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Excessive Iron in Swimming Pool Water

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Editor's summary: Readers are welcome to read this entire long thread, 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.

A discussion started in 2002 but continuing through 2017

May 31, 2010

Has anyone tried a magnet to attract the excessive iron in the pool?

Ernie Sperling
- Bradford, Ontario, Canada

May 2010

Hi, Ernie. Sorry but a magnet will not work. Magnets only work based on the crystal structure of a ferro-magnetic metal, and dissolved iron is not metal.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 31, 2010

Just as a point of clarification for anyone wishing to use OxyClean in their pool. OxyClean is made of sodium percarbonate and hydrogen peroxide. Sodium percarbonate is used in swimming pool care products (Oxy-Pool is one) to dechlorinate and sanitize pool water. You can Google sodium percarbonate and swimming pools to get more information.

Chlorine shocking precipitates the iron out of the water and turns your water brown. It's not really feasible to filter unprecipitated iron out of water as you fill the pool, as many people have already discovered. The filter methods described here will remove it from the water.

Personally, I prefer the filter methods discussed here. We have a 16'x48" round Intex above ground and high iron content city water. Over the last four years we've gone through hundreds of dollars in chemicals to remedy the brown water problem. I don't care to use chemicals anymore (including OxyClean) -- but if it works for you and you're happy, it's none of my business.

John White
- Houston, Texas USA

June 7, 2010

I have iron in my well.

The flocculent is the #1 answer. It also depends on how much iron you have. You can actually shock it and turn it all red but it will stain the sides of your pool. You need to scrub that off and let it settle out to the bottom and then vacuum to waste. Same with a flocculent. Get the filter running and the water circulating. Then shock it (if you have algae also) - then flocculate it (NOT A Clarifier!).. , then next day turn every bit of circulation off and let the water sit still for like a day(or two). you will see the water clear and a brown murky bottom. This is all the iron settling out. Now vacuum that to waste (the particles are too small - even with the flocculent(clumps particles together) to be filtered out)(try it if you don't believe me - start vacuuming and watch the return pipe pour out red cloudy water back into your clean pool)...

Only flaw in this plan is that you have to add more water back to the pool - this is the iron water that started the problem ! So I suggest you either use the Metal Out (which will tie up some of the iron in a soluble form(that means its colorless).. or make a pre-water tank - fill it - let it settle out and then pump the clean water off the top to fill your pool.. (i have 26,000 gallons so that don't work for me) (I can vacuum to waste the whole bottom in about 1500 gallons)

David Fitzgibbons
- Peoria, Illinois USA

June 9, 2010

Hello all.
I had the same problem, well water with iron and heavy metals.
My pool is 16x4.5 high .
HEY PRESTO Pool clear in there days.
SO PATIENCE,I ran the pump for 8 hours a day.
Cheap (only used 2 filters) no extra chemicals and no extra cost.

Kim Payne
- Moncton Canada

June 15, 2010

Just to let others know I have finally solved my Intex brown water problem, and I wanted to share my experience with you all. I bought this Intex pool as a "first pool" with the idea of using it for a year just to make sure we enjoyed it before investing a few thousand on a permanent one.

It took us a couple days to get the ground level, and another day and a half to fill the pool. We were so excited to watch the water level rise and once it was full we were ready to swim! So that night I threw the Shock in and went to sleep having dreams of diving in the pool and relaxing with a beer in my crystal clear pool.

Well what a shock I had in the morning to find my water Brown as the Illinois River, and to be honest the river looks better then our pool did. I checked the filter and yes it was working and the filter was Chocolate color, so I took it out and rinsed it clean and put it back in.

I called the local pool company and he explained that it was the iron reacting to the chlorine, and he sold me a bottle of StainBan. Once I got the StainBan in I had to babysit this pool every two hours so I could clean the filter off. I even took the discharge hose off the pool and placed an old t-shirt old it, and that to was stained red within an hour. I fought with this pool for 2 weeks and the best I could get it was light brown, and that was not good enough for me. Once I realized that the filter was doing very little I knew I had two choices:

1. Take the pool back.
2. Or keep the pool but buy a better filter.

I did some looking and a lot of calling and decided a sand filter is what I needed for well water. I checked around and found out that a sand filter new is more then the whole pool, but used is a completely different story. I ended up getting a Pentair 1.5hp 200 lbs sand filter for $150.00 off of Craigslist, and it connected right to my Intex hoses all I needed was two hose clamps. It took me 5 minutes to get the Pentair Sand Filter hooked up, and with 10 hours my water was better then it has been in two weeks of constantly running my Intex pump. I am now of my 15th hour of the sand filter and my water is 95% crystal clear, and I would imagine by tomorrow it will be 100%.

So long story short, this Intex pool filter is not made for well water, and it can be totally frustrating dealing with all the hassles of brown water but there is hope out there. I have even posted a video on youtube to show the progress of my pool. Please forgive me for the quality of the video but you will be able to see the difference. I hope this post gives you some hope if you are dealing with the problem I had. Here is the link to the 1st video of my pool and I will be taking video until it is crystal clear. Thanks!

Chris Peterson
- Lacon, Illinois

June 16, 2010

Chris, I checked out your video and am hopeful. I have a sand filter in storage. (had a pool at my previous home) Could you explain how you connected your new filter to the intex hoses?

Cathi Ste.Marie
- North Troy Vermont

June 16, 2010

Cathi - Sure I would love to help. On the Pentair Sand Filter I bought the intake and discharge fittings are 1.5", and that so happens to be the exact size as the Intex lines. All you need to do is disconnect the Intex pump, and get two 2" hose clamps and attach your Intex hoses to the sand filter. It took me 2-3 minutes to have the sand filter up and running. Did you see my Part 5 video, because in a day and a half my water is CRYSTAL clear! Good Luck!

Chris Peterson
- Lacon, Illinois

Sand Filter

June 23, 2010

Sand filter is the only way to go. Finally, blue water after 2 weeks and around $150.00 dollars on chemicals. Tried the sock trick and the OxyClean with little results. Not to mention all the chemicals from the local pool store. Finally I found a used sand filter as suggested in a previous posting and I had crystal clear water in 24 hrs. I guarantee you will easily spend as much money on chemicals to attempt to get your pool clean as you will by finding yourself a used sand pump. Where you will get results I promise. My filter came with a 100 lbs. of sand and a 1.5 horse power pump for $180.00 and this way I know I will have blue water for years to come. I have a 16 ft. round 48 inch depth Intex pool that we are finally enjoying. Thanks Chris for your posting and You Tube videos.

Dawn Brooks
Student - New Berlin

June 16, 2010

We tried about a 1/4 cup of super iron out along with the sock and towel method. When our 15 year old came down about 4 hrs later she could not believe the difference in the pool and neither could we. We have been changing the sock every couple of hours, but even if we go through a whole bag of socks, it is much cheaper than the $105 option that the pool place tried to sell us.

Susan Bolan
- Morrice, Michigan, US

June 16, 2010

I just got a Intex above ground pool I have rust in my water before I put the chemicals in it should put something in to remove the rust thanks

christine kern
homeowner - Pearl River Louisiana

June 21, 2010

After reading some of the posts on here, I tried the sock method, although I was worried about burning up my pump, so I got a submersible pump. I double layered socks on the output of the pump. After an hour the socks needed changing. Strictly to prevent have to change the socks hourly, I got an industrial bag house filter. The change overnight was incredible. With nothing more than a pump and huge filter my water went from coffee to picture perfect, zero effort. I let my neighbor borrow it, he had similar results overnight. So I strongly suggest using the sock method or similar, with patience and a little elbow grease, it will pay off without the nasty effects of chemicals. Zero brown left in my pool, thanks to you all for the idea and suggestions.

Jon Hansen
- Monticello, Minnesota

June 22, 2010

Okay so we used a ton of chemicals trying to fix this iron issue. We're going to get a metal control chemical this weekend but without it we have the water already changed from looking like dark tea to a lemonade color. I put two tube socks knotted 4 times each (it really bunches up the socks) inside the filter for the Intex pool (which I might add does NOT filter out the iron by itself well AT ALL) and that was about 3 hours ago. I just went out and the socks were both completely brown but the filter wasn't (for once, I've been rinsing it every 4 to 5 hours and changing it with another one rinsed the 4 to 5 hours prior to) so I rinsed the socks tied em back up and threw them back in...hopefully this works. This weekend I'm ordering the next size up for a filter-pump that Intex makes, we have the 1500 gph one and I'm going to get the 2500 gph off of Ebay because I have read that a better and stronger filter will help in the long run.

Heather Hessert
- Carmel, Maine, USA

June 23, 2010

I wish I had found this site before I drained my pool last year. When we refill it, we will have municipal water trucked in, but we will top off after evaporation with well water. I am thinking that I'll set up a filter on the fill hose instead of worrying about it after the iron laden water is in the pool.

Karen Cook
- Placerville, California, USA

June 24, 2010

I was cheap and bought a small air ring pool at Walmart this year 12 'x 33" 1600 gallons and filled it with my well water thinking like many before that there should be no problem. my water came clear out of the tap :)
When I added the chlorine to the pool right in front of my eyes I seen my pool turn from just a little cloudy to full fledged Brown. When I called the local pool store they told me that there was nothing I could do except pay them $500 to truck me over water to fill the pool cause of the iron in it.
This is what I did and I have seen a Drastic Improvement in only a few hours.
Took an empty 2 liter bottle of Coke Poked about 7 1/8" holes in the bottom a stuffed it full of polyfill(cut open one of my wife's teddy bears) and made sure it was packed full I then placed one of my Socks over top of the bottle to cover up the holes I made in the bottle. and secured it a couple zip ties. took an old garden hose that I cut a few feet off keeping the female end on the hose and stuck the cut end into the bottle and fastened it with electrical Tape(couldn't think of anything better here). I then took off the return hose from the pool after capping the inside and stuck the female end of the garden hose into the return hose and fastened it with a hose clamp. Threw my Makeshift filter into the pool and turned on the pump. Then I heavily chlorinated the pool, up to around 15 on the test strips to try and fully oxidize the pool.
Pool has went from a really Dark Brown to now a yellow/brown and my homemade filter is getting extremely dark in color. I made a second one I plan on attaching in the morning but believe it is solving the problem.
Poly fill $8.00 for big bag at walmart and 2 liter bottle of soda

Adam Chase
- Bristol, New York, USA

June 24, 2010

We live in a very rural area with no city water, no water delivery, and I was hesitant to fill my new Intex pool from the well. I used creek water. Now I have a pool full of very brown water. I have filtered, shocked, chlorinated--I am seeing no change. Please help.

Mona Thomas
new pool owner - Parrottsville, Tennessee

June 25, 2010

I have been facing the same problems just like the rest of you. This is my first time having a pool. I have a 12' x 33" and if I had known that well water was gonna do this to my pool I would have had the city to come and fill my pool for me. Soon as I added the chlorine tabs, my water had a greenish tint to it. And all the rust settles at the bottom of it and I have to either get in or take the edge of the net to get it to rise and then splash the water around and then it's off the bottom of the pool. The water is clear, just that yellowish green tint to it. I want it out of there. I am trying Clarifier right now but I have doubts that will do any good. I have heard of Proteam but I am not sure if that will even help it. I don't wanna waste money on chemicals that aren't gonna work. I don't wanna try Iron out, tempted to try OxyClean but first I am gonna try the towel solution since so many people have said it works. It's been such a hassle.

Kristy Jordan
- Magnolia, North Carolina

June 27, 2010

after reviewing a few posts on brown pool water. I decided to try the towel trick. results almost immediately.

decided to try the fiber fill trick, went to Walmart's craft center,found fiber fill and (quilt batting)
the batting is awesome , it comes in a sheet, I cut it in 4 inch wide strips and wrapped it around the paper filter , about 4 times overlapping 1/2 every wrap till it was about as thick as the paper filter should be . it is working awesomely: I am running 2 paper filter pumps , 1 attached to pool; 1 with extra long hoses which I am running the return line into a basket double lined with towels a liner of the batting and fiber fill 1 bag inside above mentioned

The basket is about the same kind you would get at Walmart for a carry basket

it fits nicely on the top rungs of my ladder ( ladder is completely in pool) top rungs are about 1 inch above pool water which helps ( as my first try at cleaning my new filter system resulted in most of the red going back into pool now I can pull the hose out of the basket and let it drain before lifting it to clean it

Hope this helps
almost clear in less than 8 hrs

not sure what will happen when I hit pool with another shock treatment
but will post

Mike Haun
- Meadville, Pennsylvania, USA

June 28, 2010

i don't believe every water problem should be solved with more chemicals. I've spent a lot of time trying to get my pool water clear, then one day I did it; since then my family and friends love too swim in my pool. NO CHEMICALS no more brown water or green. I patient it and every pool I have cleared stayed clear

neco caraballo
- clearwater, Florida

June 29, 2010

I also have a inflatable ring pool SUMMER ESCAPES 16'X42". This is my third year having this type pool and the sock thing works! This is the fastest and best way by far. I've set a record of getting the pool clean in three days...The first year it took me 5 days (smaller pool INTEX, 12'X30"), last year I never really got the pool sparkling (INTEX?, 15'X36"), and had an algae bloom that I couldn't beat. Don't ever let that algae get ahead of you! You need to be diligent and I suggest you shock the pool, or rather over chlorinate as you know, to get all the iron to precipitate out of the water. Remember to balance your pH. Keep the pump's cheaper than all the chemicals the pool people will try to sell you. Then just take a soft brush or broom and keep wiping the sides and bottom to keep stirring it up. I put a sock on the outtake, the intake (less often because it does cause drag on the motor), and a few times I stuck a sock on the outside of the cartridge. I rinsed and changed the sock every few hours on both day one and two. I changed the cartridge out for a rinsed/clean one every few hours the first day, three times the second, and by the thrid day it really is almost perfect. I think I will just rinse the cartridges twice. I say almost perfect because when I brush the bottom, I see just a little puffs of the iron moving around. Tomorrow I think I will be ready to just run the pump when necessary. One more thing, after all this work, make sure you have a pool cover to keep out debris and keep your chlorine in! Happy Splashing and Swimming!

This method works! Thank you everyone!

(I just wanted to mention that when rinsing the socks and cartridges- do it with a garden hose on full stream blast. Use your finger if you don't have an attachment. This worked better than trying to do it with warm tap water.)

Sabrina Kroeger
- Gibsonburg, Ohio, USA

July 1, 2010

Hi all -

We bought an Intex pool 15' x 42". We filled up with well water and it looked fine. First I put in Metal Free and let the pump run 24 hours. Then I added 1 of the 1" chlorinating tablets the next day. The water turned a nice shade of yellow/brown which I knew it would so no surprise. I had to lower the pH and Alkalinity so we added Dry Acid and finally got the pH at about 7.4 which it's stayed at. Last Saturday we started letting the filter run all the time to hopefully get out the metals. We cleaned the filter out every few hours, by Monday evening it looked soooo much clearer. It was still a light shade of yellow but you could see the bottom and all the mess that had settled to the bottom. So Monday night I added some Bleach about 1/4 gallon since the tablets weren't really getting any chlorine in the pool. After I added the bleach of course the pool turned more brown/yellow. On Tuesday evening we put a sock over the filter and threw a towel over the pool in front of the intake for the pump. This all does great to filter this stuff out but it's still in the pool. It settles to the bottom and we circulate it and let it filter but as soon as I add more bleach we go from semi-clear and yellow to yellow/brown. The pool is only 3,800 gallons of water so it seems that at this point there shouldn't be much metal left in the pool to oxidize when the bleach is added! Our goal is to have it swimmable by July 4th and keep it clear from then on. I'm getting discouraged because we can get it semi-clear but then can't add any bleach bc then we've got another 2 days of filtering on our hands. I know we have to have chlorine in to keep it sanitary, we cannot use shock bc it makes the water a DARK brown. So far no algae problems but I think I will switch back to using a chlorinating tablet every day in order to keep a minimal amount of chlorine in the pool without turning the water colors. Some people have posted what great results they've had with filtering with socks/towels and whatnot but no one is update as to what happens once you add back in chemicals, does you water stay clear or do you have the same problem happening and just have to filter all over again? I'll swim in a slightly yellow pool but would LOVE to have clear water, doesn't have to be "sparkling, blue" just clear of the yellow/brown junk.

Any help is VERY appreciated! Thanks!

Emily Paschal
- Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

July 4, 2010

This is for Emily, I'm sorry I didn't read your post until today. My pool is about the same in gallons as yours. You NEED to shock, or over chlorinate the pool and let it turn brown. This is oxidizing the iron into rust, making it filterable....if that is a word. I don't know what kind of tablets you are using, but keep in mind some of those pucks have CYA in them, if you get too much CYA in your pool you will need to shock even harder if you do get an algae bloom. Also the pucks can lower your ph, which you need to watch. Please refer to The Pool Forum (search it). I shocked mine to well over 10 ppm. I think it may have been around 12-15 ppm, but I just use the dip sticks, and they only show that it is over 10 ppm. Then you filter (changing, rinsing very often with your garden hose on hard stream spray, like every two hours when you can), brush with soft broom/brush often, and change the sock or towel very frequently as well. I did this, and once you get all the rust out, it's out until you have to add some water from water loss. If you follow these instructions, you will have a SPARKLING CLEAN POOL. Again please refer to the pool forum on other problems you might have. Don't get 'pool stored'.

Sabrina Kroeger (returning)
- Gibsonburg, Ohio

July 6, 2010

I also have an Intex pool....last year I bought more chemicals than the pools cost...nothing worked. I also bought a pre-filter for over $60.00, two of them since it's only good for one fill. I have well water and had it tested by 3 different pool stores...all three tell me no Iron or copper in the water. I knew better because I can't use bleach when I wash my clothes!

After filling the pool it's beautiful for one week. Then the sides and bottom get slimy feeling and the water a little cloudy. Added a one inch tab of chlorine and within hours green water. I have tried almost everything on the market...and I'm thinking of trying the OxiClean.

Would someone explain some of what I read here to me?

I'd like to try the sock/towel thing but I'm not really understanding how to do this. There is a white plastic cap that shoots water back into the pool from the I place a sock over this? I did try it and it actually fits and doesn't shoot off. Took it off until I know for sure if it should go there. Don't know how I would hang a towel there since it isn't near steps.

The other part, I don't know what it's called but it has a white basket in it and it catches bugs and stuff...and I believe that's where the water leaves the pool and goes into the filter setting outside the pool. Do I just stuff a sock in the basket or take the basket out and put the sock right on the hose? Won't that prevent the water from going into the filter?
Thank you for any help or suggestions.

Tina Weber
- Paw Paw West Virginia

July 8, 2010

Tina, putting it on the outake is fine...that is where the water is shooting back into the pool. You can fill the sock with batting for more filtration. The other thing you asked about is the skimmer basket, where the bugs/debris get caught. I don't have one, and someone correct me if I am wrong, but you could put batting/sock in the basket. You could also put batting/sock in the middle of the cartridge if you wanted (in my experience this wasn't as great as the outake). Or you can wrap batting around the filter (didn't try this), or you could put the toe part of a large sock in the middle of the cartridge, wrapping the leg part of the sock around the paper filter/cartridge. There are lots of ways to do it, you just need to find what works for you. I felt that putting it on the intake (where water gets sucked into the filter) seemed to really drag on the motor so when I did it I just cut the toe portion of the sock and laid it over the intake. The sucking power keeps it on, but like I said I could hear the motor didn't like that. Just remember to change batting/sock/cartridge filter very often no matter what method, or combination of, and keep your chlorine in there to keep your pool sanitized so you are not battling an algae bloom on top of everything else. And FYI- right after shocking your ph will jump sky high, and this is not accurate, so do pH before shocking or after the chlorine drops back down.

I your sides feel slimy, that is algae! You need to shock (over chlorinate) the pool, hard. Please refer to the pool forum to know how much. They have a handy dandy little pool calculator that you input your gallonage and it tells you about how much of anything to add to the pool. Then filter, filter, filter. I hope this helps.

Sabrina Kroeger
- Gibsonburg, Ohio

Pool Chemical Dispenser

June 30, 2010

I am trying the towel method and is working but would like to also do the sock in the filter. Could someone explain where do I place the sock inside the filter cartridge?
I'm new at this pool thing and well water. Just want my grand-kids to be able to swim this summer.

Diane Becker
- Stafford, Virginia
July 1, 2010

I can't believe how incredibly great putting the sock on the outport worked to pull the brown/green color out of my pool. Our water turned brown/green after a rain and we tried everything for over a week, took in water samples bought $100 in chemicals and still brown... I put the sock over the outport and within 24 hours my pool is clear! Thanks to this post!

Angie H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Illinois, USA

July 3, 2010

Thanks all! I entered the pool world for the first time this summer. I filled my Intex pool with my well, a well I know has a high iron count (although this did not concern me at the time). The water was an initial yellow color. In my ignorance I expected a clear pool after adding the first shock treatment. To my dismay my slightly yellow water went to a deep brown. This was indeed shocking.

Well, my next move was to the internet to find the magic chemical that would give me that clear water. After learning what my problem was I came across this thread. I determined my best solution would be to physically remove the rust. After 2 days of filtering I achieved that goal, much quicker than I thought possible.

I started by over-chlorinating the pool to oxidize as much iron as possible. I also made sure my pH was not low as this will also allow the iron to stay in the water. I ran the filter and I also used the sock over the outlet. I used a white cotton sock filled with pillow stuffing. I would make sure the stuffing was in contact with the outlet forcing the water to travel through the stuffing. I made 2 sock filters as these quickly became saturated with iron. Every 1-2 hours I cleaned the filter AND cleaned the inside of the filter housing as this was filled with iron as well. I changed socks and restarted the filter. I would clean the used sock thoroughly. I changed the stuffing several times. 2 days later (about 24 hours of filtering) the pool was clear.

Lessons I learned: Change the sock often. Be very gentle with the dirty sock to prevent iron from dislodging back into the pool. Clean the filter AND the housing often. Over chlorinate and make sure pH is up to oxidize the iron. Agitate the water to lift any settled iron to allow the filer to pick it up (I don't have a vacuum). Kids worked great for this (my chlorine was high but not out of the recommended zone for swimming; don't send the kids into water that is out of the safe range).

Chemicals need not be the only solution. I used under $10 of chemicals (shock and pH increaser) and never had the water outside any safe for swimming range.

Scott Hampton
- Southboro Massachusetts USA

July 7, 2010

After sending my gf to Walmart to start chemical warfare, I found this site. I put a sock over the Intex filter and could see a visible difference from the water inlet to the outlet.

Inlet is yellow, the output is crystal clear.

Needless to say I called her and told her to hold on to her money, we might of just solved it with a pair of holy socks.

Eric Wilson
- Muskegon, Michigan

July 9, 2010

My parents just bought a Intex 15' x 48" pool and after filling it I put a chlorine tablet in it the next morning it was a light green (but still swim-able) I shocked it and when I came home it was a dark brown color I freaked out and after trying to call HTH the chemical company, and a few friends I got on line and found this forum, I too have well water and after adding about a pound of OxyClean We decided to drive an hour away to buy the metal control by hth, I put two cups in last night and it was way lighter this morning, I added another cup when I got up and when I got home the water was a light green again and swim-able! we had to drive to Salem to get it because every where out here was sold out, probably because we live in farm land which means lots of people have well water and probably already knew about the problem but hey it works!

Valerie Heptinstall
- Amity, Oregon

July 13, 2010

I have the same issue with my pool. When we filled it I knew there was going to be a problem with the well water. The only real solution is use your metal control with clarify and filter, filter, filter.... It takes a LOT of patience to filter but you want the Iron OUT OF THE WATER.... not just cover it with other chemicals.... We have been 3 days and still filtering, the chemicals are spot on so I let the kids swim. Some people took days to filter, others it takes weeks. I would rather my kids swim in a balanced pool and stir up those particles to help the filtering process then dump a bunch chemicals that were not designed for pool or human use. Next year, we will have the water brought in from a truck. I have no problem swimming in my tea colored pool while it's safe. It's all about swimming, not just having a crystal blue water. It will come in time, mean while, I'm enjoying the pool!

Pamela Snyder
- Smithville, Ohio

July 16, 2010

I have an Intex 18X52 above ground metal frame pool. For the past month I have gone round and round with my pool in trying to vacuum the dirt that collects at the bottom. I used the vacuum that came with the pool and the suction was fine. The problem I was having is that the Type A filter that the pump uses wasn't catching the dirt and fine particles, and was instead going right through the filter and putting it right back in the water through the return hose.

My Solution...................

I hooked the vacuum up the way it's suppose to go on but before turning the pump back on, I disconnected the return hose and just laid it on the ground. All of the dirt I was vacuuming was still going through the filter but instead of it going right back in, it just went out of the return hose and onto the ground. Of course, there is water that is coming out also, but it was not gushing. All I had to do when I was done was put my water hose back in the pool for about an hour (depending on how long it takes you to vacuum all the dirt out) and the water level was right back where it was when I started, the dirt is gone and my pool is now finally crystal clear!

Hope this helps some of you with this problem!

Heather [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Rock Island, Texas USA

July 20, 2010

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! for this website and those who suggested the sock thing to catch the iron, Oh my goodness, I thought I was going to have a meltdown when we filled our new 12ft Intex pool with well water and shocked it a few days later at night before bed to wake up to the POOP SOUP and my kids saying ew what happened to the water. Well, my husband said "No problem, it's the iron in our horrible well water, we will just go to Lowe's and get the stuff to put in the pool for metals." Well, we thought it's going to clear it right up. WRONG! After trying and waiting all day, no change. I came inside and decided to do some research to see what the heck to do and came across your website. THANK THE LORD! I got so excited to read I wasn't the only one that the Poop Soup happened to and went right outside to put my husbands thick white sock over the output thing, went back out a couple hours later and WOW! that sock was black. After two days of rinsing the filter and doing the sock thing every so often the pool was actually almost clear. I don't know what we would have done if I didn't come across this website. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Jessica [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Indian Trail, North Carolina USA

August 2, 2010

Please do NOT mix Oxyclean with pool water. Chlorine and Oxyclean do not mix well. Oxyclean is made from Hydrogen Peroxide and either baking powder or soda (I don't remember). Do a search on the effects of mixing Chlorine and Hydrogen Peroxide before adding it to your pool.

Dave Gordon
- Tyngsboro Massachusetts USA

August 4, 2010

How about Tang the orange drink powder. It works on iron stains as well as Iron Out and I'm sure its safe because a drink mix.

Dennis G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Dunbarton, New Hampshire, USA

August 4, 2010

We have a 15' X 48" Intex Pool with the Intex Salt Water System. Same problem, horrible brown water after running the boost function after filling the pool. We also (unfortunately) elected to fill the pool with well water rather than city water. Won't bore you with all the details and frustration.

Whomever came up with the towel/tube sock solution is a God send. I elected to use the tube sock method. Attached a men's tube sock to the filter outlet and fired up the pump. After less than 10 minutes the nasty brown particles started to collect in the tube sock! I changed out the tube sock every couple of hours as well as cleaning the paper filter in the pump at the same time. I also added about 200 gallons of "clean" city water hoping it would help to speed the cleansing process.

We had to go to Wal-mart anyway so I picked up a bottle of something called metal control (was with all the other pool chemicals). Added 16 ounces last night around 10:00 pm, changed the sock and cleaned the filter again and went to bed. I awoke to a pool that was somewhere in the light tea color as opposed to what was a chocolate shake the night before. I changed the sock, cleaned the filer and headed off to work.

My wife called me today @ 3:00 pm and said the kids were swimming in a "mostly clearish" pool....I was nothing short of shock. Got home around 5:00 pm and the pool is nearly as clear as it was when it was first filled. I've since removed the sock, cleaned the filter and with a bit of hesitation have started the Salt Water system on a normal cycle... Tomorrow morning will tell if we've successfully removed all the nasty metal particles but worst case, I know how to get the pool "mostly clear. As funny and simple as it may sound, the tube sock/white towel system works! Thank you to everyone who has posted, your suggestions and advice saved the day!

John K [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Wichita, Kansas

August 7, 2010

My 21,000 gallon pool was brown when it was filled. I put in Metal Magic from the pool store, did the socks, washed out the filter and it started to get better, but not much. I added iron myte and it still was slowly getting better. I am talking almost a week. Added iron myte again, still a little better. I shocked it because the pool store said I could since it was over 12 hours since I added more iron myte. The pool was almost completely clear. I had vacuumed every day also. Had a big pool party with tons of people and before the people even got out of the pool, it turned brown like the first day! I have not added any new water at all. Please help me. Should I get more metal magic, shock it, shoot it?

Richell Sandonato
- Wheatfield, Indiana USA

August 8, 2010

The lady from Delaware is so correct. We put the towel on our pool and it took the iron deposits out of the pool. Thanks, that was awesome advice :)

Doug Hatt
- Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

January 7, 2011

Folks - - Read the ingredients in the "Ph Lower" pool chemicals. It's the same ingredients as Iron Out. Thus, it is safe to add Iron Out to the pool or spa water. Every time I refill our hot tub, I add two (2) cups of Iron Out, due to our extremely rusty well water. We have suffered no ill effects, itchiness or residue. Just crystal clear water!

Chris Smith
- La Porte Indiana USA

February 12, 2011

Best way to avoid iron problems in pool water is to hire a tanker truck and bring in good water to start with. That's what we did based on a friend's experience. Second full year with the water and no problems at all. Probably cheaper in the long run than fooling around with all the chemicals.

Bruce Tellardin
- Placerville, California USA

March 10, 2011

Well I originally jumped on this site to see about cleaning my hot tub of the iron problem I have, but instead found that a lot of people were talking about the Intex pools, and I don't know if I just got lucky or if what I did was the best solution...first with my pool I filled it and let the water settle pool uncovered without the pump on for one day...then I took a very cheap sponge mop and started very slowly mopping the inside bottom of my pool and rinsing the mop every so often...after I finished I again let the pool settle for about 8 hours and went back and did the same thing over with the mop...after that I let the pool sit again for about 8 hours and then did all of my pH water was so clean that you couldn't even tell there was water in the pool...I also kept my pool covered every night and when not in use, and did my chemical checks and adds at least 2 hours before entering my pool. Like I said I may have just gotten lucky that summer, having so much iron in my water that I could actually mop it out of my pool, but I had not one more problem the rest of the summer as long as I did that procedure even when I had to add a lot of water because of kids and spillage, I would just re-mop it again. may seem like a lot of work, but it is cheap and you aren't dumping pounds or gallons of who knows what in the pool you and or your kids are going to swim in. This is just my solution and my opinion, but thanks for reading, and good luck!

Mary Paul
- Spring Hill, Florida, USA

April 26, 2011

This is our third year to fill a 16' x 42" Intex pool with our irony well water. We learned our lesson after the first year: trying chemical warfare, inline hose filters and milk jugs and towels. The past two years we have used what we discovered worked for iron 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 vacuum the sediment on Day 2 and again on Day 3 and our water is perfect for the remainder of the season!
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, U.S.A.

May 10, 2011

Like most everyone else in this discussion I have well water. I recently assembled a Intex 16" x 48' pool in my back yard. I have a real issue with Iron in my water. I have a whole house filter but the hose comes right out of the well.

I ran across this website and read that some people were hanging towels in front of the filter discharge. This ultra frame pool came with a skimmer assembly,so, I disconnected the skimmer assembly and used the hose from the skimmer and attached it directly to the discharge of the filter. I then took two old socks and zip tied them to the end of the hose. About 20 min later the socks were BROWN! I rinsed the socks out with the hose and reinstalled. This way may take a few days but I'm sure I will see an improvement! I will keep you up to date!!

Shawn Morgan
- Rio, Illinois, United States

May 31, 2011

Well my answer would be filter the water while filling the pool. Attach the towel to the hose then your water is filtered and your pool won't be brown. Have not tried but I will.

Lisa Mills
- Old Town, Florida

May 31, 2011

Hi, Lisa.

I think the issue is that the iron is dissolved at the somewhat lower pH as you fill the pool, so it cannot be filtered out; but when you raise the pH through shock treatment or normal chlorination, the iron no longer stays dissolved, and precipitates out as a rust color colloid. If you filter it while it is at this higher pH you can remove the iron; if you deal with the rust color by re-lowering the pH and redissolving the iron, you keep dealing with the problem over and over whenever you chlorinate or raise the pH.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

June 6, 2011

LOVE THE SOCK TRICK!!! I can see it working in minutes! Thanks soooooo much. Don't waste money on anything else. Grab a pair of old socks and put one on the intake, one on the output. Our intex will be clear by tomorrow.

Cheryl Gahan
- Stoughton, Wisconsin, USA

June 7, 2011

Hi, I have a 5000 gal Intex pool. Last year we had a horrible time with iron. Long story short. Added so much iron out chemicals to the pool that I ended up with a fine white powder in the water that could not be filtered out even with sand filter (and the water kept going back to brown). Got rid of the cartridge filter that came with the pool and bought a sand filter made for those pools (made by company called GAME). Tried socks and everything else to help filter the water and had no luck. You have to keep your pH on the lower side of normal (it's a must). Shock the water real good until it turns brown. Added a flock and waited per directions on bottle to let it settle. Vacuumed all to waste. Was able to top off pool with my well water after that and had no problem because the sand filter was able to keep up. Wasted almost 2 months on dealing with brown water last year and not doing it again this time. Also, all I use is borax and bleach. There is a calculation web site called "the pool calculator". Hope this helps.

Kristy D
- Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania, USA

June 8, 2011

We purchased a 16x48 Intex pool. We also have well water with a lot of Iron. Went to the pool store and bought Iron Out. The iron did sink to the bottom but when we tried to vacuum it out it just went back into the pool. We tried the suggestion of wrapping a towel around the filter for the pump. It did get a lot of the iron out but still not enough to clear the water up.
Back to the pool store with a water sample and bought more Iron Out but this time we purchased a sock for the pump filter and one for the skimmer. We put the towel and 2 socks (one sock from each end)to completely cover the pump filter. Today the water is clear but still had some iron settled on the bottom. We put a sock over the vacuum filter and got all of it out.
It's been a lot of work but hopefully when we take our water sample back to the pool store we will get an all clear so we can attach our Salt water pump.
Hope this can help someone.
PS: Just a thought if you can't find anywhere to purchase the socks I bet compression knee-hi socks you wear after leg/knee surgery or for blood clots would work. You can buy them at any drug store or Walmart.

Sally Atwood
- Tyler, Texas

Vitamin C

June 10, 2011

I bought a pop-up pool (4000 gal.) from Wal-Mart last week. We used city water to fill it up. As soon as the shock was added, the pool water turned bright green immediately and then finally brown. I read that this could be the cause of having iron in the pool. We used the sock method in the filter, but this did not work fast enough for me considering the brown color only took seconds to show up and I was ready to SWIM!! My wheels started turning back to General Chemistry.

The shock obviously oxidized the iron, resulting in rust that turns the water brown. Oxidation reactions can be reversed by reducing the product formed using an acid. I went back to Wal-Mart to the vitamin aisle and bought Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) I sprinkled them around the pool and put about 10-15 tabs in the skimmer basket. In a matter of minutes the pool was clear!! I'm sure the next shock will re-oxidize the iron in the water, but I have plenty of vitamin C handy for a quick fix.

I was so proud of myself for remembering something from Chemistry class. Though I'm sure that the sock method is the most effective by removing the rust and iron, it just takes so long. Also, the iron will be replaced in the pool when topping it off throughout the summer and more time will be wasted. The Vitamin C was relatively cheap compared to most of the chemical that the pool places will try to sell you. I think I paid $4.00 for a small bottle and used about 3/4 of the bottle.

I hope this helps!! Happy Swimming!

Jenna Worsham
- Wilson, Arkansas

June 12, 2011

I so appreciate all the knowledge and advice I've gained on this thread. Here's my version of the home-made filter, when I found that the sock-on-the-intake-and-outflow was just too slow:

Bought a .25 horsepower submersible sump pump (cost $100, could have rented it for about $20 per day). Its intake is on the bottom, about 6.5" in diameter.

Made a 5" hole in the bottom of a 5 gallon paint bucket, inverted the bucket and mounted the sump pump over the hole with screws and washers, winding plastic twine around it for extra security (zip ties would work too)

stuffed the bucket with cotton towels wrapped around a pillow, socks, anything absorbent.

turned a plastic milk crate upside down, and affixed the upside-down paint bucket (stuffed with towels, with the sump pump on top) to the inverted crate with zip ties. You can attach two of the zip ties to the bucket handle; two other zip ties will require small holes drilled into the rim of the bucket.

I bought a small plastic adapter to enlarge the pump's "output," and attached a sock over that with a rubber band. This caught any extra rust that wasn't filtered out.

The beauty of this setup is that with the milk crate on the bottom, plenty of water flows into the pump through the bucket and you don't need to drill any holes in the sides of the bucket -- it's just a conduit from the milk crate to the pump.

Also, the milk crate raises the pump up high enough so that you don't need to climb into the pool to get it out -- the pump is just under the surface of a 48" pool!

Quick, easy, and it works. My 18-foot pool went from dark tea to nearly clear (still working on it) in 24 hours.

P.S.: Wow, Jenna. That tops them all! I wish I'd known some chemistry! Still, I'm happy with the way my system works -- pool is now crystal clear. I'll get some vitamin C for the next shocking-- just in case

Kelly Boyle
- Okemos, Michigan, USA

July 31, 2011

Our well had high iron when tested in 2001 so we added just a Sear's high capacity water softener with "Red Out" salt pellets. For regular household use, the softener cycles once every four calendar days. First we filled our Intek pool from the well directly. After shocking, it had the red brown sediment in the bottom that the filter would not collect. So we emptied the pool and began filling it again from the cold water outlet to the washing machine in the laundry room. The softener will pump water for at least one hour before the recharge tonight signal comes on. Then you have to let the softener recharge for two hours. Thus in an 8 hour day, we can only pump for 2 to 3 hours. It takes three to four days to fill our 15 foot x 42 inch Intek pool. 3800 gallons. Most other pool owners in our area who do not have indoor water softeners have added sand filters to their pool systems.

We gave an 11 year old friend a pool for the summer. We did not know that his grandmother's outside faucets have rusty water. When we shocked the pool, it turned red brown. After reading all the four pages in this discussion thread, we did the following. We removed the filter from the 1600 gph. We run it with no filter. We took a wire hanging plant basket and attached it to the inside of the pool just under the water return pipe. Then we placed a regular common cotton dish towel in the wire basket. The dish towel is catching the rust. It will take a while to clear the whole pool, but it is working. The 11 year old boy can change and clean out the dish towel as needed. The Intek pump cannot over heat or get clogged up this way.

Once the pool is clean, we will return the skimmer and smaller 1000 gph pump with filter to replace the 1600 gph pump. Intek pumps do not filter out algae particles very well so we add Super Blue agent that makes them stick together so the Intek pumps can capture them in the filter. All the ideas for socks with pillow stuffing, sounds like it works well. We needed a system that an 11 year old boy could handle on his own. We could not make something that is a pain to wash out. So far the wire basket/cotton dish towel system is working. It will take time, but that is good for the 11 year old. He will learn patience.

Joanne Schifini
- Sprague River, Oregon

June 19, 2011

My 13 x 13 x 39 inch Intex pool turned dark brown after shocking. We have terrible well water here, and the pump supplied with the pool is awful. It took a day of work (cleaning the filter, rinsing out the socks, and vacuuming) but this technique worked wonders! The next day the water was crystal clear. Great idea!!!!! One more vacuuming and the kids will be swimming. Thanks for the info!

Sean O'Malley
- Hopatcong, New Jersey

June 24, 2011

Ding Ding Ding the tube socks are the winner to our rust in the water problem. We purchased the portable 10'x30" pool and filled with our well water not knowing any better. Within hours our pool turned a golden rust color. We made the same mistakes adding chlorine and metal remover, which seems to just neutralize each other. So we removed the chlorine, added my husbands old tube socks inside the filter and on the water return from the filter. Oh my the rust it caught. We kept cleaning everything (filter & socks) every couple hours and 3 days later our pool is crystal clear. Our filter is so small I'm sure that is why it took so long to recycle the water but the socks worked. Thanks for the great idea!! Got my floatie, where's the sun :)

Reenie Kaye
- Lemont, Illinois

June 26, 2011

OMG FINALLY!!!! So before breaking the pool down and setting it on fire then jumping off the closest pier I decide to try forum trolling ONE LAST TIME!!!

The initial person who came up with the sock towel trick should get a NOBEL PRIZE seriously! We have a 16 x 48 round above ground Ultra Frame Pool..well water...185.00 chemicals x 3 dumps and refills x maddening hours of pump running and vacuuming x two kids pouting that they can't swim...summer was off to a glorious start and life was joyous as you can well imagine!

We just tried the sock trick it's been four hours and seriously no kidding we have gone from lemon lipton tea to old lemonade..still not perfect but we have high hopes!


Alexa Bailey
- Mills River North Carolina USA

June 30, 2011

Follow up - Okay so it took four days but we are in swim mode FINALLY! I wanted to come back and post exactly what we did so anyone with our type and size pool could use this. I think time varies based on pool size/type, pump size/type. I also think the sock works great but for smaller pools as we found after about 8 hrs it wasn't pulling a large amount of metals.

We have an Intex Ultra Frame above ground 16 x 48 round (5,100 gallons of filled well water) with the upgrade pump of 2500 gph and a floater for chlorine tabs. We have a Hayward Dive Dave water bug vacuum. As I said before the water was AWFUL and we were literally desperate. Here's how we did it.

First remove your chlorine tablets from the pool. Your gonna raise your chlorine levels and don't need to make it dangerously high. Remember chlorine burns off in heat and sun so doing it this way will add one day to your time to use pool so levels can lower out! Do this in the sun and heat because that helps burn the chemicals off while still knocking iron and copper out! (Normally you don't do it in the heat and sun because you WANT to keep your chemicals useful but if your on this board looking for help then normally doesn't apply to you now does it?). Next vacuum your pool (1 hr. should be fine for starters)and rinse all pool hoses and backflush your pump.

Any dollar store sells white cotton hand towels for like $3 a 5 pack. Unless you have good cotton towels you can sacrifice go buy a pack. Get yourself (3) 1 lb. bags of shock DON'T USE superstore generics because most of these discount stores shock have fillers. You need a minimum of 45% so check your bag! Get some PH Up - I recommend Pro Team. (Chances are you have all of this from doing like we did and trying every chemical combination known to man to fix your problem.)Get a few of your husbands tube socks for sacrificing he can thank you later :)

Stretch a tube sock over your skimmer basket and place into the skimmer holder with the toe part tucked down. Change this out and rinse daily. It won't pull much junk but it helps.

Take a filter and cut all the paper off, wrap a white cotton towel around the plastic core and squeeze the top and bottom (blue plastic) parts back to the tube they will be loose - that's ok! Place this homemade filter back into your pump making sure the "core hole" is not blocked with the towel so you have good water flow. Refill your pump with water like you normally would after backflushing. Add 1/2 lb shock (basically for whatever size pool add HALF the normal dosage!) This is going to turn the water terrible colors but it is knocking those metals out of suspension. Run your pump non stop.

Every 4 hours or so turn off your pump and rinse the towel. If the water in the pump is brown flush your pump briefly to allow that discolored water to NOT circulate back into your pool. At night we just made sure a clean towel was inserted for overnight. I would have several towels handy because if yours pulls the crud mine did the towel is good for about 2 uses. After a full 24 hrs add another 1/2 dosage of shock. Again this will knock more metals into your pool make the water ugly and your going to think OMG what have I done it's still dark water...don't panic! Vacuum for 4-6 hours this helps pull water from the bottom of your pool and helps with circulating the junk. Do this for days 1 and 2.

On the third day NO SHOCK but do add PH up until your PH Level is 7.2 -7.6 add in directed dosages in 4 hour increments. Your water may look like its taken a step backwards...again its okay! Keep in mind anything you add to a pool raises chlorine and ph levels. Keep using your towels in the filter through all of this. DO NOT ADD METAL MAGIC! (Metal Magic is designed to crystallize the metals making the water clear but the Intex Pumps ARE NOT designed to filtrate this so you get clear water then back to brown when you use the pool.)

Day four use your towel as a filter but add NOTHING by now your water should be almost clear, (Ours had a very faint yellowish to it) your ph level should be good and your chlorine should be high. Run the pump on the last day 24 hours letting chlorine burn off. Rinsing the towel as needed.

Day five throw away the skimmer basket sock put your skimmer back together like normal. Vacuum for 4 hours again not just to clean but to circulate. Wipe and hose down (DO NOT USE SOAPS OR CLEANERS!) your pump and all of your hoses so metal does not stain or settle into them INCLUDING your vacuum hoses and skimmer basket. Re-introduce your chlorine tablet, set your pump to a normal timer of between 2 and 4 hrs., add your normal paper filter (Type B for us), get your floats and enjoy!

Five days seems like a lot when your fed up but I have to say it did a fantastic job, was super cheap and while we are late into the season for enjoying our pool it certainly was better than the alternative of tearing it down.

For next year we are buying a Metal Filter Trap that attaches to the hose. This came highly recommend. However from what we learned from our pool store be sure if you do that get one that filters down to 1 micron some say 5 microns which WILL NOT get out tiny iron particles. We found them online for 100.00 and when you figure it eliminates the use of a lot of chemicals and frustration we felt it was worth it for the future.

Finally I would like to once again say THANK YOU to the person who started this thread with the most ingenious and cost effective idea I have ever seen!

Alexa Bailey (returning)
- Mills River, North Carolina, USA

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