Treatment of Bad Smells and Stains in Well Water

Iron and Manganese have the tendency to stain fixtures throughout the property. Iron can leave discoloration that looks red, orange, yellow, or rust colored. Manganese is known to leave a black discoloration. Sometimes when both are present, you will notice brown stains on house fixtures.

Sulfur in the water can cause a rotten egg smell, however it does not cause staining.

Fortunately it is easy to treat well water systems. Private wells are most commonly affected by these contaminants. Community wells may also have these issues. If your well water system is experiencing any of the above, do not hesitate to call one of our friendly technicians about what you can do to treat the water.

Water Filters of America sources the best filters for water treatment in the United States. You will be happy to see clear and drinkable water for a reasonable price when dealing with us. Say goodbye to sulfur water, rotten egg smell, iron water, and more with our excellent water filtration systems.

Give us a call today. 1-800-684-0979

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Raising the pH in well water

Low pH acid water causes stains

Low pH well water can cause blue or green stains on sinks, pipes and fixtures. You must raise the pH.

acidic low pH well water is acid water

Acidic low pH water can cause pinhole leaks in plumbing and copper pipes. Acid water damages water softeners, iron filters and sulfur filters. You must raise it before filtering.

Have you ever noticed blue or green staining on sinks, filters, toilets or other places your water touches? Do you have copper plumbing in your home? If the answer is yes to both of these questions, you likely have low pH water. Low pH water is very common in many parts of the country and is usually a clear indication of acidic water (a pH lower than 7) reacting with the copper producing corrosive staining. It is essentially “Melting” the copper into the water and should be corrected immediately. Failure to do so will almost certainly end with pinhole leaks springing up on your pipes eventually.

Obviously you would not want to drink this water. pH values below 6.5 are below the EPA safe drinking water standard and we don’t think you should drink water below 7.0. Water with pH below 7.0, which is considered neutral, can still leach metal from pipes, fixtures and connections into the water. Houses with copper pipes installed before 1987 are also very likely to have lead solder holding the pipes together, which is another reason not to drink the water. When filtering iron or metallic tastes out of your home drinking water you also should have a pH of at least 7.5 or higher to achieve the best results.  If it is corroding copper piping, just imagine what it could do to your body.  There many ways to raise the pH of your drinking water. One is by using a Chemical Injection System to inject Soda Ash into low pH water. That is usually the cheapest method and works well on mildly acidic water. Another way to raise the pH of your household water is by using a Backwashing Acid Neutralizing System which uses crushed limestone to increase the pH in water. The difference in application depends on the pH reading of the water and several other factors.  Please feel free to contact a friendly expert at by calling 1-800-684-0979. They are not allowed to ask you to buy anything and will just answer your questions and give you friendly helpful advice. Call them now.

Click the above link to go to our page for equipment to correct pH

Terminox® for removing iron and manganese in private well water

iron filters and manganese water filters remove stains

Iron filters can remove iron, sulfur and manganese from well water that cause staining to sinks, toilets, fixtures  and also cause damage to water softeners.

Iron can cause red, orange or brown staining around the home. Manganese can cause black staining and make the hot water in the home smell like rotten eggs. If you have a rotten egg smell on the HOT water side ONLY and see the color black in the backs of toilets or other places that your water touches, it is likely you have manganese. If you have iron and manganese both, it can make the iron staining much darker than normal.

While there are a number of ways people try to treat such issues, it is very important to remember several methods not to use. Do not use chlorine together with retention tanks and carbon tanks to treat iron and manganese normally. While this is a common trick that in-home sales companies often use to run up the initial cost and to insure they have ongoing expensive maintenance cost for a consumer, there are far better and more ethical and economical ways to combat common iron and manganese problems. Another common “Trick” is to sell consumers a water softener to act as an iron and manganese filter. This is a really bad idea in so many ways. Not to mention that you should never use a water softener when iron is present in the water and you SHOULD NOT drink the water from any water softener or salt using appliance of any kind.
Some people use old backwashing tank technology called “Birm Filters” for iron and manganese. The problem is that these filters must have air injectors to add air to the water. This can result in the build up of massive amounts of air in the water, and make the hot water pipes begin to “Spit” hot water out of the faucets. Many people with Birm filters complain that the water is often cloudy or milky. Also remember that you must have a pH of at least 8.0 to use Birm when both iron and manganese are present in your private well water supply.

Others will try to use Greensand Filter options to remove iron and manganese. While iron can be removed with Greensand and Manganese can be removed by greensand as well. It seems the filter becomes far less effective when more than one contaminant is present. Also, Greensand uses a highly volatile chemical called potassium permanganate (Pot perm) which is not a chemical we recommend to be used in a residential (Private home) application. We do sell Greensand Filters, but only to commercial entities that understand how to handle this chemical like the dangerous substance it is.

The best way to treat both iron and manganese is by using an oxidizing filter. There are a number of oxidizing iron filters and manganese filters. We sell virtually all types of filters on the market today, so we know which ones really work for each situation. Most have certain drawbacks, such as having to replace minerals inside or the pH must be higher. No one likes needless ongoing maintenance problems.

While we sell virtually all types of iron and manganese filter systems, the best type of water filtration system to remove both iron and sulfur is the Terminox® ISM iron, sulfur and manganese removal system. It is virtually maintenance free and requires no salt, chemicals or air injection and should virtually never need the minerals inside to be replaced as long it is applied properly, and we can help you with that simple process. Another plus with the Terminox filter is it works at much lower pH ranges than other filter choices, such as Birm and the outdated air injection systems.

Greensand Filter vs Terminox® for iron and sulfur removal

Terminox Iron Filter vs Greensand Iron Filter

Terminox®ISM water filter for iron and sulfur removal is far superior in every way to greensand filters using potassium permanganate. Terminox® has no salt or chemicals.

A conventional Greensand backwashing washing water filtration tank is comprised generally of a water tank (Usually around 4 feet tall or so) with an ionic exchange mineral inside (mineral) and an electronic control valve to channel the water where it needs to go. Virtually all of these types of water filter also have a much smaller tank with a single feed line to the bigger tank to introduce potassium permanganate (Pot perm) periodically.

NOTE: Our Terminox® ISM water filter has no harmful chemicals, salts or additives.

When removing substances, such as iron from the water passing through it, the minerals inside the Greensand unit can be used to remove electrons and hydrogen. It also acts as an oxidizing agent which is generally followed by a water filtration mineral (Greensand) to remove oxidized particulates (Such as iron or manganese). Most other filters use a dense mineral bed instead to actually filter contaminants. The most modern filters oxidize naturally instead of using harsh chemicals. Once the minerals in a greensand water filter become saturated with filtered substances such as iron, it must regenerate or “Clean” itself of these substances. One of the biggest downfalls of this type of filter is its susceptibly to organic and iron bacteria type issues. If anything coats the minerals or grows on the surface of these minerals, it can cause the exchange process to become marginal or stop working altogether. Then the contaminant return to the water supply.

Another issue with greensand is that if you introduce a substance such as chlorine to the water to inhibit the growth of bacterium, the chlorine can degrade the mineral over time. That is why many people now use oxidizing filters that can also remove or reduce chlorine and require no regenerates such as potassium permanganate to buy.

Many people who have more than one contaminate in their household water supply have marginal experiences with Greensand as well. For example the success rate for Greensand while removing iron seems far higher than the success rate when both iron and sulfur are present in the water supply, particularly if they are present in large amounts. Once you introduce a third contaminant such as manganese the success rate drops even further. If you happen to have an organic issue of some type in addition, or iron bacteria issues, a Greensand water filtration system is almost certainly doomed for eventual failure and/or extensive maintenance and repair issues.

Potassium permanganate itself is probably the biggest issue in current times with a Greensand. It is listed on the Hazardous substance list cited by the EPA and EPA.

Here are two excerpts from the site:


  • Potassium Permanganate can affect you when breathed 
  • Contact can severely irritate and burn the skin and eyes with possible eye damage.
  • Breathing Potassium Permanganate can irritate the nose and throat.
  • Breathing Potassium Permanganate can irritate the lungs causing coughing and/or shortness of breath. Higher exposures can cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), a medical emergency, with severe shortness of breath.
  • Potassium Permanganate may affect the liver and kidneys.


Acute Health Effects

The following acute (short-term) health effects may occur immediately or shortly after exposure to Potassium Permanganate:

  •  Contact can severely irritate and burn the skin and eyes with possible eye damage.
  •  Breathing Potassium Permanganate can irritate the nose and throat.
  • Breathing Potassium Permanganate can irritate the lungs causing coughing and/or shortness of breath. Higher exposures can cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), a medical emergency, with severe shortness of breath. 
Chronic Health Effects 
The following chronic (long-term) health effects can occur at some time after exposure to Potassium Permanganate and can last for months or years: 
Cancer Hazard 
* There is limited evidence that Potassium Permanganate may cause mutations (genetic changes). Whether or not it poses a cancer hazard needs further study. 
Reproductive Hazard
  • Potassium Permanganate may decrease fertility.

Other Long-Term Effects

  • Potassium Permanganate may affect the liver and kidneys.

It would seem reasonable that everyone selling this product would instruct (Warn) residential end users to take caution with the use of this product to keep it from getting on skin, clothes, hair, floors, living areas, household water supplies etc. Virtually no one does this. In that regard we find it an antiquated and marginal practice at the residential level. It might be advisable to refrain from buying any product from any vendor who would not warn you of its hazards.

Question: Should I “Shock” My Private Well with Chlorine or Not?

iron water wells should not have bleach or chlorine added to shock

Household bleach is often used to shock a private well. Normally you do not want to shock wells with high iron or manganese.

Shocking a well is an often old wives tale for solving issues with well water. We hear customers who want to try this all the time as if it were a “fix all” for well water problems. “Shocking” a well is the process of adding multiple gallons of bleach into a well casing with the hopes of eliminating iron, sulfur, manganese and bacteria. This is a “band aid approach” used a long time ago by well drillers. The well drillers used to recommend this as a fix for smell in water or bacteria such as coliform. In very rare cases, shocking a well can be one step in the process to clean water, but usually only in new well or a well that has tested positive for e-coli or coliform. Unless you have e-coli or coliform you should normally NOT shock that well if it is high in iron or manganese.


Additionally a new well, that isn’t capped or covered, can contain impurities that lead to various forms of coliform, including fecal coliform, and other contaminants such as e-coli to appear in the water. Testing is done after the well is completed to ensure potability of the water and to identify any contaminants. If the testing returns positive for fecal coliform the standard response is to shock the well. Once the well is shocked, if the e-coli or coliform returns, then you must chlorinate “OUTSIDE” the well after that. Especially if the well contains measurable amounts of iron or manganese.

To learn how to properly shock your well, or to find out if shocking is even necessary, you may call our techs at 1-800-684-0979. Shocking a well is not a good idea to repeat over and over because it could cause more issues in the long run. We don’t charge for this advice and may be able to point you in a better direction. To learn exactly how to treat your water problem we always suggest you start our free water test.