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    Iron Pro 5600 & Iron Pro 2 Water Softener / Iron Filter

    September 17, 2020 5 min read

    Are you considering buying an Iron Pro 5600 or Iron Pro 2 Water Softener? If so, you might be surprised to learn that every water softener will remove iron. In the next few paragraphs we'll help you to understand why this is, and show you how Aquatell water softeners that are built with an amazing resin product might be a better choice for your home and family. We go into lots of detail below, but here are the main points:

    • Iron exists in two forms and a softener will only remove one type
    • All softeners will remove that type of iron
    • Fine mesh resin isn't the best
    • There is a specific specialty resin that is amazing for iron removal

    Iron Exists in Two Forms

    Iron can be found in two main forms in drinking water supplies: dissolved iron & oxidized iron. A softener will remove only one type, but not the other, which we'll address in a paragraph below. These two types of iron are given all sorts of different names by different people in the water treatment industry:

    Different Names for Types of Iron

     Dissolved Iron
    Oxidized Iron
    Clear Water Iron
    Red Water Iron
    Ferrous Iron Ferric Iron
    Particulate Iron

     

    A water softener will remove "dissolved" iron, but it will not remove oxidized iron. In fact, oxidized iron will eventually destroy a softener. So, it's very important to know what type of iron you've got if you're expecting your softener to remove it. Here's a quick and easy test you can do to determine the type of iron you've got.

    All Water Softeners Remove Dissolved Iron

    Yes - the Iron Pro 5600 and Iron Pro 2 water softener will remove dissolved iron, but all water softeners will do that! The water softening process is an "electro-chemical" process. Inside the softener, it is the "resin" that does the work. Water hardness resin is able to remove hardness minerals from the water because they carry a positive charge when they are dissolved (they are a "cation").

    Dissolved iron carries a positive charge also and water softener resin will remove it just as readily as it removes hardness minerals. In fact, regular run-of-the-mill water softener resin will actually remove iron better than it will remove hardness. The resin inside a softener actually has a preference for removing dissolved iron over hardness.

    Fine Mesh Resin Isn't Great

    Both the Iron Pro 5600 and Iron Pro 2 softeners utilize fine mesh resin. The description for these products states that fine mesh resin is "designed for high iron removal". This is only sort of true.

    The ability of a water softener resin to remove hardness and/or iron from water, is a function of the number of sites on the resin that can grab onto the hardness or iron ions. The idea with fine mesh resin is that by making each individual bead of resin smaller, that you increase the overall number of ion-exchange sites by increasing the overall surface area of the resin.

    But this doesn't take into account one very important factor - the majority of the ion-exchange sites are actually internal in the resin bead - not at the surface. So while fine mesh resin may increase the number of sites, it's only a very small increase. And any increase isn't in capacity isn't specific to iron removal at all.

    And, fine mesh resin has one big disadvantage: it causes more pressure loss through the softener than regular resin. When you make the resin beads smaller they pack more tightly together. This makes it more difficult for water to flow through the resin and can cause problematic pressure loss in homes that already have low pressure. Unfortunately, many of the people who have iron in their water also have issues with water pressure.

    It's Not Just About Iron Removal

    The process of both water softening and iron removal is a two-part process. First, hardness and iron are trapped by the softener resin. But eventually all of the ion-exchange sites on the resin become used up, and the softener must recharge itself. This process is usually called regeneration. Well, remember when you learned that normal softener resin actually likes to remove iron better? And remember also that most of the ion-exchange sites on water softener resin are inside the resin bead? Well these two facts make using normal softener resin (and fine mesh is just another version of normal resin) problematic.

    Iron is a very chemically "sticky" element. Once it bonds to a surface it tends to not want to let go. This is much less true for the bond between the softener resin and the hardness ions. So, when a water softener regenerates, it has an easy time washing the hardness ions from the softener resin and a very difficult time washing the iron from the resin. This is especially true for the iron that is bound to the internal exchange sites on the resin bed. The consequence, is that over time the resin becomes more and more fouled with iron. This not only decreases its ability to remove iron, but hardness also.

    The Best Iron-Removing Resin On The Market

    Purolite SST-60 resin is simply the best iron-removing resin to use in water softeners, period. It will remove up to 30 ppm (same as mg/L) of dissolved iron AND does a phenomenal job with regular hardness too. But more importantly, SST-60 resin will not become fouled over time with iron. This is because SST-60 resin is built on a core that is impervious to iron. That is, the iron is not able to penetrate and foul the inner core of the resin bead. This makes it much easier for the softener to wash any accumulated iron from the media when it regenerates. The result is a system that will remove massive amounts of iron, and will do this for a very long time without losing it's effectiveness. Aquatell has extensive experience using this product and can build any one of our softeners with it. Contact us to learn more!

    Beware The Product Reviews

    The vast majority of customers of any product will submit a product review a week or so after first installing or using the product. The same is true of water softeners. The issue here, is that water softeners that are touted for iron removal, like the Iron Pro 5600 and Iron Pro 2 will work great for the first little while and reviews will reflect this. But over time, normal resins and fine-mesh resins will very likely foul and the effectiveness of the product will diminish over time. This might take a year, and nobody waits that long to write a product review!