No one says: “I like the tap water in my home to be a nice reddish brown color – the rusty sink stains are great and I can’t wait to drink it!”
Of course not, because high levels of iron in well water can be a real problem…
The rusty red, brown, or black color of iron water can easily stain sinks, tubs, and toilets inside as well as sidewalks and driveways outside. It looks terrible and no one wants to constantly scrub it clean.
Plus, higher iron content in laundry water can quickly ruin your light-colored clothing!
While not dangerous to humans in drinking water, it doesn’t look good, taste good, and often has an unpleasant odor.
So, how do you remove iron from well water?
An iron filter for well water is the best solution if you have water with a high iron content.
Table of Contents
- The Best Whole House Iron Filters
- Compare Top Iron Filters for Well Water
- Iron Filters vs Other Whole House Filters
- Iron Filter Buying Guide
- Iron Science
- Terms to Know
- Final Thoughts
The Best Whole House Iron Filters
By placing one of the top-rated iron filters right where water enters your house, you solve the problem of rust stains, protect your laundry, and make your tap water more appealing to see, smell, and taste in every room of the house.
This table shows an overview of the best and most popular whole house iron water filters from some of the most trusted brands.
Click the links to learn more about these specialized water filters or keep reading for detailed reviews of each system and information about iron in well water.
|Product||Top Features||Learn More or Buy|
Springwell Whole House Well Filter System
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Pelican Iron and Manganese Filter
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FilterWater Iron and Hydrogen Sulfide Filter
Tier1 Precision Series Iron, Manganese, and Hydrogen Sulfide Filter System
SpringWell Whole House Well Water Filter Review
The SpringWell Well Water System does a great job of removing natural contaminants that lead to unpleasant odors, tastes, and rust stains from tap water.
This includes removing iron, hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor), and manganese.
The four stages of water filtration include:
- Stage 1: Water flows through a pocket of air in the top of the tank (known as air injection) oxidizing the iron, sulfur and manganese
- Stage 2: The oxidized material or sulfur gas is trapped in the bed of the green sand media
- Stage 3: The system backwashes the contaminates out of the bed down a drain and resets the fresh pocket of air
- Stage 4: Clean, fresh, and clear tap water is then distributed throughout your home
These systems, engineered specifically for water with high levels of iron, will remove up to:
- 8 PPM (Parts per Million) of Hydrogen Sulfide (rotten egg smell)
- 7 PPM Iron
- 1 PPM Manganese
Springwell uses the most up-to-date parts and components in their water systems including:
- A programmable (and Bluetooth connected) head controls the daily backwash that will remove the accumulated well contaminants and replenish the filter media bed.
- State of the art tank design increases efficiency by up to 30%
- 10% cross linked resin will last 2x as long as 8% cross linked resin
Select the optional UV Water Purification System Add-On if you also have iron bacteria in your water. It is proven to control microbiological (bacteria & virus) issues in water including E. coli, cryptosporidium and giardia lamblia.
This UV system kills 99.9% of harmful pathogens, viruses, and bacteria to protect your home against contaminated tap water.
If you want to remove even more contaminants, you can combine this with a Springwell whole house filter that will remove chlorine, chloramine, PFOA, PFAS PFOS, pesticides, herbicides, haloacetic acids and more…
Springwell provides free pre and post sales support and DIY (do it yourself) instructions and videos if you know a little about plumbing and want to save money on installation.
Springwell also has the longest money-back warranty of 6 months on all of their water filters!
Click below to buy or learn more and be sure to use coupon code “5off” to save an extra 5%…
|Springwell Well Water Filters|
Pentair-Pelican Iron & Manganese Filter Review
The Pentair-Pelican Iron and Manganese Filter is a premium, high-quality filtration system designed to remove both ferric iron and ferrous iron from your water to 10 PPM.
The Pelican well water filtration systems trap iron with a filter media and gravel under bed and then flushes it out with the backwash system. This improved version of greensand increases the reduction of iron and manganese.
The Greensand-Plus iron filtration method provides an excellent long-term, relatively low-maintenance solution. Greensand-Plus has received the WQA Gold Seal Certification for compliance with NSF/ANSI 61.
While this system is great at removing iron in some forms, you may have to pair it with an oxidation system (including water softeners) to deal with all iron problems in your water. Only with the results of a water test can you be sure about your needs.
The Pentair-Pelican Whole House Iron & Manganese Filter system includes the iron filter described above and three other stages:
- Sediment Pre-Filter protects other stages from anything larger than 5 microns in size
- Chlorination system injects chlorine into the water stream without electricity to help neutralize contaminants
- The Greensand media described above for removing iron and manganese
- Carbon filter removes chlorine, smaller particles, tastes, and odors
You can learn more about the Pentair-Pelican whole house well water filtration systems through the product link below.
Use code “RO3” for an EXTRA 3% off any Pentair-Pelican purchase.
|Pentair-Pelican Iron & Manganese Filter|
FilterWater Iron and Hydrogen Sulfide Whole House Filter Review
One of the many single-purpose water filters offered by FilterWater is the Iron, Hydrogen Sulfide and Manganese Filter, made to eliminate virtually any well water iron problems.
With proper installation, it removes the following contaminants:
- 15 PPM of both ferric iron (oxidized) and ferrous iron (clear)
- 10 PPM of manganese
- 5 PPM of hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor)
This system is both maintenance and chemical free!
Well water treatment is achieved through three stages of filtration:
- Water passes through a sediment filter that removes dirt, sand, and sediment
- Water is oxygenated in a filter media of glauconite green sand. The oxygen causes the minerals including iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide to be trapped. An automatic backwash controller periodically flushes the collected contaminants down the drain.
- In the final stage, water passes through a solid carbon block filter that removes many contaminants including Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), insecticides, pesticides and industrial solvents.
Very low pH may need to be adjusted with one of several pre-treatment water filters, and you can contact FilterWater with the results of your water test and any questions as you plan your well water filtration system.
|FilterWater Iron Filter Systems|
Tier1 Whole House Iron, Manganese, And Hydrogen Sulfide Filter Review
The Tier1 Precision Series Iron filter is engineered to remove iron, hydrogen sulfide (rotton egg smell), and manganese from your well water supply.
The system offers the following features:
- Air injection oxidizes iron and removes it from water
- Combines aeration and catalytic carbon to reduce sulfur and hydrogen sulfide
- Digital control value to automatically manage the periodic regeneration process to clean the system
- No chemicals required!
If your water quality test shows an iron level of 4 PPM or higher, then this is a great solution for powerful, dedicated iron reduction.
These systems can also be combined with any other standard whole house filtration system or specialized water filters from Tier1 including UV filtration for iron bacteria.
Tier1 includes DIY instructions with this system so that, if you have the necessary tools and experience, you can install it yourself.
|Tier1 Iron Filters for Well Water|
Compare Top Iron Filters for Well Water
Lead & Cyst Filter
Lead Reduction Filter
pH Neutralizing Filter
Limited Lifetime Warranty
Limited Lifetime Warranty
1 Year Limited Warranty
Lead & Cyst Filter
Limited Lifetime Warranty
Limited Lifetime Warranty
1 Year Limited Warranty
Lead Reduction Filter
pH Neutralizing Filter
Iron Filters vs Other Whole House Filters
Does a water softener remove iron? While this is partly true in some cases, it is not the real purpose of a water softeners.
Water softeners will typically remove up to 3 PPM of iron and 2 PPM of manganese from well water with its ion-exchange process.
Over time, the iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide will eventually foul and ruin the ion-exchange resin used for water softening.
If you have hard water and low iron levels, then a softener can be used but is not recommended by some brands.
If your measured iron level is 3 PPM or more, a dedicated iron filtration system for well water (such as those recommended on this page), is the better way to remove iron from well water. You could even install it along side a water softener if needed.
To learn more about hard water, check out our reviews of the top water softeners.
Standard Whole House Water Filters
What about general whole house water filters?
There are plenty of water filtration systems that are great at removing many different contaminants from your water supply. Many of the best options are made by the same brands recommended on this page.
However, since iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide are not removed by the same processes, they will not be blocked by this type of filter.
To learn more about standard whole house filters, check out our reviews of recommended well water filtration systems.
If you have other contaminants in your tap water, then combining a whole house water filter and iron filtration system may be necessary to remove everything.
Iron Filter Buying Guide
When shopping for the best iron filtration system, it’s important to understand what you need and why it matters.
Iron Filter Size
Most manufacturers offer iron filters in two or more sizes based on filter capacity. While they do the same thing, they differ in the flow rate of the water they support, in gallons per minute (GPM).
A larger home could consume more water at the same time and would need a larger system to keep up with the demand without decreasing the water pressure.
Iron Filter System Maintenance
Most iron filters need little to no maintenance, especially if they have a digital control head that manages the backwash cycle. The filter media will last 10 to 15 years.
Some iron filters use a chemical called Potassium Permanganate that will need to be replaced more often, or about every 4 to 6 years.
Any system with a sediment filter will need replacement filters more often, depending on your water quality.
Iron Filter System Installation
Dedicated iron filtration systems are installed much like any other water filters.
They must be inserted into the water supply path after it leaves the well and before it flows to the rest of your home.
You have a few choices when selecting a system:
- You can call a plumber and have them provide the system and install it. This requires the least effort but does not provide you with any choice about what water filters are installed, if the system and brand are well-rated, or if it is easy to maintain yourself.
- You could also go and pick out a system at Home Depot or Lowes and either have it installed or install it yourself. Again, you are very limited to the brands and features they offer and may not get the best options or a system that other customers are happy with.
- The best option is to use the information on this page and the knowledge you gain to pick the right system from those we have already researched and recommend here. Why? Read on…
By picking water filters yourself that are popular, well-rated, and already researched and recommended from top brands, you can be sure you are selecting an iron removal system that you can count on.
As a bonus, you are often getting better systems at a better price since there is much more competition between brands online.
Once you have selected an iron filter from the options here and placed an order, you still have to install it.
You can either call a plumber and have them set it up or if you are comfortable with some simple plumbing, most of these iron filters can be installed by someone with DIY skills.
Many of the iron filters recommended here even come with DIY installation instructions!
The first place to start when considering your water quality with a professional water test. You don’t want to guess at which water filtration you need, even if you have clear water.
By having your water quality professionally tested, you will get the exact list of what contaminants are in your water, the contamination levels, and where you should be concerned. With this information, you can make sure that you select the options that will provide the best water treatment.
You can either find a local company that does professional water testing or order a kit online that instructs you on how to take a sample and then send it to a lab. These DIY kits are quick, easy, and less effort.
If you recently purchased your home, you may already have the results of a water test that was completed with your inspection.
If your water comes from a local city or municipal source, they should be able to provide necessary reports.
If you are looking for a very complete and reliable water test you mail in, take a look at this:
SpringWell WaterCheck with Optional Pesticides
SpringWell has partnered with National Testing Laboratories to offer this 75 item water test with the option of adding an additional check for 20 common pesticides, herbicides, and PCBs.
The 75 tests include:
- Bacteria (presence/absence of coliform and E. coli)
- (15) Heavy metals and minerals (including lead, arsenic, uranium, and mercury)
- (5) Other inorganic chemicals
- (5) Physical characteristics (including pH, Total Dissolved Solids and Hardness)
- (4) Trihalomethanes (THMs)
- (44) Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)
- Optional: (20) Pesticides, herbicides, and PCBs
Types of iron
Iron occurs naturally in the earth. The ground content of iron and other minerals depends on your location and the geology of the region.
In well water, there are three types of iron:
- Ferrous Iron (also known as soluble iron or clear water iron) is dissolved in the water and is not visible until it oxidizes and reacts to oxygen in the air.
- Once oxidized, it becomes Ferric Iron (also known as precipitated iron or rust) that will change the color of water and leaves rust stains.
- Bacterial iron (also known as iron bacteria) is the presence of microorganisms that form a slimy film when combined with iron or manganese. This is not normally harmful to your health but can lead to other harmful bacteria.
When the amount of iron in water reaches 0.3 mg/L (or 3 parts per million (PPM)), it becomes visible with a red, brown, or yellow color. This is also enough to cause staining problems and to possibly affect the taste and smell of the water.
This is why the recommended maximum level of iron in water is 3 PPM.
The iron filters on this page are designed to remove all three types of iron from your water supply.
Iron and your health
Fortunately, iron in your water is not dangerous to your health and as an essential mineral, some iron is beneficial.
Like anything, ingesting too much iron can be dangerous to everyone and especially those that are sensitive to it or have iron absorption issues. Healthy blood iron levels can be discussed with your doctor after a blood test.
Even with high levels of iron in well water, iron may have more of an affect outside of the human body.
Iron can stain hair and skin and lead to dry, brittle hair. Those with sensitive skin may react to higher iron or the mixing of iron with soap or other skin products.
Iron in your home
Where most people notice the negative affects of iron in well water is around the house.
When iron is high enough to turn rust red, orange, yellow, or even black color, it can stain anything it comes in frequent contact with including: sinks, tubs, toilets, dishwashers, sidewalks and driveways, and laundry.
Over time, the buildup of iron deposits can restrict the flow of water in pipes and appliances. Left unchecked, this will ruin plumbing and shorten the lifespan of appliances.
Since “hard water” (high levels of calcium and magnesium) is a more common problem and often occurs in the same water as high iron, water softeners will help to prevent the buildup of mineral deposits in plumbing. As mentioned above, water softeners are not designed to remove high levels of iron.
Terms to Know
A natural element that can seep into ground water and wells.
Any amount of iron higher than 3 PPM (parts per million) can cause rust color staining and deposits.
Another natural element that enters well water from the ground and is often found along with iron. As little as 0.05 ppm of manganese in water can produce brown or black stains.
The ability of a filter to remove manganese depends on its concentration and the pH of the water. This why some homes require a pH filter to help the iron/manganese filter.
Manganese Dioxide is a natural filter media that can be used to remove iron, manganese, and sulfur odors from well water.
The pH of water measures its acidity or its alkalinity. Water with a pH of less than 7.0 is acidic, above 7.0 it is alkaline, and a pH of 7.0 is neutral.
Acidic water (pH less than 7.0) is corrosive to pipes and appliances, while a pH of 7.0 or higher helps with iron removal — which is why these iron filters are designed to increase the pH when less than 7.0.
Hydrogen sulfide (often known as “Sulphur”), can give water a “rotten egg” smell. Sulphur can corrode some medals.
Most iron filters able to remove sulphur in concentrations of up to 3 to 5 PPM.
Hydrogen Peroxide is a safe chemical used in some well water filtration systems to oxidize hydrogen sulfide. This helps to remove rotten egg odor and microorganisms from the water.
UV (Ultra Violet) Filter
Microorganisms including iron bacteria are killed when they pass through the UV light filter.
Most experts consider UV to be essential to clean/pure filtered well water since bacteria has many negative health effects and can be common in water from natural sources such as well water.
Iron bacteria is a type of naturally occurring organism that combines with iron (or manganese) and oxygen to form deposits of slimy material. This material helps the bacteria to stick to pipes and other plumbing fixtures.
Greensand is a filter media with a high percentage of the mineral glauconite.
It does a good job of oxidizing ferrous iron so that it can be removed by an iron water filter.
Air Injection / Air Injection Pump
Air injection in iron filters is one way to oxidize iron without the use of chemicals or other filter media. This method can be used on its own or along with other oxidation methods.
Potassium Permanganate is a purple chemical and powerful oxidizer. It is used in some iron filters to clean the greensand media and then washed away before it can enter the filtered water.
Water softeners are another type of water filtration system meant to treat “hard water,” which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium. They are not meant to remove iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide from water.
If you see or smell any of the side affects of iron, manganese, or hydrogen sulfide in your water, you should consider a whole house iron filter system.
A water test is essential to know exactly how much contamination you have and other items from the test (such as pH and hardness) will factor in to the type of system you will need to clean your water.
While a whole house water filtration system can be a big expense, so is not treating the water supply to your home!
The side affects of rust stains, damaged laundry, corrosive buildup in pipes and appliances, and even dry skin and high blood iron can all add up to big expenses as well…
Installing one of the best iron filters for well water in your home is a great investment in the long run and a smart choice if you have water issues.