Iron And Manganese In Your Drinking Water

What Is an Acceptable Iron Level in Drinking Water?

In many cases where iron is found, manganese is also present. While low levels of manganese are safe for human health, elevated manganese levels are toxic and a health risk for human consumption.

Here Are Some Facts About Iron and Magnesium:

  • Manganese is an element Mn sometimes found in groundwater, usually in combination with iron.  
  • Iron (Fe) is mainly present in water in two forms: either soluble ferrous iron or insoluble ferric iron. Water containing ferrous iron is clear and colorless because the iron is completely dissolved and it is the most common form.  It is often found in well water.
  • The drinking water standard established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for iron is 0.3 milligrams per liter (mg/l), and the standard for manganese is 0.05 mg/l.
  • Manganese that has dissolved in well water wells gives the water a black tint.
  • Iron is a very common and one that can find its way into your water supply. Although low levels of iron are not harmful, excessive amounts can cause stomach and digestive problems, as well as nausea and vomiting.
  • Iron can cause issues to your skin as well. Because iron doesn’t blend well with soap, it is difficult to wash off of your skin after showering, leaving soap residue on your body that can cause itching and irritation. If iron is creating frequent skin irritation, this can lead to damaged cells and signs of early aging, such as wrinkles.
  • Iron is known for its characteristic orange and brown stains, which is caused when the ferrous iron is exposed to oxygen. These tell-tale brown stains can be seen in toilets, bathtubs and showers, sinks, and appliances that use water. They are caused by even very low levels of iron and are unsightly and can be extremely hard to remove.
  • Manganese leaves a brownish-black stain on laundry, plumbing and fixtures.  
  • Iron can also cause corrosion to plumbing and fixtures, and leave behind deposits on the insides of your pipes. Not only can the repairs caused by this damage be expensive, but when these deposits break loose rusty water will enter the water stream.

Does Your Water Taste or Smell Like Metal?

In addition to the cost and inconvenience created by iron deposits, this metal has a metallic taste which can ruin the taste of plain tap water, as well as affecting the flavor and appearance of your food. Certain vegetables that come into contact with ferrous iron can become discolored and taste unpleasant. Similarly, beverages that are made using iron-dissolved water will taste bitter or unappealing, such as coffee and tea. A water filtration system can help remove unwanted iron from your water supply.

A water test will determine the level of iron in your water, as well as any other problems that may be present. If you are experiencing any of these issues, we can offer a variety of solutions to fit your needs.

What Causes a Metallic Taste in Drinking Water?

A metallic taste or smell in drinking water is often caused by pipes, or the presence of minerals in the water, like iron, copper or manganese. Many newer homes report metallic tasting water, which is usually due to the pipes not yet being coated with lime precipitate. Property owners with wells may taste or smell metal more often than those who receive city water.


Most of the time, iron and manganese in your water will not have health effects, though some cases with high mineral concentrations have been known to cause problems. Other effects include rust stains on porcelain, or corroded pipes.

How to Treat Magnesium and Iron in Drinking Water

problem water filtration system can often easily solve metallic tastes and odors. In more severe cases, older pipes may need to be replaced, or your system may need to be flushed. If you are worried there may be iron in your water or manganese in your drinking water, our water experts would be glad to put your fears to rest and find a solution if there is a problem with your water.

If you would like to learn more about the quality of your water, contact us or request a quote today!  Sign up for our free in-home water test today.