Depending on where you reside, well water is something you may deal with regularly or only on occasion. This type of H20 can come with a few drawbacks including odors or discoloring, so if your water is a reddish hue, you may need a filter.
The best iron filter for well water will bring your water back to its natural state quickly. It’s also something that will pay for itself in a short amount of time, especially if you’re dealing with stained clothing or fixtures.
Understanding the problem at hand is your first task with finding the best water filter for well water with iron. Once you come to grips with the type of iron you’re dealing with, then you can begin to look at systems to treat it.
You’ll also want to think about how your new filter fits with your existing system if you already have one or if you’ll need to pick up a full kit. The size of your home is critical as well along with anything else that shows up the testing report for your well water. Most iron filters treat iron and manganese, but little else unless it’s a multistage system.
Before we get into our iron filter for well water reviews, we’re going to cover a few areas of interest to help you hone in on the problem with your H20. Some people may need to take a multipronged approach while others could get by with a simply softener if you’re lucky.
The Issue with Iron
So you know you’ve got a problem with iron in your water, but do you know what type of iron you’re dealing with?
Before you consider buying an iron filter, you’ll need to know what you are up against, so professional testing or a good home water test is highly recommended. That should point you in the right direction of a filter, but there are still some things you can do if professional testing isn’t an option and you don’t want to splurge on a kit.
If your water has a reddish tint, it’s generally caused by ferric iron, otherwise known as rust. It’s an issue that can be easy to treat in some cases if it’s a low percentage as you can use common filtration techniques. As it's also insoluble, it can cause some major issues which we’ll address shortly.
Ferrous iron water is entirely different and harder to diagnose at times as there is no immediate visual cue to let you know something is off. Otherwise known as clear-water, this soluble menace is easier to treat although special filtration is still required.
Iron bacteria can also be a problem with well water and isn’t a pretty sight to behold as its usually slimy jelly-like substance that’s brown or red. This organic goop is difficult to remove, and the same can be said for colloidal iron as it doesn’t clump together so it can’t be filtered by ordinary methods.
Regardless of the type of iron water you have in your well, rest assured, you can treat it, and it’s not something you should overlook for a wide variety of reasons…
The Dangers of Iron Water
We’ve got some good news as drinking some rusty water won’t kill you, but it certainly won’t taste good and isn’t something you want to serve your guests. On the other hand, it can cause some serious damage to your home, personal belongings, and even your appliances.
That rust color can start showing up in concentrations above 0.3 mg/L, an acceptable level for water, but not ideal of laundry. Want to turn all your whites a lovely shade of burnt orange? Just do a few loads using unfiltered well water containing iron. Staining your clothing is just one issue however as tubs, sinks, and any other white fixtures will take a hit.
Even if you’re not concerned about the wash and have a brown shower-stall, this type of water will wreak havoc on appliances. Would you want red water running through your dishwasher? We thought not, and your ceramic cookware will be thankful if you choose a whole house iron filter for well water.
Rust and organic iron can clump up and clog pipes, which can damage your pump or even a water heater which creates a whole new set of problems. It can also drag down your water pressure; something many people with well water already have issues with.
Keep in mind, there is not going to be a perfect solution for everyone, as some people may need something simple for under the sink at their cabin while a family of four will require something with a bit more filtration power.
The most effective and affordable form of cleaning up small amounts of iron is generally a 2 to 3-stage system with a dedicated filter for iron or water softener. Those aren’t hard to find, but their overall effectiveness varies depending on the quality of the media used and the conditions of your well water.
These can be “point of entry” systems that you install before a drop of water comes into your home, or some can mount under a sink in specific rooms. If you’re dealing with concentrations higher than 0.3 mg/L, you’ll want an oxidizing or chemical-based system built to battle iron. If it’s organic or bacterial, that’s a totally different ballgame…
Unfortunately, there are many to choose from for the average consumers as these are usually devices that can require professional installation and install in an existing system. There are also plenty of rebranded models that use the same head and design but have different names and price points. We weeded out the pretenders in our list, but if you become stuck between two similar models, always refer to the tech specs.
The main thing to keep in mind with this type of filtration system is the type of rust in your water as a multistage filter can’t deal with ferric iron or anything over 0.3 mg/L in most cases. If you have visible rust in your water and your pre-filters are regularly gummed up, prepare to double the price.
Regeneration and noise levels can be a concern with some models as well while others may require frequent backwashing to keep things running smoothly. If you’d like to learn more about filtration methods and iron in general, check out our previous piece.
This is an area that can make or break your buying experience and it all comes down to how many grains a filter has or manufacturers lifespan rating. If it’s a grain-based system, you’ll hear the term GPG which stands for grains per gallon, and you’ll need to do some math.
Thankfully, there are dozens of calculators online that will take care of those equations, so you just need to know your hardness and iron levels from your water test. If it’s a multistage system, you just need to refer to the manufacturer’s ratings for GPM to ensure there’s enough flow for your needs. Take the filter lifespan lightly, however, as several conditions can affect that number dramatically.
The Best Iron Filters for Well Water
- Iron removal: 10 PPM
- Flow Rate: 15 GPM
- Warranty: 7 Years
Best for Whole House
Air Injection Silver AIS10-25SXT
- Iron removal: 10 PPM
- Flow Rate: 7-10 GPM
- Warranty: 5 Years
AFW Filters IRON PRO 2
- Iron removal: 4-7 PPM
- Flow Rate: 2.4-4 GPM
- Warranty: 5 Years
- Flow Rate: 15 GPM
- Warranty: 1 Years
- Iron removal: 3 PPM
- Flow Rate: 15 GPM
1. Pelican Iron and Manganese Filter System WF8
The Best Whole House Iron Filter System
Our top pick for the best iron filter for well water comes from Pelican and is a complete all-in-one system. That means this Iron and Manganese filter is ready to go out of the box and you won’t have to spend extra money on additional accessories or pre-filters with this high-end whole house iron filter.
The Pelican WF8 Iron and Manganese Filter System is a 4-stage solution to your well water problems. A 5-micron pre-filter for sediment kicks things off by dealing with anything before it reaches the chlorination system in stage two. Their unique system uses water pressure for the injector instead of electricity and ensures you’ll always get an even mix, even if you have unsteady pressure.
Stages three and four are where the magic happens thanks to an iron and carbon filter. Carbon filters are useful but common, but the iron and manganese filter uses Greensand-Plus. It’s WQA Gold Seal certified and can remove up to 10 PPM of iron from your water. The WF8 has a maximum flow rate of 15 gallons per minute and needs water pressure between 25 – 80 PSI and PH range of 7 – 11 to operate properly.
The only downside to this system is the price as it’s expensive but built to clean a lot of water and is an entire system, not just an in-line filter. The WF8 comes with a pre-loaded filter, metering pump and solution tank, iron series filter tank, 50 feet of drain line and all the fittings and hardware you’ll need to have a clean supply of H2O. There’s a 7-year warranty on the electronic head, 1-year on the metering pump and a lifetime guarantee on the rest of the set.
2. Air Injection Silver AIS10-25SXT
An Excellent Air-Based Iron Filter
When you’re dealing with ferric iron, you may need something that oxidizes, which is where systems like the Air Injection Silver come in handy. This iron filter uses a pocket of pressurized air to treat ferric iron in your well water, and it’s one of the easier systems to use.
This iron water filter does an excellent job of removing up to 10 PPM of iron and up to 6 PPM of hydrogen sulfide. It can also deal with up to 2 PPM of manganese and makes use of the Fleck SXT2510 controller. As it’s an automatic system, there’s not as much guesswork, and you’ll get automatic backwashing capabilities as well.
Due to the chemical-free nature of this one, it has a single tank design – something that’s ideal if space is tight. The company claims the media in this filter is good for 5 years with average use. That’s a bonus, and we feel the same way about the installation process. You’ll need an incoming flow rate of at least 7 GPM to make use of this system which has a peak flow rate of 10 GPM.
Aside from the plastic housing on the head, there’s really no negative to the Air Injection Silver AI210-25SXT. It’s a little noisy when it regenerates, but you can set the time, and it’s reasonably priced for its capabilities along with the fact it can handle ferrous and ferric iron. It’s certainly one of the best iron filters for well water and simple to install as well!
3. AFW Filters IRON PRO 2 Combination Water Softener
The Best Iron Filter and Softener Combo
When you are dealing with a particularly volatile well, iron can be just one element you’ll need to filter from your incoming flow. The IRON PRO 2 is the perfect solution if you have a lot of sediment and iron in your water and it’s capable enough to handle larger households as well.
The AFW Filters IRON Pro 2 is a 2-in-1 system that will soften your water and remove some forms of iron. It comes preloaded and uses a fine mesh resin that works well with ferrous iron and “some” ferric although it’s not ideal for the latter. It’s rated to deal with iron in the 4 – 7 PPM range and handles hardness up to 70 GPG. The manufacturer recommended backwash flow rate is 2.4 to 4 GPM.
If manganese is an issue, you’ll be pleased to know it can filter that out as well along with sediment and sand. You’ll get a flow rate of 16 gallons per minute from this filter, but the dimensions of the brine tank vary depending on the color and rating of the unit. As the name implies, this model has the FLECK 5600 valve and the company’s SXT controller.
The digital metered valve is nice, especially if you’re new to this type of filtration and want something easy to figure out. We also like the regeneration process of this machine which only regenerates what’s required and adjusts to your family’s needs. Given the range of this filter, it’s suitable for both smaller and larger abodes and has a low salt consumption.
You can pick up the Iron Pro 2 Combination Iron Filter in three different colors with a square or round brine tank depending on your choices. It’s available from 32,000 to 80,000 grains as well although we chose the 64,000-grain model as it provides a lot of bang for your buck. The control head has a 5-year warranty while the tank is rated for 10 years.
4. Express Water Heavy Metal Whole House Water Filter
The Best 3-Stage System for Heavy Metals
Looking for a simple filtration system that can clear up well water at your lake cabin or home? If your water has that nasty smell or an orange tinge, Express Water’s Whole House Filter may be just the solution for you.
This is a light-duty system with a heavy-duty frame that candles three large filters with ease. Each canister has a dedicated pressure gauge, and the first stage is clear instead of the standard blue or white. That lets you know when it’s time to replace one or more of this filters set. Each connection is rated for up to 0.25 GPM at pressure levels between 45 – 80 PSI and the filters are rated for around 100,000 gallons on average.
The first stage in this system is a sediment filter – something important when you’re dealing well water. It takes care of particles up to 5 microns and keeps the other stages from becoming gummed down. Stage two is filled with KDF which deals with heavy metals including iron, lead, sulfur, mercury and other things you don’t want in your water. A carbon block rounds things off for the last stage and improves the taste and clarity.
Obviously, this system will struggle with ferric iron although the sediment filter gives it a leg up over 2-stage systems. The gauges are a nice touch, and we’re big fans of the frame as well. The Express Water Heavy Metal filtration system is extremely easy to set up and comes with a 1-year warranty along with lifetime support.
5. iSpring WGB22BM Iron Manganese 2-Stage Water Filter
A Budget-Friendly Entry Point Iron Filter
iSpring is another company that excels with water filtration. We’ve touched on several of their under-counter filters in the past, and this time around it’s the WGB22BM, a 2-stage filter built to deal with iron and other metals.
This system has two stages with a standard carbon block filter and one geared towards metals. The first stage is made from coconut shell carbon and rated at 100,000 gallons before it needs to be replaced. Stage two is unique as it can filter up to 3.0 ppm of iron and manganese or lead depending on your preference. It has a filtration capacity rating of 50,000 gallons at 3 PPM.
While the iron removal rating isn’t up to par with high-level systems, this one can deal with pesticides or metals like copper and chlorine. Needless to say, it will also clear up the smell and color of your well water. It has a maximum filtered flow rate of 15 gallons per minute and doesn’t take up a great deal of space at 16” x 8” x 27”.
This system is an excellent choice if you have low concentrations of iron and don’t require oxidation or chlorine to clear up your well water. It’s also an affordable entry-point filter and adaptable as you can go switch cartridges to suit your needs and opt for manganese or lead out of the box. You can also pick up variants with hoses and push-in connectors that will work with any ¾” pipe.
Q: Does my well water pump pressure make a difference in my treatment plan?
A: Definitely, as you need to ensure your well pump is strong enough to meet the pressure requirements of your filter system. Backwashing can become a major problem if your pressure isn’t up to the proper standards.
Q: My water is rusty looking out of the tap; do I still need a water test?
A: It’s something we recommend, even if you know there is some iron in your well water. Until you know how much and the type of iron, you can’t properly begin to treat it.
Q: Won’t a reverse osmosis system remove iron from my water?
A: Yes, it can remove that and other heavy metals effectively but is not recommended in most cases. Membranes in these systems clog easily, so you’ll need a pre-filters or a whole house filter with add-ons for well water which raises the overall cost.
If you’re still on the fence about this style of filter compared to others, do not underestimate the difference the best iron filter for well water can make. The price of some of these systems is a drawback but they are designed to deal with iron and other heavy metals, something a Brita pitcher or regular countertop model can’t handle. Just remember to get your water tested beforehand and remember that pre-filters are your best friend with any type of well water system.