Red and orange stains, what are they and how do you treat them?

Why do you have red, orange stains? Iron is the fourth most abundant element on earth. So it’s not surprising that as rain falls it penetrates the soil and dissolves iron in the sediment and bedrock. From the ground it seeps into aquifers, streams and lakes. So, iron causing problems in residential water supplies, is very common.

Agricultural Agribusiness Water TreatmentHigh concentrations of iron in your water can cause red, orange, yellow, tan, or rusty-colored stains in toilet bowls, sinks, and other fixtures. It may also be the reason your clothes look dingy or unclean, especially your whites. What seems to confuse people, is that most of the time, these stains appear, even with clear water coming from the tap. Really it depends on the type of iron you have.

There are 2 kinds of iron that can be present in your water, soluble ferrous iron and insoluble ferric iron.  Tap water that has the ferrous type (also called clear), is iron that has yet to be exposed to oxygen. It comes out of the tap clear and colorless, but after left standing you may notice those yellow, orange, rusty red, stains.

Insoluble ferric iron is basically ferrous iron that has been exposed to oxygen, usually from the air. As carbon dioxide leaves the water, oxygen combines with the iron to form ferric ions. Once ferric iron is formed it becomes visible in the water. Tap water will often appear rusty or have some red or yellow color to it. High iron levels are common with well water, but your city tap water could have iron as well.

How to combat those ugly stains:

ICS-STP Sediment, Taste & Odor with PolyHalt

Our Cascadian ICS (Integrated Cartridge Solutions) systems have a couple different options for removing iron from your water. The kind of iron and how much you have, will determine the best method of treatment. The ICS-P and the ICS-SI are both excellent options. These simple, affordable, small, systems will leave your fixtures and surfaces cleaner, saving you time and money. For more information on our ICS systems and water treatment options please visit

Diagnosing Your Stain #2 of 3

See #1 – Clear water can leave stains

See # 2 – Red stains, what do they mean?

See #3 – Blue green stains

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