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Signs of Too Much Iron in Your Water and How to Test for It


Did you just turn on your kitchen sink, only to discover reddish-brown water spraying out of the tap? Does your water smell kind of like rotten eggs? Do you notice a small stain that looks like rust in your shower? We have some bad news — you likely have excessive iron content in your water.

Iron in Water Signs

Iron is known to leach into water supplies throughout the United States from rock and soil formations. A common colloquialism in geology states that nearly every square foot of soil contains some level of iron content.

Iron makes up at least 5% of the earth’s crust, and it only takes a small portion of that to foul your water. Here are the telltale signs that you have elevated iron concentrations in your water:

  • Your water looks yellow, reddish orange, or brown.
  • Your water smells of rotten eggs.
  • You spot reddish-brown stains on your clothes.
  • Your fixtures and sinks have rust stains.
  • Your pumps and pipes are clogged with slime.

Iron in Water Effects

Concentrations of iron in water as low as 0.3 ppm (parts per million) can cause a yellow to reddish discoloration in your water. Depending on the pH level, this can be the start of the staining and scale process in your home, and also lead to taste and odor problems.

  • Iron will cause your water to taste metallic, and will also affect the taste of foods cooked in the iron-heavy water. Vegetables will blacken and absorb the metallic taste.

  • Iron leaves residue behind, staining everything it comes into contact with. Expect dark stains in your shower, toilet and bathtub; orange stains on your plates and cutlery; and dark stains on clothes washed with water containing iron.

  • Iron can dry out your skin, eventually causing wrinkles. High iron content in water has many of the same effects as hard water, causing soap scum and making soap less effective in general.

  • Consuming water with high iron content can cause many unwanted health issues. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies iron as a secondary contaminant because iron can carry bacteria and other organic contaminants into your drinking water. Anyone with the genetic disorder hemochromatosis is susceptible to iron overload, which can lead to liver, heart, and pancreatic problems.

Iron in Water Test

If you spot any of these signs that iron is present in your water, conduct a basic water test to find out if iron is the culprit and how high the concentration is. Iron contamination often comes from corroded pipes when you aren’t getting your water from a shallow well, so conducting a water test can also alert you to plumbing issues on your property.

The Pelican 16-Point Rapid Water Test will test your water for iron along with 11 other common contaminants like tannins, manganese, and turbidity. If your water tests positive for iron and you get your water from a public water utility, contact them right away to find out if the iron contamination is from their system or your home’s plumbing.

Iron in Water Removal

There are multiple effective water treatment technologies that will drastically reduce the iron content so that every glass of water from your tap is pure and refreshing. For basic protection consider our Iron & Manganese Water Filters. These filtration systems utilize the latest technology to safely reduce the iron and manganese from your water with minimal maintenance required. The four stages of water treatment help you avoid stains and the potential health effects of too much iron.

Many homes affected by iron also have hard water, or an elevated mineral content in their water. Consider a combination system — our Iron & Manganese Filter and Salt-Free Softener. Reduce impurities like iron and combat hard water with cutting-edge filtration equipped with a non-electric dosing system. Our softeners are completely salt-free, making them among the most eco-friendly options on the market.

Act today and rid your home of rust stains and reddish-brown metallic water.

Pelican Combo System Salt-Free Water Softener Whole-House Water Filter