch Water Katalox Light).

    Cordially,
    Michael

  24. At this point, PAA is not really a viable option.

    When water that has hydrogen sulfide is heated, it de-gases.

    Hydrogen Peroxide is the best oxidizer with Cat Carb (we like Jacobi better than Calgon) and I do not recommend an oxidizer with Katalox.

    How much Hydrogen Sulfide do you have?

  25. Hi Mark: This is Michael (hydrogen sulfide problem – see your note 09.17.2016):
    I used the Hach (alka-seltzer test) at the well head, it showed less than 0.25 ppm H2S. This is in line with the nose test – “not really too bothersome.”

    However, I replaced a very old conventional hotwater heater with a new AO Smith heater and now, after several months, the H2S is very objectionable from the hotwater side when using the shower.

    My assessment is that I have a bacteria problem (Fe and S metabolizing beasts that enjoy being warm) that I must kill.

    I have a reliable SFR 15 gal/min flow at the house, Have two baths, would like about 6 gal/min delivery. Additionally: ferrous Fe 0.5ppm, Mg is trace, the water is very hard and the carbonates contribute to the somewhat basic pH, most of the time the water is clear without any turbidity – perhaps once or twice a year the limestone below collapses and the water becomes turbid for a few days, then clears.

    I have a water to air heat pump that uses the same well/pump. Therefore I propose to use the flow sensor on the Clack control head (softner) to trigger a Steiner pump. The Steiner pump would feed diluted household bleach at a rate sufficient enough to be bactericidal (water temp about 71 F) with the SFR mentioned above. I have not calculated the free Cl and holding tank sizes yet.

    After the holding tank (unknown size at this point) I thought Katalox Light with chemsorb zeolite granules followed by the Catalytic Carbon (remove the Cl, turbidity, and other undesirables (we have measurable radon, and especially the various DBPs disinfection by products, [my neighbor has a lot of tannins, fortunately as of now I do not; though I am sure there are humic and fulvic acids. We are surrounded by swamp and wet prairies.] Finally, on to the softener…..

    I would need to disinfect the system (peracetic to disinfect the resin, instead of sodium hypochlorite to avoid decross-linking the resin); would use bleach to disinfect the distribution system, including the hotwater heater. I would pour one gallon of bleach down the well head.

    Hopefully, the newly invented system would provide clean, soft, odor-free potable water…..

    What do you think? How much would this cost?

    Cordially,

    Michael

  26. Michael,

    Sorry for the delay – I have been on vacation. Now for the answer – I would not even consider that. I have been treating water like this for a long time. There are too many reasons to articulate why this won’t work. Here’s what will work:

    https://www.uswatersystems.com/fusion-superfilter-oxigen-professional-grade-backwashing-filter-for-iron-sulfur-and-manganese-removal.html

    Why have two filters when one will do it all?

    Why use chlorine which produces some hazardous disinfection byproducts when H2O2 is a better oxidizer and is made of the elements of water?

  27. Hi Mark,
    Thanks for all the insight. Interested in your take on our water problem. We recently had a well drilled for our house and have high iron. Here are some details:
    Hardness is 6 gpg or about 96 ppm.
    PH is 7.6
    Iron is high at 1.6 ppm and it tastes a little metallic.
    No evidence yet of iron bacteria. No smells and no clumping.
    Manganese is zero
    TDS is 137 ppm
    I dont have a result for hydrogen sulfide but the water doesn’t smell bad, just moderate metallic taste. Also, we have decided against a softener. We like the taste of hard water and are ok dealing with the level we have. So just interested in solving the iron issue. The company who drilled our well brought out a dealer from a national company who recommended an Impression Plus iron filter using Greensand Plus as the media. Any thoughts? I find it interesting that your blog is critical of manganese dioxide solutions, yet include Katalox Light which uses manganese dioxide as part of its solution. Thanks, Jeff

  28. We offer Katalox which is a manganese dioxide based media because it does have some applications where it works well. It is the best of the manganese dioxide based medias, but we are not fond of it.

    Just because we sell a product does not mean we endorse it. If it were my home, this is what I would use:

    https://www.uswatersystems.com/fusion-superfilter-oxigen-professional-grade-backwashing-filter-for-iron-sulfur-and-manganese-removal.html

    Katalox is about 10% Manganese Dioxide. Greensand Plus has a lot less manganese dioxide than that and it is 35% heavier which means it takes a huge amount of water to backwash.

  29. I respectfully disagree with you in using hydrogen peroxide as a water treatment option. After several years of applying H2O2 as an oxidizer for sulfur removal, I’ve discovered a few things. First off, how using peroxide does nothing to eliminate nuisance bacterias. If anything it makes it worse. I’ve had multiple filter beddings that had to be replaced prematurely because of nuisance bacteria’s plugging up the bedding. A misconception about hydrogen peroxide is that you can overfeed it because it’s just water with extra oxygen. But, hydrogen peroxide does more than just add extra oxygen to the water. This overfeeding can be highly aggressive towards metals, such as copper or brass, which can make it into the drinking water. This, in my estimation, is far more dangerous than the byproducts from injecting chlorine, which are easily removed, along with any chlorine residual, by a good quality carbon filter. Also, determining if you are under feeding or over feeding hydrogen peroxide is not possible without buying an expensive test kit. Chlorine residuals, on the other hand, are easily tested with a $5 pool chlorine test kit. And, as an added benefit, if there are nuisance bacterias in the water, chlorine will kill them. After a 10 year run of service calls and headaches , I have stopped offering HP sulfur removal systems. I’ve gone back to chlorine injection when nuisance bacterias are present, and when they aren’t,, ORP filter medias, such as Katalox Light, have served me well. It’s all in the application.

  30. Shawn,

    Please tell me how you used the H2O2: How and where it was injected, type of equipment, type of media used, how injection was initiated, etc.

  31. Hi Mark
    We are a small Ontario Based treatment company and deal with lots of iron usually with great success. We use both hydrogen peroxide and ozone to successful treat for iron in our region and like you use Katalox when the customers water chenistry and pocket book indicate it will be a satisfactory solution. We typically have high iron low manganese and only occasional sulfur with little or no hardness to speak of. We do see iron bacteria very often.
    You have said in your article that “any level of iron” can be treated but I was wondering if you have ever treated over 20ppm we even have had a customer with 64ppm iron? We are struggling with this as while we have had success it has been trail an error and takes a long time during which the customer had to put up with poor quality water. In many cases we have seen new wells drilled with the same water so treatment is their only option. We would ask you to share your expertise please
    1. What dose of peroxide ( we use 35% rather than the 28% that is becoming more typical in Canada) and length of retention do you use
    2. With your ozone how big are the ozone generators in your system?

  32. We have taken out over 100 ppm of iron. In many cases, we start with ion-exchange and use a twin-alternating softener. I like to drop the pH to around 5.5 and then the softener will remove a substantial amount of it…. maybe all! Then, raise the pH and you are in business.

    By using ion-exchange you don’t produce a lot of iron sludge.

    If you are using ANY retention with H2O2, you are doing it wrong.

    Please give us a call for more information.

  33. Hi Mark
    I have a Pyrolux filter system to remove the high iron content from my bore water supply it is in a holiday house and has had very little use but has been in place for the last 10 years most of the time not being used ( power has been shut down) as a result the filter material (Pyrolux) is very stained ( I have removed it from the tank and flushed it with clean water and it still keeps running brown) is there any way that I can clean this material ?
    Thanks in advance

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