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    September 05, 2020 4 min read

    Will A Water Softener Remove Rust?

    rusted chains

    If you've tried everything and still can't get rid of those rust stains, we have a solution for you. No more coke tricks, no more scrubbing with lemon or baking soda, no more vinegar soaks, there is a much simpler way. Install a whole home water softener, which doesn't only reduce rust, but eliminates it.

    Where does the rust come from?

    Rust stains are a consequence of having an excessive amount of iron in your water. It only takes a minuscule amount of iron in water to cause staining, as little as 0.3 parts per million (ppm). To put that into perspective, 1 ppm is equivalent to a milligram of iron (about one grain of sand) dissolved in a liter of water.

    Iron naturally appears in soil, which is why it's so common for it to seep into well water for both rural homeowners and city homeowners. Additionally, iron can get in your water from rusting pipes someplace in or around your home.

    How do I get rid of rust?

    iron in walls

    The measure of iron found in many homes isn't hurtful to your wellbeing, however, it is certainly annoying. If left untreated, rust staining can bring down the resale value of your home and shorten the life of your appliances. The best method to prevent rust formation is to install a water softener. A water softener works through a process called ion exchange, where rust-causing minerals such as calcium and magnesium are exchanged for sodium ions. This system will not only solve your rust problems but also is easily installed!

    Does a water softener remove heavy metals and Iron from well water?

    If you have well water, there’s a good chance it contains iron. Even the smallest traces of this iron will cause staining and change the taste and smell of your water. The best step to take is to have your water professionally tested. Current water conditions, such as water pH levels, alkalinity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen content, and the type of iron you’re facing help determine the best methods for removal.

    Many of these rural homes already have a water softener. So, why do they still have issues with iron?

    This is because there is no one-size fits all solution for residential water treatment. Water issues are unique to each home, especially when well water is involved.

    Water softeners can and do remove small amounts of iron, however, a standard softener is not specifically designed to treat high levels of iron in your water. When a water softener is used for both hardness and iron treatment, the softener resin life is greatly reduced. In homes with very high iron levels, excess iron can slip through the resin and remain in the water. In that case, the treatment or removal of excessive iron requires a different approach.

    Do I need an Iron filter and a water softener? If heavy iron is causing problems in your home, you may need to consider updating or supplementing your water treatment equipment. The most effective solution if you already own a softener is to add an iron filter, which can reduce iron, manganese, and hardness minerals all at once!


    Here are the 3 most common types of iron found in well water and hot to remove them.

    1. Ferrous iron

    Also known as clear-water iron. Ferrous iron doesn’t affect water clarity, but it stains ceramics and clothing and has a rusty taste. If your water comes out of the tap looking clear but turns a yellow or rusty brown color after sitting out in the open, you may have ferrous iron in your water. This type of iron is totally dissolved in water and can easily pass through standard filtration systems. It also causes reddish-brown staining in toilets, showers and sinks – especially where water faucets drip.

    Water softeners: Ion-exchange water softeners can handily remove low levels of ferrous iron from the water. If you have soft water, an oxidizing filter will be more effective at reducing the iron content of your water. If you are using a water softener to reduce iron content, you will need to periodically flush the system and resin bed with Rust Out to protect the system and ensure the longevity of the resin beads.  

    2. Ferric iron

    Also known as red iron, which turns the water a cloudy orange. When ferrous iron is oxidized it changes to ferric iron. Ferric iron is also known as red water iron or iron that has precipitated out of solution. This type of iron will also cause staining in the home. Because it is an actual particle it can clog filters, pipes, and showerheads over time.

    Sediment filters: This solution is ideal for those with low levels of iron, all of which is in ferric form. A sediment filter alone will not solve your stained toilets and metallic tasting water if your well has ferrous iron in addition to the ferric iron.

    3. Iron bacteria

    Which shows up as reddish slime in toilet tanks. Bacterial iron most commonly emerges in wells because of poor maintenance or improper well servicing. These are not common and require very specific types of treatment involving chemical injection and contact time.

    Professional Treatment: Removing bacterial iron from your well is a labor-intensive process, so if you suspect you have iron in your water, have it tested by a professional so that the proper treatment can be determined.


    But regardless of the test results, a premium whole house water filtration system is probably the most effective and economical way to remove iron from your drinking water. These systems will remove up to 95% of the iron in your home’s water supply and will protect your plumbing fixtures and water-using appliances from stains, rust, and slime. That means no more stains, discoloration, and scale on your laundry and dishes and in your sinks, tubs and toilet tanks. Furthermore, most quality whole house water filters can eliminate the bad taste and smell, and help prevent bacteria growth.

    Whatever your iron problem is, the water treatment experts at Aquatell will help you find the perfect solution.