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A Water Softener Can Eliminate Dangers from Excessive Iron Levels

Published by Passaic Bergen Water Softening on

cooking with water without high iron levels

High levels of iron and manganese in water are generally caused by corroded iron pipes and the percolation of water through soil and rock in the earth’s crust. Although these metallic elements can contaminate water from private wells, they tend to remain colorless until oxidized. Low levels of iron exposure do not pose a direct threat to human health. However, the presence of iron in drinking water can eventually lead to iron overload. The EPA considers the presence of iron in water as a “secondary contaminant”. The EPA sets the Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level for both iron (0.3 mg/L) and manganese (0.5 mg/L) Bacteria feed upon the iron for survival, which may cause serious medical problems in humans. 

Complications of Iron Overload: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Fatigue 
  • Weight Loss
  • Joint Pain
  • Hemochromatosis (abnormal darkening of skin color)
  • Skin problems (acne, eczema)

Oxidation of IRON and Manganese

The oxidation of iron and manganese can also cause unpleasant (non-health related) issues:

  • Staining of dishes, clothes, kitchen and bathroom appliances, which are very difficult to remove. 
  • Foods washed and cooked with contaminated water have a metallic taste
  • Clogged pipes which can lead to costly plumbing issues. 
  • Corrosion and destructive leaking from underground pipes. 

The water is tested for iron and manganese. Initially, water may appear clear but slowly turns a reddish color after it sits in a glass for a time. This indicates that either ferrous iron or colloidal iron is present. Additional testing for pH, silica, oxygen, and sulfur may be necessary if a water treatment system will be used. 

Types of Water Treatments:

Phosphate Treatments

An inexpensive way to remedy low concentrations of iron and manganese. When injected into the water system, the phosphates will disperse the iron particles, preventing them from reacting with oxygen.

Ion Exchange Water Softeners 

Ion Exchange Water Softeners remove low levels of iron (less than 5 mg/L). The water softener adds sodium to remove minerals from the water system. However, if users are on a low sodium diet, a separate faucet may need to be installed for unsoftened water.

Oxidizing Filters

Oxidizing Filters are used for higher concentrations (up to 15 mg/L). Synthetic zeolite dissolves the contaminants in water.

Pressure Type Aerators

Used to oxide levels of iron up to 25 mg/L. Air and water are mixed. Then, it separates in the precipitator vessel. Lastly, oxidized minerals filter.

Chemical Oxidation

Adding of chlorine (an oxidizing chemical) or hydrogen peroxide to dissolve iron and manganese. Since the pH of chlorine should remain below 7.5 during the oxidation process, potassium permanganate should be used to oxidize high levels of manganese (a process which requires a pH level of 9). Excess chlorine is removed by a carbon filter.

Plumbing Corrosion

Causes iron particles to infiltrate the water. A sediment filter may remedy this issue. 

Image result for plumbing corrosion

Learn More About How a Water Softener Can Eliminate Dangers from Excessive Iron Levels

The presence of iron and manganese in water can be both a nuisance and a health hazard. Not only can iron stain clothes and appliances, but it can also damage pipes through corrosion (interior) and destructive leaks (exterior). Iron overexposure in humans, while rare, is also a complication of excessive iron levels. Water testing is recommended to determine which type of treatment system should be purchased and installed. At Passaic Bergen Water Softening, we offer a free in-home water test, as well as services to residential, commercial, and rental properties. Our CareSoft Elite systems removes these minerals while reducing hardness. CareSoft Elite Twin Systems are available for higher capacity water treatment. 



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