Iron and Manganese In Drinking Water
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Iron and Manganese in Water
A Common Problem in Northeast Pennsylvania

How To Clean and Remove Iron and Manganese Staining

Mr. Brian Oram, PG
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc.

Drink Clean Water - Get the Waters Tested !

   cleaning drinking water, hardness, stains, coating, removing black stains, iron stain, red coatings
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Drinking Water Help Guide (Online Library) - Information on Iron and Manganese

Iron and manganese are non-hazardous elements that can be a nuisance in a water supply. Iron and manganese are chemically similar and cause similar problems. Iron is the most frequent of the two contaminants in water supplies ; manganese is typically found in iron-bearing water.  Iron and manganese are common metallic elements found in the earth's crust. Water percolating through soil and rock can dissolve minerals containing iron and manganese and hold them in solution. Occasionally, iron pipes also may be a source of iron in water. In deep wells, where oxygen content is low, the iron/manganese-bearing water is clear and colorless (the iron and manganese are dissolved). Water from the tap may be clear, but when exposed to air, iron and manganese are oxidized and change from colorless, dissolved forms to colored, solid forms.

Oxidation of dissolved iron particles in water changes the iron to white, then yellow and finally to red-brown solid particles that settle out of the water. Iron that does not form particles large enough to settle out and that remains suspended (colloidal iron) leaves the water with a red tint.  Manganese usually is dissolved in water, although some shallow wells contain colloidal manganese (black tint).  These sediments are responsible for the staining properties of water containing high concentrations of iron and manganese. These precipitates or sediments may be severe enough to plug water pipes.  Iron and manganese can affect the flavor and color of food and water. They may react with tannins in coffee, tea and some alcoholic beverages to produce a black sludge, which affects both taste and appearance. Manganese is objectionable in water even when present in smaller concentrations than iron.  Iron will cause reddish-brown staining of laundry, porcelain, dishes, utensils and even glassware. Manganese acts in a similar way but causes a brownish-black stain. Soaps and detergents do not remove these stains, and use of chlorine bleach and alkaline builders (such as sodium and carbonate) may intensify the stains.

OK - How do I clean my dishwasher?

. Kool-Aid ? - "First check with the manufacturer".
a. Pour a packet of unsweetened lemonade Kool-Aid into the soap dispenser.
b. Run the dishwasher
through a hot-water cycle.
After you are done - open the door and see the results.

2. Vinegar -First check with the manufacturer
Pour 1 cup of white distilled vinegar into another bowl. Set the bowl inside the bottom rack of the dishwasher.
b. Run the dishwasher on a regular cycle. As the vinegar sloshes around and creates steam with the hot water, it will help loosen remaining hard water stains while washing away the manganese stains you removed.

It has been suggested that Tang and Glisten Dishwater Cleaner (Purchase) may also work.  Also - Super Iron Out (Purchase).


One of the easier solutions is to avoid this problem is to avoid the use of chlorine-based detergents.   

a. Use "Chlorine- Free" Products - such as  check the list of ingredients printed on the package and if it contains chlorine, don't buy that one.  There are two product lines that we have been made aware of that are "chlorine-free";  Seventh Generation and Bi-O-Kleen.     

More Resources


More Information

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For More information about the Water Research Center, 
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 Attn: Mr. Brian Oram, Professional Geologist (PG)
Water Research Center
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc.
15 Hillcrest Drive
Dallas, PA 18612

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