If you’ve ever heard of the term “tannins,” it may have been in the context of tea, but tannins can also affect your water supply. In fact, if you have brown or yellow colored water that is causing stains on your fixtures or laundry, it is likely to be caused by tannins. 

The Tannin Basics 

Tannins are typically caused by organic matter rotting in the water table. Tannins can also be caused by dead leaves, trees or even low hanging branches in a water source such as a river or lake. The tannin is basically color left in the water from color leaching from the organic matter. In terms of tea, the tannins are what gives black tea its distinct color. The easiest identifier for tannins is a brown or yellow color to the water that causes staining, particularly on light colored laundry. Unfortunately, this can also be a sign of iron in the water, but unlike iron that can be filtered out of the water, tannins require a different form of water treatment.  

Are Tannins Safe? 

Although it may not be appealing to have brown or yellow water, tannins don’t actually pose a significant health issue. Unfortunately, if tannins are present in your water, it could mean that your water source has been affected by surface water. This suggests that bacteria could also be traveling from the surface water to your supply, so you may need to test for the presence of bacteria to ensure that your water supply is completely safe.  

The main reason to think about tannin removal is that they can cause a number of aesthetic issues around your home. If tannins are present in your water, they can cause everything that comes into contact with the water to be tinted an unappealing shade of brown or yellow. This can be unappealing for drinking water, but it can also create issues with foods prepared with water, laundry, washing dishes and even lighter colored bathroom fixtures.  

Removing Tannins 

Fortunately, there are several ways to remove any tannins from your water. It is possible to remove tannins using a tannin filter that employs ion exchange techniques. These filters tend to have a long lifespan and are affordable, so you there is no need to worry about costly upkeep or maintenance.  

A tannin filter can also be combined with other water treatment media to allow you to eliminate other trace minerals or contaminants that are affecting your water supply. Before installing a tannin filter, it is a good idea to test for the presence of any other minerals to ensure that you use an effective treatment solution. Tannin filters can be combined with iron filters or even integrated into a whole house filtration system to ensure that you have the best possible water quality.  

If you have concerns about your water quality, or you suspect you may have tannins in your water supply, you should speak to an experienced water treatment professional. A specialist who is fully WQA certified will not only be able to test your water to determine contaminant levels, but also guide you through the range of treatment options that meet or possibly even exceed the industry guidelines.

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative.  Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.