How to Remove Iron from Water

Impacts of Iron on Water

Not many know about the fact that iron is an essential constituent in water. But when it comes to your drinking water, the content of iron needs to be lower or even negligible. But there are utterly grave impacts owing to the iron content on water. Some of them are described below,

Adverse impacts on Health –

Lower levels of Iron won’t result in much of an effect since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) marks it as the second impurity in water. What essentially happens is that some of the bacterial infections carry iron for survival. These infections can cause serious impacts on health if they are ingested. The visible effects owing to this are called iron overloads.

Skin problems –

Iron content in water may also result in negative impacts on your skin. It can permanently harm the healthy skin cells present in your body resulting in wrinkly skin. Since water does not easily coagulate with soap, it would also result in residual soap remains that will eventually cause skin infections.

Results on Food and Drink –

Iron contaminated with water will give you the sensation of a jarring taste. This is something that is very irksome and distressing, and you won’t be able to enjoy some of your favorite drinks like tea, coffee, etc. Water laden with iron is not recommended while washing vegetables since it can damage them.

Muddying effects of Iron–

You might have noticed some staining residues on water if there is too much iron content in it. If you take this water for cleaning your dishes, your cutlery and other utensils will get stained with an orange or dark red tint. The same thing will happen when you wash your clothes with it.

All these effects are very worrisome, and these are negative impacts of excessive iron content in water. We would be discussing some of the important points on how these impurities can be removed from the water at a considerable amount. This will ensure the fact that there would be no lasting damages and adverse effects on human health.


How to remove the excess Iron content from water?

We use water for a variety of things as we have seen above. A fractional amount of iron content would be acceptable, but an unrestrained amount of it can prove very fatal.

Let us take a look at some of the steps that should be employed to remove this flaw and make our water drinkable and useable again.

1) Checking the pH Level of water

For checking the iron content of water, it is essential that the pH level needs to be tested. It is not something that can be done in the comforts of your home unless you have all the apparatus and equipment which is not exactly recommended.

This needs to be done in the confines of a clean and safe environment of a laboratory that would have all the useful and required measures in place.

a) You should have a pH meter ready

  • This is the essential first step in checking the pH level of water. The meter needs to be configured and calibrated with something that has an optimum pH level.
  • The meter can then be recalibrated accordingly, and this procedure needs to be done at a time prior to the testing of water.
  • It is mandatory that the meter is cleaned off with water that is deionized, meaning no ion content on it.

b) Take some samples

  • The water sample should be deep enough to mask the electrode tips.
  • The sample needs to be stabilized for measuring the temperature level later on.

c) Adjust the meter

The meter now needs to be adjusted as per the sample temperature so that the readingsdo not collide.

d) Note the pH measurement

The pH measurement is now shown in the meter after the sample is stabilized.

e) Using the Litmus Paper

Thelitmus paper will essentially tell you whether the collected sample is an acid or the base. The pH levels that are measured in the pH meter are from 0-14, and pure water has a pH level of 7.

The water sample that has a content of iron or ferrous in it, will have the reading of 5-8 in the pH meter. You can dip the litmus paper in the sample which will turn it into a blue color.

In popular terminologies, the blue color would determine that the sample is basic, meaning that it has ferrous content in it.


2) Install a water softener

What is Water softening?

As the term suggests, it is a process that eradicates the hardness of water by a considerable amount owing to a set of processes and steps.

The process basically removes the harmful mineral contents that make the water hard. This type of water can be difficult to use for day to day purposes which is the softening process is useful.


What does a water softener do?

  • The mechanism applied in water softening is basically an ion exchanging process that removes the ion content in the water considerably.
  • The softeners remove the Calcium and the Magnesium based ions, and they are referred to as the hardness minerals.
  • They are also used to remove the iron content in the water. The process can remove the iron content at the rate of 5 milligrams per liter worth of iron content.


The process of Water softening

  • The softener has a conditioning tank that collects the calcium and magnesium contents separately and siphons them off into the drainage system.
  • Using the ion exchangers will replace the hardness minerals with a different set of ions mainly sodium or potassium.
  • These are added to the iron exchanger stockpiles in the form of salts.

The mechanisms of water softening used today are far efficient and cost-effective than the ones that were used previously. The benefits that you receive from them are far greater and considerable. Plus, it ensures that the iron content is removed substantially from the wat


3) Use Greensand Filters

What is a Greensand Filter?

Greensand Filters have naturally formulated filters that use a composite mixture made up of glauconite greensand.

The entire filter is coated up with manganese oxide that essentially oxidizes the iron content in the water upon the first contact.

The greensand filter media needs to be cleaned up routinely with potassium permanganate for preventing any kind of damages and any negative effects on it.


How is it useful?

  • It is a known fact that water has a considerable content of iron and manganese that are dissolved.
  • When it comes in contact with the atmosphere, it can affect your bath, laundry and other essential things. The contact can effectively result in unnecessary oxidation or rusting which is not good.
  • Greensand filter will oxidize these harmful impurities immediately since the water flows through it.
  • Once they flow through these filters, it would result in precipitation or in simple words convert into solid forms in the filter bed.
  • The filter will then backwash these pollutants draining them interruptedly at any time. This will clean up the filter bed without any additional hassles.
  • Also, the mechanism even stores up a mixture of potassium permanganate which is coated onto the filter media after every interval of draining.
  • There is also an additional rinse cycle that cleans out the potassium permanganate residues left in the filter bed completely.

This results in effectively cleaning out the iron and manganese pollutants, and reduces them considerably.


4) Chlorination and Filtration

The final step that needs to be carried out in treating up the water infused with iron would be the chlorination process followed by filtration.

What is the Chlorination Process?

Simply speaking, the addition of chlorine in water is termed as the chlorination process.

The advantage of using chlorine is to remove and essentially disinfecting and kill any harmful germs or bacteria that come in owing to the presence of iron.

  • This is something that has been used for quite long as the final stage of the water filtration process and is still used.
  • Chlorine is available to the users and industries in the gaseous form that is in sodium hypochlorite solution or solid calcium hypochlorite.
  • These can and should be used in controlled amounts because a high dosage would be fatal when it is mixed with water.


Filtration Process

  • After the chlorination process is completed, the filtration is followed with it immediately. All the remaining pollutants and harmful particles present in the water would then be removed permanently.
  • Natural layers of sand and gravel are used in this case for the filtration process. This removes any and all the pollutants and other suspended particles thereby improving the water quality considerably.



Purifying the water is an essential process and removing the iron content from water is also an integral part of it. Since there are so many adverse impacts owing to disconcerting levels of iron, removing them is the only possible solution.

The steps mentioned are a tried, tested and proven from many of the industrial experts and followed by many of the companies as well.

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Dr. Med. Raoul Hasert is a specialist in dermatology and venereology. He is a senior physician in Praxisklinik Dr. Hasert.