Why a Water Softener System Will Not Remove All Forms of Iron

One common misconception people have about water softener systems is that they will remove all forms of iron from the water. Softener systems are designed to attract positively charged ions like magnesium (Mg+2) and calcium (Ca+2). These two minerals constitute the majority of “hardness” in your water.


A water softener will also remove ferrous iron (Fe+2 – clear water iron), but will not remove ferric iron (Fe+3 – oxidized iron), iron bacteria, or iron algae (The Big Nasty 3). Iron algae and iron bacteria are naturally occurring in the aquifer and prevalent in Anne Arundel County, they consume iron in the water and replicate. Common signs of this can often be seen in toilet tanks, presenting as oil slicks on the water surface, stringy and fuzzy growths on the sides of the tank bowl.  These 3 will pass through the softener, and if levels exceed 0.3ppm of iron then staining will continue.

In situations where chlorine is being used (whether through injection or with tablets in toilet tanks) these indicators may be suppressed, but the ill effects will continue to trouble your softener.  The 3 will gradually begin to embed themselves into the softener bead and limit the softeners ability to remove the ferrous iron. Over time the unit will fail to work at all, we often see this occurring in as little as 3-5 years.

So what can be done???  Hague Quality Water of Maryland offers a unique system configuration that uses 4 media to treat all 4 varieties of the iron in a single unit.  We have been using this configuration since 1993 and have had excellent success with very little maintenance, on iron levels up to 14-15 ppm.  At levels above this we will add other treatments to supplement the iron removal.


Hague Watermax 62APQ

Sediment filtration to 20 microns (self cleaning)

Media for iron algae/bacteria/ferric iron removal

Water Conditioner / Ion Exchange resin

Bacteriastat inhibits bacteria growth.

The bottom line is this: When dealing with iron you need to first identify the various forms of iron within the water. Otherwise, you will end up wasting money on a solution that does not address your problems.

For more information about filtration and softener systems for your home or business, and to find out what types of iron are present within your water, contact the water treatment experts at Hague Water Of Maryland at (410) 757-2992 or (410) 213-2380 today!