The Effects of High Iron Content in Water

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Iron in water
Iron in water (Image: weeping river image by John Sfondilias from Fotolia.com)

Iron occurs naturally in well water. Though high iron content is not harmful to your health it can disrupt desire to drink and cook with it. Iron can also cause problems in your plumbing.

Levels

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not set a health-related standard for iron, but suggests .3 ppm as the maximum for aesthetic reasons.

Taste and Smell

High amounts of iron can cause the water to smell like rotten eggs or taste metallic. When the iron is well over .5 ppm, then the taste of the foods that the water is cooked in is also affected, says the Minnesota Department of Health.

Rotten egg smell is from bacterial iron
Rotten egg smell is from bacterial iron (Image: eggs image by Pali A from Fotolia.com)

Color

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, if your water is discolored from either dissolved or undissolved iron, letting it stand for 24 hours after you draw it from the tap will usually clear it up. The iron will remain in the water, but the color will clear up.

Testing

Your county health department can test the levels of iron in your water, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency web site.

Sediment

Iron can corrode the piping and plumbing and can clog the plumbing with rusty sludge. The iron bacteria that comes from high amounts of iron in water can also build up in low flow areas and also cause clogging with built up sludge, says the Minnesota Department of Health.

Removal

Water softeners can remove some amounts of iron. Other products, such as iron filters can help the water softener flush the iron out of the resin more effectively.

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