Iron out in water softener, toxic?

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Chris Szilagyi

Feb 2, 2004, 11:36:18 AM2/2/04
I am curious to know if adding Iron Out to a water softener is toxic
for drinking? Also what are the long-term effects on the softener
itself from doing this?

We do not drink the soft water directly, we run it through a reverse
osmosis filter, but our pets like to drink straight from the faucets.
We have noticed an orange tint that builds up over time on various
things that use the water (dishwasher, sinks, etc). From reading
these groups it would appear that using Iron Out may help. I have
read and been told it can be added to the softener, but I wanted to
see how safe this is first.

Thanks for all feedback on this issue!

Garry Rossong

Feb 2, 2004, 6:30:15 PM2/2/04
to (Chris Szilagyi) wrote in message news:<>...

Hi Chris, the answer to your question is its very toxic, basically the
softener bypasses the water thru the head when its in a regeneration
cycle. So you can use water (not Softened) when this is happening.
Do this proceddure when your going to bed, that way nobody will be
using water anyways.
Iron is a softener killer, it coats the resin beads and the only way
to clean them is with a similar product like what you have mentioned.
Softeners can only remove small amounts of iron (depending on the size
you have) it sounds like you really need to address the iron issue.
If its showing on the appliances then I would have to say that your
softener isn't working either (no soft water)or the capacity of the
softener will be reduced so you will be running out of soft water
really quick.

Hope this helps.


Feb 2, 2004, 9:22:25 PM2/2/04
I'm not sure what the formulation of Iron Out on the store shelves today
is but when my wife brought some home this weekend I started looking. A
recent patent issued to Iron Out, Inc. (#6297208) describes an improved
product that utilizes fluoroboric acid. The MSDS for fluoroboric acid,
among other things says:

The product [fluoroboric acid] causes burns to eyes, skin and mucous
Ingestion may cause gastro-intestinal irritation, nausea,
vomiting and/or diarrhoea.

The argument that is frequently advanced is that Iron Out and other like
materials are introduced with the brine in the softener and the brine
solution with the added chemicals are then passed over the ion exchange
resin during the regeneration process and then the resin is back washed
and rinsed with water. Supposedly all brine and chemicals are removed
this way. In theory it may work but in practice I submit that it may
not. I sometimes can taste salt just after a regeneration so the rinse
is not flawless. Of more concern is what happens when the seals in the
softener mechanism wear out or fail so that the brining, backwash and
rinse operations do not occur as intended. Then you could have large
unintended amounts of residual brine and chemicals mixed with your
"softened" water.

I don't like adding anything toxic to the water my family or I drink.
Even if it "may" be removed before I drink it. Machines do fail and the
risk of possibly ingesting something toxic is too great.



Feb 2, 2004, 10:47:57 PM2/2/04
What is the secret ingredient in iron removing salt? for that matter, how
does iron removing salt differ from "system saver" salt? WHat does "system
saver"salt do that iron removing salt doesn't? My water softner guy said to
use regular salt and add 1/4 cup iron out for every bag. Been doing that for
the last 5 yrs.

"Garry Rossong" <> wrote in message


Feb 2, 2004, 11:14:53 PM2/2/04
On 2 Feb 2004 08:36:18 -0800, (Chris Szilagyi)

Right AFTER regeneration is when the iron gets through on my Water
Boss softener. I think all the movement during the softeners
regeneration process breaks the particles free. Typically I just run
a faucet for about 10 seconds or so. It's most noticeable if a toilet
is the first fixture used right after regeneration. The water in the
bowl will be a little cloudy, flush the toilet again and everything is
fine. If not flushed again the iron settles out after a few hours and
leaves the orange film. A little bit of Iron Out in the bowl and it
disappears like magic. It's pretty minor and doesn't effect sinks,
tub or Jacuzzi.

I've kept the cloudiness at a minimum by programming my softeners back
flush time to it's maximum setting, using iron reducing salt and more
frequent regenerations (every 400 gallons).
About every 4 months I do use Iron Out in the softener. When I
replaced my well pump the softener took a big hit after disturbing
100' of 20 year old poly tubing. I was getting really nasty brown
water after regeneration which didn't clear up until 50+ gallons were
used. I contacted Water Boss and they sent me instructions on their
approved process of using Iron Out (not in the regular manual). The
crap that came out was mind boggling. I repeated the process 4 times
until things finally cleaned up. Now I just use it regularly to keep
it operating at its peak.
The Iron Out should be completly flushed away during regeneration
process but I don't believe any softener is going to be 100% fool be on the safe side, every time I use the Iron Out, I do
wait a few hours and then manually start a second regeneration. Also
just as a precaution the 10 year old house rabbit goes on bottled
water for a few days.

I also recommend contacting the manufacturer of your water softener to
find out what process they recommend. Mine was quite a bit different
than the generic instructions on the Iron Out bottle.


Chris Szilagyi

Feb 4, 2004, 7:44:59 PM2/4/04
Thank you for all of the advice. I will do the recommended steps on
adding some iron out to the brine tank, for this model softener
(Autotrol 460i). I(like anybody else) would like to prolong the life
of the softener! I agree that an additional manual flush is probably
not a bad idea just to be sure the chemicals are all removed from the
resin tank.

Just to address Garry's questions I know that the softener is
producing soft water, and we haven't run out of soft water before.
Also the softener itself is about 1 year old. But I should probably
have the water re-tested, the hardness is high (22) so I'm guessing
the iron level must also be very high.

Thanks for all of the information, I really appreciate it!



Feb 5, 2004, 4:56:06 PM2/5/04
If you look on the back of the large size of IronOut, it recommends
spreading IronOut with every 50 lbs of salt. I think the recommended
amount is 1 cup, but I'm not sure and I don't have the container

I've been doing this for about 7 years and have never tasted any
traces of a foreign chemical or salt in the drinking water. My well
water has quite a bit of iron and I also have a whole house filter
after the water softener. I've never had a problem with my water
softener as a result of the iron.

However, I am skeptical of using salt that contains a iron removing
product. Some people say water from a water softener with the iron
removing salt pellets has a funny taste. (Chris Szilagyi) wrote in message news:<>...


Feb 9, 2004, 10:30:55 AM2/9/04
I too have been wondering how these anti-iron water softener products
work and what they affect they might have on our health.

I just got off the phone with Morton Salt company and they answered my

The active ingredient in Morton® Rust Remover Super Pellens® is Citric
Acid. I am very familiar with the ability of citric acid to remove
iron and iron stains. It does an exceptional job!! If your dishwasher
tub is iron stained, fill the detergent dispenser with citric acid,
and run it through a cycle. You'll be amazed how this stuff makes the
tub look new. Here's a source for citric acid.

Its health risks are non-existent as far as I'm concerned. Citric acid
is present in many food products at much higher concentrations than
what you'll find in your treated water. If it was in your softened
water at concentrations as high as what is found in Kool-aid or
Sweet-Tarts, your water would be sour. Now that I know this, I would
use the Morton pellets instead of Iron Out.


Jul 31, 2004, 5:59:01 PM7/31/04


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"Chris Szilagyi" <> wrote in message


Sep 6, 2017, 11:44:05 AM9/6/17
replying to Chris Szilagyi, Walt wrote:
Hi Chris - It is important to note that softened water is not healthy for
drinking regardless of what salt or additives you use. All softeners leave
some amount of sodium in the water that is passed through. It is the nature
of the ion exchange process.
For drinking water, you should either have a tap that comes from before the
softener (I recommend carbon filtering that) or putting the softened water
through a reverse osmosis (RO) system for drinking water. I personally do not
like RO water and it hurts my stomach, but the problems with RO water are
another large discussion.
Another option is, of course, to buy drinking water (you can now easily find
good drinking water for under $1 per gallon)
Either way, it is certainly not healthy to drink water from a water softener
due to the significant sodium content. I've seen this nearly put people in
the hospital. Water softener manufacturers will not tell you this because
people would be more hesitant to purchase them. Some will try to tell you
that their softener does not allow a significant amount of sodium into the
water. The sodium level varies with the part of the cycle and it is in fact
significant with all softeners.
This assumes you are using salt in your softener. Some softeners allow you to
use Potassium Chloride, which will leave Potassium rather than Sodium in the
water and this is much safer for drinking, though you should probably have
your Potassium levels checked periodically at the doctor if you use this.
Potassium Chloride, though, is much more expensive and harder to find. It
also does not remove iron from the water like Sodium Chloride, so if you have
iron in your water it is probably not a good option.

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Mar 17, 2019, 12:14:04 AM3/17/19
replying to Walt, Aflfan wrote:
This is a bad rumor. I've heard it numerous times. Yes excessive salt is bad
for you health. No, water softeners will not put excessive salt into your
diet. Drinking a gallon of softened water gives you the equivalent salt
content that you would get eating one slice of bread. So enjoy your softened

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Mar 17, 2019, 12:14:05 AM3/17/19
replying to Chris Szilagyi, Jalaz wrote:
Did you die seriously?

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Water Tester

Sep 7, 2021, 9:45:03 AMSep 7
> I've seen this nearly put people in the hospital.

No you haven't. Sorry, but that's dripping with hyperbole.

"Nearly"? What constitutes that? "People"? How many people did you come across?

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Sep 14, 2021, 11:15:04 PMSep 14
I'm afraid this is not a rumor. I've seen proof and significant health problems (with visible physical effects) that stopped after changing from softened water to to the same water before the softener.

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Oct 20, 2021, 12:45:04 AMOct 20
If your water tastes salty you have the grains per gallon set to high.


Nov 15, 2021, 8:15:03 PMNov 15
Update: IU Medical Methodist (Indianapolis), which has the top cardiology team in the state, indicates in their dietary documentation (I have a copy) that softened water should not be used as drinking water.
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