|Frequently Asked Questions About Iron Filters
Q. How do iron filters actually remove iron?
A. Iron filters work by oxidizing (rusting) the iron and then filtering it out. We all know that simple iron or steel will rust in the presence of air and water. Rust is one type of oxidation. When water is underground in most wells, it is in a clear, also known as 'ferrous' or clear water iron. Iron filters take this clear iron and transform it to rust or ferric iron in the process known as oxidation. These trapped particles are periodically and automatically backwashed out to drain, usually once or twice a week. Iron filter systems also remove so-called red or red‐water iron, iron bacteria, manganese and in some cases hydrogen sulfide by oxidation and filtration.
Q. What is the difference between Pro-OX, Birm and Greensand iron filter filters?
A. All of these filters use a manganese-dioxide filter media.. Manganese-Dioxide is a very powerful oxidizing media which is a very effective way to filter iron and manganese from water.
The difference is that Birm and Greensand are coated with a thin coating manganese oxide. The coating eventually wears off. Pro-OX™, MangOX™, Filox™, & Pyrolox™ are different brand names for this naturally high-purity mined solid manganese dioxide mineral media. There is no coating to wear off and the media lasts much longer. Since it is a solid media, it is heavier and needs a stronger backwash flow to properly wash the iron and sediment out during the backwash and rinse cycles.
Q. Don't the Pro-OX (or MangOX, Pyrolox, Filox) type iron filters waste a lot of water compared to the Birm type filters?
A. The Pro-OX filters remove a higher amount of iron before requiring backwash, so over the extended life of the media, they do not use significantly higher amounts of water.
Q. Which is the best iron filter for my application?
A. This depends on your well water chemistry. The first step is finding out if your cold water has a sulfur odor in it, or if it is just the hot water. If the water does have odor, then you need an iron filter that will remove this sulfur odor. The next step is to find out how much iron and manganese you have, and determine the pH (acidity or alkalinity) of your water.
Q. How can I get my water tested?
A. We offer a very low cost home test kit you can use in the privacy of your own home to test for pH, iron, manganese and hardness, tannin, and hydrogen sulfide. There are often local labs that will test your water for you at a reasonable price, or you can also send us a 1/2 liter of water for a water analysis no charge. You can also often find a local lab in your area by contacting your local county health department for recommendations.
Q. Can't I just use a water softener?
A. Water softeners will remove dissolved clear water iron by a process known as ion-exchange. However, iron, manganese and/or hydrogen sulfide gas can eventually foul and ruin the ion-exchange resin. If your water contains less than 2.0 ppm of iron and manganese combined, and no sulfur odor, then you may be able to use a good quality water softener with fine mesh resin and a special type of resin cleaner in the brine tank. The resin cleaner will help clean the resin when the softener is being regenerated with the salt water. We don't recommend this approach however, its better to use an iron filter in front of the water softener for best results.
Q. My water was found to contain 2.0 ppm of iron. I have no sulfur odor, no manganese and a pH of 7.0 to 7.5, which filter is best?
A. A Pro-OX Iron Filter or a Birm filter is the best for this type of water. In some cases air injection is required if your well is over 100 feet deep and low in oxygen. You can test for ORP (included in our test kit) to determine if an oxidizer such as chlorine or air will be needed. Birm works good but the media does not last as long as the Pro-OX media and cannot handle any sulfur odor or chlorination.
Q. I have 5.0 ppm of iron, some manganese, and mildly bad sulfur odor in my cold water. My toilet flush tank looks orange and seems to have slimy strings of fuzzy iron bacteria growing on the sides. Which iron filter is best for my water?
A. For best results, a chlorination injection system followed by a Pro-OX or Greensand iron filter would be best. MangOX lasts longer than greensand and works great with a chlorine feed. The chlorine can be adjusted so it degrades as it flows through the iron filter, so you don't have the taste or smell of chlorine in the water.
Q. I don't want to use chlorine or any chemicals of any kind. My water has sulfur odor, a LOT of iron, and manganese as well. What system should I use?
A. The best approach is to use the Maxi-Vent air-compressor air injection system with the Pro-OX filter. This is not only non-chemical, it is also virtually maintenance free and requires no regular or routine maintenance.
Q. I use a chlorinator already to control odor and disinfect the water, but I want to use an iron filter. Which one is best?
A. The Pro-OX type or the Greensand filters would work the best, and no potassium permanganate would be required.
Q. I have very severe water. My iron is over 10 ppm, I have high manganese, and a terrible hydrogen sulfide problem. I suspect iron bacteria, because our toilet flush tanks are very slimy. Which one should I use?
A. For some types of very severe water, we recommend injeciton of chlorine or hydrogen peroxide, depending on the water chemistry, followed by a contact retention tank, then a Pro-OX iron filter, and in some cases an additional carbon backwash filter, and Chemsorb turbidity filter. This 3 stage approaach can handle very high levels of odor, iron and manganese. Contact us for a fast quotation for this type of system.
Q. I have 3.0 to 5.0 ppm of iron, manganese and some hydrogen sulfide odor in the cold water. I looked inside my toilet flush, and I see the long strings or slimy presence of iron bacteria. Can I use a Pro-OX iron filter?
A. Yes, as long as you have enough backwash flow to properly backwash the Pro-OX filter media, it would work fine. If your water has iron bacteria in it, the optional chlorine side tank should be used, which allows the Pro-OX media to be cleaned and sanitized with chlorine during backwash.
Q. I would like to use the Pro-OX iron filter, or maybe Greensand‐Plus filter with a chlorine injection system, but I don't want chlorine in my house. What can I do?
A. The chlorine can be adjusted so it degrades as it flows through the iron filter, so you don't have the taste or smell of chlorine in the water. You can also use a backwashing carbon filter or a large carbon cartridge after the Pro-OX or Greensand filter to remove all trace of chlorine before it enters the house.
Q. What does 'backwash flow rate" refer to?
A. All iron filters require a certain amount of water flow to able to backwash and clean the iron filter media periodically. For example if your well pump can fill a 5 gallon bucket in 60 seconds, then you well pump can pump 5 gallons per minute, or 5 GPM. If your well can fill the 5 gallon bucket in 30 seconds, then you have 10 GPM. Most residential wells can pump 10 to 20 GPM but it is important to verify it before selecting your iron filter. If you have low flow rate of say 5 GPM and you select an iron filter that requires 10 GPM, then the iron filter will become fouled over time.
Q. How can I find out how many gallons per minute my well pump can produce?
A. You can find this out very easily yourself. See this link here for simple instructions on measuring your flow rate. If you have a "constant pressure variable speed pump", consult your well driller or pump supplier or let us know the pump and model number and we can estimate it based on your well depth and type of pump you have.
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The chlorinator/iron filter system is working very well. Thanks for your expertise and help in setting it up. Attached are a few pictures of the system.
I didn't realize how essential the chlorine was to fix our water problems. I set just the chlorinator up first, and adjusted it for 0.5 ppm free chlorine residual. We're very happy with the system, and really appreciate your help.
Dear CWS - The installation was straightforward (if not simple) and your instructions were excellent. The system has made such a huge improvement to our water. Above all, I would like to thank you for your unfailing professionalism and generosity with your time in answering my questions. Many thanks