Iron and manganese are common minerals found in drinking water. It only takes a small amount of either of these minerals to cause the water to have objectionable qualities. The biggest problem associated with these minerals is staining. Typically black or brown stains can be found on almost anything that comes in contact with water containing these minerals. Iron and manganese in water can be soluble, insoluble, or both. Soluble means the minerals are dissolved in the water and the water will look clear. Insoluble minerals are in the form of sediment. Insoluble ferric iron will most often give water a rusty brown or yellow color. Insoluble manganese will give the water a black color. Soluble minerals will stay dissolved in water until they come into contact with oxygen or some other form of oxident. For instance, in a toilet, the minerals are dissolved in the water when the water comes into the toilet but as the water sits exposed to air the iron slowly oxidizes and leaves stains behind.
Bathing in water with high amounts of either mineral can cause a build up on hair and skin. High amounts of iron may cause hair to have a reddish brown tint or cause dry skin. Iron and manganese will also build up inside pipes and appliances.
There are numerous ways to treat water with high levels of iron and manganese. The most common way is to oxidize the minerals so they are no longer dissolved in water. These minerals can then be easily filtered with some form of water sediment filter. Most sediment filters used for iron and manganese contain some type of media that will both aid in oxidizing the mineral and provide adequate filtration. Small amounts of iron and manganese can be removed with a water softener but the water should be pretreated with some type of water sediment filter to prevent the softening media from fouling. American Water Services can test your water and find the best solution for your particular water characteristics.