Water is a natural solvent, and given the needed time and conditions, it will dissolve anything it comes in contact with.  As rain water works its way down to the water table it dissolves the minerals in the rock that it comes in contact with.  That’s why your water can contain iron or manganese, which can cause rusty-orange or black staining. It can even alter hair color.

The four forms of iron and manganese commonly found in drinking water are ferrous, ferric, organic, and iron bacteria.  Ferrous “clear water” iron is colorless but when it comes in contact with air it oxidizes readily, creating a reddish-brown stain on plumbing fixtures around the home.  Ferric “red water” iron and organic iron are both insoluble and color the water red, orange, or sometimes yellow.  Ferric iron precipitates or settles out.  Organic iron does not settle out.  Iron bacteria are actual bacteria that feed on the iron present in the water.  These bacteria pose no health risk but form a reddish-brown slime that can clog pipes and fixtures.  They can cause bad tastes and odor in the water supply.  Manganese is similar to iron but forms a brownish-black precipitate and stains.  Manganese is less commonly found in groundwater than iron, rarely found alone, and generally found with iron.

There are many different systems available to remove iron and manganese.  Depending on which type of iron that is present in your water source will determine the system that is right for you.  A comprehensive and accurate water test is crucial in applying the right equipment.