We have gotten a number of questions about the presence of rust in many of our readers’ drinking water and as always, everyone wants to know if the rust colored water poses a health risk. As a general rule, no, but it most certainly does create some interesting aesthetic problems. Iron in drinking water can lead to a metallic taste in the water, staining of laundry, rust deposits on water fixtures, etc.

Most times the reddish rusty color comes from iron in the water and under normal circumstances that iron comes in two forms: Ferrous and Ferric (AKA: Clear and Red, +2 and +3)

In the past testing for ‘total iron’ required more complex testing methods but recently a simple, at-home total iron test hit the market:

Industrial Test Systems, Inc. (ITS), located in Rock Hill, SC, recently announce the release of its new WaterWorksTM Total Iron visual test which detects ferric (Fe+3) as well as ferrous (Fe+2) forms of iron. They developed this test to make accurate total iron testing easier and possible without the use of a meter. Test times range around 3 minutes or less and require a very simple test procedure. See below:

Quick Water Test: Total Iron
WaterWorksTM Total Iron


  1. Add contents of one iron powder pillow to the supplied vial.
  2. Fill the vial with water sample to top line.
  3. Close the vial with the screw cap and shake for 20 seconds.
  4. Wait 3 minutes for the color to develop.
  5. Remove the cap.
  6. Place vial in white circles and look down into the vial to match to the nearest color block, on the reverse side, to determine the iron concentration.

National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations, as set forth by the USEPA, recommend an iron level of no more than 0.3 ppm. Detection levels for the WaterWorksTM Total Iron visual test are 0, 0.3, 0.5, 1, 3, 5 mg/L (ppm). The test kit contains 50 individually wrapped foil powder pillows, a test vial with cap, and a color chart card — everything you need to detect total iron in drinking water.

Interested in purchasing the WaterWorksTM Total Iron visual test kit? Click here.

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