An iron filter won’t rock your world, but it will drastically change how you feel about your water. If your tap is off limits, and you’re spending more on appliance repairs than vacations, iron could be to blame.
It clogs up plumbing, ruins water heaters and makes coffee taste like metal. Resistant to the usual filtration methods, you need more than carbon to remove it. You need one of our best whole house iron filters for well water.
|Best Iron Well Filtration Systems|
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7 Best Iron Filtration Systems For Well Water Reviewed
Don’t waste time or money – many of the whole house Iron filter reviews on the web are outdated or simply misleading.
We’ve spent countless hours of research and spoke with experts to put together proven NSF certified Home filtration systems so you don’t have to waste your time or hard earned cash finding right system yourself…
…Let’s get to it
#1 is my favorite overall, but 2,4 and 6 are the best options money can buy.
#1 SpringWell Whole House Well Water Filter System
SpringWell’s whole house filtration system tackles tough iron problems. Say goodbye to orange stains and rotten egg odor. Contaminants including iron, manganese and hydrogen sulfide are oxidized and filtered in a single tank. Your water will look, smell and taste like nature intended.
The system is whisper-quiet. Bluetooth-enabled, the user-friendly settings can be managed from the digital head or a handheld device. Backwashes are based on your water usage and produce less wastewater — saving you money. And with twice the average flow rate of similar iron water filters, there’s no loss of pressure at the tap. Warrantied for life, it’s a risk-free purchase.
Use Coupon Code: QWL5 to save!
Q: How long do iron filters last?
A: Iron filters last as long as the filtration media works. The SpringWell filter is self-cleaning and lasts a lifetime.
Q: Can I install it myself?
A: SpringWell filters are simple to install if you have basic plumbing skills and the right tools. If you don’t, it’s an easy job for a pro.
Q: How much iron does this filter remove?
A: Up to 7 PPM, 20 percent more than the average iron filter — plus up to 1 PPM of manganese and 8 PPM of hydrogen sulfide, the gas responsible for rotten egg odor.
#2 SoftPro IronMaster AIO Well Water Iron Filter
The IronMaster filtration system crushes iron without chemicals — up to 30 PPM, the highest in the industry. Available in three sizes to match your well’s flow rate, choose the model that best fits your home without overpaying for a too-large filter.
The state-of-the-art digital head displays the system’s status at a glance. User-friendly, it’s intuitive to program. A self-charging capacitor preserves your settings in a power outage for up to 48 hours without a battery. Affordable, the IronMaster is assembled in the US from durable components offering years of reliable service.
Q: Why does my well’s flow rate matter?
A: Iron filters need enough water to backwash effectively — a low flow rate can compromise their performance and longevity. A high flow rate, however, gives you the option of selecting a smaller, less expensive filtration system. The closer a filter matches your flow rate, the more cost-effective it is.
Q: What type of maintenance does it need?
A: Iron wreaks the same havoc on filter parts as it does on appliances. You may have to clean or replace the spacers, seals or pistons — it’s simple and inexpensive. The lightweight Katalox media should be replaced every 5-10 years based on your water quality. At today’s cost, that ranges from $225 to $440 depending on the size of your filter.
Q: Will the IronMaster reduce my water pressure?
A: It’s unlikely. IronMaster filters are engineered to the minimize impact on water pressure. Flow rates average 6-12 GPM, significantly higher than the industry average.
#3 Pelican Iron and Manganese Water Filter
Pelican’s well water iron filter is a four-stage, chlorine injection system that not only removes iron but also makes water potable. It comes complete with a sediment filter that enhances its efficiency, plus a premium block carbon filter that removes chlorine and more. Water is as fresh-tasting as bottled.
Septic-safe, the system processes up to a million gallons of water with minimal maintenance. Programming is highly intuitive. NSF 42 certified, the Pelican received the Water Quality Association’s (WQA) seal of approval and is priced well below similar iron water filters sold by other leading manufacturers.
Q: Will I taste chlorine in my water?
A: Pelican filters are guaranteed to reduce chlorine to undetectable levels for five years, or they’ll replace the carbon filter for free.
Q: Is storing chlorine in the house dangerous?
A: No. This system uses the same regular household bleach you have on hand for your laundry.
Q: How often should I change the sediment prefilter?
A: Every 6-9 months depending on your water quality.
#4 AquaOx FE Edition Well Water Iron Filter
AquaOx’s iron reduction system is a new take on its highly regarded whole home filtration system. A Birm filter, its aluminum-enhanced media oxidizes and reliably removes up to 7 PPM of iron. It has a two-million gallon capacity — enough for a family of four for a decade or more with no costly filters to replace.
A breeze to install and maintenance-free, the AquaOx FE edition is brought to you by a veteran-owned, South Carolina-based company. If it doesn’t perform as expected, you’re protected by a 12-month money-back guarantee and their dedication to customer service.
Q: How do I know if I have tannins or hydrogen sulfide in my water?
A: Tannins may turn water yellow or brown, and hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs. But low levels may be undetectable and other contaminants can cause similar issues, so we recommend doing a water test before purchasing any filtration system.
Q: Do I need a sediment prefilter?
A: A sediment prefilter removes large particles of ferric iron that may decrease the efficiency of any filter. It’s not required, but it will likely improve your overall water quality and protect your investment.
Q: Do iron filters really work?
A: Absolutely. The technology can be confusing for first-time buyers, but it’s not new. Tested and proven, you won’t be disappointed.
#5 Tier 1 Whole House Iron Filter
Tier 1’s Precision Series air induction filters reduce up to 30 PPM of iron plus hydrogen sulfide and manganese, ridding your home of unsightly stains and rotten egg smells without chemicals. From your shower to your kitchen faucet, every gallon is crystal clear.
The electronic control meter is a cinch to program — there are no confusing codes or symbols. It monitors your water usage and displays the gallons remaining until regeneration. Cycles are fully adjustable, and the battery backup saves your settings if the power goes out.
This budget-friendly system lasts up to 60 months with minimal maintenance and includes a protective sediment filter. Non-electronic parts are warrantied for ten years.
Q: How is this filter so effective without using chemicals?
A: Iron reduction filters are more efficient with high-pH water, so Teir1 incorporated calcium and magnesium into their filtration media to condition acidic water as it flows through the system, raising
Q: Can I install it myself?
A: Teir1’s time-saving quick connections make DIY installation simple. Most homeowners can do it in a day.
Q: What’s this filter’s flow rate?
A: The system is designed for 1-6 people, yet the flow rate is lower than average at 5.8 GPM. Under heavy use, you may notice a minor drop in water pressure.
#6 Crystal Quest Whole House Iron Filter
Crystal Quest’s well water iron filters boast impressive three-stage filtration that removes sediment, agricultural chemicals, industrial solvents, iron, manganese, hydrogen sulfide and more. Expandable, you can add a softener, UV sterilizer and SMART filter that removes even more toxins, including heavy metals. Choose fiberglass tanks or upgrade to stainless steel.
Available in two sizes depending on your water usage, the 9-13 GMP flow rate provides ample water pressure. Systems treat up to a million gallons depending on your water quality, but Crystal Quest recommends changing the media every 5-7 years for optimal performance.
Q: Does this filter disinfect water?
A: It does not. But you can add an optional UV light filter that will. It kills bacteria without chemicals.
Q: Can I install it myself?
A: Crystal Quest strongly recommends professional installation. DIY errors may void the warranty.
Q: Can this system be installed outdoors?
A: Only if it’s fully protected from the elements and sub-freezing temperatures.
#7 Durawater Air Injection Iron Eater Filter
Durawater’s Iron Eater is a simple, low-budget approach to iron filtration. It removes up to 12 PPM of iron plus sulfur and manganese. An air injection system, it works without chemicals, oxidizing and filtering contaminants in a single fiberglass tank.
Equipped with a Fleck 5600SXT control head, the most advanced on the market, it’s remarkably simple to program. Change the media every 5-7 years for the best performance — $200 at current prices.
Designed for the do-it-yourselfer to set up, saving on installation makes this among the most affordable well water iron filters. The comprehensive warranty covers the unexpected.
Q: Does the Iron Eater get rid of stubborn rotten egg odor?
A: It removes more hydrogen sulfide than many filters — up to 10 PPM.
Q: Does it have a battery backup?
A: Yes. No programming is lost if there’s a power outage.
Q: Can I choose when the system regenerates?
A: Yes, the schedule is fully programmable. Air injection filters can be loud, so we recommend backwashing when the sound is least likely to be disturbing.
Buyer’s guide – Best Iron Filters For Well Water
Iron isn’t a health hazard, but it’s a homewrecker. It makes water taste bad and wreaks havoc on plumbing, appliances and bathroom fixtures, taking a bite out of your budget with needless repairs. The straightforward solution is filtration, yet iron filters for well water aren’t well understood. Join us as we discuss the technology, decipher the jargon, and consider their features. Together, we’ll choose the best iron water filter for your home.
What Is Iron?
Iron is an element found in the Earth’s crust. Useful in products from frying pans to furnaces, it’s everywhere around you in the rock and soil. Virtually all groundwater has some iron in it. The amount and type determine what kind of iron water filter you need.
How Does Iron Get into Your Water?
Iron seeps into well water from the soil. Every time it rains, water flowing over rock carries iron deep into underground aquifers. The deeper your well, the more iron it’s likely to contain.
Is Iron in Well Water Dangerous for Your Health?
Low levels of iron aren’t considered harmful, but the EPA classifies it as a secondary contaminant because it can harbor iron bacteria — microorganisms that feed on dissolved iron. Alone, they rarely cause illness, but they create conditions under which dangerous bacteria can grow.
How much iron is too much? Levels above three parts per million (PPM) can cause skin irritation. It prevents soap from lathering effectively, creating a sticky residue that clings to hair and clogs pores. The effects range from dryness to oily rashes.
And although it’s not a direct danger, excessive iron affects how water looks, smells and tastes. Drinking less water because you don’t trust what’s coming from your tap is no bargain for your health.
There is one medical condition that iron in water can exacerbate. Called hemochromatosis, it’s an iron build-up in the body caused by a faulty gene. Serious, it affects about a million people in the US, causing heart and liver disease. Talk to your doctor about iron filtration if it runs in your family.
Types of Iron
There are two types of iron commonly found in well water. Each has unique effects and requires different treatment.
Ferric, or red iron, is insoluble. It accumulates in your pipes and gives water an obvious orange or brown tinge when you first turn on the tap. Let it sit in a glass, and it will settle to the bottom. It gives water a bitter, metallic tang and clogs shower heads and faucet aerators.
Ferrous, or clear iron, is dissolved in water. You can’t see it, but it’s the primary food source for iron bacteria. In the presence of oxygen, these microorganisms convert ferrous iron into ferric iron, leaving an oily, musty-smelling orange slime in pipes, appliances, and on bathroom fixtures.
Both are more than just nuisances — they can have a costly impact on your home.
The Long-Term Costs of Too Much Iron in Your Home
The effects of excessive iron are insidious — they’re gradual and cumulative. Unless the water is rusty, the damage is often done by the time homeowners notice. Early treatment is critical.
The consequences of too much iron include:
1. Low Water Pressure
Iron accumulated in pipes eventually narrows their diameter, so water can’t flow freely. The first symptom is low water pressure. Over time, it prevents the passage of solid waste, causing clogs.
2. Damaged Appliances
Water-using appliances, from dishwashers to water heaters, rely on adequate water flow. Low pressure forces them to work harder, leading to higher utility bills. Iron slime on delicate parts is corrosive, causing premature breakdowns. Replacing an electric water heater can cost more than $1000!
3. Stained Clothing, Dishes and Bathroom Fixtures
The same red slime that iron bacteria leaves in your pipes also ends up in your washing machine and dishwasher where it leaves hard-to-remove stains on clothing and dinnerware. It coats toilets, tubs and shower walls. Miss a day’s cleaning, and it can permanently discolor grout and tile.
Can Iron Be Removed from Water Naturally?
Filtration is the only reliable way to remove iron, but some filters are chemical-free and use more natural means than others.
Testing Your Water
The only way to know what’s in well water is to test it — it’s the homeowner’s responsibility. We recommend sending a sample to a certified water treatment laboratory. They use only scientifically approved testing methods and pass annual quality control checks.
Results will reveal what type of iron is in your well, how much, and if iron bacteria are present. You’ll also learn more about your water’s chemistry, an essential step in choosing the best iron water filter. Why? Because pH, hardness, dissolved oxygen content, and tannin levels significantly impact their efficiency.
How Do Iron Filters Work?
Filters rely on one or more of these three methods to remove iron:
1. Sediment Filtration
Sediment filters effectively remove ferric iron, trapping large particles of rust. But they reduce neither ferrous iron nor iron bacteria.
2. Ion Exchange
Ion exchange is the same method water softeners use to remove calcium and magnesium. As water flows through the softening tank, minerals, including iron, cling to resin beads. During the regeneration process, brine solution from the salt tank breaks the bonds, sending iron down the drain. It works well on paper, but practically speaking, there are limitations.
Ion exchange reduces only ferrous iron — ferric iron ruins the resin. Hardness and pH must be perfectly balanced, and still, most ion exchange filters remove two ppm of iron or less. Tannins affect both iron removal and softening, requiring a tannin prefilter. All in all, there are better choices.
Oxidation plus Filtration
Oxidizing filters use oxygen to convert ferrous iron into ferric iron, filtering precipitated particles using a wide range of media. They’re a more comprehensive solution to challenging iron problems, but some types of filters have more limitations than others.
Birm filters use the oxygen dissolved in water to oxidize ferrous iron. Granular media made of enhanced aluminum silicate then traps the particles and sends them down the drain.
Birm filters are effective, but water must contain enough dissolved oxygen to initiate the oxidation reaction, and the pH should be at least 6.8. Birm filters are not recommended for well water with tannins or hydrogen sulfide.
Manganese Greensand is chemically-treated filtration media that oxidizes ferrous iron on contact, removing levels up to 10 ppm. No oxygen is required, but in much the same way as water softeners use salt to regenerate resin, Greensand is rejuvenated with potassium permanganate solution — a potentially hazardous chemical some homeowners don’t want in their homes.
Highly effective, Greensand filters are a popular choice for tough iron problems, removing both manganese and hydrogen sulfide. A pH below 7 affects its efficiency, but that can be corrected with a calcite prefilter.
Chlorine is the oldest method of oxidizing ferrous iron. Used by treatment plants nationwide, it also disinfects water, making it safe to drink.
Chlorine injection systems are among the only ways to eliminate iron bacteria, but they require more maintenance than other iron filters and may leave water with a strong chemical aftertaste. Installing a carbon or KDF post-filter will remove unpleasant flavors.
Aeration filters inject air into water, converting ferrous into ferric iron. Some systems have two tanks, using a separate filter to remove solid particles — in others, aeration and filtration take place in the same tank. Designed for moderate iron levels, aeration systems have few limitations and use no chemicals. But they create more wastewater than other systems, a problem in drought-prone areas.
Catalytic Carbon and Hydrogen Peroxide
Catalytic carbon combined with hydrogen peroxide is an extraordinary oxidizer. Engineered to tackle the toughest iron problems, these systems are highly effective but expensive to maintain. An average home will use $250-$300 annually in peroxide solution — more than double the cost of chlorine. The performance is impressive, but more affordable systems can handle iron levels below 10 ppm.
Ozone is a powerful oxidizer. Stronger than chlorine, it controls iron bacteria yet requires no chemicals. Costly, however, few ozone filters remove more than six ppm of iron. And the FDA isn’t keen on residential ozone generators, reporting health issues among people exposed to the gas. For most homes, chlorine is a better bet.
KDF (Kinetic Fluxion Degradation)
KDF media oxidizes ferrous iron via a chemical reaction, but it takes time and works best under low flow. As a rule, it’s limited in use to showerhead filters or in conventional multi-stage water filters to remove traces of iron and other contaminants.
Katalox is an advanced, lightweight filtration media that oxidizes ferrous iron faster than Greensand and Birm. Made of manganese-coated zeolite, it’s more efficient and lasts longer. Neither dissolved oxygen nor pH play a role, and tannins don’t affect the system. It removes high levels of iron, manganese and hydrogen sulfide, but it can’t kill iron bacteria.
Whole-Home Versus Point-of-Use Filters for Iron Removal
There are two types of water filtration systems – whole-house filters that treat water as it enters your home and point-of-use filters that treat water from a single tap.
Point-of-use systems, such as countertop filters or filtration pitchers, can reduce particles of ferric iron in your drinking water, but they can’t remove ferrous iron or iron bacteria, leaving your health, plumbing and appliances at risk. The only practical solution is a whole-house filter.
Selecting the Best Iron Filter for Your Needs
The best iron filter for your needs is one that removes the type of iron you have and is compatible with your water’s chemistry.
Let’s narrow them down.
If your water contains only ferric iron — particles that float in your water but don’t turn it brown — a sediment filter may be all you need. Choose from sediment-only filters to multi-stage systems that remove other unwanted contaminants.
If you have iron bacteria in your water, your filtration choices are limited to:
- A chlorine injector
- A catalytic carbon and hydrogen peroxide filter
- An ozone filtration system
For all but the most stubborn iron problems, chlorine injectors are the least expensive to purchase and maintain. Add a carbon post-filter to resolve the chlorine taste.
If the total iron content in your water is less than two ppm, consider:
- A sediment prefilter and water softener
- Any oxidizing iron filter that works with your water’s chemistry
For total iron content greater than two ppm, choose:
- Any iron filter rated for two ppm or more
Now, consider how these additional factors impact your purchase.
Contaminant Filtration Capability
The primary purpose of an iron filter is to remove iron. But this humble element has friends — manganese and hydrogen sulfide. Commonly found in iron-heavy wells, they can make your life equally as miserable. Manganese causes black stains on bathroom fixtures and can be toxic to kids in large amounts. Hydrogen sulfide makes water smell like rotten eggs.
Oxidation is the most effective process for removing hydrogen sulfide and manganese, so most iron filtration systems reduce both — Birm filters are the exception. Chlorine filters are very effective and are an excellent choice for homes with iron bacteria.
It’s also possible your water test revealed other troubling contaminants. So without making the decision overly complicated, you want a filter, or combination of filters, that meets as many of your needs as affordably and efficiently as possible. It pays to think ahead and consider models that kill more than one bird with the same stone.
Single-tank iron filters have similar footprints. Most are tall like a water softener — with the head mounted, they’re about five-feet high. Like all whole-home filtration systems, they’re located in a basement or garage where water enters your home. Installed vertically, they rarely fit in a crawlspace.
Multi-tank systems are considerably larger, requiring up to 16 square feet. Leave enough room to move around the unit comfortably to perform maintenance — refilling a chlorine injector is back-breaking enough without struggling for space. It’s better to measure twice and order once, so check the specifications before you buy.
Filtration takes time. Every layer of media water flows through slows its pace. The net effect is usually an annoying reduction in water pressure at the tap, but you can offset that by ensuring your system has a brisk flow rate.
What is flow rate? Flow rate is the number of gallons that move through a filter per minute. The higher the number, the better. American homes use a lot of water. Using a faucet, shower and dishwasher simultaneously takes up to 10 gallons per minute. If your filter’s flow rate is too low, the results are predictable — something will have to wait. The best iron water filters have flow rates vigorous enough to keep up.
Water softeners and iron filters were once sized by the grain or by flow rate — it was confusing at best. But smart manufacturers converted this to an easier-to-understand system based on the number of bathrooms in your home. Just follow the instructions, and your filter should be the perfect size.
Capacity — Filter Life
Capacity refers to how many gallons a filter can process before the media needs to be replaced. It’s an important factor to consider when assessing a system’s cost of ownership. An inexpensive filter that costs twice as much to maintain as a higher-end model isn’t a bargain, it’s a hassle.
Installation & Maintenance
Installing a whole-house iron filter isn’t rocket science. But it takes basic plumbing know-how and a few tools not every homeowner has. If you have a day or two, you can save money by doing it yourself. Better sellers offer technical advice by phone, and many have installation videos on their websites. Being a DIYer has never been easier.
Still, if the process is intimidating, or you have a challenging situation, such as irregular plumbing or limited installation space, calling a pro is never a bad idea. An iron filter is an investment, so the added cost of expert installation is worth the peace of mind.
Iron water filters aren’t cheap, so warranties are a significant selling point. They range from a year to a lifetime, covering repair bills when you can least afford them.
Some companies require professional installation of the iron removal system and recommended prefilters, or the warranty is void. And shipping the filter back to the manufacturer for repairs may be on your dime. Know the terms before you buy.
No warranty covers:
- Normal wear and tear
- Improper handling or installation
- Illegal use
- Damage to your home as a result of a malfunction
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Does a water softener remove iron from well water?
Most water softeners can remove 1-2 ppm of ferrous iron, but ferric iron, tannins, hydrogen sulfide, and a pH above 6.5 impair their efficiency. Unless you need to both soften water and remove low levels of iron, a dedicated iron filter is usually a better option.
2. Do reverse osmosis filters remove iron?
RO filters can remove iron, but they’re not recommended. Any more than 0.3 ppm will permanently ruin the membrane.
3. Do iron filters work?
Iron filters are very effective within their specifications.
4. What is the best filtration system for well water?
The best filtration system for well water is an affordable, whole-home filter that removes target contaminants.
5. Do air injection filters work?
Air injection filters are not only effective, but they’re also chemical-free. Drawbacks include a clicking noise when the injector is working, and they’re not recommended for wells with iron bacteria. The extra oxygen helps it bloom.
6. Does boiling water remove iron?
Boiling water does not remove iron.
7. What is an iron curtain for water?
Iron Curtain water filters are chemical-free oxidizing filters that remove iron both iron and hydrogen sulfide. Made by Hellenbrand, they’re sold by better water treatment companies and come in one-, two- and three-tank configurations based on the severity of your iron problem.
8. Will a whole-house filter remove iron?
Conventional whole-house filters only remove traces of iron. But a whole-house iron filter manages the worst iron problems, protecting your plumbing and extending the life of your appliances.
9. Will a sediment filter remove iron?
Sediment filters remove ferric iron – small but solid particles of rust. They don’t remove dissolved iron or kill iron bacteria.
10. What is the best water filter for rust?
Rust is ferric iron, so a sediment filter may be all you need. High levels, however, may clog them prematurely. An iron filter may be a better long-term solution.Last Updated on May 7, 2022 by Ava