Iron/Sulfur Removal from well water

Keithw1977September 18, 2012

I've been researching over and over on the vast amount of systems available and all of the mixed advice on what to install and need some help. I recently purchased a home that has a well. We inherited a RainSoft whole house water softener and a reverse osmosis system for drinking water. Our iron is 4mg/L and sulfates are 380mg/L. I would like to remove the iron and sulfates. I've looked at Greensand and Pyrolox systems and also had systems suggested by Kinetico and Rain Soft. I've also looked at companies online such as Water Anywhere, Budget Water, Quality Water for Less and more. I know I'm not the first person with this issue, but there are so many options, I need some real world advice. On a related note, our hot water has a bad "rotten egg" smell, I've been told to remove the anode, or replace the Anode with an aluminum anode, or that treating the iron/sulfates will cure this. Again, looking for advice on this. Thank you!!

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Different removal methods have different criteria for treatment. The easiest treatment method may not work with your water chemistry or flow conditions. Because of this, we need more information before we can provide assistance.


Flow rate you can achieve is absolutely critical to successful iron removal. So, you need to find out the max flow rate you can get. Ideally, find a hose bib close to the location where your treatment system will be. Open it completely and time how long it takes to fill a bucket. An outdoor spigot will work as well.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 7:22PM
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My brain must not be working tonight. You also need to know

Mg (manganese - often shows up with iron and has the same symptoms and treatment methods)

On the iron, it would be good to know if it is ferrous or ferric. A lab can test for it, but only if you get a water sample there pretty quickly, so let's start with a visual test. Pour water in a clear glass and hold it in front of something white. Is the water clear or does it have color? If colored, what color? Do you see particles floating in the water (if so, what color, size)? Do you see particles settled on the bottom of the glass (if so, what size, color)? Now, let that glass sit for a few hours and pour another one. Compare the two. Is one darker than the other? Does one have more particles than the other?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 7:32PM
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Thanks for the quick response. I found a test online to find gpm, run water til the pump kicks on, shut off the water and count how long the pump runs. Then, find out how much water you can draw before the pump kicks on, doing this my rate is 10 gpm.

My pH is 7.0
TDS is 800 mg/L
Hardness is 610 mg/L
Alkalinity is 290 mg/L
Manganese is 0.047 mg/L

I'll do the iron check in a bit and follow up. I did fill a white 5 gallon bucket with water from the hose and it wasn't noticeably orange colored.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 8:32PM
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Ok, when I filled a glass with water I didn't notice any discoloration however there did appear to be very small white particles in the water.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:25AM
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After doing some tests I apparently have clear water iron.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 6:48PM
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I like Pyrolox as an iron treatment method. However, it has one major drawback. One cubic foot allows only 5 gpm service flow, while at the same time requiring 25-30 gpm backwash flow rate. You don't have that flow rate.

Greensand works well for iron and manganese, as well as hydrogen sulfide. I needs to be regenerated with potassium permanganate, a powerful oxidizer and nothing you likely want to mess with. It's a mess and a hazard. If you are comfortable working with chemicals, it remains a viable option.

Manganese dioxide: Does a nice job on all three contaminants, but requires high levels of dissolved oxygen in order to work - air injection would be required.

Birm will remove iron/manganese but not hydrogen sulfide to it will not take care of your problem.

Redox is too heavy for you to backwash adequately.

Terminox, similar to Pyrolox, will likely also required more backwash than you can provide. It is proprietary - you would have to ask the company for details about backwash requirements. If it will work with the flow you have, it would be the most convenient solution, requiring very little attention from you once it is operational.

Rotten egg smell - This is most likely coming from your high sulfur content and will be eliminated with treatment.

Something else to consider: You have very high hardness as well and would benefit from a softener. While, technically, a properly sized softener could remove the iron and manganese, your iron levels are high enough that the system would tend to be problematic and you would still be left with the sulfur compounds.

If I were you, my first choice would be Terminox (provided your flowrate can backwash it) to remove iron, manganese, hydrogen sulfide, follwed by a softener to remove hardness.

Second choice would be synthetic greensand. It is lighter than natural greensand and you wouldn't have a problem with backwash. Also followed by a softener.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:27PM
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