If you’re new to rural homeownership, you may be unaware of the challenges that can be associated with private well water supplies. People living in the city can rely on their local municipal water treatment plant to remove a number of contaminants. But, private well owners are solely responsible for the quality and safety of their water supply. It’s not unusual to experience a wide variety of issues, including hard water, sulfur odors, and the presence of tannins. In this article, we will take a closer look at tannins, explain how the impact they may have on your home and what you can do to remove them.

What are Tannins?

If you’ve ever been out in nature and seen a river or lake that flows quickly with amber or light brown water, you’ve probably seen tannins already. In bodies of water that have very high concentrations of tannins the water can even look like root beer! Tannins are organic materials that have become fermented over time due to the breakdown of vegetation. This is very common in areas that have a high concentration of decaying vegetable matter, including marshes, swamps, and wetlands. The small particles of decaying plant matter are the source of the tannins’ color.

How Do Tannings Enter a Private Well?

The tannins in surface water are carried along the river and with any water that makes it into the aquifers. Along the journey, water can come into contact with peaty soil, fermented vegetation, and other sources that are rich in tannins. Just like the color of water we see in nature, the color of your private well water may change. If you can see amber, light brown, light yellow, or even water with a root beer appearance, you probably have high concentrations of tannins present in your well water.

What are the Effects of Tannins?

It’s important to state that the presence of tannins presents no known threat to your health and safety. If you can tolerate the color, odor, and texture of the water, it’s safe to drink and you can use it for cooking safely. But, many people cannot tolerate the musty odor of tannin rich water and it has an unpleasant tangy aftertaste that’s unpalatable. When the water contains tannins it has other negative consequences for the home because it acts like a dye. Tannins can stain dinnerware, porcelain fixtures, and laundry to a permanent tea stain color.

How Can I Remove Tannins?

Tannins are hard to test for because they can be confused with iron that is another common cause of water discoloration. You can do a quick test yourself, fill a clear glass with water and let it sit overnight. The next day, look for discoloration, if it’s at the bottom it’s probably iron and if it’s the entire glass it’s more likely to be tannins. Laboratory testing is a more accurate way to identify tannins and many other contaminants. To remove the tannins you need advice from your local water treatment specialist. A pair of wells located a few miles apart can have very different contamination issues. The water treatment system that you need should be tailored to the unique conditions in your private well water supply.

Contact your local water treatment specialist to schedule water testing for your private well today.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.