There are many ways to remove iron and/or sulfur (rotten egg smell) from your water. These methods include Birm Filters, Manganese Greensand Filters, KDF Filters, Chemical Injection, Pyrolox Filters, Carbon Filters, Ozonation Systems, OXY-MAX Air Injection Systems, Iron & Sulfur Breaker Systems and many others. To properly recommend the best system for your application generally depends on the specifics of the water quality. If you do not know exactly what system you need to correct your problem, please E-mail or call our application engineers at (800) 580-3033 or email us with any questions.
You have a number of ways to proceed depending on the level of H2S (sulfur) in your water. The best solution depends on the severity of your problem. Our lab is not able to accurately test for sulfur concentration - because sulfur compounds in water can be unstable, it is best to measure sulfur soon after the water sample is taken - so to do this you should have a local water testing lab perform this analysis.
In general, the Sulfur Breaker and Oxy-Max systems work very well for higher H2S concentrations, a manganese greensand filter works very well for mid-high to high range H2S removal up to about 5 ppm, and a backwashing carbon filter works well for mild sulfur odor problems. You can also remove very high levels of sulfur through a chlorine chemical injections process – however, we generally only recommend that this is considered when water disinfection or the presence of sulfur bacteria is present. To find out more about chemical feed system, visit our Chemical Injection System page.
Backwashing carbon filter (low levels of H2S)
An automatic backwashing carbon filter will provide good service for taste and odor removal. However, a carbon filter is only suitable for removing a mild sulfur odor. Carbon filters require that the filter media be replaced every two to three years (depending on the level of sulfur in your water) at a cost of approximately $100 to $150. If you feel that you have higher levels of sulfur in your water, you should consider one of the below solutions, as changing carbon filter media too frequently will be cost prohibitive.
Manganese greensand filter (maximum 5 ppm H2S, 15 ppm iron)
A manganese greensand functions much like a water softener, and requires potassium permanganate as a regenerate. Potassium permanganate is added from time-to-time into a smaller side tank, and used to re-oxidize the greensand media contained within the tank. The system is regenerated using an automatic control (1 to 2 times per week). Potassium permanganate can be found at any good plumbing supply store, available from our online store. The standard 5# charge used to fill the side tank should last you 4-6 months depending on your water quality. This filter will do a good job removing sulfur, iron and some levels of manganese.
OXY-MAX Filter System (higher levels of H2S and iron)
Our Oxy-Max system uses air injection to oxidize the iron and hydrogen sulfide contained in your water. The Oxy-Max uses a quiet and reliable centrifugal air compressor to inject air into your water. The pump runs only when your well pump is also running. The system also utilizes a “double” air injection system to more effectively perform the oxidation/sulfur removal process. The resulting material forms a precipitate, and is filtered out in a self-cleaning automatic carbon backwashing filter. If you have very high levels of sulfur in your water consider the OXY-MAX system using Centaur carbon – Centaur carbon provide improved sulfur removal over our standard grade carbon. Again, the carbon filter included with this system needs the media to be replaced every two to three years.
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The Sulfur Breaker uses a specially designed control valve and tank partially filled with carbon media. The unit keeps 1/2 of the tank filled with air at all times, and the iron & sulfur in your water is oxidized by the air, and polished with the carbon media contained in the tank. It cleans and flushes the bed very aggressively, as air is also contained in the backwash water. We have seen good removal of high sulfur levels when using the sulfur breaker, and are very pleased with it’s performance. The system is available in three sizes, a standard 7 GPM size used in most single family ¾” piping applications, an 11 GPM system for larger households or 1” diameter applications, and a 15 GPM system used in large residential applications or where sulfur levels are very high.
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Methods of iron removal are similar to the systems described above for sulfur removal. A Manganese Greensand filter will remove iron at levels up to approximately 15 mg/l. The Oxy-Max and Iron Breaker systems will also remove very high levels of iron, and do not require any chemical regenerate. Both of these systems are configured with birm media to enhance the iron removal process. Another system not discussed above is a birm filter. Although birm will not remove any levels of sulfur, it is frequently used for iron removal. Iron removal is also possible using a traditional water softener system.
Backwashing Birm Filter
You can also consider using a birm filter to remove higher levels of iron. Birm is a iron specific mineral that is contained in a backwashing filter, and uses the dissolved oxygen in your water to oxidize and remove ferrous iron. For a Birm filter to function properly, your water pH needs to be 6.8 or above and contain sufficient dissolved oxygen (at least 15% of the iron+manganese content) for the iron removal reaction to occur. There should also be no hydrogen sulfide present. The media should last 3 to 4 years before requiring replacement.
Water softeners will also remove iron from water, and if you want to soften your water and remove iron at the same time, this may be a consideration for you – see our general Water Softener Information page for more details.
The systems discussed above are designed to remove ferrous (dissolved) iron from water. While all of these systems are self-cleaning particulate filters - and will easily handle low to medium levels of ferric iron - they are not designed to remove very high levels of sediment. If your water contains high levels of ferric “red water” (un-dissolved, particulate) iron, then you may want to consider a sediment filter installed in advance of these systems. Any questions about which system may be the best for your specific application? Just E-mail or call the factory for more information.