Water softeners are predominantly designed to soften water by removing calcium and magnesium – but can they also remove manganese?
Find out everything you need to know in this guide.
📌 Key Takeaways:
- A water softener can remove low levels of manganese.
- However, we don’t recommend water softeners for iron and manganese removal because these minerals will foul the softening resin, especially in high concentrations.
- Better alternative methods of removing manganese are dedicated ion exchange filters, air or chemical injection, oxidation media, or reverse osmosis.
Table of Contents
🤔 Can A Water Softener Remove Manganese?
Yes, a water softener can remove low levels of manganese in drinking water.
The main purpose of a water softener is to eliminate hard water scale by removing calcium and magnesium minerals from water.
The ion exchange process – which exchanges calcium and magnesium for sodium ions on a charged resin bed – can also remove trace levels of other contaminants, like iron and manganese.
However, a water softener system isn’t a good solution for large amounts of manganese or other dissolved metals, since its manganese removal abilities are limited and excess manganese may foul the resin.
🔎 How Much Manganese Does A Water Softener Remove?
A conventional water softener can remove around 1 PPM (parts per million) of manganese.
If you have more than this amount of manganese in your water, you’ll need to install a dedicated filtration system rather than relying on a softening system to remove this mineral.
🧐 What Is Manganese & Why Remove It From Water?
A quick recap on manganese and its effects in your home, should you need it.
Manganese is a mineral that’s naturally occurring in rocks, soils, and other parts of the earth. Folks who live in coal mining regions and people with private wells are most likely to have issues with manganese in their water.
Iron and manganese are commonly found together, so if your water contains manganese, it probably also has a dissolved iron concentration.
The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have a legal restriction for manganese because it’s considered safe in low-to-moderate concentrations.
The key reason why many people want to remove manganese from their water is because it’s considered a nuisance contaminant that affects water’s taste and leaves ugly deposits on surfaces.
If your water supply contains manganese, you might notice dark brown or black staining on your fixtures, and a bitter, metallic taste in your drinking water.
Manganese Vs Magnesium
It’s very easy to confuse magnesium with manganese since they both sound so similar. However, they’re two completely different minerals – and only one of them can be effectively removed with water softening.
- Magnesium is a hard water mineral that, alongside calcium, causes chalky, white scale deposits on surfaces.
- Manganese is a mineral that’s often present alongside manganese and causes black or brown staining, and may give water an unpleasant metallic taste.
While magnesium can be removed in a softening system, manganese is best removed by oxidation/filtration or a similar water treatment method.
📥 How Manganese Effects Water Softening
Water with large concentrations of dissolved manganese may affect the water softening process over time.
If you continually send a manganese contaminated water supply through your softener, the manganese minerals will start to accumulate on the softener resin bed.
In a normal situation, the softener would regenerate and flush the hardness minerals out of the resin, replenishing it with sodium ions.
But manganese is much tougher to remove with flushing, meaning that it builds up in the resin over time, reducing its capacity and therefore reducing how much water can be softened between regenerations.
That’s why it’s important to install a dedicated manganese filter upstream of your water softener to protect its lifespan and performance.
📝 Should You Use A Water Softener To Remove Manganese?
You could use a softener if your water contains only trace levels of manganese and your main goal is to soften your water.
However, we don’t recommend using a softening system as a dedicated manganese removal solution.
High levels of manganese may damage the softener resin and reduce its performance. You’ll get much better results with a dedicated manganese water filter.
🔂 Alternatives To Water Softeners For Removing Manganese
Below, we’ve shared some of the best alternatives to water softening systems for removing iron and manganese from your water:
We mentioned that water softener resin uses ion exchange to treat water hardness. In a softener, this method isn’t the best solution for manganese reduction. But a dedicated ion exchange water filter can effectively reduce manganese.
In fact, power utility plants and oil refineries often use ion exchange for this very purpose, using a strongly acid cation exchange resin. However, ion exchange isn’t the most popular at-home choice for reducing iron and manganese.
Air Injection & Oxidation
One of the most effective ways to remove manganese from your whole home water supply is air injection and oxidation.
In this POE unit, water travels through an air bubble, which adds dissolved oxygen to water and turns manganese (and iron and hydrogen sulfide, if present) into its oxidized form.
The oxidized iron, manganese, and sulfur, can then be filtered out of the water in a media bed (like birm).
Air injection/oxidation removes around 5-12 PPM of manganese.
Chemical Injection & Oxidation
As an alternative to air injection, additional chemical treatment may be used alongside a filtration media to oxidize and filter manganese from water.
A chemical like chlorine, ozone, potassium permanganate, or hydrogen peroxide, is injected into the water to oxidize manganese, iron, and sulfur. A media bed is then used to remove the oxidized contaminants and the chemical before water is supplied around the home.
Chemical injection removes around 5-7 PPM of manganese.
Sometimes, a single oxidation media is used in a whole home treatment tank to oxidize the manganese and filter out the solid particles at the same time.
Manganese greensand filters can be used without air or chemical injection for manganese and iron removal.
A manganese greensand filter can remove up to 10 PPM of manganese.
A average reverse osmosis system can remove up to 99% of all total dissolved solids (TDS) from drinking water, making it a highly effective choice for reducing manganese.
Reverse osmosis is also one of the best ways to eliminate the metallic taste associated with manganese and other metals in your water.
RO systems on average can remove 90% or more of manganese – but we don’t recommend these systems if your water contains more than 2-3 PPM of manganese because large concentrations of this mineral will clog and foul the membrane.
📑 Final Word
While a softening system can remove manganese to some extent, we don’t recommend this type of treatment method if removing manganese is your main goal.
For one thing, too much manganese may damage the resin, and for another, you can get much better results from a dedicated iron and manganese drinking water treatment system, such as an oxidation/filtration system.
Test your water to find out how much manganese it contains, then choose a suitable solution based on your needs.