Metallic Tasting Water and Rust Stains? Blame Iron.

Whether you're on the tap or a private well, the signs of high-iron water are hard to miss. And the effects of iron can be costly, too.

Sources of High-Iron Drinking Water

Iron can enter your private well naturally from deposits in rivers, lakes, and aquifers. Industrial activity and the corrosion of iron water pipes can also contribute.
If you're on a public water supply, rusty tap water can appear when a water main breaks or fire hydrant turns on. And changes in water flow or pH can also break-up rust deposits in city pipes and lead to red water from every tap.

Health Effects of Iron in Drinking Water

The EPA labels iron a secondary contaminant. It causes aesthetic, cosmetic, and technical problems [1]. But despite the alarming look and taste, high-iron water doesn't pose a danger to your health.
Local water providers don't need to regulate the amount in your water. But, the EPA does provide voluntary guidelines.
Other Effects of Iron on the Body
Iron often accompanies hard water, which can cause problems for your hair and skin:
  • Brittle, and dull hair.
  • Itchy, dry scalp.
  • Color-treated hair fades quickly
  • Dry skin, increased chance of eczema.

Effects of High-Iron Water at Home

Iron's most significant impact will take place at home and on your wallet. So if left untreated, problems and costs can add up.
Signs of high-iron water at home:
  • Red and brown stains on clothes
  • Brown, red orange, or yellow water
  • Smell of rotten eggs.
  • Rust stains on fixtures and sinks
  • Slime-clogged pumps and pipes
  • Increased utilities
  • Appliance breakdown
In the kitchen, high-iron can give water a metallic taste. And beverages, especially tea and coffee, can suffer. Water with high-iron will turn potatoes black.

Different Kinds of Iron in Water

High-iron water appears in four forms. Each requires different treatment methods. Let a professional look for these different kinds of iron in your water:
1. Red-water iron contains oxidized iron. These rust particles turn your water an alarming red. Red-water iron will clog water treatment equipment unless a special set of mechanical filters is in place.
Ferric or insoluble iron are also known as red-water iron.
2. Clear-water iron contains dissolved iron that oxidizes in the presence of open air. So, it runs clean from the faucet, but leaves rust stains. Clear-water iron only oxidizes once it reaches the home. So it's treated differently than red-water iron. Clear-water iron is also known as ferrous or soluble iron.
3. Organic iron contains decaying plant material called tannins. It can be clear or give your water a brown or yellow hue. And it usually occurs in shallow wells or surface water. Because organic iron is resistant to oxidation, it requires special treatment.
Sometimes, organic iron will partly oxidize, resulting in colloidal iron.This looks like red-water iron, but is filtered differently.
4. Iron bacteria grows when iron combines with certain types of bacteria or organic material. These bacteria create an unappealing brown or yellow sludge that clogs plumbing and appliances. Iron bacteria can slow down or even destroy major appliances. They're easily identified by the smell of rotten eggs and a thick sludge in toilets and fixtures.
Iron bacteria isn't harmful to human health, but can create an environment for dangerous bacteria. So iron bacteria should be treated right away. Note, even your remove iron bacteria, the iron will remain.

Removing Iron from Your Home's Water

Every type of iron needs a different solution. Culligan uses a combination of aeration, chlorination, softening, and mechanical filtration. Finding and fixing your iron problem is best left to a professional.
Call your local Culligan water expert to schedule a test today. He's trained and equipped to diagnose the cause of your water problem and implement a perfect Culligan solution.