New and Improved Iron and Sulfur Filters

New and Improved Iron and Sulfur Filters
By Mark Timmons
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New and Improved Iron and Sulfur Filters

This blog was post in July of 2014 and subsequent to that the Katalox Light media has proven to be highly unreliable.  We no longer use it.  If you are looking for the best method to remove Iron, Sulfur, Iron or Sulfur Bacteria and/or Manganese then here is the absolute best method: https://www.uswatersystems.com/infusion-backwashing-filter-for-iron-sulfur-and-manganese-removal.html

A backwashing filter, often called an iron filter or oxidizing filter, is the most widely used system for removing iron and sulfur. Iron filters work by oxidizing the iron and/or sulfur and then filtering it out through the media bed. The best medias at removing these contaminants are medias that are manganese dioxide based or coated media. Birm is coated with less than a half percent of manganese dioxide which is why it is limited in application. Greensand Plus is a little higher in manganese dioxide and Filox, Pyrolox and MangOx are 60 to 80% manganese dioxide. However, the most common reasons for filter failure are a lack of flow in backwash or a lack of frequency of regenerations. Filtration using oxidation is the most common method of iron removal. Oxidizing filters use an oxidizer such as ozone, oxygen, chlorine or hydrogen peroxide to boost the oxidizing properties of the water being treated and allow for better iron removal. Iron filters and sulfur filters have been used for many years in the water treatment industry with varying levels of success or maybe we should say “unsuccess.” The biggest problem with most iron filters is simply the weight of the media, because the heavier the media, the more water and pressure it takes to backwash, and the fact of the matter is that many wells do not have the capability of producing such a flow of water. Medias like Filox, Pyrolox and MangOx weigh from 114 to 125 pounds per cubic foot. For example, to backwash a 1.5 cubic foot tank (10” x 54”) of Pyrolox or Filox or any typical manganese dioxide-based media, would require 15 Gallons Per Min (GPM). Backwash and rinse time can be up to 20 minutes. Do the math! Yikes! That’s wasting a lot of water. Some systems waste up to 300 gallons of water per regeneration and most need to backwash daily or at least every other day. We think that is simply wasteful! Old-style iron filters and sulfur filters are rapidly becoming obsolete due to their inherent inefficiency and massive wasting of water, to say nothing of the fact that many really don’t work very well. Additionally, many use either potassium permanganate or chlorine to regenerate as an oxidizer. Potassium permanganate dissolves into water and gives it an intense pink or purple color, and will forever stain things it comes into with if the concentration is too high. Potassium permanganate is generally held in a tank with a small amount of water at the bottom. The problem is these tanks frequently overflow, and it’s easy to spot the homes where this has occurred by the brown and purple stains all over which cannot be removed – EVER! Additionally, potassium permanganate is a toxic chemical and can cause serious eye injury, is a skin and inhalation irritant, and can be fatal if swallowed. For that reason, most people do not want it in their water. Over the past several years, potassium permanganate has fallen out of favor with savvy water professionals. Chlorine is also used as an oxidizer by many companies because it is easier to handle and doesn’t leave stains like potassium permanganate. However, chlorine is more insidious than it is dangerous in that during oxidation, disinfection by-products (DBP’s) are created. Trihalomethane (THM’s) are one of these DBP’s and are known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). If you use chlorine, then you will need to add a backwashing carbon filter after the iron or sulfur removal system to remove the chlorine and disinfection by-products. Then we have Katalox Light...  To begin with, Katalox is a revolutionary new media developed in Germany. Katalox Light is engineered with a unique manganese dioxide coating technique on ZERSORB (which is a very lightweight media). It has a manganese dioxide coating of 10%. Katalox Light is ANSI/NSF 61 Certified for drinking water applications and has met the ANSI/NSF 372 lead-free compliance. The Katalox Light media has a very high surface area which filters down to three (3) microns and immediately stops oxidized or precipitated forms of Iron, Manganese and Hydrogen Sulfide from passing into the water stream. It generally needs backwashed every 4 to 7 days, unlike other heavier media that requires daily backwashing. In cases where heavy iron or heavy sulfur exists, we utilize chlorine as an oxidizer only during the backwashing process. In addition, Katalox Light and chlorine can successfully remove radium, uranium, selenium, arsenic, zinc, copper and lead, as well as other radionuclides. In order to do this, iron must be present to facilitate the process.  In certain cases, the pH must be raised or lowered, depending upon the water chemistry and contaminants. In short, Katalox Light is a revolutionary media that is changing the way iron and sulfur are removed from water. We are so confident in it’s ability to remove iron and sulfur that we offer a one-year money-back guarantee. At US Water, we are now using Katalox Light in our Iron and Sulfur Filters.  Call us at 800-608-USWA or e-mail us at support@uswatersystems.com for details.
July 21, 2014
Comments
Dave
December 11, 2014 at 6:46 AM
Hi, My wife and I live in the country, 5 miles west of Eau Claire, WI where we have a well servicing a 4 bedroom ranch house with 1 full bath and one with just a toilet and sink. Just the two of us are living here now. We have a very high iron content in this area in general and are experiencing stains on sinks and toilets. Many people in this area have iron problems. When we moved into this house in1990, there was a Culligan water softener (salt based) and iron filter/neutralizer (calcium carbonate based), both Mark 49 models that never really worked that great. Now, 24 years later, they are ready for replacement due to leaky valves and corroding brass valve bodies. We would like a less wasteful (less backwashing), a more effective solution to the high iron problem and a solution that doesn't require the purchase of expemsive chemicals and media if at all possible. Recent water tests from two independent companies yeilded the same results and are as follows. Iron 14 ppm (Iron is pretty evenly divided between ferrous and ferric) pH 6.3 Hardness 4 gpg Nitrates 0.8> Our well has a flow rate of 20.5 gallons per minute and our backwash goes out onto the lawn. What would you recommend?? We have been checking locally and with companies on the internet with many conflicting suggestions. I am in agreement that having to back wash Pro-Ox every day to the tune of 200-300 gallons like a couple companies suggested seems very wasteful. Sincerely, Dave
Mark Timmons
December 12, 2014 at 2:26 PM
Dave, Based upon what you are telling me, I would recommend one of our Fusion Katalox backwashing Superfilters followed by a Fusion Calcite Superfilter and finally a Fusion Softener. A Katalox iron filter backwashes every other day for 5 to 7 minutes, so it does not waste much water. I would recommend the 10 GPM Models: 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 https://www.uswatersystems.com/systems/backwashing-filters/calcite-ph-neutralizing-backwashing-filters/fusion-calcite-backwashing-neutralizer-filter-system.html https://www.uswatersystems.com/systems/water-softener-system/city-water-softeners/fusion-nlt-metered-water-softener.html Give us a call at 800-608-8792 if you have any questions. There is currently an additional 8.5% discount on this.
Carol
March 24, 2017 at 10:32 AM
Do you no longer use katalox media? What are the reasons for the switch to activated granular carbon as your media? Are there problems that arose with the katalox systems? I know that I don't want birm, greensand or the heavier "lox" medias (too much wasted water for backwashing).
Mark Timmons
March 25, 2017 at 8:45 PM
1. Highly unreliable 2. Elevated pH - up to 12.0 3. But, mostly because the Catalytic Carbon media works every time. EVERY TIME! It's not just carbon, but catalytic carbon using H2O2 as an oxidizer. Do you just want to buy something or do you want something that works?
Michele
April 15, 2017 at 11:37 AM
I have iron bacteria and sulphur problem. Don;t want chlorine based filtration. Is Katalox still the best recommendation? Ive been quoted $3000 by local company. Pretty pricey. Thanks Michele
Mark Timmons
April 16, 2017 at 12:12 AM
We have discontinued Katalox Light for numerous reasons, including the fact it does not work with iron bacteria and is highly unreliable with sulfur. The manufacturer had a long string of excuses and we could not tolerate the numerous problems we had. For over twenty years, this has been and still is the best way to remove iron, sulfur and iron bacteria: https://www.uswatersystems.com/infusion-backwashing-filter-for-iron-sulfur-and-manganese-removal.html or https://www.uswatersystems.com/aquatrol-oxi-gen-economy-iron-and-sulfur-removal-system.html
Chris Fleeman
May 26, 2017 at 12:22 PM
Can you give more details as to why you no longer recommend Katalox Light? Why is it unreliable?
Mark Timmons
May 26, 2017 at 6:47 PM
1. The principals of the company that makes it had a different story every day... no consistency; 2. It produced water with a pH as high as 13; 3. The media sometimes turns to cement and cannot be removed; and 4. We could not predict if it would work or not. Why? I can only speculate. The above points are facts!
Brain2000
August 8, 2017 at 4:25 PM
Sounds like you lost your contract. I love my Katalox Lite. Running for almost two years with zero problems.
Mark Timmons
August 8, 2017 at 5:48 PM
Lost our contract? Cancelled our contract! Look, I am not saying it doesn't work at times because it obviously does, but it doesn't work as much as it does work. If it's working good for you, great! We might tolerate a 5% failure rate, but in our experience it was over 35% and we can't live with that. I'm glad it's working for you What is in your water? Do you have an analysis?
William A. Brenk
January 26, 2018 at 8:21 AM
Florida Water Consultants LLC Lakeland Florida Katalox Light is worth the investment if properly used. We have been using Katalox Light for some time. It has worked very well on many of our customers wells with various levels of contaminates. It is powerful. We had a major waste water release at one of our local phosphate mines, and panic ensued. I had my customers well tested by the company responsible for doing the testing. The results were fascinating. Gross Alpha went from 9.9 pCi/L prior to the system to 1.7. pCi/L after. This was system was a stand alone filter with Katalox. It was perfect for an elderly couple who did not want to use chlorine or salt. To disregard the product because someone else failed to test the water properly prior to installation and to accuse the product of failure because of the bad results or bad installation is a disservice to our profession. It works good. It has to be used properly. Catalytic carbon is also a great tool in this industry, however, it can be improperly used to filter Iron and Sulphur by itself. it becomes a breading ground for all living things in the water. Prior to using any company to fix your water you should do your OWN testing and have an idea what you can afford. People will sell you systems you don't need just to collect the commission. Be water smart.
Mark Timmons
January 29, 2018 at 11:47 AM
I agree with some of what you say and disagree with most about Katalox. We do test the water, by an EPA Approved Lab. We had hundreds of installations. How many have you installed? FYI: 1. In the beginning we were told to use H2O2 with it 2. Later we were told NEVER to use H2O2 with it 3. In some cases the pH went to over 13 and took weeks of rinsing to drop. 4. To gloss over failures is a greater disservice. 5. We have no agenda - we wanted it to work. What's your agenda, William?
Scott Tomkins
February 13, 2018 at 4:41 PM
Gentlemen, please act like grown men. One thing i have found after dealing with iron and manganeese well water for 20 years is that there is no hard steadfast rules for Iron/Manganeese removal. I have dealt with so called "Water Doctors" ( anybody who claims to know how to filter water ) with limited results. I have tried many, many, many methods over 20 years. Here is what I have found. Starting Raw well water: Iron 14ppm Manganeese 6 ppm PH 5.4 Very Hard water. -Listening to others first used greensand with Kmno4. Poor results. That was with two in series. - Another "expert" then placed calcite/corosex filter. It worked for about 2 months. and became cement. This was with greensand after calcite/corosex filter. - Then tried pyrolox after calcite/corosex blend. Same thing, cement after 2 months. -Then tried birm. Big mistake. Cement. - Then tried sequestering Iron. No go. All this was at advice and $ from " water experts" out there. I then after much reading and reviews of other posts and as many books as I could find. 3 years ago switched to the following: Injected chlorine and caustic soda, then into two 120 gallon retention tanks, greensand" plus". Then followed by centaur carbon tank. This is the best water I have ever had! There are so many other combinations I have tried before the big switch to injection and the last setup I just mentioned. One thing I have found is that there are no rules for iron and manganeese removal ! EXCEPT, the one steadfast rule for Iron and Manganeese removal I have found thru the process is PH, PH,PH,PH,PH,PH......... The higher the better and more effective removal of iron and manganeese. Btw manganeese is much harder to remove than Iron. My PH is always between 8.5 to 10.0. Any lower and 8.5 yields much less effective treatment. -I tried some experimentation a month ago on my system. Listening to all the experts again saying "H2O2 treats the worst well water period". -In my testing on raw water, I found out that the so called hydrogen peroxide ( Neutra Sol 7%) is very, very, very PH dependant. I have a video that will be on you tube in a day or two showing how I did these tests. Anyway I got no " instant oxidation of iron" and took a few minutes to even turn the water partially brown at 5.4 PH. - The chlorine however at same PH did start the oxidation right away. It did a better job as well after 10 minutes compared to H2O2. My chlorine is 12.5% if anybody is wondering. - I did notice that H2O2 is awful at manganeese removal, and dosent oxidize like the chlorine. The chlorine water after 10 min was very dark brownish and blackish. ( manganeese oxidizes black). Meanwhile the H2O2 was a light brown. Then after H2O2 water was left for an hour, I came back and hit it with a few drops chlorine and it turned black. - However I adjusted the PH to 8.6 for both and the H2O2 worked better and started oxidation right away as the same as the chlorine. But end result was light brown. Did the same with chlorine and it worked just as fast and was much darker due to manganeese. - In short H2O2 is very PH sensitive but dosent remove manganeese. I researched and found a persons doctorial thesis and experimentation from a university in Pa. Confirming H2O2 dosent do well with manganeese. I see al the " water experts touting H2O2" for Iron and Manganeese removal and in their words " works every time". - In short save your money and stick with NSF 12.5% chlorine. Im going to say it that I was underwhealmed with H2O2 actual performance! -Dump the peroxide ! And the price of it. Please dont throw at me that it must have been a bad batch of Neutr-sol or some other excuse for H2O2 if you are selling it. I tried for months to make it work. No go. -What do I have now? This goes in order as it comes out of well that is 444 feet deep in mountains in northeast Pa. - My system now with great results" 1st injected with chlorine and caustic soda then Aero-Max oxidation system, then into (2) 120 gallon retention tanks. Then thru katalox lite ( which works well which we will cover after I have more experience with it) then greensand plus, then centauer carbon then to my house. All produce nice water now but took many years to get here. Anytime you are removing Iron and Manganeese the most important thing is PH, PH, PH. I use caustic soda as it is much easier than baking soda and raises PH more effectively. Hope this helps somebody !
Mark Timmons
February 18, 2018 at 5:46 PM
First of all, I would not recommend this anymore than I would recommend Do-It-Yourself Brain Surgery... come to think of it, maybe he tried that too. #1 - Hydrogen Peroxide is a dramatically better oxidizer than Chlorine, so you have a better chance of convincing me gravity is not real. #2 - BEFORE any treatment, your should raise your pH. #3 - Using caustic soda is so irresponsible in a home application and leaves you with absolutely ZERO credibility. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER do this! EVER! #4 - However, if you have a low pH, you can take out the iron and manganese with a twin-alternating water softener. That's a whole lot simpler. Then raise the pH with soda ash injection (not caustic). I am publishing this as an example of what NOT TO DO! GEEEEZZZZZ!!!!
Nicholas Fayette
March 5, 2018 at 11:48 PM
I have an activated carbon-H2O2 system similar to what you recommend for my 2 bath home and it doesn't do much of anything except turn the water yellow and lower the pH. Well water is 9 PPM iron with iron bacteria, 2 grains hardness, 6.5 pH, no Mg or H2S. Coming out of the iron filter, it's still 9 PPM iron with a 6.2 pH and yellow instead of clear. After the iron filter also have a whole house carbon cartridge filter and water still yellow out of it. Even tried a 1 micron cartridge filter and it helped a little but water still yellow. Only thing that filters out the yellow color is the fridge filter. Hot water is really nasty orange.
Mark Timmons
March 6, 2018 at 3:19 PM
1. Is there a contact tank? 2. Where do you inject the H2O2? 3. What initiates the pump to kick on? Is it proportional to the flow rate? 4. What kind of carbon are you using? 5. Have you tested for tannin?
Nicholas Fayette
March 7, 2018 at 4:57 AM
1 No contact tank. 2 Injection about a foot before inlet to valve 3 flow switch turns pump on. Not proportional, fixed rate based on max flow (plenty of bubbles water) 4 Centaur catalytic 5 no tanin
Mark Timmons
March 7, 2018 at 10:17 PM
When we have higher amounts of iron, we use two catalytic carbon tanks in series and a proportional injection system which injects H2O2 ahead of each tank. The second tank obviously gets less injected since most of the oxidation occurs in the first tank. We have also switched back to Coconut Shell Catalytic Carbon. We have used Centaur in the past, which is coal-based, and the results are not as good. I am not sure why. In your case, I think I would put a calcite/magnesium oxide filter right after your first sediment filter. It will raise the pH and also cause some iron to drop out. It may be easier removed if it is lowered. The only problems is that it adds hardness to the water. Do you also have a softener?
duane
April 12, 2018 at 7:54 AM
duane: my water is bad 33[gpg],ph8.3,iron1.6ppm,tds336 was told that SK sidekick by csi is a good iron sulpher filter then goes to water softner ????????
Mark Timmons
April 28, 2018 at 2:07 PM
You can't beat this one: https://www.uswatersystems.com/aquatrol-oxi-gen-economy-iron-and-sulfur-removal-system.html followed by a softener. Hands down, it will out perform any other iron filter.
Ann Finn
May 5, 2018 at 2:48 PM
Hi, thanks for this conversation. You certainly seem knowledgeable about these systems and I have just had Katalox installed. (I didn't find your site till after installation.) Even though you have moved away from it I have a question about content in the backwash. I would like to use it to irrigate a 9'x18' blueberry patch I will plant soon. Given that specific areas are changeable I suppose it will be a matter of testing, the backwash conduit is still above ground. But if you can help me in this matter I'd be most grateful.
Mark Timmons
May 5, 2018 at 9:43 PM
Without knowing your water analysis, I could not tell you for certain, but it might be worth a try.
William A. Brenk
June 12, 2018 at 4:37 PM
Ann put the drain water on the blue berries. We live in central Florida and we service many farms. Most farmers don't waste much of anything, let alone water. Kat Light waste will NOT kill your plants. As long as you have not used salt, chlorine, peroxide, or other added oxidizers, your plants will benefit from the waste water minerals. Do not use a spray system i.e sprayers. Let the drain flow open from your filter unobstructed. Don't restrict it. The back-wash has to flow freely. The added minerals, especially the iron, in the waste water will green up your plants. Warning!!! The salt from a water softener WILL kill your plants. Do not drain an ION exchange system to your garden. (salt system)
Mark Timmons
June 12, 2018 at 6:04 PM
I would add: "<em>In most cases</em>." It depends upon what is in the water. For example, if you have arsenic and iron, the arsenic binds with the iron and is removed into the waste stream. You may not want to put water containing high amounts of arsenic intgo your garden. Knowledge is power - get a detailed water analysis first.
William A. Brenk
June 12, 2018 at 6:56 PM
I visit this blog and a few others because I study constantly and learn from others. I have visited this site for years. I have only commented once in January 2018 until today. I have been building water systems for each of our customers. When I say build, I mean I purchase the best materials, valves, tanks, and support equipment we need to satisfy each well. We build each system on site. We don't buy equipment that is built in China and sent to the US to be installed by some kid. I want to know what I'm selling, and what my customers are getting from me. I retired from Aviation Maintenance after 30 years as an Authorized Inspector with an FAA certification required to work on the most amazing aircraft. Military as well as civilian. I was the General Manager of several large aviation Fixed Base Operators. I went to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and learned physics, metallurgy, hydraulics, aerodynamics and a whole lot more. I spent most of my military career overseas. I found the value of water in a desert in 1990. I've been in the water business for 15 years and I have studied the aquifer of Florida as long as I have owned my own company, and I am happy managing over 4000 customers. I consolidated my customer data base and formed Florida Water Consultants LLC in 2014. I enjoy a Better Business Bureau Rating of A+ No complaints. I am no dummy and I don't deserve to be insulted by you. Why all this on your water blog? You offended me Mark. Brain surgery? really? I have ignored your abusive nature towards some of the folks that visit your site for years. I ignored it because it was your site. I was just visiting. They depend on you to answer their justified questions about their water. They are regular folks. You are spot on most of the time. But you can be abusive when you respond to some of them. Yes, some folks get testy and may make comments you don't like. As a professional I would expect you to be more controlled. You are one of the most knowledgeable water-men I know. You are accurate most of the time. But you must be aware that when you respond in writing, in public, to someone that you don't like, in your abusive manor, you lose customers for your company. I f you worked for me, you could tell people you WORKED for me. You may be the Water Doctor, but you are also "Mr. Hyde" at times. You had no reason to respond to me in public the way you did. I have thought about it for a long time (since January 2018) and I found today I needed to explore this a little more. My agenda was to help assist the conversation. Your comment to Scott Tomkins was unwarranted. Your brain surgery comment referencing me? Juvenile and unprofessional. You owe me a public apology on this blog.
Gary Chamberlain
September 29, 2018 at 1:01 PM
We have a new Katalox 10"x54" filter and are experiencing a "Fine Black" sediment in both of our two toilet tanks. When I measured the fill height of the media in our tank by holding a flashlight up to the tank with the lights in the room off, it was 28" from the bottom of the filter base, is this enough media for a 10"x54" filter? Any idea what might be causing this black sediment? Gary Chamberlain North Carolina resident (928) 202-1186
Mark Timmons
October 1, 2018 at 9:21 AM
This is one of the reasons (among many) why we don't sell Katalox. That is the right amount of media. If we could have fixed the issues, we would still sell it, but we actually have better methods.
Well Off
November 4, 2018 at 1:35 AM
Per Mark Timmon's post on April 15, 2017: "We have discontinued Katalox Light for numerous reasons, including the fact it does not work with iron bacteria" I do not believe that ANY "filter" media is going to work with IRB. IRB is a bacteria. It encases iron. Unless you kill it, using some biocide, the iron won't be fully presented to any filter for removal. The same goes for MRB: Manganese Reducing Bacteria (though, from all my research, usually a much less significant issue than IRB). In higher amounts IRB (and MRB) will foul filter media (and generally everything else) UNLESS it is killed first. I am NOT a professional. I do NOT sell or otherwise promote ANY water treatment products. My water source has IRB, about 2ppm of iron and .2ppm of manganese. It is the IRB that is my issue, which requires the use of a biocide; I use H2O2 because I have a shallow well (concerns over tannins) and solution consumption is very low: I go through perhaps one gallon of H2O2 per year. Because H2O2 is a less powerful biocide I require the use of a contact tank. One other correction needs to be made, and that's that H2O2 is a far superior oxidant than NaClO. In my Stenner manual it even notes this (for calculating solution rates). NOTE: I am here only because I've been on a quest to deal with all my water issues. My current system deals with everything except manganese, which is why I stumbled on this site/blog (my awareness of Katalox Lite isn't new- I've run tests with it, though limited, and it worked great- only time I've reduced my manganese levels [to near zero]). Still researching...
Mark Timmons
November 4, 2018 at 12:39 PM
There are quite a few errors here: 1. H2O2 is a poor biocide but is a great oxidizer. 2. In my opinion, it is the best oxidizer in applications like this. 3. Use of a contact tank only diminishes the oxidation ability of H2O2. You are treating it like it is a biocide and that is not what you are using it for. It makes no sense to do that. 4. Depending upon your manganese and pH level, you should switch the Katalox with Cataltyic Carbon and inject the H2O2 just ahead of the catalytic carbon tank. We have done tens of thousands of these over 25 years and have the data to support our position. Do you know the ORP of the water?