Iron & Manganese Removal

Posted in: Iron Removal
By Mark Timmons
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Iron & Manganese Removal

People have struggled with iron (also called "rust") and manganese removal since the dawn of time.  Adam complained to Eve that his new t-shirts were stained orangish-red (OK, I just made that up!).  Removal of iron has been the topic of discussion between water treatment dealers for years ("my water softener removes iron better than any other softener, etc.").    The fact of the matter is that iron CAN be removed using an ion-exchange salt-regenerated water softener, but usually a water softener doesn't do it very long or very effectively.  The best water softeners for removing iron are those that have twin softening tanks (one is always in service), which regenerate with soft water and fill the brine tank with soft water.   If you have a water softener which removes ALL the iron, consider yourself as lucky as winning the lottery.  Softeners work well to do just what they are supposed to do - soften the water by removing the calcium and magnesium, but iron (rust) is another animal and to remove it effectively, it usually has to be oxidized.   Neither iron nor manganese in water present a health hazard. However, their presence in water may cause taste, staining, and accumulation problems.  How to oxidize iron is the subject of this blog post. Because iron and managanese are chemically similar, they cause similar problems. Iron will cause reddish-brown staining of laundry, porcelain, dishes, utensils, and even glassware. Manganese acts in a similar way but causes a brownish-black stain. Soaps and detergents do not remove these stains, and the use of chlorine bleach and alkaline builders (such as sodium carbonate) can actually intensify the stains. Iron and manganese deposits will build up in pipelines, pressure tanks, water heaters, and water softeners. This reduces the available quantity and pressure of the water supply. Iron and manganese accumulations become an economic problem when water supply or softening equipment must be replaced. There are also associated increased energy costs, like pumping water through constricted pipes or heating water with heating rods coated with iron or manganese minerals.  Most iron filtration systems operate on the principal of oxidizing the iron (oxidation) to convert it from a ferrous (dissolved or soluble) to a ferric or undissolved state. Once in the ferric state, iron can be filtered.  Water filters are the most widely used equipment in removing iron. Its popularity comes from its versatility due to the various media products available and the process involved with each media.  The most common reasons for filter failure are a lack of flow in backwash or a lack of frequency of regenerations. Low pH levels when using filters are another reason for unsatisfactory results. CHLORINATION SYSTEMS For year, chlorine has been the oxidizer of choice.  In addition to it's ability to oxidize iron, it also kills bacteria in the water.  It does require a certain amount of contact time, so a drawback is that extra space is required for a retention tank (typically 24" x 72") or larger.   Chlorine can be injected as a liquid before the pressure tank, or it can also be dropped down the well casing in the form of a pellet, using what is called a pellet chlorinator.  This device is mounted on top of the well casing and is wired into the pump circuit, so that it runs when the well pump runs.  You can calibrate it to drop pellets at whatever rate is needed to oxidize the iron at the source. Following injection of liquid chlorine or chlorine pellets, the chlorine and oxidized iron/sulfur needs to be removed by a back-washing carbon filter.  It is an excellent idea to "oversize" the filters as chlorine combines with organics in the water to form trihalomethanes (THM"s) which are known carcinogens.   Make sure your carbon filter is big enough to properly remove them. Water-Right, Inc. a company located in Appleton, Wisconsin has a very effcetive product called "The Sanitizer."  The Sanitizer utilizes naturally silica zeolite, which is mined from the ground and is impervious to chlorine.  During the brining cycle, two electrodes in the brine line generate large amounts of chlorine from the salt in the brine tank (NaCl is turned into Cl2).  This is very effective at eradicating iron, manganese and even small amounts of sulfur. GREENSAND FILTERS Manganese greensand filters have generally been replaced with "Greensand Plus" media which is reported to be more effective at iron removal.   Greensand is one of the oldest but proven oxidation technologies. Potassium permanganate, itself an oxidizer, is used to regenerate the greensand.   In this application, potassium permanganate produces manganese dioxide on the surface of the mineral and — once the water comes in contact with it — any iron is immediately oxidized. The iron can be filtered and then cleaned away in the backwash cycle. Greensand is also effective with low levels of H2S (hydrogen sulfide) and manganese.  Greensand Plus is a granular mineral with a manganese dioxide coating having the same ability as regular greensand. It is much lighter and requires less of a backwash rate than standard greensand.  The man drawback is the potassium permanganate which is a harsh oxidizer and produces a vivid purple color if any of it is introduced into the water.  The tank that holds the potassium permanganate is subject to overflow which leaves horrid purple (black) stains in it's wake. OZONE SYSTEMS Injecting ozone into the water system is a very viable, albeit expensive, way to remove iron.    Ozone is a powerful oxidizer and when used properly can be effective on large amounts of iron. Ozone is injected into water via a contact vessel as a pre-treatment to filtration.  Ozone generators come in many designs and sizes and a full understanding of the process is necessary for success. Due to ozone’s expense it is usually applied on iron levels higher than normal filtration is known to handle effectively. HYDROGEN PEROXIDE SYSTEMS Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) is injected into the water ahead of a backwashing filter containing catalytic absorbative carbon.  The iron and manganese and sulfur are oxidized and the precipitate is trapped and later backwashed out, by the backwashing filter.  H2O2 is composed of the elements of water - hydrogen and oxigen and is excellent at removing iron, manganese and sulfur.  The only drawback is theat you will have an annual hydrogen peroxide bill. AIR INJECTION SYSTEMS Oxygen in the air is an effective oxidizer and there are many ways to inject it into the water, including the use of "air pumps."  A new development is the use of a valve that draws in a head of air and allows the iron to be fully oxidized before it goes through the media bed. SPECIAL FILTERS (Birm, Filox, Pyrolox, Metal Ease, etc.) Several companies make backwashing iron removal filters which remove iron utilizing special medias with manganese dioxide being the key ingredient.  Birm has the ability to remove iron and manganese and has no effect on hydrogen sulfide. Like manganese dioxide, birm also uses dissolved oxygen as a catalyst and may require some type of pre-oxidation in cases where the dissolved oxygen content is too low to affect a maximum iron removal result.  This technology is seldom the answer. Manganese dioxide is a naturally mined ore with the ability to remove iron, manganese and hydrogen sulfide. The hydrogen sulfide capability exceeds that of either greensand or synthetic greensand and requires no chemicals to regenerate.   It does, however, require adequate amounts of dissolved oxygen in the water as a catalyst and may require some type of pre-oxidation to achieve its maximum ability.  Manganese dioxide sold under the names of Filox, Pyrolox, Metal-Ease and Birm.    Filox seens to be the best of the bunch. KDF-85 Media KDF-85 is a "Redox" media, which requires adequate dissolved oxygen to be effective, consists of two metals - 85 percent copper and 15 percent zinc. These two dissimilar metals create a small electrical field in the bed that will not allow bacterial growth in the media.   This property earns redox the unique distinction of being effective on bacterial iron without the use of chlorine injection and being rated as bacteriostatic.  Effective on removal of iron and hydrogen sulfide, able to reduce chlorine and heavy metals such as lead and mercury, redox is not effective with manganese.  The biggest drawback for this media is its weight. Being almost twice as heavy as other minerals, it requires more than twice the backwash rate of other minerals. More To Come
September 6, 2009
Comments
Marc
September 18, 2010 at 6:03 AM
I think an ozonation system would be far better for all around purification. From what I understand it also oxygenates the water when it purifies it making more oxyen rich.
mark
September 19, 2010 at 11:52 AM
Marc, Ozonation is great, but the cost is 3-4 times that of the systems I mentioned above and they require a high level of expertise to install and operate. A Porsche Boxter is the best handling car in the world! Do you have one? It's better than a Chevy. My point is that sometimes the best costs too much and is frankly... unnecessary.
Lindsey
January 28, 2015 at 9:14 PM
Hello live in the Central FL area out in the country and love where I live but hate the water! We have a well and the water stains my clothes and the tile in shower. We had a water test but not 100% on the levels anymore but pretty sure the iron level was 9, and they said that was my biggest concern......please can you suggest the best and cheapest but reliable water softner or filter that we can get?
Mark Timmons
February 3, 2015 at 8:08 AM
Lindsey, If iron is the only problem, then this is the best method: KATALOX LIGHT! Here's the link: https://www.uswatersystems.com/systems/backwashing-filters/katalox-light-backwashing-filters/fusion-superfilter-professional-grade-backwashing-filter-for-iron-sulfur-manganese-and-arsenic-removal-using-katalox-light.html
BK
January 2, 2017 at 8:39 PM
We have a Katalox Light system that is not doing the job. I've been told this is because Katalox Light and other similar media all require that at least some dissolved oxygen be present in the water already. I'm a bit confused about this because one would not expect much dissolved oxygen from water hundreds of feet underground. I know rainwater theoretically carries some oxygen down into the subsoil, but it doesn't seem to be doing much in our case because, as mentioned, the KL system isn't doing much. So the question becomes how to introduce dissolved oxygen into the water? If I shock the well with peroxide it will temporarily get better, but the effect only lasts for a few days. I don't really want to inject peroxide with a metering system if I don't have to. Is there some media that can oxidize iron all by itself, without the need for pre-existing dissolved oxygen?
Mark Timmons
January 2, 2017 at 10:31 PM
We used to use Katalox Light and the results were very unsatisfactory. Everyone has been looking for the Holy Grail with all the the medias that end in "LOX" - Filox, Pyrolox, Adox, Katalox, etc. There is also Birm and Manganese Greensand Plus. They all use a Manganese Dioxide on the media in varying amounts. Hydrogen Peroxide is a good oxidizer but pouring it down the well does very little. If you are going to use H2O2, you would want to inject it with a chemical injection system like this: https://www.uswatersystems.com/stenner-single-head-proportional-chemical-injection-system.html It needs to be injected just ahead of the backwashing filter tank, but Katalox or any "LOX" media is not really desireable with H2O2, This is the media that you use with H2O2: https://www.uswatersystems.com/jacobi-catalytic-granular-activated-carbon-compare-to-centaur.html We were one of the pioneers into H2O2 technology over 20 years ago and it is still the only method that I will GUARANTEE to remove iron and/or sulfur. Hydrogen Peroxide is composed of the elements of water and produces no disinfection by-products. The only drawback to H2O2 is that you have an annual peroxide bill, but your iron will be gone. You have to decide if it is worth the cost.
Barbara Glover
January 10, 2017 at 8:14 AM
We have a Katalox filtration system. Is it ok for water after it's been backwashed to go to our septic system? That is how the installer put it in but I wonder about the effects on the septic.
Mark Timmons
January 13, 2017 at 9:57 PM
Yes, that should be fine as long as the tank can hold the volume of water.
jd phillips
January 18, 2017 at 7:57 PM
our issue for our well is manganese. an old water test placed it at .2 ppm. no trace of iron. we have a sodium based softener at the moment but would like to avoid the added sodium in our diet. will the iron solutions outlined above work as well for manganese? any other suggestions specific to manganese? thanks
Mark Timmons
January 19, 2017 at 2:04 PM
Do you have a detailed water test? I cannot answer that question without such a test. Here's the best and most economical one we know of: https://www.uswatersystems.com/us-water-lab-water-test.html
Roger
February 19, 2017 at 5:19 PM
Hi Mark - I am looking for a solution that wont cost thousands of dollars to resolve what is mostly an aesthetic issue. We have really dark, almost black, stains in the toilets and porcelain sink bowls, staining on the shower glass doors and light brown (Calcium/Lime??) stains on the tile sides of shower and bath. There is a slightly metallic taste, no sulfur smell, and the water will sting your eyes during a shower. Our private well water has 24MG/l Calcium, .36MG/l Iron, 9.9MG/l Magnesium, and .02MG/l Manganese. The water has a Hardness of 5.8 Grains/Gal, a TDS of 180MG/l and a PH of 7.2. Neither of us care for the somewhat "slimy" feel imparted by [most?] water softeners but I would still like to put in a remedy that: A) wont cost thousands up front, B) wont cost hundreds per year for filters or media, C) Will give a clear indication when something needs to be renewed.
Mark Timmons
February 20, 2017 at 10:45 AM
Roger, This is what I would recommend: https://www.uswatersystems.com/synergy-twin-alternating-metered-water-softener.html It regenerates with soft water and fills the brine tanks with soft water, so it does an excellent job at softening, removing iron and removing manganese while using the least amount of salt possible. Let me know if you have questions.
Katie Warchol
March 15, 2017 at 11:19 AM
Is Greensand plus safe to drink, sounds scary? Thanks
Mark Timmons
March 15, 2017 at 8:03 PM
Not in my book.
Hank
April 5, 2017 at 12:44 PM
Is it possible to replace the media in a greensand filter and convert it to an air injection system? My greensand is done and pot perm is getting expensive and harder to get. Apparently nefarious characters use can use it for non-friendly means!
Mark Timmons
April 7, 2017 at 10:31 AM
It is possible, but I have a few questions first: 1. Do you have a detailed water analysis? The levels of iron, manganese, pH and other competing contaminants are essential before you do that. 2. What is the size of your tank? 3. How many in the family and how many bathrooms? Once I know that, I can better advise you. If you don't have a good water test, he is the best deal on the planet: https://www.uswatersystems.com/us-water-lab-water-test.html
Robert B Wassung
April 16, 2017 at 8:44 AM
We need some advise about iron/ manganese removal from our shared well system. We would rather not use a salt-based system because of the complications we have with back-washing, so we were wondering if the no-salt conditioning would be an answer. We don't need the "softening" of the salt-based system, but have struggled for years with the orange stains in both water fixtures and clothing. Can you give advise. We live in rural Connecticut.
Mark Timmons
April 17, 2017 at 9:24 PM
What level of Iron? What level of Manganese? What is the hardness level (I need to know even if you don't want to take it out.) What is the TDS and Alkalinity? Is the iron bacterial in nature? Is there any Sulfur or Sulfate? I can help you, but first, I have to know what is in the water. Here's what you need to do: https://www.uswatersystems.com/us-water-comprehensive-lab-water-test-for-well-water.html Once I know what is in the water, I can apply a sound scientific solution and GUARANTEE THE RESULTS.
Todd Rich
May 2, 2017 at 5:24 PM
I have well system, that uses a chlorine pulsafeeder injection system with a contact tank, then carbon filter, and finally a softner. it does a great a job of removing the smell. However I tend have a heavy solid black particle buildup in my hot water tank. Can't use mu hot tub because it seems thats where it ends up at the end of the water line. When my chlorine injection system clogs, blackish water and black film in the toilets appear, then the smell. That's when I know I need to clean the injected lines. How do I get rid of the black buildup in the hot water?
Mark Timmons
May 5, 2017 at 9:29 AM
Get rid of the chlorine injection. Chlorine is a good disinfectant but not a good oxidizer. It is not fully oxidizing the sulfur. The solution is Hydrogen Peroxide. While not a great disinfectant, it is a dramatically better oxidizer. With peroxide, you do not need a contact tank, nor should you use one. Here are links to two systems: https://www.uswatersystems.com/aquatrol-oxi-gen-economy-iron-and-sulfur-removal-system.html https://www.uswatersystems.com/infusion-backwashing-filter-for-iron-sulfur-and-manganese-removal.html Be sure and watch the videos. Let us know if you have more questions.
Greg L Almeida
September 30, 2017 at 6:23 PM
My water has high levels of iron and manganese. What is the appropriate system for a home with 2 bathrooms? Thanks!
Mark Timmons
October 3, 2017 at 12:37 PM
We need to know a lot more about the water before making any recommendations. You need to do this first: https://www.uswatersystems.com/us-water-lab-water-test.html
mla
October 7, 2017 at 1:09 AM
Hi. We seem to have solved our iron and manganese problem, although I'm not exactly sure what the filter is doing. Our well water results, before filtration: PH: 7.9 Iron: 0.5 ppm Maganese: 0.45 ppm T.D.S.: 116 ppm Silica: 35 ppm Hardness: 4 gpg Alkalinity: 90 ppm We have a three-stage big blue (BB20) filter system. First is sediment, and third is carbon. We recently added an iSpring FM25B iron/manganese filter in the second position. We did have a Pentak iron reducing filter in that position and it helped, but the manganese was still at staining levels. With the iSpring, we're told that iron and manganese are no longer detectable (as far as a field test, at least). And we are no longer seeing the staining. The product description says it lasts longer because the "catalytic media is not consumed," unlike greensand. The water also feels a little softer to me (a little slicker in the shower) although my wife says she hasn't noticed that. Any idea what process/media this filter is using?
Mark Timmons
October 8, 2017 at 9:07 PM
It is a manganese dioxide based media. "Catalytic media is not consumed" is just hyperbole. Let me know how long a cartridge lasts. It won't last long.
mla
October 14, 2017 at 11:47 AM
> It is a manganese dioxide based media. “Catalytic media is not consumed” is just hyperbole. > Let me know how long a cartridge lasts. It won’t last long. Will do, thanks. The filter claims 45k gallons at 3ppm iron. It's just the two of us, so if we do use the avg. of 100gal/person, that would be 200+ days per filter. My hope was, since our iron is significantly lower than that, we might get a bit more. Based on our water results, what would you consider a more cost-effective solution? One thing I might mention is that it's a shared well. The don't have our own pump house, so everything is in the garage. So space is at a premium. Thanks.
Greg L Almeida
October 17, 2017 at 9:52 PM
Mark, as you recommended, I bought one of your water tests and just got the results. As suspected, high levels of iron and manganese Iron: 0.51mg/L Manganese: 0.125mg/L All other levels seem to be within spec, however, if you’d like to review the test, it is; PROJECT # 715194 Please recommend the best solution to my problem, I’m tired of the discoloration and staining! Thanks!
Mark Timmons
October 19, 2017 at 12:01 PM
Greg, do you have the entire test? What else is in the water? Plesae send to my e-mail at mark@uswatersystems.com
mla
November 6, 2017 at 9:56 PM
Hey, Mark, you were right. The ispring filter didn't last very long at all. Knowing our incoming water analysis (above ^^^), and the fact that the ispring filter totally solved our problems (for a bit), what would you advise as the best long-term solution?
Ren Sanfilip
November 7, 2017 at 11:35 PM
I live in a trailer...my son and I....water travels around 35-40 feet at the most...we have a community well, it has a slight sulfur...smell.....heavy rust and calcium/lime deposits, my hot water tank is only 4 months old and it is already making noise.....do you have a complete water system I can install....also will this create soft water....my phone is 847-293-7272....thank you
Mark Timmons
November 9, 2017 at 12:28 AM
Ren, Tell me more about your water. What kind of problems do you have?
Ren Sanfilip
November 9, 2017 at 11:48 AM
I have a serious rust problem, I clean the toilet tank and within 2 weeks it is totally dark red, out of 110 trailers...I get a slight smell of sulfur....I have a serious calcium and lime build up, noticeable on the ends of the faucets....my old hot water tank was completely full of calcium deposits....the hot water tank/heater I have is only 5 months or so old.... I need a full system that will help with these problems....thank you.....
Chris
January 22, 2018 at 1:32 PM
Can anyone help? I currently have a green sand filter and it does not work. My toilets are orange/black. My clothes, dishes and glasses are turning orange. I have iron and Manganese in my water. My flow rate at the 2" line at the well is 70 gpm. Flow rate at 1 1/4" line at the house is 35 GPM. My fleck valve gets jammed with iron in a week. I'm being told the solution is a 80 gallon retention tank and a stenner chlorine injection system and another green sand filter with a clack valve instead. Will this actually work for my situation? What about a zeolite filter instead? Ph: 6.7 Total hardness: 8 Iron: 6.94 Manganese: 0.36 Turbidity: 96.6
Mark Timmons
January 29, 2018 at 11:56 AM
We can help. I am not a fan of using chlorine in this application. I would recommend this: Step 1: Backwashing Sediment Filter: https://www.uswatersystems.com/fusion-superfilter-professional-backwashing-filter-for-sediment.html Step 2: Synergy Twin-Alternating Softener: https://www.uswatersystems.com/synergy-twin-alternating-metered-water-softener.html Use iron out salt and Rust Out periodically and it will soften the water and remove the iron and manganese due to the 6.7 pH.
Diane
March 27, 2018 at 12:23 PM
Hi Mark we just had our well water tested and i was surprised at the results..we have a 3 stage water filter that should be able to handle the iron.. but everything turns orange, clothes, hair, tubs everything.. its a new construction and the well is a year old iron .26mg/l maganese .070mg/l hardness 48.5mg/l ph 6.7 lead .060mg/l (i am having it retested for lead since the 1st draw sample a yr ago was under .010.) any suggestions? Thanks!
Mark Timmons
April 1, 2018 at 2:32 PM
That water analysis is very incomplete. I would suggest a better one: https://www.uswatersystems.com/us-water-lab-water-test.html
M L Matern
March 30, 2018 at 1:09 PM
Our church has been designated as a public water supply by the State. We have a water treatment system in place is designed as follows: Raw water --> Ph Neutralization --> AIO Iron & Manganese removal --> Sediment Cartridge filter --> UV Sterilization --> Finish Water routine monitoring of PH averages around 7.11 until calcite media gets coated by manganese and requires replenishment. recent testing shows: Coliform = 0, Perchlorate = none, Conductivity = 240 umhos/cm, All secondary contaminants (except Iron and Manganese) are within state mandated limits, Iron and Manganese is our problem. I currently do not have test results for these in the Raw water, however the Finish water has been consistently Iron @ 4-7 mg/L and Manangese @ 1.2-1.6 mg/L. The state limit for iron is 0.3 mg/L (but they don't seem too excited about it) and manganese is 0.05 mg/L (which the State is very upset about). Recently we discovered that our plumber had not been replacing (for at least 2 cycles over 1-2 years) the Fleck filter-head valve seals properly, causing some level of raw water to leak past the AIO filtration. That has now been remedied and we are awaiting results of the most recent testing to see how much of a difference that will make. Maybe it will make this question a mute point? However after reviewing older historical data for Iron and Manganese from this well it appears that we may never have tested within limits. I would like to know if the system we are using really is the best choice and perhaps we need to increase the filtration capacity (add a second AIO filter for instance) or maybe a different filter method is required for raw water with these levels?
Mark Timmons
April 1, 2018 at 2:18 PM
I would keep the AIO, but as you can see, they do not do a lot. Here's what will remove the iron and manganese the best: https://www.uswatersystems.com/synergy-twin-alternating-metered-water-softener.html This is because it regenerates with soft water and fills the salt tank with soft water. Use Iron-Out Salt!
Brad
January 31, 2019 at 1:45 AM
Hi Mark! I live in Reno NV and have some of the worst water out there. Low pH (3.2), Iron at 27 ppm, High Sulphates, and TDS around 2600. I have a very complex, multi-stage whole house RO system. I works pretty well, but I go through a set of 3 x RO membranes a year which usually runs around $1200. Someone stated that the Iron is clogging and reducing my membrane effectiveness. They recommended a "Chlorine pellet dispenser, a Twin-tank contact tank with pump that transfer water between the 2 Tanks". They said this would precipitate out the iron in the contact tank & prevent further degradation of membranes. Does this sound like it could work? If so, where could I find these specific components? Names, nomenclatures, manufacturers? Thanks.
Mark Timmons
February 3, 2019 at 2:23 PM
Brad, It would be very reckless of me to comment on your question, without more information. <em>A Chlorine pellet dispenser, a Twin-tank contact tank with pump that transfer water between the 2 Tanks</em> sounds like a big problem in itself. I would need more information about your water and existing system, but I seriously doubt that is a viable solution. First, I would need to see a detailed water test (something like this: https://www.uswatersystems.com/us-water-lab-water-test.html). If you don't have it, you can order that one. We need to know "competing contaiminants" and other water parameters. We specialize in treating that kind of water, so YES, we can help you. I just need more information.
Becky Dixon
January 9, 2020 at 3:43 PM
Hi, we have a well and after initial testing we added a heavy metal filter system with a UV light . After adding the 3 filters we retested our water. ( at the kitchen sink) We currently still have a high iron and manganese rating . Per our local health department everything else was considered ok. Our current iron is 0.58 mg/L Nd our manganese is 0.64 mg/L. In addition to filtering out water into the house we have a. Nikken filtration system for all our drinking and cooking . We would like to add an additional filter for the iron and manganese( my husband does not want a brine solution) Do you have any recommendations? *** Also as of yesterday we replaced our hot water heater that was 23 years old . It was full of sediment so some of our issues may have been from that. Thank you !! Becky
Mark Timmons
January 15, 2020 at 7:29 PM
Based upon the information given, I would recommend this: https://www.uswatersystems.com/flexx-oxi-gen-aeration-iron-and-sulfur-filter.html