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The Health and Home Risks of Iron in Your Water

A little iron in your tap water is harmless and happens all the time. But if your home taps are clearly running rusty orange water, it’s not just the color or taste being affected. Too much of anything is a bad thing and too much iron in your water can have some notable detrimental effects on both your family’s health and your pipes and appliances. Here are some of the risks of iron in your water.

iron-contaminated water running into white sink

Where Does Iron in Tap Water Come From?

Oxidized, rust-colored iron in tap water almost always comes from a rusty pipe or component up the line. As the rust breaks down inside the pipe, it is washed away by the water, which then becomes rusty. If a city pipe has gone to rust, then it’s like that half your neighborhood is having the same problems. If it’s just your home, then your water mainline or a device that leads into the mainline may be rusted-through and in keen need of replacement. Until the damaged pipe or appliance producing the rust is fixed, your home tap will run rusty water. If there is nothing you can do, then a whole-home filtration system might be the answer. Let’s dive into the health and home detriments related to iron in the water.

Hair Becomes Discolored and Brittle

Drinking iron-contaminated water may not make you sick, but bathing in it is very bad for your skin and hair. Every time you shower or your children take a bath, your skin and hair are soaked in oxidized (yellow to red) or unoxidized (still clear) iron. This metal mineral leaches moisture from your body when you should be absorbing moisture to stay healthy and vibrant.

This can cause your hair to become dry and brittle as the moisture is leached out of it over and over again. Hair will eventually lose its soft texture and become rough to the touch. Oxidized (colored) iron in the water acts like a harmful peroxide. It will darken light hair and add an orangey-red tint to hair of all colors in addition to drying and roughening the texture.

Dry Skin and Early Wrinkles

Of course, one of the risks of iron in your water is that it doesn’t just dry out your hair. Each time you bathe, your skin is soaked in water that takes away moisture instead of adding it. You will notice your skin drying and needing more artificial moisturizers to stay healthy. Over time, skin over-saturated with iron will begin wrinkling early and can take long-term damage.

Clogged Pores and Acne

The iron minerals in the water do another number on your skin. They can clog your pores even if you’re using all the right soaps and cleansers. Iron in your pores stops the oil from clearing correctly which can begin to cause an increasing acne problem, especially for family members who tend toward oily skin. Watch out for acne in areas where acne normally doesn’t occur because your skin is being artificially clogged.

Clothes Discolor and Stain in the Wash

If the iron in your taps is oxidized, showing color, or oxidizes while running, then it can also damage your clothes and even your light-colored dishes. These are not simple discolorations. Clothing washed in iron-contaminated water can discolor, especially lighter colored clothing where even light yellowing becomes immediately apparent. This discoloration can become permanent, uneven staining, causing iron in your water to ruin your clothing even when your washing machine is functioning properly.

Food is Bitter and Dark When Cooked in Iron-Rich Water

Cooking with iron-contaminated water is no treat either. That rust-discoloration turns anything cooked in your tap water to a darker or blackened color. You may notice that any coffee, tea, or even orange juice looks discouragingly black or brown. Vegetables cooked in iron water turn black as they boil.

Worse, iron in the water gives everything an unpleasantly bitter taste. This is often why homes consider iron to be harmful to ingest, as it can render food inedible by taste and color alone.

Pipes Clog and Corrode More Quickly

Last but certainly not least are the risks of iron in your water to your pipes and appliances. When iron flecks are flowing through the water, they can catch and stick to the pipes and water lines along the way. This builds up to cause restriction, which can affect your water pressure and eventually causes clogs. Rusty water can also accelerate the metal corrosion and deterioration of other metal pipes so that they become both clogged and damaged more quickly.

Is there bitter, off-color water running through your home taps? If so, we can help. Contact us today to talk about solving the iron water problem in your home. Whether that entails replacing a section of pipe, replacing an aging water heater, and so on, we can help.

 

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