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How Does Iron Affect Your Water?

One of the most common problems people have with their water supply is an excess of iron. Well water, in particular, is commonly saturated with iron, making it not only unsightly, but sometimes undrinkable.

Iron affects your water in a number of different ways, but before we get into that, let’s talk about how it gets into your water in the first place.

How does iron get into water in the first place?

In general, iron gets into a water supply in two primary ways. These include :

  • Seepage – Certain soils are extraordinarily rich in iron. When rain or snow comes down and seeps into this soil, it makes its way down to a well’s water supply. However, it does not travel alone. As it’s seeping its way through the soil, the moisture from rain and snow takes quite a bit of dissolved iron with it. This results in a water supply that’s inundated with iron.
  • Pipe Deterioration – The other reason that iron often gets into a water supply is through pipe deterioration. Oftentimes, water pipes are equipped with casings that contain iron. When the iron from these casings comes into contact with oxygen, rust forms. Over time, as more and more rust builds up, it starts to flake off into the water supply. Along with the rust, of course, is iron. Iron essentially builds up in a water supply as a result of aging pipes. 

In what ways does iron affect water?

After iron has made its ways into a water supply, it affects that water in a number of ways. Iron in your water:

1. Gives it an unpleasant odor

If you’ve ever dealt with water that smells like sulfur or rotten eggs, you’re probably dealing with an excess of iron in your water. While iron is not solely responsible for this odor, it does create the environment in which the presence of this odor is made possible.

See, iron attracts sulfur bacteria. Having an overabundance of sulfur bacteria in your water will cause it to smell like rotten eggs.

2. Causes it to stain

Water that’s riddled with iron will almost always cause staining on clothing, bathroom fixtures, bathtubs, and more. Not only is staining unsightly, it’s also sometimes permanent. If you notice that your clothes or fixtures are turning up with red, orange, or yellow stains, you’re more than likely dealing with an excess of iron in your water.

3. Metalicizes its taste

Iron doesn’t just affect the odor and appearance of water. It also affects its taste. The majority of the time that a water supply has become over-contaminated with iron, it will start to take on a metallic taste. Metal is a hard taste to explain, but is usually pretty recognizable when you taste it.

If your water possesses the taste of metal, you would be well served to do something about it quickly. While consuming iron in small doses is safe, consuming it in large doses over time can cause health problems.

4. Causes it to clog

One of the most annoying problems caused by iron in your water is clogging. As iron builds up over time, it starts to cling to the sides of your water pipes. When the sides of your pipes become saturated with iron residue, the essentially start to narrow.

Like an artery which can’t let as much blood through due to plaque buildup, your pipes won’t let as much water through due to iron buildup.

5. Makes it more expensive

Because it causes staining and pipe clogs, iron essentially makes your water more expensive than it otherwise would be. By having to repair pipes and replace clothing on a regular basis, you’re wasting money.

The best way to deal with iron in your water is by being proactive about it. By filtering out iron before it makes its way into your pipes, you will prevent it from causing any undue damage. This can be done by installing a water softener or similar water filtration system.

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