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Do You Have Iron in Your Water?

Dec 11th 2018

Americans are famous for obsessing over what we eat, how many hours of sleep to get, the amount of exercise we need to stay healthy. Forever debated is the correct number of ounces of water to drink each day. 64oz? More? Less? We know that water-drinking habits play a critical role in our overall wellness. Often overlooked though, is the safety of what we are ingesting.

iron in water

Isn't Iron Good for Us?

It's a fact that nearly 60% of the human body is composed of water and it needs to be replenished daily. Water transports nutrients and minerals to every cell in our body; a critical function for good health. But we don't always pay close attention to the water we drink from the tap. Until it looks, smells, or tastes funny.

Excessive amounts of iron in water is the most common problem in water treatment after hard water, (high levels of calcium and magnesium minerals). While iron is good for you, in fact, millions of people aren't getting enough of it as iron deficiencies are better corrected by food intake or supplements, and not by the water you drink.

Iron is an essential element for brain and muscle function, maintaining energy, and combating fatigue. Unfortunately, different types of dietary iron are not created equally. The source of your iron (plants, animals, water, or supplements) can greatly influence how it is absorbed by the body.

Iron is naturally occurring, so it's not uncommon to always have trace amounts in your water. This won't affect your health. But when iron overloads your drinking water you will know it. Iron or iron oxide in water, can change the color and taste. Iron can be found in all water sources but is often prevalent in homes with private well water. Private water sources are not subject to the same regulations as municipal treatment plants. It's not surprising to find high iron levels in well water.

Common Types of Iron

Iron in your drinking water may come from underground pipe corrosion when exposed to water and oxygen enables iron-containing metals to deteriorate and rust and flaking off into the pipes. Then making its way into your home. Iron can also enter the water supply through seepage from surrounding soil. Rainwater that infiltrates soil and rock dissolves iron and causes it to leach into aquifers which supply groundwater for wells.

When present in high levels, ferric and ferrous oxides are types of iron responsible for changes in color, cloudiness, or metallic tastes in your drinking water. Ferric oxide is a compound that generates from iron reacting with oxygen in the air. Ferrous oxide in water is clear and colorless; if your water changes from clear to cloudy and begins to form a reddish-brown substance after sitting in a glass this is the oxidized or ferric form of iron.

Homeowners with private well water should check for bacterial iron which will feed and proliferate on the oxidized iron that has precipitated out of the water. Bacterial iron presents itself in the form of slime that can be seen in a toilet tank by lifting off the lid and observing the water surface, tank walls and tank bottom. Homes with iron bacteria require an iron filter with a bacterial control method to ensure the media in the system doesn't become fouled.