How Do You Test Water For Iron? Check Out The Best Testing Kits

Test Water For Iron

How Do You Test Water For Iron? Check Out The Best Testing Kits

For peace of mind, you should be testing your well water a few times per year. You may have some suspicions about what is in your water, but it pays to analyze your well to be sure.

The best well water test kits for iron will let you know exactly what you are dealing with if you suspect you have too much iron in your well water. If you suspect it then you probably have it since it is one of the most common contaminants in wells. (Source)

Testing for it is easy and quick so take a look at the reviews of the different kits below to see which one is right for your situation. 

No time to read the full article? Check out the comparison table below for a quick look at each iron water test kit.

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How To Tell If You Have Iron In Your Water?

The taste, smell and color of your water are dead giveaways that you have iron in your water.

Of course, it still pays to use a water iron test kit to be sure. If you have any of these signs below then pick up a test from the reviews further down in the article:

  • Streaky Stains In Toilet – Your water might be clear coming out of the taps, but when iron is present it leaves stains. The toilet is the first place where those stains will show up. The colors range from yellow, orange, to red discoloration depending on the iron concentration. The more iron present the darker the red color.
  • Yellow Or Orange Stains In The Sink – You’ll see signs of staining first around the drain in your sink where the water collects a bit. Then you may see some discoloration of the faucet.
  • Your Teeth Get Yellow– You may find yourself with yellowing teeth even if you are not a smoker. Unfortunately, brushing your teeth with iron contaminated water is an embarrassing side effect.
  • Rusty, Clogged Pipes – If your water pressure is not the same as it was, then that could be a sign that your pipes are getting clogged by iron. You’ll also notice that water drains slowly in your sink or bathtub. 
  • Metallic Taste – The last, and most obvious, sign that you have iron in your water is that it tastes metallic. The taste is unmistakable.

Is Iron In Water Bad For You?

There is no harm in drinking water high in iron. It’s more of a practical matter between the staining of your fixtures and the awful flavor of the water.

Though, there are some people who can get sick from too much iron, but the levels would have to be severe and it still would be very rare to get sick.

There is a type of bacteria that forms in some wells called iron bacteria that forms a biofilm in the water. Some people may get an upset stomach from that, but it is not dangerous. Further into the article, I will go deeper into iron bacteria.

It does have effects on your hair and skin, however. Hair not only gets discolored but also brittle and dry. 

Skin becomes wrinkled and rough. Sure, lotions and conditioners can help your skin and hair, but it is better to go for the root cause instead of temporary solutions.

Check It Out!

Once you’ve tested your well water and know what the parts per million are of your iron content, it’s time to remove the iron with these filters.

What is Considered a High Iron Levels in Well Water?

The EPA has set a benchmark as anything over 0.3 milligrams per liter (Roughly a quart) as being over the acceptable level. 

That is not to say that it is unhealthy if it is over that limit, but that is the maximum concentration of iron ppm in which water starts showing the effects of staining and bad taste. Over 2.5mg per liter and you’re water is going to give you all the problems I laid out above in regards to staining and how it affects your skin and hair.

Iron vs Iron bacteria

Besides the problems of simply having iron in your well water, you may be experiencing iron bacteria. This is a phenomenon when bacteria combine iron and manganese together to form a biofilm that looks like rust. It is a slime that is gross and smells disgusting. 

It usually smells like rotten eggs and has an off taste that is hard to stomach. It doesn’t cause any disease or gets you sick, but having it in your well water is intolerable.

I recommend going with a well water test that includes manganese as it is an indicator that you could end up with iron bacteria at some point if you don’t already have it. If you feel like you do have it then you’ll need to shock your well to get rid of it.

Best Water Iron Test Kits

In this section, you will see some of the best iron water tests you can get. If you have a well, then you really need to be doing regular testing and not just for iron. 

In this list, you’ll find a number of DIY iron test kits as well as some that you send off to a lab for professional testing. Whichever you decide on, any of the ones in the reviews below will get the job done for you!

Safe Home Water Testing Kit

Safe Home Water Testing Kit
85 Reviews
Safe Home Water Testing Kit
  • EXCLUSIVE BRAND of water test kits to earn the Good Housekeeping Seal and...
  • TESTING AT EPA CERTIFIED LAB guarantees accurate results. See attached...
  • LAB FEES & RETURN-SHIPPING are included. Detailed report available on any...
  • BONUS BENEFITS with each purchase – Promo Codes, E-Learning Center &...
  • YOUR PURCHASE MAKES A DIFFERENCE in people’s lives. Safe Home donates a...

For fast and dependable results, Safe Home is a very popular brand for professional lab iron water testing. 

The kit tests for 15 contaminants to get to the bottom of your well water problems. Besides iron here are some of the others it tests:

  • 4 In Organics – Nitrate/Nitrite, Fluoride, Chloride
  • 3 Physical Properties – Hardness, Total Dissolved Solids, pH
  • 8 Toxic Metals – Arsenic, Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Lead, Magnesium, Manganese

The addition of manganese is very important if you think you have iron in your water. You could end up with a problem worse than simply having iron if there is also manganese since it can lead to iron bacteria.

It includes vials that you fill with your water according to their instructions and then mail to their EPA certified lab. The envelope is already paid for so you just drop it in a mailbox. It takes 7 to 10 days to get the results once the vial arrives at their lab. You’ll get the results via email so you don’t have to wait for a letter to arrive. 

The kit also includes a DIY bacteria strip to test for coliform bacteria. You’ll get those results within 24 hours since you are doing the testing yourself.

Overall, this is a very easy and accurate way to have your water tested. As long as you are not in a rush, it is worth it to have a lab do the work for you.

NTL Lab Dual Iron Test Kit

NTL Laboratory Iron Test Kit

This is another iron water test that you send off to a lab for accurate results. Unlike the Safe Home one, this only tests for iron but it tests two different kinds, total and dissolved.

The term Total Iron means all of the different forms of iron. These include:

  • Ferrous iron (Fe2+) which occurs when the water from your tap is clear but contains iron. Also called dissolved iron.
  • Ferric iron (Fe3+) is the type of iron in your water that comes out of the tap with a rust color.
  • Complexed iron is the type that binds with other chemicals.
  • Iron oxides, which are rust.

As with the Safe Home test, it is sent off and a lab will professionally screen your water. 

The difference, however, is that you need to pay for the shipping when you send the box to the lab. Once you’ve followed the directions and put the vial in the box, you’ll also place an included ice pack inside to keep the water cool for best results.

Safe Home DIY Water Testing Kit

Safe Home DIY Water Testing Kit
124 Reviews
Safe Home DIY Water Testing Kit
  • THIS ITEM IS BEING REPLACED by our Safe Home CITY WATER TEST KIT (see above...

If you don’t want to wait for results to come back from a lab, then try out the Safe Home kit that tests for 15 different contaminants.

You get everything you need to test your water yourself for iron and others including:

  • Bacteria: Total coliform and E. Coli
  • Toxic Metals: Hexavalent-Chrome, Copper, Iron, Zinc
  • In Organics: Chloride, Free Chloride, Nitrate, Nitrite, Sulfate
  • Physical Properties: Alkalinity, Dissolved Solids, Hardness, pH

The different strips all have different colors that you can match up to the booklet to see what is present. It is very easy to use and the results closely match what you would get in a lab. The big difference is you can’t get a sense of what the parts per million are. You only get a reading if it is over a certain amount. 

In most cases that is enough information to know if you need to shock your well or start using a filter.

The biggest drawback is that you can’t test for manganese so you won’t know if your problem is just iron or if you have iron bacteria. There is a bacteria test strip but it checks for coliform and e coli which are different.

eXact iDip Photometer Water Tester Meter

eXact Testing Kit
14 Reviews
eXact Testing Kit
  • ✔EASY TO USE: Incorporates the patented eXact Strip reagent delivery...
  • ✔DETECTION RANGES OF TESTS INCLUDED IN KIT: Total Alkalinity: 10 - 200...
  • ✔INCLUDED IN THE KIT: Contains 1 eXact iDip 525 Photometer, 1 Cleaning...
  • ✔ACCURATE AND RELIABLE: Components are tested by Quality Control...
  • ✔ HIGHEST QUALITY: ITS, manufactures test strip products in their USA...

For lab accurate results in minutes, you should try this iron water testing meter. It can test up to 30 contaminants and send the results right to your smartphone through the app.

The meter is EPA compliant so it is very accurate.

If you have a well, then this is the best way to do frequent tests without needing to send your results off to a lab every time. It is an expensive tool but it will pay for itself very quickly since you only need to pay for more strips when you test again.

If you brew beer, then this is an indispensable tool for the homebrewer to figure out if the water is capable of brewing your beer. 

It will test for Total Alkalinity, Bromine, Calcium Hardness, Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, High Range Chlorine, Total Iron, Copper, Ozone, Permanganate, pH and more.

You can order just the photometer, but I recommend going with a kit and getting the test strips with it to save money. The starter kit comes with 6 tests for well water. Make sure you add the right one to the cart as there is a separate one with strips for well water and another for tap water for municipal. Each type is preconfigured.

Overall, this well water iron test kit is very fast and accurate and makes testing your well water as uncomplicated as possible.

Health Metric Well Water Test 8 in 1 Kit

Health Metric Testing Kit
1,482 Reviews
Health Metric Testing Kit
  • ✅ SIMPLE ENOUGH FOR ANYONE TO USE AND READ - The step-by-step directions...
  • ✅ TEST AT HOME IN AS LITTLE AS A FEW MINUTES - No need to pay for...
  • ✅ DEDICATED TEAM OF EXPERTS - You can always count on our team of EPA...

For the best at-home well water test you need to go with Health Metric as it tests for manganese as well as many others. This means you can find out if your problems are from iron bacteria. 

And the tests can be done in minutes in most cases.

The strips are made according to EPA standards and are very accurate. The price is right per kit, but you may want to buy several since you’ll need to test your well frequently and for other contaminants besides just manganese.


The best well water iron test kit is going to vary for different people. Some might need a photometer but for others, it is overkill and too expensive. 

It all depends on your needs and what your well water is like.

I hope these iron water test kit reviews have helped you figure out what it is that you need and what will be best.

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