Iron testing – Which Method to Use?

Palintest offers three iron tests: a low range (0–1 mg/L), medium range (0–5 mg/L) and high range (0–10 mg/L). These three iron tests rely on different chemical methods. Iron is present in water samples in several different forms, and the methods detect different fractions of the dissolved iron. The application of these methods varies based on the fractions of dissolved iron and range they measure. Our brand new multiparameter photometer, Lumiso Expert, offers all three iron testing ranges, plus over 70 other water quality tests all on one instrument to suit testing in a variety of water management and industrial applications.

Why is it Important to Monitor Iron in Water?

Iron occurs widely in nature and is found in many natural and treated waters. It is present in both domestic and industrial water supplies. Iron presence in water is undesired as it affects the taste of beverages and causes unsightly staining of laundered clothes, plumbing fittings and swimming pool surfaces. The formation of insoluble iron deposits causes issues in many industrial and agricultural water applications, such as drip feed irrigation. In industry, iron salts occur through corrosion of plant and equipment, and from industrial processes.

Iron is therefore an important test for monitoring natural and drinking waters, for corrosion control in industry and for checking of effluents and wastewaters. To find out more about where iron needs to be monitored and recommended guidelines visit our iron parameter page.

Lumiso Expert is the ideal solution for water quality testing in these applications, offering all three iron tests as well as over 70 other tests for chemical parameters including ammonia, disinfectants such as chlorine or chlorine dioxide, or other raw water parameters such as manganese. To view the whole Lumiso Expert test list, download the Lumiso Brochure here.

What Form does Iron Take in Water?

Iron may be present in solution in both ferrous (Fe2+) and ferric (Fe3+) forms, as free iron and as weakly or strongly complexed iron. Chemicals such as EDTA (used in pool winterising treatment) and Calgon (a water softener) rapidly react with iron forming strong complexes. Iron may also be present in colloidal and particulate form.

What is the Difference Between the Palintest Iron Testing Methods?

The table below shows the differences between the three Palintest Iron tests:

Test Method Range Chemistry
Palintest Iron LR 0 to 1 mg/L Fe A decomplexing/ reducing agent breaks down weakly complexed forms of iron and converts ferric iron to ferrous iron. The ferrous iron reacts with PPST to form a pink colour.
Palintest Iron MR 0 to 5 mg/L Fe A strong decomplexing/ reducing agent, dithionite, breaks down complexed iron and reduced it to the ferrous iron form. This reacts with 1,10-phenanthroline to from an orange-coloured species.
Palintest Iron HR 0 to 10 mg/L Fe Thioglycollate breaks down weakly complexed forms of iron and reduced ferric iron to ferrous iron. This, together with any ferrous iron present in the sample, reacts with excess thioglycolate to produce a pink colour.


Palintest Iron MR Test

The Palintest Iron MR test uses a powerful decomplexing agent, and this test can release iron from EDTA and other water treatment chemicals such as Calgon. It will also dissolve and quantify fine particulate iron. The test result may be treated as total iron. The chemistry of the Palintest Iron MR test has good specificity with few interferences. All these considerations make it a particularly useful test for industrial water applications and corrosion monitoring. When performing this test using the Lumiso Expert, accurate and reliable results are guaranteed not only thorough the reagent chemistry, but also as the instrument utilises the Lumiso optical engine. The optical chamber design features compression rubber which allows for differences in glass diameter and works to centre the test tube to the incident light beam shining through the sample to ensure the most accurate results.

Palintest Iron LR and HR Tests

The Palintest Iron LR and HR tests determine free iron and weakly complexed iron. The tests are normally complete within one minute, and therefore provide useful instant information on free soluble iron, for example in swimming pools.

Complexing agents such as Calgon will delay the response of the test. Continuing colour development after one minute indicates the presence of strongly bound iron complexes in the water. If the tests are allowed to stand for longer, until the colour development is complete, more strongly bound complexed iron will be included in the measurement. This could take up to 20 minutes. A second reading after a 20-minute standing period can offer useful information on the presence of strongly bound iron species in the sample.

Although the chemistry of the iron tests can be complex, the testing procedure is made quick and simple using the Lumiso Expert. This instrument includes multilingual on-screen instructions for all tests. These instructions are fully illustrated and can be easily referenced when performing a new test to ensure the testing procedure is simple to follow and can be carried out quickly.

For more information on our new Lumiso Expert photometer and the suite of water quality tests offered, contact the team by clicking here.


The Importance Of Ammonia Testing In Water
read more
View iron reagents
view reagents
The Photometer 7500, Palintest’s top range photometer
View product

    To contact our team please fill out the enquiry form below. Please note we aim to respond to all enquiries within 2 working days.

    Explore our content hub