Do We Need Iron in our Water?
As a vital mineral for transporting oxygen throughout our bodies, keeping red blood cells healthy, and helping immune systems fight off infection, iron is needed by all living things to survive. Iron is the most abundant mineral on earth, and one of the most frequently found minerals in our water.
Iron is naturally occurring in nature and can be found in most water sources. It is especially prevalent in homes with well water. It seeps into aquifers that serve as sources of groundwater for wells, or through the corrosion of pipes.Iron is also easily picked up and carried by rain water or melting snow and can be dissolved into any water supply.
Our bodies require iron in our diets, so it’s easy to assume that iron commonly found in drinking water would be beneficial to our health. While we do need iron to survive, there are potential hazards of drinking iron in tap water. Iron is typically found in two common forms in our water. Ferric iron, or red-water iron, as it’s often called, is clear water that has been exposed to oxygen, giving it a lovely rusty look. Ferrous iron, or clear water iron, is colorless, but a reddish-brown substance begins to form after exposure to air.
Pure water is tasteless, but when it absorbs minerals, the taste and appearance of water is altered. High levels of iron in water are responsible for an unpleasant metallic flavor. And as little as 0.3 ppm (parts per million) of that ugly brown iron water will leave rusty stains in your sinks and toilets. Iron staining is difficult to remove, requiring the use of elbow grease and tough chemicals.
Ferrous iron, the type that turns your water brown after sitting in your glass for a few minutes, is absorbed at high rates into your bloodstream. Besides obvious reasons you wouldn’t want to drink brown water, ferrous iron is more likely to make you sick because of how efficiently it’s processed by the human body.
Excessive iron is never recommended as it could lead to stomach problems or vomiting. It may also damage healthy skin, leading to premature wrinkles, eczema, and acne. Iron-rich food is the best way to meet your recommended daily intake of iron, rather from water contaminated with minerals from an undependable source.
Removing Iron From Your Water
Water softeners are the most commonly used systems for iron filtration. While the process of ion exchange in water softening has proven successful in removing both iron and hard minerals, greater than normal iron concentrations, as well as some forms of iron are more troublesome, requiring too frequent regeneration of a softening system.
Added regeneration cycles result in a shortened resin life, and an excess of salt, water, and energy usage. Iron affects the ability of the water softener to remove hardness from the water. In homes with a high iron content, the use of resin bed cleaner may be beneficial in removing the build up of residue in the softener resin bed.
Dissolved organic-iron compounds will gradually reduce the capacity for hardness removal in water softening equipment. Soluble ferrous iron is difficult to remove from a softener bed, and over time, causes clogging and repairs. When dissolved iron mineral problems can’t be solved solely through ion exchange systems, options specifically designed to filter iron from water are readily available.
Iron Filtration Systems
For households with elevated levels of iron, or a combination of several iron types, advanced methods of filtration, such as air injection oxidation (AIO) systems or Katalox filters, safely remove iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide from a water supply.
AIO filtration uses a natural process of oxidation to remove sulfur and oxidized iron from water. Natural air oxidizes the iron by maintaining an air pocket of oxygen in the top of its tank. This adds the oxidation abilities needed for proper precipitation of dissolved impurities for removal.
As water enters the iron filter, it passes through the pocket of air, oxidizing filterable contaminants. The filter media bed traps the iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide contaminants. Sediment is then backwashed from the media bed by periodic automatic regeneration, and the supply of air is replenished
The Genesis Backwashing Katalox Filter System uses new iron removal media for superior filtration of harmful minerals. Produced in Germany, Katalox is an iron removal media that acts as an insoluble catalyst to enhance the reaction between dissolved oxygen and iron compounds to form ferric hydroxide. The ferric hydroxide is then removed by filtration in the media bed. This media is not consumed in the process, making Katalox an economical solution.
The AIO Eliminator Chemical Free unit, as well as the Genesis Revolution BIF Chemical Free Iron Removal System, features a simple design for easy programming to efficiently rid water of iron without chemicals, pumps, or external air injectors. For homes with extensive filtration needs, the Genesis Ozone Chemical Free System also removes harmful E coli and coliform bacteria, in addition to iron, without the use of chemicals.
Iron and other impurities found in drinking water eventually cause heavy duty repair and maintenance of our appliances. Filtering iron from our water supply means no more ugly, nasty smelling water, and cleaner, brighter fixtures. Using a whole home filtration system is an excellent way to purify what we drink while protecting our households from the damaging effects of mineral build-up. These systems are highly efficient, long-lasting, and affordable, making them a most worthwhile investment into our homes and our health.