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Excessive Iron in Swimming Pool Water p.2


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At start, then 9 hours later, then 24 hours later -- courtesy of Jenna Bradford

Editor's summary of the posted responses: Readers are welcome to read this entire long thread if they have the time. But dozens of users found themselves able to easily get from brown rusty water to a sparkling clear pool with simple home built filters ranging from a couple of white socks to a pair of 5-gallon buckets with a small sump pump in one and the stuffing from a couple of old pillows in the other.

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thumbs up sign I normally don't respond to threads, but I just had to say that the towel idea is amazing. Like everyone else, I have well water. Without considering this, I added the chemicals to avoid the algae I allowed to accrue last year. Like everyone else, brown water soon ensued. I have scoured the Internet for advise and reluctantly threw a towel in the pool. My chlorine is pretty high right now and the weather is overcast today, so I thought I would give it a go while my son was busy doing something else. WOW! After an hour I checked the towel and found a 10 incher brown (solid) circle. I couldn't believe it! Thanks for giving me hope! I do not pretend to be a chemist and am not particularly interested in having my son swim in a chemical soup. The color of the water is still brown, but I bet after a day of this, it will be considerably better! Oh ya, I don't have a skimmer, but I'm considering buying one today and trying the sock idea, too!

Stephanie Fosdeck
- Graham, Washington
July 18, 2008

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July 21, 2008

I am a first time pool owner, an above ground 18' x 42". I also was unaware that when I shocked the water it would turn deep red brown. So much so it seemed like a thin soup. I could not even see the second stair. I have well water and apparently an extreme amount of iron. I ran the filter with a skimmer sock on it, change it out about every 20 minutes along with changing filters a few times and used a clarifier with mediocre success.

I went to the pool supply store and bought Poolife Intensive Stain Prevention-Super Sequestering Agent. I came home, vacuumed the pool and added it. After about the 3rd hour the pool was very light transparent green with some settlement on the bottom so I vacuumed again. The pool was clear in about 4-5 hours. I was even happy with the light green that it stayed for a bit and thought I would have to deal with but I went out in about another hour after the vacuuming and it was clear with just a slight whitish clouding which was taken care of after adjusting proper chemicals after testing.I highly recommend the Poolife Intensive Stain Prevention-Super Sequestering Agent.

Teri White
- Beckley, West Virginia

I have a huge swimming pool about 50 thousand gallons it started to go cloudy and now it is lagoon green. We have a lot of iron in our well my husband has shocked the pool but still green even have tried adding protect-all made by bio-chem still lagoon green any one out there... please, please help.......THANK-YOU!

Tif Valle
mother of five - placerville, California
July 23, 2008

August 12, 2008

I normally don't post to threads, but have hit my frustration level. I have an in-ground vinyl lined pool and 2 pool stores in town have not been able to solve the brown water problem. Much money spent on chemicals.

I've tried chlorine - turned the water a darker shade of brown. Muriatic acid = golden brown and foggy . Shock = brown/red and cloudy. Algaecides = teal and cloudy. I did get some results with Iron Out [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] but my pets drink out of the pool. (4 bottles in 20,000 gallons of water, no smell or taste in water in the morning, but don't think I want to add more). Rain and the pool turns brown. My iron level doesn't register as too high, but...

Tonight am trying the towel suggestion. It's 6:00 PM. I've attached 2 white socks to the hose head (water level a little low) and placed a towel in front of the jets. I am on a water filter for the house (am on a well) but it bypasses the hoses. Immediately after attaching the socks to the hose with rubber bands you can see all the iron build up on the socks. Will recheck in an hour. Did notice that putting a towel in front of the skimmer substantially reduced the flow into the skimmer.

Will let you know if I get any results.

If this doesn't work am seriously thinking of concreting it and having the only skate park in town :)

Melanie Quimby
- Muncie, Indiana

Ed. note: Skate Park? DUDE!!

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A. The iron (municipal water) in our new pool was terrible. I was heartsick. Then I found this forum. Thank you to Pete Dymond from Jacksonville, Florida. He gave the idea of creating your own filter. Well my husband took that idea and expanded upon it. We took (2) 5 gal buckets. Both were drilled (2) 1-1/2" holes each side near bottom. Placed one in bottom of pool with a sump pump within it. Next we took an old pillow which we cut open one end and placed in the second "filter" bucket. The lid was prepped for this bucket to receive a 1-1/4" pipe set well into the pillow, out the lid. We used threaded connections to make removal from pump line easier. The lid was wire tied to the bucket and the whole second "filter" bucket was wrapped in a spare t-shirt to catch residual iron. Because the plastic bucket floated, the filter when put together floated also. The pump bucket was tied to a rope for easy removal. This whole setup was placed opposite the pool filter. The pool was filled only 5 days before we did this and after running this pump/filter for the first 12 hours, the pool (4400 gal) is nearly clear. He took the "filter" out and rinsed out the pillow. A LOT of iron was removed. One more day, and we expect a perfect pool. I hope this helps out there. Thank you everyone!

Karen Snyder
- Canton, Ohio

A. This is follow-up to my previous post. The next day, last Friday, my husband put the filter he created back together and ran it only for 3 more hours. He then took the sump pump out of the bucket and slowly moved the pump around the entire pool bottom. picking up all the iron that had settled to the bottom. It is now June 2, the following Tuesday and the pool remains crystal clear. All the iron is removed. I don't think the filter my husband created ran for a total 24 hours.

Karen Snyder [returning]
- Canton, Ohio

Dear karen s,

We used your idea, we changed it a bit, but it worked!

Our pool water was crystal clear iced tea colored once filled. I thought that once I put in the chlorine and other chemicals it would just go away ( first time pool owner ) and all it did was make it worse worse worse. I was so discouraged after using different metal and mineral out products with poor results, then I came upon this forum and like others I felt desperate but putting dangerous chemicals into the water my kids and I wanted to swim in seemed scary. so my husband and I tried your idea, and here is what we did, I think it cost us about 65 to 70 bucks TOTALLY WORTH EVERY PENNY.

We had a five gallon paint bucket with a hole in the lid, we drilled holes all over the sides and the bottom about 3/4 in big, (the sump pump was just open to the water there was no bucket around it) we drilled smaller holes in the lid and the top of the bucket to secure it with zip ties, he went to the hardware store and bought a sump pump and the plumbing fit through the hole in the lid to secure the lid to the pump, we took old pillows that I would have thrown out anyhow and took all the stuffing out and stuffed the bucket with it ( I was nervous that the stuffing would get all over, and we would have two messes to clean up, but it stayed right where I put it thankfully ), we put the lid on and secured it with zip ties, we prayed that this would work dropped it into the pool very carefully and plugged it in.

After about an hour I was anxious and wanted to check it, when we got the lid off, the pillow fluff was nasty orange so I hosed it off until the water ran clear and re-stuffed the bucket with the same fluff, put the lid on and put it back into the pool. within five hours we could see a noticeable difference, and we kept on rinsing the fluff and filtering. we did it once more before we went to bed, and when we woke up I almost cried our pool water was absolutely and perfectly crystal clear with a very small amount of sediment on the bottom to clean up. I think our pump ran about 14-18 hours total, it was amazing to watch the water change from cloudy emerald green to a cloudy robins egg blue during the after noon. and to wake up to perfect water, was the best part yet!

My husband two children and I were jumping up and down for joy. I wish I would have taken before and after pictures, it is that amazing. all I can say is don't waste money on fancy metal and mineral treatments we did that ( about 45 dollars) all it did was turn brown to green, spend that money on a sump pump and make this filter. it saved my sanity and the swimming season for us in the u.p. of Michigan.

Becca Sedenquist
- escanaba Michigan

thumbs up sign I tried the sock over the filter and a sock in the filter housing. After several days my pool water is almost crystal clear. I wish I would have tried this sooner. I have been trying for 2 summers now and this is the only thing I have found that works. It does take time but it is well worth the effort.

Patricia L [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Hillsville Virginia

Q. How long do you have to wait to go swimming after you put your chemicals in?

Ruth Schod
hobbyist - Conroe Texas
June 3, 2009

June 10, 2009

This is our second year to fill a 16' x 42" Intex pool with our irony well water. We learned our lesson last year after trying chemical warfare, inline hose filters and milk jugs and towels. This year we used what we discovered worked for iron last year, and acquired crystal-clear water in 3 days, in 3 steps:

FILL the pool

SHOCK the pool (and get what we call Poop-Soup)

Let it settle 2 days, and then VACUUM the iron out when it settles to the bottom, with a shop vac. We vacuumed the sediment on Day 2 and again on Day 3 and now our water is perfect!
We could not even see the bottom of our pool after shocking it on Day 1, so this is a remarkable result.
Granted, filling & emptying our little 5 gallon shop vac 20-30 times ain't fun, but this really works. Next year, we plan to use a submersible pump to vacuum the sediment, or we will bore a hole & attach a garden hose & shut-off valve in the vac to empty it. The vac is the secret for us!

Linda Davis
- Waldron, Arkansas

June 11, 2009

thumbs up sign So I have REALLY BAD iron problem with the well water I used to fill my pool. I tried 2 different metal remover chemicals. Clarity chemical. Shocked my pool 3 times. nothing was working.
I found this site, and it had some good and bad ideas. Oxiclean and Iron out being the bad ideas. And adding a custom filter being a great one.

So this is what I did. I took an old nylon stocking from my wife and stuffed it with cotton, also from my wife, I don't think she'll miss them. :-)
I then wrapped it around the inside of my skimmer on top of the chlorine basket.

In 20 minutes I went a rinsed it out, and let me tell you I'm glad I didn't jump into the pool!

Eric Nelson
- Rush City, Minnesota

June 12, 2009

A. This is my first year with a pool. 3000 gal above ground. The Intex pump was wonderfully terrible at filtering (too small; too weak - 500 gph). So I upgraded to a Pleatco Filter ($10.00 on ebay), and an iron circulator pump (free, an extra unit). After a month the water turned iced tea brown overnight. So, after reading all these threads and remembering high school chemistry, I'm going to raise the pH and chlorinate to oxidize the dissolved iron, and add a flocculent to clump and settle the precipitate to the bottom. The pump is off for the night so there are no currents to stir up the sediment. Oh yeah, today I replaced the iron circulator pump with a pool pump and strainer (also free because it needed a new front bearing.
About this time tomorrow I should have a result to post...

Kevin Thomas
- Levittown, Pennsylvania

June 12, 2009

I have tried a few things here and there. I am glad I ran across this forum. 1 1/2 hrs into the sock over the filter and over the exhaust water back into the pool. I just unscrewed the exhaust valve and zipped tied the sock onto the fitting and screwed it back on. With in 1 hour the sock was brown. I checked the filter and half was brown and working up (moving up shows the lower part was getting plugged. Hope it works to clean the whole pool. I still can't see the bottom however I have high hopes that if something/anything is getting trap by these filters, there is something in the pool that isn't suppose to be there. I have not even starting really trying to get my numbers where they should be. I want the water clear first. I added conditioner, shocked, and chlorine with a start up kit. 2 days later:

Harness = 1000+
Chlorine = 0
PH = 8.6
TA = 240 (+)
CYA = 30-50

I was told to add 2.5 lbs of HTH Minus and this morning as followed:

Harness = 1000+
Chlorine = 1/2
PH = 6.8
TA = 240+

That didn't help. Maybe more?

Kevin Flohrs
- Dunnell, Minnesota

Go to your local hardware store and pick up 2x standard household filter with clear housings. Buy 2x 40 micron filters and from the pump tee the 1 1/4" to 2x 3/4" and hook up the filters. Mirror backwards from the 3/4 to 1 1/4" on the other side going back the pool. My pool was completely brown. Could not see the bottom, period. 1 hour of running, you can see the bottom 5 feet away from the pool. The more crap you have in the pool the faster the filters will turn colors. Mine was so dirty that within 30 minutes I had to remove and wash them off. They work faster than a sock and you can keep them there permanently for cleaning for just filtering the pool. Once I get the pool completely clean I am going to change out the 40 micron filters for 20. That is the standard household level. If you want to get really technical, you can go all the way down to 5. If I knew how to post pictures, I would post a picture of my system. This works, ran me around $70 to build, but it's permanent, fast, easy, fun, and it simply works. These filters are made to remove, rust, iron, sediments, and other junk in household water. Perfect for pool use and no chemicals involved!

Kevin Flohrs (returning)
- Dunnell, Minnesota
June 12, 2009

I too had the same iron problem and didn't know what to do. I put some stuff called Metal Remover from Lowe's made by Du Pont about 10:00 am and by night still didn't see any improvement. I then came to this sight for some help and there were many good ideas I was going to try with the towels and so forth. I went to bed and by the next morning my water was clear and now is crystal clear. I am very happy with the Metal Remover just put it in by the directions and let it do its work but you will need to clean the filter a few times during that time. Good luck to ya!

Kara Butler
- Fort Gibson, Oklahoma
June 14, 2009

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thumbs up sign I found this site in desperation, all was going well until I turned on my saltwater generator, left for the day, came home and was mortified to find the hoses turned chocolate brown, and my water looked like dark iced tea. After reading all the posts on here, I decided to try the tube sock attached to the return port from the pump idea, except I stuffed the sock with cotton balls. Within one hour the sock was Dark brown, so I continued to change the sock stuffed with cotton balls, every few hours. That was Sunday, today is Wednesday. The water is crystal clear and sparkling. Physically removing the metal/rust is the way to go, not chemicals. IT WORKS! YIPPPEEEE! MY POOL LOOKS GREAT!

Dolly Ponce
- Acton, Massachusetts

I am so glad I found this site! I was so upset to find that I spent an entire day filling our 10'x30" Quick Set pool to have yellowish brown water in it. I did some looking around on the Internet and came to the conclusion that it was rust in the water--pumped water from our well. I came across several ideas about how to get rid of rust. Like some of you, I didn't want to use anymore chemicals to clear this problem. The solution I used was a sock over the part where the water comes back into the pool (I'm not savvy with pool lingo, as I am first time pool owner). I took an old, cotton short sleeve shirt sleeve and put that around the filter and secured it with a rubber band and zip tie. I let this sit over night, and when I went out this morning to check it out, the water was so much clearer! I rinsed off the sock, shirt sleeve, and filter and am going for round 2. I plan to clean about every 3 hours today. I'm very hopeful! Good luck to you!

Nikki Preston
- Ada, Ohio

I liked the idea of the household filters, but can you just cut them in a circle to fit the skimmer and will catch the rust prior to getting to your actual filter and clean as you go?

Zebbie Hary
hobbyist - Logansport, Indiana, USA
June 21, 2009

thumbs up signI just had to write in and say Thank You all, oh-so-much! I know some of these posts are a couple of years old so many of the original posters of the filtering ideas may not be here, but if you ever check in... y'all are lifesavers!

Intex 24' x 52" pool

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I stumbled across this forum yesterday morning and after reading all the responses promptly began filtering out the rust from my newly set-up 18' x 52" Intex metal frame pool (great pool by the way, just really sucky city water that apparently doesn't like high doses of chlorine). I tried a couple different things to start: A sock around the outgo thingie in the pool with a small towel in the skimmer basket. Well, the towel wasn't picking up much so I eventually ditched that. What I eventually settled on was a small sock stuffed in a 2-layered larger sock combo (the small sock was just a wad to catch more stuff) rubberbanded around the outgo thingie inside the pool with a white t-shirt tied onto the side and wrapped loosely around the sock to catch more. I check and/or change that one every hour to 2 hours.

And then I change out the cartridge filter every 2 hours or so (I have 2 cartridges that I'm using and just rinsing the rust off and changing them back and forth).

It's been nearly 24 hours and the pool has gone from a lovely clear shade of rust to a lovely clear shade of weak lemonade. Of course from afar with the blue-ish pool liner it looks green, but up close it just looks clear with a slight tint. My rust catchers were absolutely full this morning after 10 hours overnight (in fact I lost some back to the pool when removing them this morning :-( ). I'm hoping another 24 hours and I'll be done... but I'm not holding my breath. It may well be another 48.

And during all of this, I'm keeping up on the balance of the water with the chlorine and pH (don't need any algae to top off my lovely water colors). I made the pool off-limits yesterday to concentrate on shocking it again to oxidize anything that wasn't already, and filter, filter, filter, but I can't imagine that I'll be able to keep the kids out of it today. It's just a bit of rust now and I'm the one that has to worry about the laundry -- so I just won't let them wear white suits ;-)

So again, thank you to all of you that had the filter plans! And to anyone else that stumbles across this forum, try it -- you won't regret it!


Erin Gilbert
- Lafayette, Indiana, USA
June 22, 2009

I am about ready to give up! I have been reading all your posts and using many of them! We bought a new intex 18 x 48 ag pool, and also a intex salt water chlorinator. We filled our pool from well water, that I knew had some metals, but oh boy not as bad as I thought. Day one greenish brownish yuck, day two "poop soup" added rust and stain remover from the pool store, started filtering like mad, tried the towel trick, sorta helped, then built a 4000 gph filter system out of a submersible pump and a 5 gal bucket filled with towels and double wrapped with some 700 thread count pillowcases, we drilled a ton of holes and filtered for 1.5 days, crystal clear beautiful water. Day 4 "poop soup" pH is 7.2 to 7.4 ac3 , now we are filtering again, when will this end.......HELP

Nancy Bertch
- Bismarck, North Dakota, USA
June 22, 2009

Instead of using the pillow cases, and towels, just use the stuffing, we tried the others too, but the stuffing works great alone. use almost two pillows worth of fluff and pack it in pretty good. have a previous post, and I promise, take the fluff out every couple hours hose it off until it runs clear, repack the bucket, and keep going. it will work. we still have great clean water, its awesome.

Becca Sedenquist
- Escanaba, Michigan, U.S.A.

Much to my surprise after sanitizing our freshly filled new above ground vinyl pool today (with city water!) I found myself dealing with the puzzling brown water issue. After doing some reading and discovering iron in the water as the culprit, I happened upon this site! YEAH! :-) I was prepared to rush out tomorrow for a miracle chemical to remedy the problem (though now it seems no such chemical exists). Instead I have just outfitted my pool with the sock/towel homemade filtering in hopes of waking to clearer water in the morning. Here is what I did:
-Placed a white sock over both the intake and output inside the pool.
-Stuffed 2 white wash cloths inside the center of the paper filter that came with the pump.
I am getting up early in the morning to see if I have any results. I've crossed my fingers in hopes that I don't fry the pump motor by make it work a little harder with this extra filtering. We'll see....

Heather Tygart
- Charleston, Arkansas, U.S.
June 24, 2009

Oxy Clear was suggested for clearing up brown pool water - what are the after affects by using this solution? It cleared up the brown water but was it safe to swim in afterwards? Every time you add the chlorine - do you add the oxy clear?

Thank you!

Jennifer Russ
- Goodrich, Michigan
June 24, 2009

Ed. note: I don't think anyone suggested "Oxy Clear" -- which is a chemical designed for clearing up cloudy water in ornamental fish ponds, Jennifer. What was suggested by several people (but a number of people also thought it was not a good idea) was OxiClean. You probably just made a typo, but we didn't want it to add confusion to a long and confusing thread. Thanks.

thumbs up sign We filled our pool 2 days ago and the water was yellowish red right from the start. Added Chlorine, didn't help. I didn't want to go down the road of bringing in the water sample and have the pool company test it. All they ever do is guess and they send you home with more chemicals. Most times they don't work. They promise to help you get crystal clear water, but it will cost you money and time... and then fail to live up to their promise. So I thought I would try the sock on the discharge end of the pump. Well I'll be... it worked. I started at 1 pm today and now it's 6:30 pm and my pool is just about crystal clear a few more socks and filter changes and we should have the crystal clear water before bed! Thank you for this wonderful site and people that support it with tried and true advise. Bless you!

Toni Hoelzel
- Kaukauna Wisconsin USA

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A. Brown water is gone in less than 24 hours. I read all of these posts and got some good ideas. I filled my intex 18 x 48 air ring pool (with model 635 pump, no salt system) with water and added chlorine. The next day it was dark green. I shocked it and then it was dark brown. I tried algae cleaner to no avail. I went to Cheswick Pools and they said Cheswick water is terrible with iron and to try Simplicity super metal control with Simplicity filter aide (a powder that makes your filter cartridge catch more dirt). I added half of the metal control at 1:00 PM and the other half at 10:00 PM. While this was circulating, I hung a towel in front of the inlet jet by cable tying it to the ladder. I also put an old cotton t-shirt in the skimmer basket. I put 1 cup of the filter aide in the skimmer at the beginning and every hour or two when I change the filter. I have 2 filters I rotated and hosed off each time. I woke up in the morning around 9:00 and the pool was a very slight tint of green, NO BROWN! I added 4 oz of algae cleaner and in a few hours it it blue. Thanks for all the helpful posts, I believe the only thing new here is the filter powder. It really makes the filter catch more of the iron.

Richard Guy
- Cheswick, Pennsylvania, United States

thumbs up sign We used well water to fill in our BRAND NEW NEVER BEEN SWAM IN 32 x 16 x 52 inches 2200.00 dollar pool! had it over a month and still no swimming, used super shock it didn't make it worst but didn't make the brown water better either.......... last night put in a whole bucket of OxyClean and NOTHING, it's the same, SOOOOOOO we put a white towel (3 total to alternate) and cut them all in half long-ways in front of the thing that pumps water into the pump ( the towel is disgustingly brown), AND the filter is NOT even close to as dirty as it was pre towel.....we also put our sons (age 6) white knee sock filled foot w/ old pillow stuffing and put on the spot water goes BACK IN the pool.....it turns brown but not much, because the towel part is working so WELL,From the looks of the white towel it IS WORKING, but since its only been about 3-4 hours we can't even come close to telling w/ just the pool water itself............. it's a HUGE pool so its going to take some days to see probably, we have a pool party Saturday so were gonna say a little prayer and hope for the best, hubby's friend has a plumbing store and in the morning were going to try this stuff called FIRE CLEAR, and see if it helps, if it does I'll post, if not we're gonna consider draining and refilling w/ city water.........

Brittney Shaw
- Ratcliff, Arkansas

We followed advice from this column and used pillow stuffing in our input. We used a sock at the output. Now about 5 days later our brown, yukky, well water in our Intex pool is clear. You can see the bottom. We scrubbed the algae off the sides and continue with the filtering. At first you have to be dedicated because the filter clogs quickly. A slow but worthwhile process.

Saya Cranda
- Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

A. I purchased an Easyset 18 x 48 pool this summer. As soon as I put in the chlorine, the water turned yellowish brown. I found this site and it was very helpful. I used a milk sock to filter out the iron. It is a long tube like filter that can be found in the farm area at Fleet Farm. I detached the hose from the valve that put the filtered water back into the pool. I put the hose over the top of the pool so it would hang in the water. I used duct tape to keep it from slipping. I attached the milk sock filter with a rubber band to the end of the hose and turned on the filter pump. The milk sock filter filled up with rust. I took a couple of days of cleaning the milk sock and the filter in the pump, I just rinsed them out with a hose. My water looks great. Have a great summer!

Kris Klug
- Greenleaf, Wisconsin

A. I spent $200 on chemicals that did not work. I tried the pillow stuffing and towel in the skimmer with great results. It was working but slowly so I added a small submersible pump to the bottom of the pool and ran the water through a filter and back to the pool. took a couple of days (16x32x8) in-ground pool. I paid a local pool guy to add all of these chemicals with no result so the towel idea is a miracle.

Mike Burnett
- Cape Girardeau, Missouri, USA

July 8, 2009

As a last ditch effort before our 4th of July pool party, I tried the OxiClean [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] trick...IT WORKS! We have a 12 X 24 oval 48" deep, which was rust brown from horrible well water. Put in 3 lbs of oxiclean and clarifier and pool turned clear in an hour. I would have spent a fortune had I not found this trick. THANKS!


Cathi Hill
- Beggs, Oklahoma, USA

Q. To the person that used Oxiclean in the pool, did the water go back to its original state when you added chlorine? Also did anyone get any reactions from the Oxiclean? I want to try this as for all else has failed me and I am tired of spending money! They say not to use it but it may just be worth a try! Please let me know, "poop soup" pool owner.

Kelly Struck
- Beavercreek, Ohio, USA
July 12, 2009

I have tried two summers, hundreds on chemicals, and pre-filtered the fill this year with a whole house charcoal filter, and it still turned brown. 18x4 foot intex. The stuff last year killed the pump, had to buy a new pump this year. Pool company said no iron in water, but vacuuming the settled stuff off bottom, it comes right back out of the inlet jet, gotta be iron. Trying the sock/cotton ball filter method, let's see what happens. This may just work, it's so simple, and doesn't cost a lot, if this works I will know what to do next year for sure. Can't wait to see clear water finally.

V R Gator
- York, South Carolina
July 8, 2009

We had the same thing happen to us, shocked our pool (Intex 18x48) and it turned brown...long story short, we put a sock over the output thingy and changed the filter often (we rinsed and reused 2 filters during this process) and whew, 5 days of waiting and watching, it finally cleared up, NO chemicals, I'm glad we didn't have extra money at the time to spend on chemicals bc we did it with a little elbow grease! Yeah for reading others advice!

Randi McHenry
- Stanton, Texas USA
July 10, 2009

July 10, 2009

I have a redneck way to fix this issue that is COST and chemical FREE!
We have very high iron levels in our water, to the point where we get iron stains in our drains in the house if we do not soften our water.
Filtration is the key, Here is what we did. First we took the skimmer off the pool, we put a screen in the bottom of it. We then cut open an old pillow open. we stuffed the skimmer full of the cotton (or what ever pillows are made of). we changed we had to empty the skimmer about 3 to 4 times a day, in 2 days it was clear enough to swim, today is the third day and it is Crystal clear.
One thing to watch for is when you change the cotton, be sure to unhook the hose and pull the skimmer from the water quickly as the water in the hose and the skimmer is full of iron. make sure you put a screen of some sort in the skimmer as well or it will just suck the cotton into the pump.
You will still need to add chemicals to keep your levels as they should be, but the fix itself is chemical free...
Well, with that in mind I am going to go for a swim!

Ronaldo Hostrand
- Deerwood, Minnesota

Aquapill 8

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July 10, 2009


Please be careful when using chemicals guys esp. if you have children I think your best bet would be to call a pool company. I was talking to Intex about my iron problem and she said that its a common thing and her recommendation was this pool pill www.brandsonsale.com/aquapill-ap08.html =>

I think I'm going to try the towel things because then I don't have to play with any more chemicals! Iron Out [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] is a strong chemical and its not like putting it in your water softener because that water stays in your pool all summer long... also if you read an oxiclean bottle it recommends no use with iron in removing stains from your clothes so I would NOT use it in my pool water for that reason alone.

Talk to a professional if you're still seeking answers I think you safest bet would be those slime bags or trying to create something with the towel idea already mentioned. :)

Laura Kate
- Nova Scotia

July 11, 2009

Well I have to say I'm really surprised. I have tried everything under the sun over the past year to remove the rust from my pool water. I took the ideas from this page and applied them to my 24' X 42" Intex pool. I used a white towel wrapped around my paper filter and a cotton sock on my inlet.....after about three day the water was crystal clear. Even after I added liquid chlorine to bring it to the level it needs to be. No discoloration, no brown tea looking water.
Thanks to all that posted ideas.

Mike Kesselring
- North Branch, Minnesota, USA

We purchased the Intex 16' x 42" pool and filled it with our well water 2 days ago. Water looked a bit brown - figured it was the iron in our water and chemicals would fix. WRONG! Set-up conditioning, shock and stabilizer made it worse. I started reading info here. After a day of trail and error I learned that: 1. Coffee filters restrict water flow thru filtration system too much. Need good flow to obtain filtering 2. Pump filter sent with pool is inadequate to filter iron. However, replacement filters obtained at Wal-Mart (2 pack) are great. 3. Tube socks make great iron filters. What worked best? 1. A single tube sock over the filter pump's output basket, secured with rubber band. 2. Adding a submersible pump with 3 tube socks secured with a rubber band to the outlet end of the hose. 3. Rinsing/cleaning the pump filter and "tube sock filters" FREQUENTLY (every 30 minutes initially). We've not been running this system 24 hours yet and the water has turned from "iced tea" to nearly clear. We ran the "triple tube sock filter" overnight - vast improvement. Expect we will be done with filtering iron today and then I will be on to figuring out how to lower Total Alkalinity with pH and Free Chlorine perfect. Hmmmm... The info contained here was invaluable to helping!

Tamera Ragna
- South Bend, Indiana
July 13, 2009

July 13, 2009

You have really helped me to understand what is going with my pool. I too experience discoloration after a shock treatment and was told that I still had "metals" in my water even though I treated it with a "stain and scale" chemical from a local pool dealer. We went away for the weekend only to return home to a green pool...UGH! I called the pool dealer and was told to shock the crap out of it and so I did...adding 2 lbs. of shock and noticed that the water once again got worse not better. Totally frustrating. So I begin researching and reading and found this site which I am so totally grateful for and learned of the "sock method". I have put a sock in the skimmer as well as a sock on the incoming water in the hopes that this will work. My only thing now is that I believe in addition to still having metal in my water, I now have algae (beginning stages). I am wondering if the shock treatment will help cure that problem? Any ideas? I also have put in an algae chemical to prevent and fix algae growth. Fingers crossed...:) If you have any ideas, please send them my way. I am so tired of buying chemicals and wasting money and not to keen on the idea of swimming with them either.

Iron and Algae

Tracey Fig
- Dover, Delaware, USA

July 18, 2009

We tried the sock in the filter and a towel hung over the pool - the results are amazing! We had light brownish green water because of high mineral content and with small children using our pool, I was hesitant to put in more chemicals than I really needed.
Instructions: Take a men's tube sock and cut off the leg part leaving only the foot. Place it over your filter for the pump and tuck in the toe part in the top hole of the filter. I used the leg part and just put it in the skimmer to collect more iron. It takes about 3 days total of rinsing the sock and filter and leg part in the skimmer regularly (three times a day) but my pool is now clear!
Hope it works for you too!

Kim Caines
- Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

July 21, 2009

I have found that the "gallon jug filter" worked great for us! I used a milk jug at first, but stuffed it full of quilt batting that I cut in to 6 inch strips and stuffed in the jug with a wooden spoon handle. The neck of the milk jug wore out after about the third time I had to rinse the "filter" out. I found that a bleach bottle worked just as good if not better. I cut the milk jug open and rinsed out the quilt batting then stuffed it in to the bleach jug. I drilled about 15 holes in the bottom of the jug. I also attached a longer piece of hose so that the jug could get to the bottom of the pool. I ran this "filter" over night, and my pool went from "coffee brown" to crystal clear over night! Thanks Pete for sharing this great idea!

Diane Udell
- Ann Arbor, Michigan. USA

July 27, 2009

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. It has helped us a TON!

Here is what we have found so far:

We bought an INTEX 18X48 pool and filled it from our well, not even considering the high iron content (we bought a water softener when our toilet bowls stained after moving into our new home last Nov). We didn't want to run 6,000+ gallons through the softener, so we bypassed it when we filled the pool.

When the pool finished filling, it began to turn a very faint color of brown (almost yellowish), and by the next day, light brown. We added no chlorine yet.

We put a tube sock around the INTEX filter, and a double sock on the return. Within 3 days, the water was crystal clear, and we got excited. We thought we had all the iron removed, and when we added chlorine, it wouldn't turn brown. We thought wrong.

I ordered an INTEX salt water chlorine generator, but in the meantime before it arrived, I poured a jug of 6% sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) into the pool. Within an hour, the pool water was dark, and I mean DARK brown.

So, since Saturday (it's Monday today), we've used any combination of quadruple socks on the return from the pump/filter, socks stuffed with cotton balls, double socks on the paper INTEX/WalMart brand filters, towel draped over the return/socks. The water is clearing, S-L-O-W-L-Y, and when we wash out the socks, and towels, they are dark reddish brown (like dark colored paint).

We are hopeful that when it eventually clears up, we can hook up the salt water chlorine generator and have the pool water not turn brown, or at least not as brown. This process is slow, time-consuming, and labor intensive, but we hope to remove the iron without chemicals, if at all possible.

Bottom line, add chlorine before attempting to remove the iron. If you remove it before, obvious there is still a ton of it still in there that you can't see, which will really come out when chlorine is added.

Thanks again everyone for pointing us in the right direction!

Kenneth Black
- Gold Hill, North Carolina

August 3, 2009

Following up from my last post...

The pool was brown for a couple of days, and then after a HEAVY rain, it cleared up. We started the salt water chlorine generator system and the water turned brown again, though not as brown as before. We have been filtering with the sock/bath towel, and chlorinating for 6 hours/day. Anytime we're not chlorinating, we're filtering with socks on the return hose, and a sock around the filter. Now the water has cleared up beautifully, and we doubt we'll need to filter but for another couple days. We're chlorinating every day, so we don't need to fear the water turning brown again...hopefully! *fingers crossed*

Next year, we're going to fill the pool from the well with the garden hose filter someone else spoke of, and hope for the best. At the very worst, we know we can filter out iron with socks and a bath towel (although we'd rather not!).

Thanks again for the help everyone! If we hadn't of read the advice on this site, we may have drained the pool, and hired someone to bring water.

Kenneth Black
- Gold Hill, North Carolina

July 27, 2009

We are in the process of building a new pool and we have well water. I am so thankful for finding this site. We are ignorant when it comes to the workings of the pool, so please describe any advice clearly.

Because of finding this site, I think I should filter the water from the water hose as the pool fills the pool. Would the sock method be the best way to do this, by putting it on the end of the hose? What other of the methods described would you use if you were filling your pool for the first time?

Thank you!

Amanda Jones
- Nashville, Tennessee, USA

July 30, 2009

We also had the brown water problem. First time we filled up the pool without running through the house filtration system. Water turned Brown as soon as chlorine was added.

Drained pool and refilled by filtering through the house carbon filter. It still turned brown as soon as chlorine was added.

One of our neighbors had water that turned a bright yellow, so they added something from pool store. I believe it was called Backup. We tried this with the filter running all night and by morning the water was just slightly murky and two days later was crystal clear. We also replaced the filter with a larger sand filter at the same time we added the Backup. Water is still beautiful 3 weeks later.

Linda Gargalli
- Claxton, Georgia

July 31, 2009

I shocked my pool and it turned brown... I was so sick of buying pool products so I tried the sock and it helped and I went to town and bought OxiClean [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] a small container and in 15 minutes, my water was clear as the aces spades, I swear by it! Thanks for the person or people that offered this advice, It works!

Heather Hurt
- cottonwood, Minnesota usa

I have an intex 24 x 52 above ground pool I also have well water. I put 8 bags of salt in and 24 hours later after running my pump I turned the salt chlorinator on around 9 pm. The next morning my water was dark brown. The pool people gave me a gal of acid some pool stabilizer and a bottle of Metal Out. At 1 am the next morning nothing has changed so I put 6 lbs of Oxiclean in. When I got up this morning 8 hrs later the pool looked great. The towel and sock I used over the water out didn't really collect much iron it was mainly on the bottom of the pool. Even the filter looked good thanks to the OxiClean [affil. link to info/product on Amazon]. I will write back in a couple of days to tell y'all if everything still looks good. Thanks so far.

Clifton Davidson
- Dayton, Texas
August 2, 2009

This is a great forum. I am in the process of experimenting with several versions of the physical filter ideas in this thread. My problem is dead green algae which forms a fine dust on the bottom of the pool and then (for the most part) passes through the sand filter and back into the pool when vacuuming. I can vacuum to waste but this wastes a great deal of water. Has anyone on this forum had similar (similar to the rust stories) success with filtering dead algae? The sock and towel ideas (attached to the outflow fitting on the pool) certainly gather much algae but you can also see a green cloud of material that gets through the socks and sifts back to the pool bottom.

Terry Daniel
- Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
August 12, 2009

August 15, 2009

We filled our Intex pool with well water, then added chlorine. The water turned a brownish-green color. Having been on this site, I was prepared. I added a pint of "Metal Free" and replaced the Intex filter with a filter made for my in-house filtration system (Whirlpool filter #WHKF-GD050), easily cut to fit. The water was crystal clear within a few hours! We were amazed! I ordered the "Metal Free" online from In The Swim. Next year I plan to filter the water through the Whirlpool filter when filling the pool!

Peggy Suggs
- Front Royal, Virginia

August 16, 2009

Thanks to all contributing to this forum, it was all really helpful! I took the towel/socks filtering approach and after 24 hours of filtering the water is clear :-) It will take another 24 hours to get it to perfection but in the beginning the water looked REALLY bad, all brown, the bottom could not be seen. I used a rag wrapped around the filter cartridge with some towels in front of it. My rag is was miracle in filtering, catching all incoming rust and the (paper) filter itself remained almost clean. I have tried some rags just to pick up the best that both catches rust and does not block flow of water, which is very important. I would recommend people to put their towels/rag/socks in front of their filter, this way it would remain clear and you would just need to wash out rags/towels. Just check flow of water now and then and when it slows down considerably it means it's time to wash out towels. That's it! Effective, chemicals-free and final solution to brown water.

Maros Sandor
- Prague, Czech Republic

December 2, 2009


Brown stains in marbelite swimming pool. We had a swimming pool built but when we filled it with water certain areas stained brown. The staining did not occur near the place we let the water in and we did not add any chemicals to the water for at least two weeks. However the stains occurred almost immediately after the water has been put in

Lize Harmse
teacher - Rustenburg, South Africa

December 2, 2009

Hi, Lize. Sounds like the brown stain is from iron that was in the water. Chemicals on or in the construction material of the swimming pool probably raised the pH of the water enough to cause the dissolved iron to precipitate. The water should ideally have the iron removed before it is added to the pool.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 3, 2010


We bought a garden hose "in-line type" filter (the white one, not the carbon one), and it DID NOT work.

We'll have to try the carbon one next year, but I'm not holding my breath that it will work.

Guess we'll be breaking out the socks and towels again this year. *sigh*

Kenneth Black
- Gold Hill, North Carolina

Oxalic Acid /
Wood Bleach

Affiliate Link
(your purchases make finishing.com possible)

May 27, 2010

Towel, sock, pillow, sound great.
To clean the stain I use Oxalic Acid which you can find in any pool store, or buy it on line. I get their other chemicals for the pool, you just need to know the name of the chemicals.

PH+: sodium carbonate / washing soda [affil. link to info/product on Amazon]
PH-: Muriatic Acid
Raise Alkalinity: Sodium Bicarbonate
Stain remove: Oxalic Acid
Hardness+ : Calcium Chloride

They all same chemicals you buy in pool store, just check the shipping price and compare.

Mike Amir
- Worcester, Massachusetts

After all I gave up, yesterday I used OxyClean, that was a miracle, the water and the rust stain cleared in less than 15 min. Maybe Oxyclean is same stuff as Oxalic Acid you buy at the pool store. It looks and works alike. Even the name is very close, I think OxyClean Is Oxalic Acid. For me chlorine is more dangerous than OxyClean, Chlorine is highly corrosive so I have no problem to put OxyClean in the pool. Also I use the sock, Pillow stuff and towel to catch the metal in the pool. At last now I can see the bottom and I can vacuum the dirt. The next step will be to balance the pool. My pool is in=ground 18x36 vinyl liner.

Mike Amir
- Worcester, Massachusetts
May 28, 2010

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