The fourth most abundant mineral in the earth is iron. It can be found in rocks and minerals as well as in the human blood. When iron is exposed to oxygen and water, it turns to rust.
Well water containing iron does not pose any health hazard. However, it can cause discoloration (yellow, red, brown) on clothes and other laundry items, dishes, and bathroom fixtures. It can also clog pumps and sprinklers causing costly repairs. It also makes water taste like metal, thereby making it unpleasant for drinking. Thus, families and governments usually make an effort to remove iron from water. Contamination comes in different forms, and each has a specific treatment.
First of all, test the iron content of your water. Water discoloration could be due to soluble or insoluble iron, or iron bacteria. Determine how much the well produces as well as the water consumption of the household. Then, consult your local health department and ask about testing services. Alternatively, check out pool or water treatment stores which offer these services for a fee. Tip: Services offered by local health departments are cheaper. It would also be wise to ask neighbors if they are encountering similar problems. If no iron is found in their water, it might come out cheaper to drill another well or adjust the current depth of the existing well.
There are many ways to remove iron from water. Solutions range from a simple cartridge filter to more expensive ozonation systems, depending on solubility, iron content and acidity of the water.
Insoluble iron may be taken out using filter and would require change in filter only after the filter has been saturated or clogged. If the iron is in a soluble form, treat the water first through chlorination, aeration, catalytic filtration and Ozonation. Once iron is insoluble, filter it out. The only drawback is that once these procedures have been started, they should be done regularly for maintenance. Also, it costs about $800 to thousands to have these performed.
The type of procedure also depends on the amount of iron and the pH. If the iron content of the water tested is found to be more than 10 parts per million (ppm), purchase a filtration system that can chlorinate and act as a mechanical filter in order to remove rust particles. If pH is less than or equal to 6.8 and water has 0.3 to 10ppm of iron, using water softeners alone may be able to take out not just the excess iron, but other metals such as calcium and manganese. In addition, it can also increase sodium content through ion exchange mechanisms. If pH is greater than 6.8 and iron content is 0.3 to 10ppm, simply use filters as these oxidize and absorb iron.
If iron bacteria are found, contact professionals who have the skills to “shock” the well with chlorine by allowing concentrated chlorine to circulate through the well for 1 hour. This should kill all bacteria lodging in the well and even in pipes.