Iron is one of the most annoying water contaminants because it causes yellow stains on everything it comes into contact with.
Get this right!
To get rid of iron you have two options. “Either use an Iron Filter or use a Water Softener.”
In this article today, I’ll compare iron filter vs. water softener in removing iron from water in order to help you decide on the best option for you.
News Flash: You should never use a water softener exclusively when you have a high concentration of iron in your water. This is because iron will significantly shorten the life of your water softener.
So what am I talking about?
Using regular water softeners for iron removal is not effective because the iron sediment tends to coat the resin bed inside the water softener. The smart thing to do is install an iron filter in front of a water softener or buy a water softener that is both an iron filter and water softener. My recommended system that combines a water softener and iron filter is Iron Pro 2 Combination which is both a water softener and iron filter. (View it on Amazon)
Let’s dig a little deeper:
- 1 Types of iron Found in Water Ferrous vs. Ferric vs. Bacteria Iron
- 2 What is an iron filter?
- 3 What is a water softener?
- 4 Best Water Softeners for Iron Removal
Types of iron Found in Water Ferrous vs. Ferric vs. Bacteria Iron
Before we look at the process of removing iron from water, it’s important we distinguish between various types of iron, so as you can choose the ideal solution that works best for you.
This is the most annoying form of iron because it’s soluble in water. It’s also called clear water iron because it comes out groundwater while dissolving. The iron stain will only be seen when it’s exposed to the atmospheric air. It has a chemical symbol (Fe2+). You can get rid of this form of iron by using a water softener. However, you should know when the concentration of this iron is very high it will shorten the life of the water softener.
This goes by the chemical symbol (Fe3+). Ferric is iron has already been exposed to oxygen. Ferric is insoluble in water, so it is visible as blown coloring when it comes out of groundwater. If you don’t get rid of ferric iron, it tends to clog your pipes.
Iron bacteria are microorganisms that leave on iron. They are normally found in groundwater. Iron bacteria are responsible for converting ferrous to ferric iron. The presence of a brown slim substance in water is an indication that you have iron bacteria. Although iron bacteria are not harmful to human health, they result in bad iron stains on sinks and toilets.
A well that has iron bacteria can be treated using a method known as shock chlorination. This is where a large amount of chlorine is poured into the well. Shock chlorination does not completely eliminate them but it reduces iron bacteria to a large extent.
What is an iron filter?
An iron filter is a purification system specifically made for removing iron from water. **Read our guide on the Best iron filters**
Basically, Iron filters work by injecting oxygen into water, therefore, precipitating a chemical reaction between iron and oxygen. This is then followed by physical filtration of iron particles.
So what am I talking about?
When iron reacts with oxygen, oxidation of iron results in the formation of iron solid particles which are then physically filtered from the water. Water goes through a filter bed which captures solid particles. What you get on the other side of an iron filter is iron-free water.
For iron filters to remain efficient, they need to keep on getting rid of the iron that accumulates on the iron bed. They do this by backwashing to wash away solid particles. The iron filter requires a large amount of water for backwashing. The bigger the filters, the more amount of water it will require for backwashing with some big iron filter requiring up to 20 gallons for backwashing.
Advantages of iron filters
- Iron filters are very effective in removing iron from water even when it’s in high concentration.
- Easy installation
- An iron filter does not add any chemical into your water. This is unlike water softeners that add sodium into your water.
- An iron filter will also function as a sediment filter.
- They will eliminate the staining caused the presence of iron in the water.
- An iron filter has low maintenance compared to water softener which requires you to add salt regularly.
Disadvantages of iron filters
- An iron filter will not soften your water if you have hard water
- You will need to replace the filter after a while.
- A bit expensive
What is a water softener?
If you get your water from a well, the chances are high you have hard water.
A water softener is a device for converting hard water to soft water. Hard water is water that is rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron.
The best way of dealing with hard water is to use a water softener. Water softeners use a process of ion exchange to remove calcium, magnesium, and iron. The water softener replaces calcium ions, magnesium ions, and iron ions with sodium ions.
The process of ion exchange takes place on the resin bed. After a water softener has worked for a period of time, it will need to regenerate. Regeneration is the process where a water softener clean and recharged itself.
A water softener is made up of two tanks and valve head. One tank is where the process of ion exchange takes place and the second tank is where salt is added. The control head is some sort of computer that controls the whole system.
Advantages of using water softeners
- Very effective in softening water
- Effective in removing iron when it is not in high concentration
- Cheap to operate
- Water softeners are long-lasting. You can expect it to last for even a decade
- Some brands of a water softener are installed with iron filters
Disadvantages of using water softeners
- Water with lots of iron reduces the life of water softeners
- Water softeners are a bit pricey compared to other types of filters
- Soft water is more corrosive and can result in it leaching on pipes.
Best Water Softeners for Iron Removal
Thanks for stopping by. If you are looking for more information on the best water softeners for iron remove check out our comprehensive reviews and buyers guide.