Excessive Iron in Swimming Pool Water
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 2019June 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!
- 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!
- Mills River, North Carolina, USA
June 26, 2011
We have an Intex easy set 15' round pool. When we first bought it we didn't have any problems with the color or cleaning. Then we moved closer to the beach and our ground water is closer with more metals and sulfur in the well. Two years ago we set up the pool for the kids and the water upon filling started turning green. It stayed that way although all the tests done said it was safe. Eventually we got frustrated algae started becoming a major problem and it seemed no matter what we did it just got worse. So we drained it cleaned the pool and put it away. This year the kids (teenagers) said they wanted it back up. Of course within minutes of being full it was green. I don't know if it was the chemicals or what. Like everyone else on the board we have a major metal problem. So last night I went searching for a solution online and found this site. You all are awesome. this am we started changing the filter out and put socks in the intake and out-take. After 1/2 hour my husband checked the intake sock and it was brown so he cleaned it and put it back. Whoever thought of that is a God send. I hate the condition of our well water and we have a water system for the house. Wish the water outlet for the pool was part of it, lol. Thank you all for your suggestions, will let you know what happens. Have a great weekend.Debby Hampton
- Milford, Delaware, USA
July 1, 2011
I am also having a lot of issues with rust/iron in my water, I have an INTEX 18 X 48 pop-up pool. I am currently using the socks and towel method it is catching a lot of iron/rust but still not 100 percent just yet. Also a great absorbent thing I tried on my INTEX paper cartridge filter is a white baby diaper cloth very absorbent! I have the low end vacuum that came with the pool but my problem with this is that it attaches to my garden hose, so in return I am putting more well water/iron water right back in the pool!!! is there another way to use that vacuum ?? Also my water is more green today and less brown now what do I put in it to help clear it up more chlorine? any ideas? Thanks!! :)Robin Ansley
HomeOwner - Belle Center, Ohio, United States
July 2, 2011
We have a pool at our weekend place that we visit every other weekend. It's a 15 x 48 Intex pool. When we arrived back yesterday, all the rust settled to the bottom and the pool water was clear. We brought up an old DE filter that we had stored in our shed from our pool (that we don't use anymore) at our primary home; we hooked it up to the Intex pool. Before we turned it on we brushed the bottom of the pool to loosen up all the rust from the bottom. We then ran the filter for about 4 hours, until we went to bed. This a.m. the rust again settled to the bottom, but 3/4 of it was gone. We repeated the process again this a.m. and have the filter running presently. The water is now nearly 100% clear, just slightly cloudy, you can see to the bottom. I know not everyone has this option, but just thought I'd share what we did. This was my hubby's idea. The DE powder/filter obviously did the job. Once all the rust has been eliminated we will reconnect the filter that came with the pool. I wonder if there's a manufacturer that makes a smaller DE filter, for the smaller Intex pools; there should be should, the need is definitely there. Good luck.Sue Carol
- Marshalls Creek, Pennsylvania, USA
July 9, 2011
I was having the same issue as all of you. The sock/towel thing was working, but not very fast, so I started taking 5 gallon buckets of water out and testing other solutions. For those of you who like instant gratification the way I do, here is the solution. Iron Out. Originally, I was skeptical like many of you because of the chemicals involved. Then, I came across the post about the chemicals being the same as in the PH lowering chemical. I'll be darned, he's right. So, I tested it in the bucket. Clear water in 30 seconds. I put about 3 lbs into my 2000 gallon pool (12' x 30''). Within 5 minutes, the water was crystal clear!! As an added bonus, my PH and alkalinity are also now dead on, both were high before the Iron Out. I swam in the pool with my girls (1 and 6) just minutes after adding the iron out, and no ill effects. Iron Out is now a permanent part of my suite of pool chemicals. I hope this helps someone who is considering using but is skeptical like I was.James Ravnikar
- Bemidji, Minnesota, USA
July 18, 2011
Thank you all so much for this forum.
I'm a first time pool user. My hubby and son bought me an above ground pool for my Birthday in June. I didn't get to swim in my pool on my Birthday because of my pool looking like chocolate milk. So in desperation I googled my pool problems and I found this site. And thank goodness I did otherwise I'd be bald from pulling all my hair out in frustration!!!
I did the white sock thing, and the pillow stuffing thing and they worked perfectly. We ended up using about 2 pillows, 4 socks, and a body pillow. But by doing so, the pool (12 ft X 36 ins) ended up beautifully clear in just a few days.
So because of the excellent help and advice I got from this site, I thought I'd pay in kind and tell you what I found works beautifully for the pool filters. We were going through about 3 a week, so after about 3 weeks I soaked them in a bucket overnight. I rinsed them off and they were as good as new.
The product I used is a toilet cleaner called "The Works". I buy about 4 bottles at a time from 'The Dollar Tree' for only a $1 each. The smell is nasty, so don`t get too close to the soaking bucket!!!
After I rinse them off and reuse them, I pour the water I've soaked the filters in down the toilet. It keeps it sparkling clean. A word of advice, don't pour the bucket of the chemicals down into a stainless steel sink - it will take the finish off.
I have even put the pool filters in the dishwasher after I rinsed the chemicals off, and they come out practically like new.
I love my pool, I use it almost every day weather permitting. I've lost about 15 pounds in weight already and have a fantastic tan from sunbathing on my rubber raft in the pool. And living in WV, the views are magnificent from my pool. It's nature at its most perfect.
Thanks again for the help and advice.
Wendy, West Virginia.
- Oak Hill, West Virginia USA
July 19, 2011
Hi, Wendy. Thanks for "paying in kind" by sharing your tips.
But I think what everybody would most like to hear from you is how to lose 15 pounds by lying on a raft sunbathing :-)
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha
July 19, 2011
Hi Ted. I lost the 15 pounds by lots of swimming. I know a 12 ft X 36 in pool isn`t all that large to swim in, but I got creative. I'm only 5 ft tall, so the pool seemed large to me lol.
I spend a lot of time in the pool. Mostly sunbathing on my raft in the afternoons reading a book. In the early mornings and evenings I would swim moving my arms and legs constantly. Another benefit of that is that my insomnia is nearly gone now. Plus being in the pool so long I'm not in the fridge/pantry looking for snacks lol.
I also lost weight by picking blackberries on my property, and on my neighbor's driveway walking quite a distance every day. So what I've lost in body weight, I've made up for in blackberries. There are over 15 pounds of blackberries in my freezer right now lol.
- Oak Hill, West Virginia USA
July 19, 2011
Heres what worked for me. Try at your own risk.
I took a five gallon bucket that had a pour spout in the lid. I Removed the pour spout cap off the lid so I could pull up the spout hidden below. I then removed the entire lid from the bucket being careful not to damage it.
The spout is flexible and and I needed to clamp my output hose to the spout so I placed a plastic fitting that was nearly the same outside diameter as the inside diameter of the pour spout. Any fitting that fits tight into the spout should work. I then put about 10-15 holes 3/4" around the bottom sides and bottom of the bucket.
I then placed took a pillow and removed the pillow covering exposing the polyfill that was inside. I then stuffed the polyfill into the bottom of bucket.
Now I placed the lid on the bucket and snapped it into place. Then took my output hose and slid over my bucket lid spout and clamped into place. This is where the fitting comes in that I placed inside the spout. It gives a hard surface to clamp the hose and spout together with.
I then hung the bucket over the side of my pool and turned in my pump. Mine is 8,800 gallons and in 8 hours it was very clear and I swam in it. Prior to swimming in it we made sure the water was pH and chemically balanced. We also got in and vacuumed it well.
Later that day I removed the bucket carefully avoiding tipping the bucket from how it was laying in the water. By the way while laying in the pool mine kinda laid a little tilted. Never straight up. It had a good amount of water in it but never full submerged mire than 2/3.
After removing the bucket I removed lid and changed out the polyfill with fresh material. I then put the lid back in and out it back in the pool.
I Always clean the skimmer filter every few hours and watched my bucket closely to make sure the lid wasn't bulging from pressure. Monitor your water pH and chlorine levels.
My pool water was crystal clear in 24 hours.
- Oden, Arkansas, USA
July 21, 2011
We had the same problem..brown yukky water ...this forum is full of great advice & very helpful information....we did the sock thing over the water exiting the skimmer in the pool and we did the sump pump thing...we got the kind that you just hook a hose to ...we hooked one end of the hose to the sump pump and the other end to a garden hose (pre)filter it just screws right on the other end of the hose.....tossed it all in the water & hoped it worked...I can see the bottom of the pool now ! we removed the hose pre filter and cleaned it out....lots & lots of yuk...hooked it back up to do another cycle...best 25 bucks I ever spent! found the pre filter at the local pool/spa store.....the sump pump is doing all the work...sucks the water in one end and out the other threw the prefilter....still cleaning and changing filter but not as often...and it's speeding up the process ...Tina McCap
- Akron, Ohio
July 23, 2011
A HUGE thank you to everyone who has posted on this site! We tried everything for our brown water, eventually making our own filter like suggested. We had to modify it some, we did not have a 5 gallon bucket so used a 5 gallon tote. When we first tried it, I only put it in the pool for a few hours at a time. I now realize you NEED to leave the pump and homemade filter in the pool! We have left it going pretty much nonstop for 3 days (you have to rinse it out periodically, which is a huge pain). 3 days ago I could see about 5 inches deep in our 48 in pool. I can now see the bottom and the water is almost clear!!! I have not seen the bottom of our pool since we put it up(about a month!).Nina E. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Waverly, Minnesota
July 25, 2011
Update: Back in June 2009 I posted to this site about my home made pillow stuffing and socks filter to clear up my Intex pool. Well, last year we decided to buy a sand filter from a pool supplies catalog - based in Chicago, I think. We've never looked back. Pool cleared up within 24 hours and this year works like a charm. Clear,inviting water. We need to backwash the filter about once a week else it starts sending back the dirty water. But we love, love love the sand filter. We also got some solar heating and the pool is mega mega fun for all.Saya Cranda
- Minneapolis Minnesota USA
July 27, 2011
I will try the sock method for my small "pop-up" pool filled with well water. I plan on removing the (apparently) worthless filter from the pump and attaching a sock/polyfill filter on the outlet. This way, the cheap pump will at least keep from running dry due to a blinded filter. If that seems too slow, I will rig a sump pump/bucket like others have mentioned. The best thing about this method, in my unprofessional (but educated)opinion, is that the kids can use the pool even if it looks like weak tea as long as pH and chlorine are in spec. I am pretty sure that a little bit of iron never hurt anybody. Mechanical methods seem the best way to go here. Chemical methods don't really do anything with the iron other than to keep it in a clear solution. Best case with chemicals is a long-term battle keeping the iron in the preferred oxidation state along with proper pH and chlorine levels. Mechanical methods allow you to actually remove the iron. Anybody have a nice, safe flocculant to help things along? Adjusting my well water for pH and chlorine resulted in a VERY fine iron particle size that will be difficult to filter.Eric Neal
- Wichita, Kansas, 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
August 2, 2011
I looked on here for answers to my brown water problem and found the answer....I used the sock method to get all the iron out...It took me 6 days to to get the water clear...Thanks for all the advice.....Joe G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Lebanon, Indiana
September 21, 2011
TOWEL FILTER WORKS GREAT !!!
We have a 12'x30' in-ground pool using well water that is full of ferrite(iron). For 1 year we had beautiful crystal clear blue water and didn't even know that we had a problem until one day I inadvertently increased the Alkalinity and the iron came out of solution. ARRRRRGG help !! Every time after that I added chlorine or pool shock (which are both very alkaline) the pool "rust" got WORSE! After reading this forum and getting filter ideas, I simply stuffed a towel into the basket in the secondary skimmer right before the pump. After brushing all the "rust" down to the drains at the bottom of the pool and waiting several hours , the pool began to clear. The white towel had turned brown ! In 1 day the pool was almost blue and in 2 days it was crystal clear blue again !
From now on I will filter the well water before it goes in the pool and keep the alkalinity low. I would advise DO NOT use chemicals to get rid of the rust as it will only hide the problem...... THANK YOU FORUM !!
- Cape Coral , Florida
March 16, 2012
I had the same problem for starting my pool. It is a 24 x 52 aboveground. After 2 years of clarifying and vacuuming all the time, I found out that if I use hydrogen peroxide (98 cents a bottle), I would use 3 bags of shock and then use 3 bottles of peroxide and water would be clear in less than an hour usually. You can find out more by looking up peroxide anywhere on the internetButch Roberts
- Lubbock, Texas, USA
April 24, 2012
We bought an Intex 16' x 48" metal frame pool for the kids for my daughters birthday. Filled with well water and added shock, the water was browner than the bayou. I managed to get it crystal clear in 5 days. This is what I did. First I raised the pH and added more chlorine. It made it worse but that was my intention. Then I placed a sock around the skimmer basket. I took another sock and stuffed it with teddy bear stuffing and placed another sock over that one, I placed that sock over the water output inside the pool. I took two more socks and cut the foot off I placed both of those over the cartridge filter. I ran the pump continuously. Cleaning the socks every few hours. I vacuumed the pool with the hose attached to the pump. I then took about 25 vitamin C tablets and threw them into the pool and placed about 25 more in the skimmer basket. I continued to clean the socks every few hours, on day four I added some more vitamin c tablets. On day 5 the water was sparkling blue. I vacuumed sediment off the bottom. Shocked it again with socks still in place and put in algae remover. It's been two weeks and the water is still perfect, I vacuum once a week run the pump every 4 hours and balance the pH and chlorine as needed. No more rust or brown water. When I have to add water I stick the hose inside a sock filled with teddy bear stuffing before putting it into the pool. No need for harsh and expensive Metal Out chemical, just socks, your regular pool chlorine, vitamin C and a little work and you have a beautiful pool to enjoy all summer. I didn't even buy a bigger pump just the cheap one that came with the pool, although I will be getting a sand filter cause it filters the smaller particles better. Hope this helps.Laura Collins
- New Iberia, Louisiana, USA
May 7, 2012
I have a post above, in 2009.
The last few years we used city water; this year we're back to well water. We put 2 carbon filters on the water hose before it went into the pool. We don't have the brown dark tea water as before. It's yellow with bits of floating iron and a floating oily substance. It's just about half full and not high enough to pump and filter yet so I'm still waiting for the chemicals to sink and vacuum. Hopefully, I keep it updated.
- ratcliff arksnsas
May 9, 2012
Q. I have this same problem with the iron. My pool slowly would get iron tinged the last few years when I upped my alk, ph and chlorine upon opening. It would eventually bleach out and I could see the iron in the backwash. This year has been awful. I used the stain out product but it didn't stay in suspension and redeposited in my liner and stairs. I have a lined 16.6 X 35.5 grecian pool. The second treatment I added a chemical to keep it in suspension and added DE to my sand filter to catch the suspended iron. The pool cleared up and looked great. As soon as I upped the ph and chlorine again, it started turning. I have put the white towels in my skimmer and stuffed white socks over my jets and they are catching some iron, I am having my sand replaced later this week, I noticed my backwash shows no signs of iron and my sand is 11 years old. It has worked great until recently. Backwash would be brown with iron in the past.
My question, should I keep cranking the chlorine and balance my pool and try to oxidize this stuff and catch it with rags and new sand, or should I get the chlorine back to zero and retreat the water, get it in suspension and drain it? Or will the new sand adequately filter it out?
- Scottsboro, Alabama USA
May 14, 2012
Q. I have an in ground pool and I have well water. About 40,000 gallons. the pool has stainless steel sides and concrete(?) bottom. The well water has discolored the sides, rust stains, near the water tap. Also, the lights are calcified or scaled. Can I use Iron Out or Oxiclean with steel? I cleaned the steel with white vinegar and they turned a bit white. The rust stains are still there and in the returns. What can I use to get the iron out of my pool which is now empty, getting the bottom painted?kari izu
- bloomfield hills, Michigan
May 29, 2012
A. I am going to try and post some pictures to help everyone understand what's going and how it works. We have well water which is VERY high in iron and manganese, smells like crap and when its used to fill a pool, looks like it smells. I have fought this for three years with my INTEX 18x52" 6200 gallon pool and want to tell everyone the basics of what to do and what not to do. 1.Super chlorinate the pool so your FREE chlorine is in the mid to high range. This takes a lot more than the instructions will say, but it is necessary to oxidize the iron into rust so you can filter. Your pH and alkalinity may be high, ours always is, so you will need a pH- to get it into the "OK" range. It has been my experience that it takes 3-5 x's the amount of super shock to get a free chlorine level at initial filling.
2.Use a sock filled with batting material like pillow stuffing,(crew socks work best, white) and attach to the outflow valve with a rubber band if necessary. 3. Wrap some white washcloths around your filter and secure the washcloths with three rubber bands. one on each end and one in the middle. it will take two washcloths end to end with some overlap to reach around the filter. 4.place some washcloths in the strainer basket loosely or some batting material. Washcloths are easier to rinse clean though. Clean these off at least 3 times a day if you can, the rust will rinse of very easy. 5. In about 3 days you should be able to swim in it, it will be an aqua-green instead of murky brown-green, and in 5 days it should be totally clear. Don't loose hope, and don't spend a bunch of money on "clarifier's" and "rust cleaners" they don't do anything but create a polymer crap that leaves a Grey blue film on your filter that wont rinse out. Plus its a lot of money for nothing. I will see if I can get some pics of the setup for everyone to see. This will work. Use all three points of attack on this rust and it speeds up the process greatly.
- Dike, Iowa
June 5, 2012
A. I have iron-bearing well water at my home. I purchased a 16' x 32' Intex Ultra Frame pool. The pool came with a sand filter and I am using a saltwater chlorine generator. When I first filled the pool, the water was clear; but after running the chlorine generator for 1 cycle the water had a yellow tint which caused the blue bottom of the pool to appear green. I am happy to say that the Intex sand filter does a great job of removing the precipitated iron from the pool. After running the filter for a day, I had to backwash it because it was clogged up with so much iron. The backwash water that came out of the filter was so brown it looked like root beer. Within 3 days the water was clean enough for swimming.
I can't believe all of the responses that I read with people adding chemicals to the water to get rid of the visible iron. In my opinion the only way to get rid of iron from a swimming pool is to chlorinate the water and filter out the iron particles. If you live on iron-bearing water and don't have a sand filter, go buy one. They cost less than $200 and it might end up saving you money in the long haul. The filtration sand is supposed to last at least five years and a 50 lb bag is around $5 per bag, but those paper filters only last a few weeks before needing to be changed and they each cost about $5.
- Belleville, Wisconsin, USA
June 11, 2012
A. I have the worst iron water in the country! Forget buying all the extra chemicals. What you need is a sand filter ... period. The little paper filters that come with the Intex pools just are not made for water with iron in it. You need to spend the extra $400 dollars to get a sand filter ... trust me!
Overnight your water will clear up! Yes, using a flocculant for clumping the metal will help but only if you have a sand filter.
I have a 13'x 48" Intex above ground pool and it uses the sand filter ... beautiful water!
- Dayton, Minnesota, USA
June 11, 2012
! Just wanted to say thanks for the sock idea. I put a sock over the filter inside the pump and a sock over the out take(where the clean water pumps into the pool). I changed the socks 3 times and in 24 hours my pool is almost Crystal clear. Used a rubber band to hold in place.Janet Stockman
- Merrill, Wisconsin
June 13, 2012
! First off, I want to give a sincere, big Thank-You to all of you who contributed to the "poop soup green/brown" colored water in your pool after being filled with well water. If it weren't for all of you, I probably would have taken my quick set 15' by 3 1/2 ' deep ring pool down and said the heck with it. This is what I did and it only took 9 days of faithful homemade filter and T-shirt sleeve covered cartridge changes to get my water crystal clear! :D I took a 2 liter pop bottle and drilled 15-1/4" holes in the bottom of that bottle. I then stuffed it with stuffing from a pillow, (I no longer was using) up to the bottom of the bottle neck. Then I cut a foot and half section of garden hose from the female end. (you want the female end to use) I put the cut end inside the bottle and used Gorilla Tape (better than duct tape) to keep the hose from coming out of the bottle. I then took the female end of the hose and put it into the clean water return. The bottle will sink to the bottom of the pool and that's o.k. The filter cartridge that came with the pool isn't very good at keeping the iron/rust from re-entering the pool, so what I did was cut the sleeve off from a white T-shirt, slid that over the filter cartridge and put a rubber band at the top, middle, and bottom to keep the sleeve on the cartridge. The first 4 days, I changed the pop bottle filter and the cartridge every 2 hours. The next 5 days, I changed the cartridge & pop bottle filter 3 times a day. When I changed them, I rinsed the sleeve, cartridge and pop bottle right away. Run water into the pop bottle until it runs clear, then it's good to go for the next filtering round. It's nice to have an extra filter cartridge, extra t-shirt sleeve and stuffed pop bottle ready to go. Don't forget to keep the balance of the water in check. The water in my pool was VERY bad, but patience, determination, and 9 days later, my pool is 100% crystal clear!! and ready!! Pool & Tiki bar is open, come on over for a dip! Good-Luck to all who are in the same situation I and many of us had been in. Hope this works for any of you suffering with nasty water situation.Sharon Stambaugh
- Pittsford, Michigan, USA
June 25, 2012
! Love living in the country but a pool filled with orange well water is quite the turn off to the kids. Read the suggestions and wanted to go chemical free to start. Tried the white towel trick, which worked, but the best solution...was to run the pump 24/7 and change the filter frequently (every couple of hours if able). In just 3 1/2 days we now have "see the bottom of the pool" clear water with no chemicals. Couldn't believe it. Patience is key.Karen Moore
- Columbia City, Indiana, USA
I stumbled across this forum via a Google search of how to fix the brown rusty water in our brand new 15' above-ground Intex pool. I nearly wept with joy when I found these responses and I wanted to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to Karen Snyder - Canton, Ohio (and her husband) for their brilliant idea of the sump pump pillow filter! We've been running it for 24 hours now and our murky brown water (compliments of high iron from our well that we filled the pool with, plus this newbie's addition of chlorine shock) has turned crystal clear blue - with NO CHEMICALS! So THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!
I am posting pictures -- we documented the process!
At start (9 PM), and changing the filter next morning
About 15 hours later, 18 hours later, and 24 hours & 3 pillow filters later
Thank you all for all your feedback! It gave me hope when I was despairing (and my husband was ready to throw the pool away!)
What we did:
two five gallon buckets, both with 1 1/2 inch holes drilled in the bottom of both sides
Put a working sump pump in one and drill a hole in the top of the bucket for the hose
Put a pillow in the other and drill a hole for the other end of the hose to go thru (we had to rig up a way for the floater to stay up in the sump pump bucket so it would continuously run, but a few zip ties did the trick) Plugged the sump pump in and 24 hours later, we have a clean pool!
Thank you again!!
- Alvada, Ohio
June 28, 2012
! Just want to thank those with the sock/towel solution to the rust. It truly works, started the process just over two hours ago and already the pool is clearing up and I have rinsed out the socks twice. Wow! Love a cheap and easy solution. thanks again.Amy Dough
- Outer Banks, North Carolina, USA
June 30, 2012
Q. I want to know where I can buy these chemicals "iron out" and "super quest" and others please?Ahmed sami
- Cairo, Egypt
! This thread has saved another pool - albeit a tiny, cheap pool... Several years ago I bought a 14'x42" pop-up pool on clearance at Big 5. It sat in the garage until a few days ago when we finally leveled a spot for it. It took 7 hours to fill from my well (We have no other choice, as we are in rural farmland with no pool services less than an hour away.)
Got the infamous "POOP SOUP" as soon as I chlorinated. So glad I found this site before I tried chemical warfare. Despite what everyone has said here, I was skeptical that socks and batting could cure a problem as bad as mine. Our water softener guy told us we had the highest iron content he had EVER seen. We have to set it at 50-60 grains to make it drinkable in the house. Even the guy at the independent testing lab raised an eyebrow.
Well, after 24 hours it's now a clear green and I can see the bottom of my pool again. Since I only spent $200 on the pool and filter, and because we have a painfully short pool season, there was no way I could justify spending more money on a new filter or accessories to help the process. (We were seriously thinking of just draining it and throwing it away.) But, I did it all with stuff I already had around the house.
I found that my puny little pump couldn't keep up with a washcloth on the intake + t-shirt around the filter + sock over the outflow. I also found it difficult and time consuming to attach the sock around the outflow (It's deeper in the pool than it should be). I ended up just taking the filter out all together, using the washcloth over the intake, and a sock filled with pillow fluff over the outflow.
For the outflow: I found a vacuum cleaner accessory extension tube from my old Oreck minivac, stuffed the batting-filled sock on the end and zip tied it in tightly in place. (The battling had to be packed tightly enough so the tube didn't slide through it.) The other end of the tube slid snugly right into the outflow hole from the inside of the pool! So much easier to prep and insert. Overnight I stuffed an old pillowcase full of batting and zip tied it around the tube because the smaller sock filled up with rust too quickly and I didn't want to get up every few hours to prevent the excess rust from spewing back into the pool. (Gather up all the loose bits of fabric and make sure the batting is balled tight so that the tube doesn't slide right through the batting...)
(The whole time I made sure my pH was in balance and my chlorine was normal to high - to keep the rust out of solution and thereby filterable.)
Total cost? A couple of old pillows, several old white washcloths, a bunch of old white tube socks, two old white pillowcases, and a packet of zip ties. I could see drilling holes in the vacuum cleaner tube to make it filter more efficiently through the batting, but I wanted to still be able to use them with the vacuum later :)
- Deary, Idaho, USA
July 14, 2012
Q. I need HELP!! We filled our above ground pool and the water was green. We put Metal Out in and waited two hours. We then put in chlorine tabs in along with the algicide and the shock. Our water turned brown we were told to put in a whole bottle of Metal Out and it would help. It's NOT!! I would really like to know what to do PLEASE!!Crystal Wingert
- Buhler, Kansas United States
September 11, 2012
Q. CLEANED MY 16-32 FOOT POOL. BY ACCIDENT I USED MULTIPURPOSE OXIDIZER -- NOW THE WATER IS SOUPY BROWN. SHOCKED IT SEVERAL TIMES AND STILL THE SAME, HELP ME.Silvia [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- VAN BUREN, Arkansas
A. Hi Crystal. Hi Silvia
The basic thrust of this thread is that you have to filter the brown rust out of the water, and that it isn't expensive or difficult, but may take a couple of days.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha
July 17, 2012
The little home made pump with the fiber is awesome. We spent over $50.00 just on Metal Out and some other stuff. I found this homemade filter system on line and in two days we could see the bottom of the pool, third day completely clear.
This is a must try, also I added white socks to water inlet; it helped also.
- burgaw North Carolina
August 16, 2012
A. After two years of battling iron from my well in my pool, I have come to the conclusion that it is best to allow the iron to oxidize (turn red) and then remove by filtering. Trying to keep the iron in solution can be done, but it requires adding and replenishing goop into the pool all summer, causing balance/SWG issues. I now only add salt (SWG system), HCl (pH down), Bleach (as shock), filtration, and a bit of patience to my pool. Clarifiers/flocculants/metal sequestering agents present problems for both my pool and my pocketbook. My rust-red pool runs clear after about 3-5 days of filtering and is crystal clean after 7-10 days. As long as my pool is in balance and free chlorine is stable, I allow my kids to swim. Iron is not hazardous to health as far as I can tell, so there is no reason why the kiddos need to wait two weeks while our pool clears from weak iced-tea to crystal clear. Socks/towels certainly speed the iron removal process, but don't expect results overnight. As long as my pool does not "eat" chlorine, I feel comfortable that green/red water is safe to use for swimming.Eric Neal
- Wichita, Kansas, USA
May 21, 2013
A. I have well water that has a high iron level and when we filled our pool the water was very yellow so I added 1 bag of Morton water softener salt to the pool and ran the filter for 24 hours straight cleaning the filter every 4 hours and we have crystal clear water now. I did have to vacuum the bottom of the pool for a small amour of iron that had settled. This is the easiest way with no gadget.Jenn Holley.
- Newark, Ohio, USA
June 9, 2013
A. I got our pool fairly clean and a little cloudy until I added shock and chlorine and it went brown. We are on a well and the brown-green is caused by all the iron in the water. I took everyone's advice but nothing seems to work. I have resorted to using socks to filter the water from the hose and putting socks in the filter basket and large pieces of cotton batting I found in a dog bed. I also covered the input water with three towels. It really absorbs a lot of rust and should be cleaned within a few hours but I believe this is the process I will stay with and see what I get in a few days.Howard Bailey
- Shallotte, North Carolina, United States
June 12, 2013
Thanks for all the posts, they were very helpful. I made a bag out of window screen and stuffed it with pillow stuffing (took one off my bed LOL) and attached it to a sump pump as shown in some other post with a bucket. 24 hours later our pool is crystal clear. No chemicals used at all. Thanks again.
- Callahan, Florida
June 22, 2013
My man fashioned a filter out of a bucket with a lid, drilled holes, stuffed with fiber fill, attached with a hose to the pump and strapped with tie downs to the above ground pool ladder. Amazing results! One stuffing change after about 12 hours, ran it overnight again and amazingly clear water! So excited to swim in what was once a swamp!Laura mcneir
- Galt, California
July 14, 2013
A. I am one to do lots of research and found these postings very helpful. I am also one to try something for a extended period of time before I post results or opinions. The sock and stuffing idea works to an extent but can also burn out your Intex pump.
I have an Intex sand and sun metal frame pool, 13 foot round and 3.6 feet deep. I bought it years ago. This is the third time I was able to use this pool and the first time using it with well water. The sock and stuffing idea worked to an extent. I attached it to the return hose outlet and changed it every two hours. It really helped clean up the water. However, I still had a problem with iron in the water as I found out because my pH, hardness, etc., is out of whack and my chlorine was ate up in a day. My water got cloudy and nothing I did would help it until I upped the chlorine and put the sock back on. Then I put the sock and stuffing on again but this time let stay on overnight for two nights.....my pump burned out. I had to go out and buy a new pump.
I believe and will try next summer, that having a better pump than the Intex kind, a better filter than the Intex kind, and maybe trying the bucket and stuffing idea (maybe reduce strain on the pump a little) might have a better out come than the sock idea. I am really happy to find this site though. I read through all the postings and it has all been helpful. I couldn't find this information anywhere.
- Oakwood, Ohio, USA
July 23, 2013
A. We filled our 11,000 above ground pool with water from the hose after replacing our liner. The water turned brown like coffee after we added chorine. After reading this forum we concocted a solution that worked really well. We added fluffy pillow stuffing to a white tube sock and stuffed it in our filter basket. We wrung it out and sprayed it off every two hours then four hours, six hours and so on until the water was sparkling clean. Initially, the sock was almost red / rust color after just a few hours and then it became less and less. This took us about two days, but no additional chemicals were needed with really great results! We did have to keep adding chlorine - perhaps this adhoc filter also removed chorine in addition to iron. We've now purchased a filter for our garden hose and have this sock filter as a back up. Good luck!K Watson
- St. Paul, Minnesota
April 29, 2014
Q. My Intex 18x48 is brown! I have been using a white sock over my filter. I put pillow stuffing in the basket leading the water out of the pool. I also put a white sock with pillow stuffing on the valve with the water going into the pool. I change all three of them twice a day, that's when I'm home. I haven't been running my salt water system just the regular filter. It's been about 3 days and my pool is still brown. How long will it take? Should I run the saltwater system too?
- Lafayette, Louisiana
June 3, 2014
Q. I am using artesian water to fill my pool. The water turns brown. What do I need to do to fix this problem because I am wasting a lot of money and it still turns brownMelanie Corkern
- Poplarville Mississippi
A. Hi Melanie. That's what this extremely long 4-page thread is all about :-)
But to summarize, here's the deal: your artesian water has iron dissolved in it that is not normally visible to you. When you chlorinate the pool or otherwise treat it, the acidic conditions that allowed the iron to be dissolved can no longer exist, and the iron cannot stay dissolved; rather it precipitates as extremely fine iron/rust particles that won't settle, and which make the water brown.
Aside from using water that doesn't have iron in it, your only two options are to chelate/complex the iron with something similar to iron out (with variable success), or to solve the problem by filtering out the iron. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha
June 4, 2014
A. One solution is to install a greensand filter on the well water. Another is to add Calgon crystals to the water. The polyphosphate will chelate the iron.Lyle Kirman
consultant - Cleveland, Ohio
June 8, 2014
A. After shocking our pool and it turning dark brown. Listening to 50 people tell me what to do. I bought Metal Out for $13 bucks. Overnight, pool went from dark brown (couldn't see the bottom) to clean with a green tint. Also my husband got into the pool a hour after I added Metal Out and it didn't hurt him at all. Hope this helps someone.Crystal Smith
- Hamburg Arkansas USA
June 25, 2014
A. We had the problem with brown pool water when we added chlorine and shock. All the chemicals have turned the pool brown.
A man gave us some ALUMINUM SULFATE. We put it in yesterday and all the brown is in the bottom of the pool now. We are going to vacuum the bottom and let it run out of the pool. I put some water in a cut and it is clear finally...
ALUMINUM SULFATE is the answer!
- Meridian, Mississippi USA
Hi Darla. Aluminum sulphate may not always be THE answer, but apparently it can be a great answer as you have discovered, and I'm amazed that no one (including me) had mentioned it earlier. Most water treatment plants use aluminum sulphate. The aluminum goes into solution, driving the iron out of solution. Thanks!
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha
July 9, 2014
Q. This post was wonderful and a huge help. We are 24 hours in and the water is blue again, but cloudy. How long before I re-introduce chlorine? Also, is there an easy way to remove the stains in the hose going from the pump to pool or will that not be a problem? I did add algae-prevent yesterday; all my levels are normal and fc is zero. Thank you!Dawn Grimes
- Brunswick maine
July 27, 2014
I was skeptical on how this was going to work. Thank y'all so much!! I had beautiful lime green water in my Intex 22x52 pool. The pool place kept telling me all my levels were correct (after adding all kinds of chemicals) and I went out and bought the Intex sand pump thinking it was circulation. I found this website (thank you) and tried a sock in the filter basket and a towel over the return. The next morning I had beautiful blue water!! Thank you!
- Hornbeck, Louisiana
August 15, 2014
Well I read and read these responses and decided to try the sock idea on our new 18 x48 Intex pool. I put polyfil in an old sock and put it over the outlet and it worked. Got pretty gross with iron in about 3 hours so I took a second polyfil sock and put it in the filter chamber and with washing the filter out every 2 to 3 hours we can see the bottom of the pool. Think we worked our brand new pump to death, but got the iron out the water.amy genzel
- caldwell, Texas
August 12, 2014
! I have had several nightmares with the iron-laden well water while filling our pool. I have tried the all of the techniques. Homemade filter, oxy-clean, iron-out (messes with chlorine level), etc. Even used the neighbor's water for two summers. The only answer that worked for me is a sand filter. Crystal clear and done right the first time. No more sadness and frustration. Yay!
There is an answer. Yes, not the cheapest solution, but one that works the first time. :)Theresa Rogers
- Zimmerman, Minnesota
October 21, 2014
A. I had green pool water after filling my pool. I found this website with suggestions about using cotton to clear the water. I put cotton inside 2 socks and put that over part where the water goes back into pool from pump. I also took some thick cotton burp cloths rolled them up, put 2 long tube socks over then and attached that to a hose connected to a sump pump. I let that run for 2 days and frequently rinsed the cotton filters out and put them back to keep filtering. In 2 days my pool got clear.
- bridge city, texas USA
January 1, 2015
A story of not thinking...
Rusting A frame pool steps ...
and a few hours of use by the family with the steps in the pool,
then some maintenance afterwards (by me)...
Well, after a few moments of "What the hell happened?", I thought through my steps and remembered that the water went a shade of dark yellow after I put the chlorine in.
Off went the light bulb in my head and I shook my head while looking at the pool steps.
I found this forum and after reading this post, well I had my silver lining ...
A few T-Shirts and many filter changes and wash-outs over the last few days ...
We have come back to a more usual pool colour :-)
Thanks again to those that have shared their stories and their ideas. I might have resorted to a dump of the water and started again (Not a fun thought!).
- Sydney, N.S.W Australia
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