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How to Remove Manganese From Water (Step-by-Step)

Scott Winfield
Written by Scott Winfield
Last Updated on

Are you worried about manganese in your water and would you like to learn how to remove it? As excess manganese can have negative effects on your health.

So, how is manganese removed from water? The easiest and most effective way to remove manganese from drinking water is through either Air Injection Oxidation, Reverse Osmosis Filtration or Ion Exchange (Water Softener).

To remove manganese via Air injection oxidation, you’ll need to get a whole house filtration system with NSF certification for iron and manganese removal. The best air injection oxidation system is currently the Springwell Iron & Manganese Filter.

To remove manganese via reverse osmosis, you’ll need to get an RO system that’s NSF-certified for manganese removal. The Waterdrop G3 800 filter is one of the best-rated for this purpose, although the Aquatru filter is more portable and equally efficient.

How to Remove Manganese From Water (Step-by-Step)

If you want to remove manganese using ion exchange, get a salt-based whole-house water softener that uses ion exchange technology. A suitable option is the Springwell SS1 Water Softener.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you identify and remove the source of manganese in your water

  1. Identify the source of manganese
  2. Test manganese levels in your water
  3. Choose appropriate manganese treatment method
  4. Re-test your water after treatment

Step 1: Identify the Source of Manganese in Your Water

Manganese in Your Water

To find out if manganese is in your water, start by checking your water source, whether it’s municipal or well water. Wells are usually the main culprits because they’re more exposed to natural contamination than municipal city water. Manganese is naturally found in soils, rocks, and sediments. When it rains, this element can be washed from the surface into wells.

Rainwater can also seep through soils, picking up manganese and depositing it into well water. If you have a deep well, the manganese levels might be higher because the water has more contact with contaminated rocks and sediments.

Manganese in well water often dissolves, giving the water a purple, blackish, or dark brown tint. You might also notice a bitter, metallic taste or stains on your home appliances and clothes, even if the water looks clear. These are good indicators that you have manganese in your water. If these signs aren’t obvious, you’ll need to test your water to be sure.

Step 2: Test Manganese Levels in Water

Test Manganese Levels in Water

Before you decide on how to remove manganese from your water, you need to test the manganese levels in it.

A simple way to do this is with a well water test kit. Just take a sample of your water, dip a test strip in it, and leave it submerged for a few seconds before removing it. If the strip changes color, it means your water contains manganese.

However, these DIY tests won’t tell you the exact level of contamination. So, you won’t know if it’s above the allowable limits for manganese in water, which is 0.05 mg/L according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards.

The most effective method for identifying the level of manganese in water is laboratory testing. Be sure to use an accredited laboratory for extensive and reliable tests.

Collect a sample of your water and send it to the lab. The laboratory will give you a list of all the metals present in the water, including their contamination levels.

If your water’s manganese level is greater than 0.05mg/L, it can stain your clothes and home appliances, give your water a bitter, metallic taste and smell, and potentially harm your health over time. That’s why it’s very important to address the issue.

Step 3: Choose a Treatment Method to Remove Manganese From Water

Unlike chlorine, manganese is fairly tricky to remove from water. The effectiveness of a treatment method depends on the type of manganese in water.

The two common types of manganese are manganous manganese and manganic manganese. Manganous manganese exists in dissolved form, while the manganic version exists in a solid state.

Once you’ve determined the kind of manganese in your water, you can start the process of removal by choosing any of the treatment methods below:

Option 1: Use Air Injection Oxidation to Remove Manganese

Oxidation to Remove Manganese

Air injection oxidation is a great way to remove manganese from your water. It’s a process that includes injecting oxygen into the water to eliminate elements like iron, arsenic, and manganese.

Manganese in water usually exists in an unprecipitated state. By oxidizing it, you convert manganese into a form that can be filtered out. The simplest way to do this is to pre-treat it with a strong oxidizing agent.

You can use compressed air, chlorine, or potassium permanganate to oxidize your water. These agents will cause the manganese to precipitate. Then, the water passes through a filtration medium to remove the precipitated manganese.

For air injection systems, using an iron medium like Filox helps remove the precipitated manganese after aeration. If you use chlorination, a catalytic carbon filter can be ideal because it removes both chlorine and manganese, avoiding any side effects from chlorination.

If you choose to use potassium permanganate, make sure to use a greensand filter as a medium. These filters effectively remove both manganese and its odor from your water.

For a reliable air injection system, our recommendation is the Springwell Iron & Manganese Filter

Option 2: Use Ion-exchange (Water Softener) to Remove Manganese

Install a Home Water Softener
Water Softener

A water softener, commonly used for hard water minerals, can also help remove small amounts of manganese.

Water softeners work by replacing manganese ions in your water with sodium ions through ion exchange. The process charges the manganese molecules, causing them to stick to the resin inside the softener.

When the resin is at full capacity, the water softener backwashes its tank and flushes all the manganese out.

For a water softener to remove manganese in water, certain conditions need to be met:

  • The manganese must be fully dissolved (unprecipitated state)
  • The water must have a pH above 6.7
  • The water should have low levels of dissolved oxygen
  • The dissolved iron concentration should not exceed 5 mg/L
  • The total dissolved solids (TDS) in your water should be low

If the manganese is precipitated (solid) or there’s a high amount of dissolved oxygen in your water, it can cause severe damage to the water softener resin. Make sure your water doesn’t come into contact with strong oxidizing agents like chlorine or potassium permanganate, as these are better handled by reverse osmosis systems, not water softeners.

Precipitated manganese and iron in your water can clog your water softener, damaging the resin. Dissolved ion concentration that exceeds 5 mg/L can also reduce the effectiveness of your water softener. Therefore, it’s important to check the resin frequently.

If your water has TDS, other minerals might compete with manganese for space on the softener resin, potentially displacing and releasing manganese attached to the resin back into the water.

For this, we recommend Springwell SS1 Water Softener, which has shown excellent results in removing manganese from water.

Option 3: Use Reverse Osmosis to Remove Manganese

Reverse Osmosis
Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a reliable water treatment method for removing most contaminants from water. It’s one of the best treatment options for removing manganese.

RO works by pushing water through a semipermeable membrane with tiny pores for filtration. These pores only allow small water molecules to pass through, leaving manganese and other contaminants behind. The trapped contaminants are then flushed away as wastewater.

The RO filtration method is particularly effective at removing dissolved manganese, even at high concentrations. Unlike other methods, you don’t need to backwash the system. You only need to replace the filter membranes every six months and change the semipermeable membrane every two years.

You can install an RO system at your water’s entry point, ensuring the water has sufficient pressure to push it through the membrane. If your water pressure is low, you can use a pressure pump to make the system effective.

Step 4: Re-test Your Water After Treatment

Filtering Water from tap for test

If done correctly, any of the above treatment methods should easily get rid of manganese. After treating your water, it’s a good idea to test it again to make sure the manganese is gone.

Start with a simple observation. Check if your water has any color, smell, or taste. If it still looks dark brown, purple, or black, or has a metallic taste or sulfur-like smell, there’s a good chance that manganese is still present. This means the treatment wasn’t fully effective.

Even if your water appears to be clear and odorless after treatment, it’s smart to conduct another water test to be absolutely sure there’s no trace of manganese left.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does manganese get into water?

Manganese gets into well water through soils and rocks. Rainwater can wash it from surfaces into wells and rivers. In addition, human activities such as industrial discharge or mining can also add manganese to water sources.

What are the most common signs of manganese in water?

The most common sign of manganese in water is color change. The water might appear purple, dark brown, or blackish. It may also have a bitter, metallic taste and a sulfur-like smell.

What are the health effects of drinking manganese-contaminated water?

According to the Drinking Water Health Advisory prepared by the EPA, drinking water with high levels of manganese over time can affect one’s memory, attention, and motor skills. Infants may develop behavior and learning problems.

What are the acceptable levels of manganese in water?

According to the EPA, the acceptable manganese level in water is 0.3 mg/L (milligrams per liter) for general use and 0.05 mg/L or lower for drinking water.

How much does it cost to remove manganese from water?

The cost of removing manganese from water varies depending on the treatment method. A good water softener or reverse osmosis system can range from $500 to $2,800. An air injection oxidation system will cost at least $1,000.

What is the cheapest way to remove manganese from water?

Reverse osmosis is the most affordable way to remove manganese from water. You can find a good RO system for under $500.

Does reverse osmosis remove manganese?

Yes, reverse osmosis effectively removes manganese, along with many other contaminants.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
2 Comments
  1. Scott. I have a manganese problem (.43 ppm) in our private well. New ion exchange water softener, new hot water heater. Bath water still will eventually turn black and smell. Emptying the hot water heater periodically is only a temporary fix. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Steve, if I understanding correctly your situation, please note that just a water softener won’t do the job of removing manganese from your water. You will need a system like this one to properly filter your well water source. If your well water pH is at least 6.5, the referenced system should work well for your needs.

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