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How do I remove rust from well water?

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How do I get rust out of water that comes from a well?
—Lucille, via email

That rusty colour is from the well water’s excess iron content. High levels of iron (more than 0.3 milligrams per litre) can affect the taste, smell, and colour of your water, and can stain laundry, plumbing fixtures, or kitchen utensils. Happily, you can usually remove it. Most water treatment methods work by oxidizing the iron to convert it from a dissolved state to a solid state, and then filtering it out.

There are several treatment options available—and lots of filters on the market—but factors such as the pH of your water, and the type and concentration of iron in the well, will determine the best device for you. So, first, have your well water tested; contact your local health office to find out how.

Health Canada considers excess iron an aesthetic water problem, and generally not a health concern, but it could mean something’s not quite right with your well (especially if you only recently noticed the problem). To be safe, test your water for other sources of contamination, and check the well for defects.