How To Remove Tannins From Water (Ultimate 2023 Guide)

We independently review everything we recommend. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn More.
How to Remove Tannins from Water_Best Tannin Water Filter Review

Tannins are one of the most common impurities lurking in well water sources. If your water has a brown, red, or yellow color, chances are tannins are the culprit. But they are notoriously difficult to get rid of.  There is only one way to make sure your supply is tannin free and that’s with a specialized filtration system.    

Let’s take a look at what tannins are, how they get into our well water, and options available on how to remove tannins from water.  Get peace of mind knowing you have safe water to drink without spending a small fortune on tannin removal filters.

What Are Tannins

If your water supply has a light yellow to dark brown almost tea-like color, then you most likely have a tannin problem. While this likely won’t do you any harm, it certainly looks unpleasant and will make you cringe if you are having guests over.  

Tannins are a natural organic material created as a byproduct of nature’s decomposition of materials like moss, leaves, or grass, causing that yellow and brown coloring in our water.  As a result, tannins are commonly found in shallow wells and surface water supplies. If you live near marshy, lake, or coastal areas you may also be susceptible to tannins in your drinking water.

You may be able to ignore your tannin problem for a while. Over time, however, you will begin to notice the effects more and more. Anything that carries the flow of tannin water will be affected.  All of your sinks, showers, and bathtubs will become stained. Furthermore, it can cause costly damage to your plumbing, appliances, and clothes.  

There are other less common causes of water discoloration, so the best first step is to purchase a water test kit that includes Tannins so you can know the cause of your water issues with certainty. 

What Causes Tannins In Well Water

How Do Tannins Get Into Well Water

When you steep tea leaves in water, the tannins released from the tea give a rich dark color to the tea. It is exactly the same with the tannin in water coming from your tap. Leaves and other organic materials stain the water.  A light yellow to dark brown color is a good indicator that there are tannins in your water supply.

More telltale signs include yellow and brown stains on your laundry, a bitter taste in the water, a musty smell, and yellow and brown stains on your toilet bowl, sink, tub, or shower. Stains on your cutlery and other kitchenware can also occur. 

Are Tannins In Water Harmful

The EPA has classified tannin as a ‘secondary contaminant’ and has not set an acceptable level of tannins in drinking water. This means that tannins are harmless to consume in well water sources, and water suppliers will not be obligated to remove them. Therefore, you are on your own when it comes to removing tannins from water. 

Tannins occur naturally in common beverages such as tea and wine. While they are not considered harmful, they certainly reduce your water quality in every other way that counts. If you were offered tannin water in a restaurant you would certainly send it right back. It looks disgusting, it smells bad, it tastes bad, it will stain your clothes, and possibly even your teeth as well. 

Unfortunately, you can’t send your household water back to where it came from. Especially ff you have your own well water source, the onus is on you to take care of the tannin issue. 

Effects Of Tannins On Your Home

How To Remove Tannin Water From Well Water

Anything that carries the flow of tannin water will be affected. All of your porcelain sinks, showers, and bathtubs will become stained. 

Then there is the kitchenware. Of course, you can remove tannin stains from plates, cups, cutlery, and other items, but it takes time and elbow grease to get the job done right. It makes much more sense to prevent the stains than to do all this work over and over again. 

That is why getting a proper tannin water removal filter will save you countless hours of cleaning time, not to mention the expenses to repair appliances and plumping.

Challenges Removing Tannins From Well Water

Removing tannins from water can be a little tricky. One treatment method may be effective in one area, but it may be completely different even a few miles away. That is why focus on full-proof removal systems below, step by step.

As mentioned above, contacting your water supplier isn’t an option in most cases. Tannins are not considered a health hazard so there is no obligation for your supplier to do anything. Another option is to prevent the source from being contaminated. If your water comes from a lake, or municipal supply, however, there is no way to prevent this from happening. 

If you have a private well, the situation is no better. The likelihood is that your well accesses water that has already passed through underground soil to arrive at your supply. If the soil is rich in tannins there is simply no way to prevent them from staining the water. The only realistic solution is to filter the water after it arrives on your property.

How To Remove Tannins From Well Water

Once you’ve confirmed that tannins are present in your water, the next challenge is figuring out which treatment system is going to do the best job in the most cost-effective way.  

There are a number of different systems to remove tannins from well water, each with its pros and cons. Some of the most popular are ion exchange systems, micro-fiber filtration cartridges, and reverse osmosis systems.

Ion Exchange Systems 

The ion exchange process is very effective at removing tannins and oxidized iron commonly found in well water. Ion exchange systems use negatively charged styrene-based or acrylic chloride resin media to attract positively charged calcium and magnesium ions into the resin bed. Because tannins have a negative charge they can be exchanged for chloride in the resin.

While this is a great system that can help to soften your water, the beads need to periodically undergo a regeneration cycle that uses a sodium chloride solution. These impurities are then released from your home’s water back into the environment through the drain. The benefit of these systems is they not only remove those unsightly tannins but they also get rid of hard water culprits like calcium scale buildup. 

Best of all, they are practically maintenance-free. The control heads allow you to monitor and adjust your system water usage and backwash cycles.  Because they backwash, regenerate, and rinse automatically, all you need to do is replace the brine tank salt.   

Overall, if you have identified tannin and limescale as your two main problems, this is by far the best option to take care of two notoriously difficult issues with one simple solution.

SpringWell Tannin Removal System Best Tannin System

Removes tannins and hard water minerals
Bluetooth smart app control head
Virtually maintenance free
High flow rate so no drop in pressure
Lifetime warranty

Cartridge Filter System

A cartridge-based whole house filter is a great option for tannin removal on a budget.  Here is the secret – these easy-to-install systems cost thousands of dollars less than a whole house RO or ion exchange system and will remove tannins in 95% of the cases. 

If you have tested your water and are sure tannins are the issue, the best option is to try a cartridge based system first. If it doesn’t resolve the issue, go ahead and purchase a more comprehensive system while using the micro-fiber filters as a finisher. 

In a cartridge filter system, water works its way through the first three filters that go from 5 microns to 1 micron to .5 microns. The final filter is manufactured with micro-fibers that have an electrical charge so that many contaminants are actually “magnetically” removed from the water supply.  The end result – water filtered out to .2 microns!

The upside to a micro-fiber system is it uses no electricity and no chemicals whatsoever to clean the water. It also uses far less water in the filtering process than either reverse osmosis or ion exchange. They will last longer and at a lower cost than many more expensive and elaborate systems. After installation, with the proper maintenance, you can expect 15 – 20 years of high-quality filtration before you need to consider an upgrade. 

The downside with a cartridge system is you need to replace the filters every 6 – 12 months. The replacement cycle will depend on the contamination of your water and water usage.

US Water Systems Disruptor Best Budget System

Less expensive than alternative options
No chemicals or wastewater
Filters down to .2 microns
25 GPM flow rate so no drop in pressure
Lifetime warranty

Reverse Osmosis Systems (RO)

A whole-house reverse osmosis system is a comprehensive solution to not only tannins but thousands of other contaminants that can find their way into your drinking water. Reverse osmosis uses a semipermeable membrane to remove up to 99% of contamination while allowing H2O molecules to pass through. Your entire household is protected with this highly effective and eco-friendly solution.

Aside from removing tannins from your drinking water, an RO system will remove toxic pollutants from your water including PFOA/PFOAS, lead, arsenic, and thousands of other harmful substances. 

The downside to a reverse osmosis system is the RO membrane can get fouled quickly. Well water commonly has heavy iron and other sediment, which can lead to more frequent filter replacements. If a whole house reverse osmosis system is the best fit for your home, make sure you have proper pre-sediment filtration.

US Water Systems Whole House RO Best Reverse Osmosis

Guaranteed to remove thousands of harmful contaminants
Highly efficient 5:1 wastewater ratio
Durable and dependable system
Customizable design
Made in the USA

FAQs For Tannin Removal In Well Water

What is a good tannin filter for well water?

The best water filter for removing tannins from well water is the ion exchange tannin filter from SpringWell Water. The US Water Systems Disruptor 4-Stage Filter System is also an effective cartridge based system for removing tannins from well water. 

What is the best tannin removal treatment?

The most effective treatment for tannin removal is ion exchange. Not only is ion exchange great at removing tannins, but it also works for oxidized iron, magnesium, and sulfur commonly found in well water.

Will activated carbon filters remove tannins?

No, activated carbon filters are not an effective treatment to remove tannins from well water. You will need a tannin-specific filter to address this issue.

Will a water softener remove tannins?

Water softeners using ion exchange can help with tannin removal but are limited to removing low concentrations of tannins. You can purchase a dual tannin filter/water softening system, but a water softener alone will not effectively remove tannins.

Do water filters remove tannins?   

Specialty cartridge water filter systems may be capable of removing tannins if they have a small enough micron rating. Unless a water filter specifically names tannins as something it removes, you should assume that this is not something a water filter does. Always ask before you buy.  

      Enable registration in settings - general
      Give the perfect gift of water testing to your love ones! $10 OFF All Water Tests With Code FRESH10