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Cheapest Way to Remove Iron From Well Water: 7 Best Methods

cheapest way to remove iron from well water


Elevated iron levels may give a yellow tinge or rusty stains in your sink, toilet, tanks, cooking utensils, and bathroom fixtures. Or if your plumbing or appliances are newly installed, it won’t take long to get rusty. 

Although iron doesn’t pose negative health effects, its metallic taste and odor may leave an unpleasant experience. No worries, you can get rid of it by chlorinating your well or installing a specialized water treatment system such as iron filters.

In this blog, we’ll be guiding you on the type of iron contamination, how to test it, and the cheapest ways to remove it from a well. Let’s find a way!

Understanding the Iron Contamination – Turning My Well Water Yellow

Iron is a natural element present in 5% of the Earth’s Crust, including water. When groundwater passes through surfaces where iron is present, the water adds iron that contaminates the water in the form of rust or iron particles. It is called iron contamination. 

Iron can get into Drinking Water in various ways

  • Groundwater from iron-rich geological formations.
  • Corrosive Steel pipes, well casings, and plumbing fixtures
  • Private wells with naturally occurring iron 
  • Through erosion and geological formations

Types of Iron Contamination Present in Well Water

In water, iron is present in various forms, which are mentioned below:

  • Ferric Iron (Fe+3): often known as insoluble iron, which cannot be dissolved in water. Its presence gives water a reddish-orange coloration or rusty color. This visual cue is often the first indicator of its presence. 
  • Ferrous Iron (Fe+2) or Clear Iron: In chemistry, ferrous iron is referred to as “dissolved or clear iron,” which is invisible. It is present in the groundwater where oxygen is low. It oxidizes after interacting with air oxygen and turns the well water yellow. Usually, This type of iron is difficult to remove, so you would need to oxidize it into ferric oxide by oxidation. After oxidation, it will be easier to remove.
  • Iron Bacteria: When the bacteria and fungi make a habitat with dissolved iron to form a slimy orange substance that floats on top of the water. They form slimy biofilms in toilets, water tanks, pipes, wells, and water treatment equipment, leading to clogs and reduced water flow. It is easier to view but challenging to test and remove. Read our article on how to remove iron bacteria from well water.
  • Organic Iron: Organic iron is formed when iron combines with an organic acid or tannins. Water with this type of iron is usually yellow or brown but may be colorless.

Although iron contamination does not have a negative effect on health, it is associated with aesthetic problems such as an unpleasant metallic taste and odor, stains on laundry, sinks, appliances, and clothes, rust on metal objects, sometimes iron flakes in water, and discolored water. In addition to this, it can indicate the presence of other contaminants or microbial growth, which can be a health concern.

What is the Cheapest Way to Remove Iron From Well Water

The first step to treating your well water is knowing the exact contamination present. For this, you can use visual, DIY, and certified lab tests for detection. After testing, it would be easier to choose a way to remove iron bacteria from well water.

I have suggested the best methods, which are as follows.

1. Test the Water Quality – Determine the Exact Wrongdoer

Whenever you look for an effective way to remove a contaminant, you must know the main offender behind the scene. Similarly, iron contamination can be present in the well water in various forms that you can detect in various ways, such as mentioned below.

Visual Test

It is one of the easiest methods to test the water quality for iron. You may visually assess the iron present in the well by its pigmentation. The presence of ferric iron can be detected as brown or yellow water. If the water appears clear but leaves stains on fixtures, it may indicate ferrous iron. Additionally, the iron bacteria can easily be seen on toilets, water tanks, or areas where water is allowed to stand for a long time. 

At-Home Test Kits

You can get home test kits from improvement stores or online retailers that sell DIY test strips designed to detect iron.  It includes a dripping strip that you need to dip in the water sample and compare the result with the given color chart. 

Laboratory Tests

Although other options are available, we suggest going for a laboratory method that can help to know the exact type and amount of iron present in the drinking water. You just need to take a water sample and send it to the nearest lab. The lab will get back to you in 7-15 days.

2. Shock Chlorination – Best for Organic and Iron Bacteria

Shock chlorination is one of the cheapest ways primarily used for disinfecting the well water supply and the well itself, including its walls, pumps, pressure tank, and distribution system. A concentrated solution of chlorine is added to kill harmful bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms in the water.

When it is added, it breaks down biofilms formed by iron bacteria, reduces their biological activity, reduces rust accumulation, and oxidizes dissolved iron into undissolved form, which can be filtered out using filtration, as mentioned below. 

It is a cheap and easy way that would cost up to $20. The important thing is that this process is beneficial as long as you repeat it periodically. Otherwise, the contamination may reoccur. If iron levels are extremely high, then chlorination alone wouldn’t assist you. In this scenario, you must install additional treatment methods like chemical oxidation or filtration.


Calcium hypochlorite or Sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) is used as a strong chlorine-based disinfectant. They are added in concentrated form to achieve a temporary but high chlorine level, effectively disinfecting the water and killing harmful microorganisms. The exact amount of chlorine depends on the well’s depth, diameter, water volume, and the desired chlorine concentration.

3. Sediment Filters – Best for Ferric Iron

Sediment filters work by removing impurities such as sand, silt, clay, rust particles, debris, and other suspended solids depending on the filter’s micron rating (1-100 microns). 

Suppose you chlorinate your well to change dissolved iron into undissolved form. In that case, the sediment filter can be the ideal and cheapest choice to remove ferric or undissolved iron from the well water. If you have specific quality concerns (ferrous iron, iron bacteria, or other), it may alone not be enough solution. 

You can install them at various points, such as whole house filters at the point of entry, point-of-use, and pre-filtration to remove large particles before water passes through finer filtration stages such as activated carbon filters or reverse osmosis systems. Check out our list of sediment water filters that act as the first line of defense against impurities and remove rust effectively. 

If ferrous iron is your concern, then a typical sediment filter such as Culligan WH-S200-C and Simpure 100/500-micron spin-down would cost you around $50-$200.

4. Aeration + Filtration – Best for Ferrous and Ferric Iron

When aeration is combined with filtration, it can be an effective method of removing ferric and ferrous iron from well water. It is also known as “Aeration followed by filtration.” it involves exposing the well water to sufficient air to convert ferrous iron (Fe²⁺) into ferric iron (Fe³⁺), which is precipitated out and removed after filtration. Then, These solid particles are filtered out of the water.

Aeration combined with filtration can remove and filter large amounts of iron, usually up to 30 PPM, as well as effective against high levels of manganese and hydrogen sulfide. One of the incredible features is that no chemicals and additional filters are required. They can be installed at the point of use or point of entry on a very normal budget that an individual can afford. 

5. Iron Filters – Best for Ferrous Iron

Iron filters are the devices that are especially used to remove iron and related contaminants, including ferrous (dissolved) iron and ferric (particulate) iron. Iron can clog the pipes if it is present in quantities of 3 to 7 ppm or more. So, you will need a specialized iron filter, such as the Springwell Well Water Filter, which can remove undissolved iron up to 7 ppm, also effective against manganese and sulfur compounds. 

Iron filters are installed as part of the whole house water filter at the point of entry. They work on the principle of specific filter media, such as manganese dioxide, greensand, birm, or a combination of various materials. Whatever type of iron contamination is present, I’ve mentioned the most efficient media given below:

  • Air-Oxidizing Injections: They are also known as air injection systems or air chlorinators. They oxidize iron and manganese, causing the oxidized particles to adhere to the media bed’s surface. Later, The solid impurities clump together, trapped, and removed from the drinking water. The media bed will renew at pre-set intervals, cleaning itself of accumulated contaminants to restart the process
  • Greensand Media: Greensand media is the best way to remove manganese, iron, and hydrogen sulfide like air-oxidizing injections. They are named after the greenish-black granular filter media they use, known as greensand; it is a naturally occurring mineral that can chemically and physically trap certain contaminants, effectively improving water quality.  
  • Manganese Greensand Filter Media: It uses coated media with manganese oxide, which removes the manganese, iron, and hydrogen sulfide problems. The coated media catalyzes the oxidation of dissolved iron and manganese, turning them into solid particles that are then captured and separated by the greensand media.  Overall, it is effective at removing moderate levels of iron and manganese but may require periodic regeneration with potassium permanganate to maintain its effectiveness.
  • Birm Filter Media: Birm is a granular filter media coated with manganese dioxide. It works by oxidizing the ferrous iron into a ferric form and then precipitating out like manganese greensand. 
  • Kinetic Degradation Fluxion Media: It is a bacteriostatic media coated with copper-zinc alloy to remove or reduce various contaminants, such as chlorine, heavy metals, ferrous iron, bacteria, fungi, and limescale buildup from water. Their notable feature is that they don’t release any harmful byproducts. However, media need to be replaced periodically, depending on water quality and usage.

All media are extremely perfect and affordable, ranging from $50-$500, and can remove iron from 7 to 15pp. Further, The kind and amount of iron in your water, the water’s quality, and your budget all play a role in determining the optimum iron filter media. However, it might not be suitable if your water contains viruses, parasites, heavy metals, VOCs, and others. 

6. Ion Exchange Water Softener – Best for Ferrous Iron 

Ion-exchange water softeners are the specialized type of filters designed to remove hardness from the well water. However, a typical water softener can handle low levels of ferrous iron up to 3 ppm. They work by exchanging sodium ions with iron ions, trapping and capturing them. 

They can be installed with work whole-house systems such as Springwell ss1, our top pick, which is incredible in working. Various iron-focused whole-house water softeners don’t just remove minerals like calcium and magnesium but are also effective in removing ferrous iron up to 7.0 PPM. 

For ferric iron removal concerns, we suggest you install a sediment or pre-filter, which could protect your filter from clogging. Overall, iron removal water softener kills two with one arrow (removal of iron+ hardness). However, you will need to maintain it regularly to keep working properly.

7. Ozonation Methods – Can be Used for Bacterial or Organic Iron

The ozone method involves injecting ozone into the water and then capturing the iron bacteria and organic bacteria, oxidizing out, and then back-washing it out. Usually, we won’t suggest these expensing systems whose lifespan is shorter and incompatibility of ozone with the plastic components. This system will work on iron bacteria, although the chemical procedure is recommended.


In a final verdict, iron can be the rusty, brownish sign on your appliances, laundry, and fixtures. Treat it with simple methods at a budget-friendly rate and get rid of aesthetic blasting before it’s too late or you need to invest thousands of dollars.

It is advisable to check out the water quality for detecting the type of iron so that it will be easier for you to deal with the situation. finding the cheapest way to remove iron from well water depends on iron concentration, water quality, and water source. Well, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, several cost-effective methods, such as chlorination, oxidizing media, and iron filters, can effectively address iron issues in well water.


Some other questions’s answers for our readers that might be helpful for reading.

How to Get Rid of Iron Bacteria in Toilet Tank?

Iron bacteria can create an orange massy, thick, or slimy appearance that floats on the top of the toilet tank. In order to get rid of it, flush the tank while draining the water. First, Scrub the inside of the toilet using a sponge or towel to remove visible sludge. Second, add chlorine to kill the iron bacteria or disinfect it and allow the chlorination to sit for a few hours. Later, flush the toilet several times to remove the chlorine-treated water from the tank, and it is done.

Do Zero Water Remove Iron?

Yes, Zero Water can remove 99.9% of iron from drinking water. Its multi-stage filtration, such as an Exchange Water Filtration System, can effectively remove excess undissolved iron from the drinking water. However, for higher iron levels, it is suggested to opt for a treatment system such as iron filters.

Does Brita Water Filter Remove Iron?

No, Brita filters are not certified to reduce iron in drinking water. However, it can reduce the amount.

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