Testing For Iron in Water: The Ultimate Guide

Testing For Iron In Water The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated: January 11, 2024

Are you concerned about the quality of your water supply? One crucial step in protecting your plumbing and health is testing for iron as it can be a serious problem for your health and home. Not only can it cause unsightly stains on your fixtures, but it can also have negative effects on your plumbing. If left untreated, iron in water can cause corrosion and damage to your pipes, leading to costly repairs.

Additionally, iron can negatively impact the taste and smell of your water, making it unpleasant to drink or use for cooking. By testing for iron in your water supply, you can take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and quality of your water. In this ultimate guide, you will explore the causes and effects of iron in water, testing and treatment options, and additional information on how to ensure the safety and quality of your water supply.

Causes and Effects

If you notice reddish-brown staining on your sinks and toilets or an orangey hue and rust smell in your water, it may be a sign of iron contamination. This can occur when iron leaches into water from soils and rocks with high iron content or from corroded iron pipes.

Old iron pipes or well casings should be replaced if they’re leaching iron into water. Surface runoff can also contaminate well water with iron. Elevated water iron levels:

  1. It causes a metallic taste in water, skin dryness, and prevents soap from lathering properly.
  2. Iron can also combine with bacteria to form iron bacteria, which can clog pipes and fixtures.
  3. Moreover, iron can affect the taste of foods cooked in water and stain surfaces like toilet bowls, bathtubs, and cutlery.
  4. It can even carry organic contaminants like bacteria, which may cause unwanted health effects.

Prevention methods like water softeners and KDF oxidizing filters are popular treatment options for removing iron from water. However, it’s crucial to get water tested for iron to protect plumbing and health. So how to do this?

Testing For Iron in Water: 2 Truthful Options

You’ve got several options to accurately determine the presence of iron in your water:

1. Certified laboratory testing

It is the most accurate and comprehensive way to test for iron in your water, which can also detect other contaminants like manganese and sulfur. This type of testing is recommended for protecting your plumbing and health, and the Maximum Contaminant Level for iron set by the Environmental Protection Agency is 0.3 mg/L.

2. Home water test kits

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, home water test kits are a good choice for getting an idea of water iron levels. These kits are easy to use and provide quick results, but they may not be as accurate as laboratory testing. It’s important to note that some home testing kits only detect soluble iron and not insoluble iron.

Tap Score by SimpleLab is a recommended certified lab for testing well water contaminants, and DIY iron test kits are also available for a lower cost.
Testing For Iron in Water

Treatment Methods

To remove iron from your water, there are several treatment methods available. These include water softeners, KDF oxidizing filters, reverse osmosis, Birm, and sediment filters. Each of these techniques has its advantages and disadvantages.

  1. Water softeners work by exchanging ions to remove iron, but they can add sodium to water.
  2. KDF oxidizing filters can remove both soluble and insoluble iron, but they may not work as effectively in high-pH water.
  3. Reverse osmosis is effective at removing iron, but it can be expensive and wastes water.
  4. Birm filters use a media that oxidizes and removes iron, but they may need to be periodically cleaned or replaced.
  5. Sediment filters can remove larger particles of iron, but they may not be effective for smaller particles.
Treatment Methods

When choosing an iron removal method, it is important to consider your specific water quality and needs. Consulting with a certified water treatment specialist can help you determine the most effective and efficient treatment option for your water. Regular maintenance and monitoring of your treatment system can also ensure that it continues to effectively remove iron from your water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can iron in water cause any health problems?

Iron toxicity can occur from consuming high levels of iron in water, leading to gastrointestinal distress and other health issues. Long-term effects of iron exposure may include liver damage and an increased risk of chronic diseases.

Is it possible to remove iron from water without using any chemicals?

Yes, it is possible to remove iron from water without using chemicals. Alternative methods such as KDF oxidizing filters, Birm filters, and sediment filters can effectively remove iron. DIY solutions like aerating and chlorinating water can also help.

How often should I test my well water for iron?

Hey there, if you’re wondering how often to test your well water for iron, frequency testing is best practice. It’s recommended to test annually or after any changes to your plumbing system. Don’t forget to use a certified lab for accurate results.

Can iron in water affect the efficiency of water heaters or other appliances?

Iron in water can cause corrosion in plumbing and appliances, reducing their efficiency and lifespan. Treatment options like water softeners and KDF oxidizing filters can prevent corrosion and remove iron from water.

Are there any natural ways to prevent iron contamination in well water?

You can prevent iron contamination in well water by using natural solutions and prevention strategies. These include installing aeration systems, using manganese greensand filters, and planting vegetation around the well to prevent surface runoff.


Congratulations, you’ve now learned about testing for iron in water! As you now know, iron contamination can lead to a variety of issues such as reddish-brown staining on sinks and toilets, a metallic taste, and dry skin. But fear not, there are options for testing and treatment that can help you ensure the safety and quality of your water supply.

Testing options include at-home test kits, laboratory testing, and professional water testing services. Treatment methods can range from simple filtration systems to more complex methods such as chemical treatment or reverse osmosis. It’s important to consider the source of your iron contamination and consult with a professional to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

Remember, the health and safety of your water supply is crucial for protecting both your plumbing and your health. By staying informed and taking action, you can ensure that your water is free from iron contamination and safe for you and your family to use.

So go forth and test your water, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve taken steps to protect yourself and your home.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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