Best Filters for Iron Removal from well water: Top Picks, Reviews & Guide

how to remove iron from well water naturally

Shopping for a water filter to remove iron from your well water?

We can help you choose the right one.

A high concentration of iron is a common water problem in many households that depend on well water as their water source. 

If left unfiltered, it causes rust-colored stains in your bathtub, toilet, sinks, and sometimes on your clothing as well. Moreover, high iron concentration in the water makes it unfit for drinking or cooking.

This is why if you source your water from a well and the iron concentration in your water is high, you need a good water filter for removing iron from well water.

Although the range of water filters available these days is quite vast, not every unit can effectively address this persistent problem.

If you are also looking to buy a water filter that can efficiently remove iron from water, this guide tells you everything you need to know to make the right purchase.

What kinds of Water Filters can Remove Iron?

In city areas, municipalities treat the water to lower or even better, remove iron from the water before supplying it. But households using well water need a good water filter to reduce the iron content in their water.

While water filters improve the quality and taste of water to make it suitable for drinking, cooking, washing, and other everyday chores, not all of them are equally efficient at removing iron.

Water filters that can effectively remove iron from well water include:

Oxidizing Water Filters

As the name suggests, these filters oxidize the iron dissolved into the water. The medium contains oxygen that reacts with iron and converts it into precipitates of rust. A sediment filter then removes the solid iron.

Iron-specific Water Filtration Systems

These systems contain iron-specific filtration mediums and are designed to limit the amount of iron found in well water.

They remove the dissolved ferrous iron by ion exchange, converting it into ferric iron, which is then separated from the water by filtration. The filtration may be performed on its own or in combination with oxidation.

Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Systems

Reverse Osmosis is a comparatively new technology for water purification. It involves forcing the water out of a thin semi-permeable membrane, leaving behind 99.9% of contaminants.

While RO water purification systems are certainly effective at removing iron, we strongly suggest against it if the iron content in your well water is relatively high.

Too much iron in the water supply can quickly clog the system, requiring you to maintain it frequently. It also reduces the system’s life in the long run.

Water Softening Systems

A water softener is undoubtedly a great way to remove iron from your water supply. 

Since it is essentially designed to remove heavy metals from the water to reduce its hardness, a water softening system can easily tackle iron removal.

However, its effectiveness also depends upon the level of iron you need to remove. High iron concentration and some stubborn forms of iron can cause a water softener to struggle.

Water softeners are the most effective when iron concentrations are low, and all or most of it is in a soluble state.

What’s In This Buying Guide

Table of Contents

This buying guide discusses the best filters for iron removal from well water. We list our top picks in this guide and provide a detailed review of each mentioned product.

We also explain the kinds of water filters that can remove iron and include a comprehensive shopping guide explaining the different aspects and features to look out for.

We also discuss how to install, clean, and maintain an iron-removing water filter.

In the end, we answer some FAQs to make sure you know everything about these kinds of filters.

Best Water Filters to Remove Iron

filter to remove iron from well water
  • AFWFilters Air Injection

  • Category:
    Best Aeration-Based Iron Filter

  • Brand:
    AFWFilters

  • Type:
    Aeration Based Iron Filter

  • Dimensions:
    54 x 10 x 10 inches

  • Weight:
    15.37 pounds

  • Iron Removal Capacity:
    15 ppm

  • Peak Water Flow Rating :
    6 GPM

  • Water Softener Option:
    No

  • Warranty:
    Not Specified

well water iron filter
  • iSpring WGB32BM 3-Stage Filter

  • Category:
    Best 3-Stage Iron Filter

  • Brand:
    iSpring

  • Type:
    3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System

  • Dimensions:
    24.25 x 7.75 x 27.75 inches

  • Weight:
    49 Ounces

  • Iron Removal Capacity:
    6 ppm

  • Peak Water Flow Rating:
    15 GPM

  • Water Softener Option:
    No

  • Warranty:
    1-year manufacturer warranty and lifetime free tech support

removing iron from well water
  • Iron Pro 2

  • Category:
    Best All-in-One Iron Filter and Water Softener

  • Brand:
    AFWFilters

  • Type:
    Water Softener + Iron Filter

  • Dimensions:
    14 x 7 x 21 inches

  • Weight:
    119.2 pounds

  • Iron Removal Capacity:
    6 ppm

  • Peak Water Flow Rating:
    16 GPM

  • Water Softener Option:
    Yes

  • Warranty:
    Control Head: 5-year warranty, Tank: 10-year warranty, 30-day Satisfaction Guarantee

#1

Best Aeration-Based Iron Filter

If your well water has significantly high iron levels (more than 15 ppm), the AFWFilters Air Injection is a good option. It does not rely on any chemicals to trap iron; instead, it uses aeration.

The AFWFilters unit works automatically to create an air pocket to oxidize and capture the dissolved iron. It backwashes the tank itself, too, without you needing to do anything.

PROS

CONS

Our Review

The AFWFilters air injection iron filter is a whole-house oxidizing water filter that does not use chemicals to remove iron from well water. It features a single tank design with a specialized control head on top.

The unit’s control head automatically removes the iron and backwashes the system without you needing to intervene.

It also creates an air pocket at the upper region of the tank, which oxidizes the dissolved iron in water as it passes through it. 

This way, the dissolved ferrous iron converts into ferric iron precipitates, which the sediment filter in the lower region of the tank captures.

The Air Injection also features a digital display that shows the relevant information about water levels in bold font for easy reading.

The AFWFilters Air Injection comes with a stainless steel bypass with a 1″ connector head to easily install it over your existing plumbing lines. 

This bypass valve allows you to bypass the entire system without shutting off the main water supply.

Hence, you can keep water running even when the system is down for maintenance.

Unlike many other similar models, this AFWFilters iron filter is very effective at lowering iron levels that are as high as 15 ppm. 

It also comes with a complimentary drinking water bottle, a lubricant packet, and AFW replacement filters.

Issues & Limitations

While the AFWFilters iron filter is excellent at removing iron, it does little to help with odor removal. 

Since it has a single-tank design, there is no pre-filter configuration to adjust a carbon filter. So, you will have to connect it with another filtration system for odor treatment.

It also has a relatively low water flow rate. At 6 gallons per minute (GPM), it is certainly enough for a family of two. But if you have a larger family, this flow rate is simply not enough.

BOTTOM LINE

4.3/5

The AFWFilters air injection is a truly chemical-free solution for reducing the iron in your water supply.

It is easy to install, effective at iron removal, and quite affordable to maintain.

It also comes with a bypass valve, so you don’t have to shut off the supply line while servicing it.

#2

Best 3-Stage Iron Filter

The iSpring WGB32BM is one of the best whole-house water purification systems known for its good quality, water flow rate, and easy installation.

This 3-stage (sediment, carbon, and iron-manganese) filtration system is a great choice for removing not just iron but also other contaminants commonly found in well water.

PROS

CONS

Our Review

The iSpring WGB32BM 3-Stage Filter is a complete water filtering solution for every water source, from toilets to washing machines. 

It removes iron, reduces taste and odor, and captures particles without removing essential minerals from your water.

Unlike the comparative iSpring Reverse Osmosis (RO) system, it does not reduce Total Dissolved Solids (TDS).

Instead, it simply removes dust, pesticides, and industrial solvents along with the culprit ruining your home – iron. The system requires minimal maintenance and has a low impact on the water flow rate.

The iSpring unit is designed to remove up to 95% of water contaminants with its 3-stage filtration.

The first stage is the sediment filter that removes particles as small as 5 microns. Filled with high-capacity multi-layer propylene, it allows fewer clogs and minimal reduction in water pressure.

The second stage is a carbon filter that utilizes high-quality coconut shell carbon for better performance. 

It filters out all bad-taste and odor-causing contaminants like chlorine, lead, VOCs, chloramines, chemicals, heavy metals, and many more.

The third stage is an iron manganese filter designed to remove iron and manganese. It can effectively reduce 3 ppm of iron and 1 ppm of manganese.

All three filters are large with a 20-inch capacity; therefore, there is very little effect on the water flow pressure.

The system itself is pretty easy to install. But if you are still unsure, iSpring has helpful YouTube videos and instructions for the DIY home installation.

Issues & Limitations

One of the downsides of the iSpring WGB32BMis its lack of a water softener. Although it is great at improving the water quality, if the TDS levels are higher than 700 PPM, you will have to install a separate water softener before this iron filter for optimal performance.

We also came across a few complaints about leaky units. Some reported that it leaks from the threading at the top of the filter; others complained that the cracked plastic housing caused leaks.

BOTTOM LINE

4.7/5

If you want a comprehensive solution to address the water composition issues in your house, the iSpring WGB32BM is an excellent choice.

Its 3-stage filtration system can remove up to 95% of contaminants in your water. It is also quick and easy to install.

#3

Best All-in-One Iron Filter and Water Softener

If you are looking for a top-rated iron filter and water softener combination, the Iron Pro 2 is a good option. It removes iron staining in your home and also treats the water for hardness.

Available in various colors and sizes, this affordable unit is a popular choice among buyers looking to remove excess iron from their water supply.

PROS

CONS

Our Review

The Iron Pro 2 is a complete water treatment system that features a Fleck 5600SXT digital control head, a durable resin tank, and a large brine tank.

The system is designed to automatically measure your water usage and regenerate only when needed. So, it not only conserves salt but also reduces the amount of wastewater produced.

The Iron Pro 2’s digital control head has a proven track record of performance. It is easy to program and has an internal power backup that protects your settings in case there’s a power outage.

Also, you won’t have to lift any heavy bags because the resin comes prefilled, and the extra-large tank holds a good amount of salt, so there is no need to fill it either.

The most attractive feature of the Iron Pro 2 is its generous warranty. It comes with 5-year coverage for the control head and 10-year coverage for the tank. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, too.

Issues & Limitations

The biggest issue of the Iron Pro 2 is the higher price tag. But while it does cost more than regular water softeners, it is cheaper than buying both a water softener and an iron pre-filter separately.

Plus, because of the larger footprint of the tank, the system requires ample space for installation (about 6 square feet).

The brine tank gives the Iron Pro 2 a more significant footprint than similar systems, so you should make sure you have enough space before finalizing the purchase.

BOTTOM LINE

4.5/5

The Iron Pro 2 has one of the highest iron removal capabilities that you can buy without investing in a separate prefilter. It does cost more, but the unit is worth every single cent for the quality it promises.

Buying Guide

What Is an Iron Removing Filter – and how does it work?

best iron filters for well water

When dissolved in water, iron can be a nuisance.

Even trace amounts as low as 0.3 ppm can stain your clothing, fixtures, sinks, showers, and even toilets. 

It corrodes the plumbing and causes blockages in pipes. It also ruins the flavor of food and drinks.

In city areas, the municipal water treatment often reduces the amount of iron in the water supplied to most households.

But people receiving water from unregulated private wells usually have to deal with higher mineral content, including greater proportions of iron. For this reason, they rely on iron-removing filtration systems.

These filters are usually installed at the point of entry to treat the water for iron before it enters the house’s plumbing system.

There are two main types of iron removing filters, and both work differently.

Oxygen Chamber System (AIO)

These systems use the natural oxidation process to remove iron from the water supply. 

They consist of two major components—an air injector and a backwashing filter containing special media.

The air injector retains a pocket of pressurized air in the tank, which works as the oxidation medium. 

As the water passes through the air pocket, high levels of iron are oxidized and trapped into the bed of the system. The bed is then backwashed to rinse the iron down the drain.

These filters don’t rely on harsh chemicals to improve the quality of water.

3-Stage Filtration System

These systems rely on their 3-stage filtration process to remove the dissolved iron from the water. The 3 filtration stages consist of sediment, carbon, and iron-reducing filters.

The sediment filter acts as the pre-filter and removes the majority of particles and debris from the water.

Next, it passes through the iron-reducing cartridge containing an iron-specific filtration medium. It captures high concentrations of iron and brings its levels within the approved range.

Lastly, the carbon block filter removes different chemicals and odors to improve the overall quality of water.

Why buy a Water Filter to Remove Iron Over Other kinds?

cheapest way to remove iron from well water

Well water, no matter which well it comes from, has at least small traces of iron. 

The water coming out of the tap may appear clear, but it might leave behind stains on the plumbing fixtures. It may have ferrous, ferric, and/or organically complex iron dissolved in it.

Ferric iron is essentially a rust particle. When its levels are high, the water is discolored right out of the faucet.

Water containing ferrous is initially clear but turns red or brown as it is exposed to oxygen. Meanwhile, organically complex iron gives water an orange, yellow, or brown tint.

The best way to reduce the amount of iron found in water throughout your home is to invest in a good iron-removing water filtration system.

While there are many other water purification processes such as water softening and RO treatments etc., filtration is the best choice out of them all.

Here is how it compares to other kinds of water treatments.

Iron-Removing Filters Vs. Water Softeners

Water softeners are most effective when you have iron concentrations of 0.3 ppm to approximately 3.0 ppm. If it exceeds this limit, the system may start to struggle.

It will need a strong “backwash” regeneration cycle to wash away the iron removed from raw water. Plus, it will work as long as the pH is lower than or equal to 7.0.

Iron-removing filters, on the other hand, don’t entail such limitations. While they do not eliminate the mineral from the water, they help you significantly lower its concentration.

They are more effective than water softeners because their operation is not limited by a specific iron concentration or pH level, and they can easily work with water containing more than 3.0 ppm of iron.

Iron-Removing Filters Vs. RO Systems

Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems are especially effective at purifying drinking water. 

They are usually installed at the point of use and employ a multi-stage filtration system to remove iron and other contaminants from well water.

These systems usually consist of a sediment filter to remove particles from the water and a carbon filter to capture chemicals and odor-causing molecules.

The last stage is the RO process, which forces the water through a semipermeable membrane to remove additional contaminants and dissolved minerals.

However, the use of RO systems is also limited by the iron concentration in the water. High levels of iron overwork and eventually clog the system. 

The process also removes beneficial minerals from the water, so you might have to remineralize it.

Water filtration systems for iron removal are designed explicitly with iron-capturing media. 

They effectively remove excess iron from water with aeration or multi-stage filtration systems to provide you with clean and better-quality water.

They are usually installed at the point of supply, so the entire house is sustained with iron-free water.

Iron-Removing Filters Vs. Standard Water Filters

There is no shortage of water filters that can remove different contaminants from your water supply. 

In fact, a standard filtration process can remove most of the common contaminants and other particles from the water.

However, since this filtration procedure cannot remove iron, you will need an iron-specific filter to remove the extra iron from the water coming to your home.

What to look for in Iron Removing Water Filter

Before you even start contemplating the different water filtration systems to treat your iron issue, you must determine the type of iron in your water and its quantity.

For this purpose, you need a detailed water test, preferably from an EPA-approved laboratory.

Knowing what is in your water can help you determine the kind of iron removal system you need to solve your iron problem.

Once you are sure, you can start comparing different systems by taking into account:

Capacity

The capacity of a water filter is the most important consideration, especially if you have a bigger family or consume a higher quantity of water.

You need a device that is capable of filtering more water in less time. For example, aeration-based filters are faster at processing water than gravity-based filters, which take hours to treat a small quantity of water.

Type of filter

removing iron from well water

Iron filters available today are of 3 kinds: stand-up tank iron filters, 2-in-1 iron filter systems, and 3-stage iron filters.

Stand-up tank iron filter: This is the most popular type of iron-removing filter because of the easier accessibility. Such filters have a digital interface for system adjustments and monitoring. 

Some also feature water softeners and require salts to function. They carry out an ion exchange process to remove iron and other harmful particles.

2-in-1 iron filter systems: These iron-removing filters feature both a softener and a filter cartridge. The softener conducts ion exchange to trap excess iron.

Meanwhile, the cartridge is usually a sediment filter that enhances the filtration capabilities by removing contaminants and other particles.

3-stage iron filters: 3-stage iron filters have a broader range of iron and contaminant removal. 

They feature 3 filter cartridges that can eliminate most water contaminants, including heavy metals, pesticides, VOCs, solvents, herbicides, bacteria, and more.

A 3-stage iron filter is certainly a better choice, but if you’re on a limited budget, we suggest that you get at least a 2-in-1 iron filter system. 

This is because it not only lowers the water’s iron levels but also removes other contaminants like heavy metals, viruses, and bacteria from it.

Filter Maintenance and Lifespan

The maintenance of most good-quality iron filters is quite costly because of their ability to deep clean the water. 

However, such filters also have a longer lifespan. The longer a filter lasts, the less often it will require maintenance.

However, you should still keep an eye out for annual maintenance costs.

Check the costs of replacement filters and determine whether you need to carry out other maintenance checks other than the cartridge replacement.

Make sure that the total costs fall within your annual budget so you can continue to use the system without any worries.

Build Quality

Since iron-removing filters are designed for long-term use, you have to ensure that the system you purchase does not corrode easily. 

Only a filter made out of quality materials can withstand constant iron exposure without breaking down.

Installation

Some iron filters come with step-by-step instructions and all the necessary hardware to assist in DIY installation. Others require professional installation, so you will need to hire someone to do it for you.

If you opt to do it yourself, be sure that you understand the instructions and conduct the job satisfactorily. 

And if you decide to hire professionals, call around to make sure you can find someone to install the iron filter you will purchase.

Warranty Coverage

The warranty coverage can sometimes be a deciding factor between different iron filters.

Some of these units come with a lifetime warranty. Others are also backed up by money-back guarantees so you can test out the unit to be completely sure.

It’s best for you to carefully assess all the available options and choose the system you are most satisfied with.

Installation of Filter for Removing Iron

best iron removal system

If you decide to install the filter yourself, make sure you keep these tips in mind:

Location:

Water filters for iron removal work best when installed at the point of entry, i.e., the main water line coming from the street. 

If you already have a water softener system installed, you should install the iron filter before it so that the water is first treated for iron and then sent for softening.

The installation site should be spacious enough for proper servicing of the filter. It should also be safe from freezing temperatures that can affect its performance.

Preparation:

The preparation for iron filter installation requires removing existing iron, such as that evident on sinks, bathrooms, or appliances.

Once you are done, turn off the water well pump and drain the pressure tank. Also, turn on all the faucets inside the house to drain the water lines and relieve the pressure. Make sure you empty the hot water tanks as well.

Installation:

Before installing the iron filter, shut off the water supply valves around the site of installation. Next, cut the main water pipe to make room for the filter and 2 shut-off valves.

Install one valve between the filter and the well water pump and the second valve on the line going out from the iron filter.

Once all the fittings are connected, secure them with cement or plumber’s tape to avoid leakage.

Post Installation:

When installed correctly, the iron filter will automatically start working to remove iron from the water. 

Turn on all the valves, including the one on the well water pump. Now check all the fittings to ensure there are no leaks.

Next, flush all water storage tanks, including water conditioners, hot water tanks, and even toilets. If rust appears in the water from the hot water tank, treat it with bleach and flush it again.

Also, turn on all the faucets around the house to flush out residual iron. Once the tell-tale signs of rust that were evident before the filter installation disappear, you can safely start using the water.

Limitations of Iron Removing Water Filters

Like every water filter solution, iron-removing water filters have a fair share of limitations, too. These include:

May target iron only

While many filtration devices are combination systems that can remove other contaminants, some models are only effective at removing iron. Therefore, some pollutants may be left behind, unfiltered in the water.

Require regular maintenance

This is a limitation of almost every water-purifying device. Like other water purification systems, iron filters also require regular cleaning and maintenance.

You will need to replace the cartridge periodically to continue receiving iron-free water. Aside from this, you will also need to clean different components to avoid the system from becoming clogged.

Specific iron-removal capacity

Each iron-removing filter has a specific iron-removing capacity, represented either in particles per million (ppm) or milligrams per liter.

If you use a low-capacity filter for water containing high iron levels, it won’t be very effective. That’s why you should check the iron levels beforehand to install a suitable iron filter for your water supply.

Cleaning and Maintenance

well water iron filter

All water filtration systems require periodic maintenance. This includes cartridge replacement, build-up removal, and occasional super-regeneration.

Here are some tips to help you keep your iron filter in its top working condition:

Choose the right capacity filter

Two water samples from different wells never have the same composition. Hence, iron levels also vary.

If you want optimal iron removal, go for a system with the appropriate iron-removing capacity. If you choose a low-capacity filter, it won’t be as effective and will also require frequent cartridge replacements.

Keep an eye out for high levels of iron

If your clothes start staining after washing, or you notice other excess iron indicators like discoloration, a strange taste, or stained laundry, sinks, and appliances, it means that your iron removing filter is losing its effectiveness.

In such a situation, you need to replace the filter cartridge. If doing so does not resolve the issue, you might need to have it looked at.

Don’t ignore an unexpected decrease in flow rate

If you experience a sudden decrease in water flow rate in the faucets or water supply-connected appliances, you should promptly check your iron filtration system for build-up.

When excess iron does not oxidize completely, it converts into iron sludge. This substance fouls the media, coats the surfaces, and sometimes plugs the system, hindering its functioning.

To avoid this situation, disassemble the system and clean it with chlorine or sodium hydrosulfite and sodium metabisulfite so that it continues to function optimally.

Replace cartridges on time

filter to remove iron from well water

Each filter cartridge has a specific lifespan, after which it becomes clogged and loses its effectiveness. Iron filters are no different.

Although their lifespan is significantly longer than regular sediment and carbon filters, they still need replacement after regular intervals. 

If you want to ensure the top working condition of your water purification system, you should never be late with filter replacements.

Keep the automatic service notifications on

Some top-quality iron-removing filtration systems feature automatic service notifications. This allows them to send notifications to your service company, keeping apprised of any equipment needs. 

If your system supports this feature, make sure it is switched on to ensure that your system is maintained well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to remove iron from well water naturally?

You can naturally remove iron from well water by oxidation. In fact, that’s what aeration-based iron removal systems do. They utilize a water softener control valve with nozzle and venturi assembly.

Together, the entire assembly forms a control head at the top of the tank, which oxidizes the iron in the water.

What are the different types of iron present in well water?

There are 3 types of iron present in well water – ferrous iron, ferric iron, and organically complex iron or iron bacteria.

Ferrous iron is clear when dissolved in water but turns brown or red when it comes into contact with oxygen.

When ferrous iron oxidizes, it converts into the precipitated form, ferric, more commonly known as rust.

Iron bacteria are microorganisms that form a slimy film when combined with iron. Although they do not pose any threat to your health, they can lead to the growth of other harmful bacteria.

Is it possible to remove iron via Reverse Osmosis?

Yes, it is possible to remove iron via reverse osmosis. The system forces water out of a fine, semi-permeable membrane to remove up to 99% of contaminants, including iron.

However, we advise against using RO for removing iron if its levels exceed more than 0.3 ppm because it can quickly plug the system, causing it to shut down.

Final Verdict: What is the best water filter for iron removal?

We find the iSpring WGB32BM 3-Stage filter the best option for iron removal from all the options we reviewed in this guide.

However, if you want a combination unit, in particular, the Iron Pro 2 is a better choice.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a chemical-free option, the AFWFilters Air Injection is what you’re looking for.

It does not rely on any chemicals to remove iron from the water and promises superior performance.

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