Too Much Iron In Your Water? Water Softening Is The Solution
There doesn’t seem to be much chatter about iron levels in drinking water. Lack of discussion does not mean, however, that it is something a household should not be concerned about. Although it can do a body good, as with anything, too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing. How can you tell if there is too much iron in your household water? How does this happen? How much harm can it cause? What can be done? Those are all the right questions to ask.
How It Happens:
Most likely, the water coming out of your faucet originated from underground. As water percolates through soil and rock, bits of minerals are dissolved into the water. Water originating from deep wells or springs are the most likely culprits of high mineral levels like iron.
How Can You Tell:
Initially, one might think that water high in iron might have a reddish tint. Although, in certain form, iron can affect the color of water, in other forms it can be present in high levels and water still be completely colorless. However, if exposed to oxygen, the iron will react and change color. That is oxidation, rust, so to speak. If you washed a load of laundry in water that is high in iron, you might notice reddish-brown stains on your light colored items.
Another clue that might give one pause to think that high iron levels may exist in their water is what happens in the toilet. Iron is also a secreted waste product for certain types of bacteria. This bacteria might be living in soil or pipes. Their secretions are slimy. If your toilet tank is coated with a reddish-brown substance, your water could be high in iron.
Although you may not be able to detect iron in your drinking water simply by looking at its color, you may be able to taste it. High levels can create a metallic or bittersweet flavor. But the best way to determine if there is too much in your water is to have it tested by a water quality expert.
How Much Harm Can Iron Cause:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers iron to be a nuisance with regard to drinking water. The EPA has established guidelines of regulation as to acceptable levels of iron in public water supplies. Chronic consumption of water high in iron can result in a condition called iron overload, or hemochromatosis. This can cause fatigue, joint pain, and weight loss. If left untreated it can progress to more serious health issues such as liver problems, heart disease and organ damage.
What To Do:
The challenge to properly treating water for iron is in the fact that iron can present itself in different forms. The simplest test is allowing a water sample to sit and see if any reddish particles form and settle on the bottom. This is soluble iron, the most likely cause of laundry and toilet stains. Colloidal iron will tint the water a reddish color but no solids will form and settle. It is also possible that it will combine with other organic matter present in the water to create a chemical complex that is difficult to remove. Typical treatment for public water supplies in compliance with EPA guidelines involves a three-stage treatment of: aeration, chlorination, and activated carbon filtration. If it is present in pipes, a plumbing system is often shocked with chlorine periodically.
However, experts advise of a more efficient method that does not involve the use of a harsh, toxic and volatile substance like chlorine. To find out your options for a whole house water softening system, please contact us. Our water quality experts can provide a free consultation to determine the best solution for your home to keep your family healthy and your water pure.