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If You Have Tannins In Your Water, Read This

by Steve Timmons October 16, 2020 4 Comments

Tannin has been a perplexing foe to water treatment specialists for decades now. There has been essentially one tried and true method that has stood the test of time, but to be honest, it's a bit of a pain in the neck.

What is tannin? Why is it so challenging to remove?

Simply put, tannin is dissolved organic material. It appears in surface and groundwater from dissolved plant tissue and vegetation. What makes it tricky, is there are so many different types of tannin making it hard to treat with unlimited certainty. To solve the tannin issue water treatment specialists turned to ole' faithful. Ion exchange. At a glance, it looks like an exceptionally well-designed water softener. But look a little bit closer… perhaps take an x-ray of the media tank. You will notice that the resin is different.

Matrixx™ Tannin Removal System With Smartphone Integration


Well, hold your horses. Is your water even slightly hard? Like 1 grain per gallon or more hard? If you answered “ yes ” you must preface this tannin softener, with yet another water softener.

A standard water softener is used to remove calcium and magnesium (the constituents of 'hard water') from the water with cation resin. Conversely, the pictured tannin filter makes use of a specialized anion resin, that has an affinity for tannins and is great for removing tannins from water. Like a traditional water softener, this system also uses salt pellets to clean and regenerate the resin. You might be thinking... “Great this softener will solve my tannin problem.

Synergy Twin-Alternating Commercial-Grade Metered Water Softener

Synergy Twin-Alternating Commercial-Grade Metered Water Softener

A water softener needs time to regenerate to continue providing treated water. It gives itself a bath, washing off all the filthy hard water molecules and sending them down the drain (where they belong!)

Regenerations typically occur between 2 and 4AM. But you have the ability to choose your own regen time if you see fit. Frequency can be anywhere from every couple of days to every couple of weeks. Regeneration frequency depends on water hardness, water usage, and softener size.

Pretend you have a standard single tank softener, and pretend you use water in that regeneration window at say, 3AM. And pretend you also have a tannin softener. Well, that dirty hard water, is going to crash into that precious and expensive tannin resin, dampening its efficacy and shortening its life.

Herein lies the twin tank rationale. A twin tank softener gives you soft water around the clock. When one tank is regenerating, the other is standing guard, against any potential hard water that may try to sneak on by.

But maybe you have one already? Yes? Good on you!

But. Make sure, be vigilant! Do not run out of salt. Because if hard water hits the resin beads of the subsequent tannin softener, it will quickly diminish the efficacy of its resin. Perhaps you've just moved in and don't have a water softener. Or maybe your water just wasn't that hard in the first place. Fear not. We have softener options aplenty. Budget permitting, it would be advantageous to go with a twin-tank softener. Like the one pictured below. I will explain why. A twin tank softener is great because if your salt tank is satisfied, you receive soft water 24/7.

US Water Disruptor 4.5" x 10"

US Water Disruptor 4.5" x 20"

US Water Systems Disruptor 4-Stage Filter System

Tannins? Hard water too?

So that's the rub. It works well 80% of the time. Below is a testimonial from a customer of ours who took a chance on the Disruptor filter.

To treat this you will need at least:

  1. Sediment pre-filter (always)
  2. Water softener (ideally twin tank)
  3. Tannin Filter
  4. Appointment with your chiropractor to deal with the back pain of lugging 50 lb bags of salt

AND we haven't even talked about the potential of other competing contaminants like iron, manganese, or sulfur, to name a few.

AND we haven't even discussed the potential of other oddball parameters that can complicate things further like high turbidity, low PH, or high TDS.

It may seem like I am trying to discourage you from buying one of these systems. I am not. I want to give you, the consumer, all of the honest data you need to make an informed buying decision. Believe me, if there were an easier, more reliable version of residential tannin removal we would love to sell it! This is a product that sells itself. If you have tannin, there aren't really any other options in this price range. If you have read this far then you will be rewarded with a cost-saving alternative. But read carefully because this is where things get fun.

At US Water, we try to pioneer new solutions, new systems, and new technology. A promising up and comer is the Disruptor Filter. We advertise this product honestly and carefully. Meet the Disruptor. Named as such because it has the potential to Disrupt much of the conventional wisdom surrounding the removal of tannin, metals, viruses, cysts, and bacteria.

It is a unique filter with a "zeta charge". That simply means that it has the ability to attract and retain particles like tannin (plus a lot of other things) which effectively removes it from the water supply. It works in well over 80% of the cases and the filter has to be changed generally every six months to one year. If it doesn't work, then you simply have to add the "Tannin Removal Softener" and utilize the Pulsar as a "polisher."

It's a gamble yes, but the odds are good if it allows you to forego the cost and labor of installing both a water softener and a salt-based tannin filter.

Additionally, in the 20% chance of this filter being unsuccessful at removing tannins, it is not a sunk cost. The disruptor is also effective at removing bacteria, cysts, and viruses.

It is evident to us now that the Disruptor filter can be inhibited by the following:

Iron, manganese, clay, silica, low PH, high turbidity and sulfur.

For optimal results use step down filtration and ensure the following:

  • Silica < 20 ppm
  • Iron < .3 ppm
  • Manganese < .05 ppm
  • Sulfur < 1 ppm
  • Turbidity < 1 NTU
  • PH between 6 and 9
  • No colloidal clay

So if you are an unfortunate homeowner battling tannin in your household here are the two options I would present to you:

Note: it is always best to start with a laboratory-grade water test to ensure our recommendation suits your water treatment needs.

Americas Best And Most Economical Water Test

- Optional Bacteria (Total Coliform and EColi)

- 23 heavy metals & minerals

- 7 inorganic chemicals

- 5 physical factors

A professional 3 rd party water analysis is critical in solving your water treatment needs. This test will look at the top 35 contaminants including Metals and Materials, Chemicals and Disinfectants, and other Physical Contaminants. This test is best for well water or city water and has an optional add-on for testing bacteria. The purchase of this test qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and includes a $100 rebate for future product purchases.

Sediment Pre-filter

Water Softener

Tannin Filter


Assuming the rest of your water parameters are good, this option totals around $1,200

It is evident to us now that the Disruptor filter can be inhibited by the following:

  • • Iron
  • • Manganese
  • • Clay
  • • Silica
  • • Low PH
  • • High turbidity
  • • Sulfur

And, if it fails, you have a reliable and useful polishing filter for bacteria and metals.

So your choice is a $4,500 investment for a 99% success rates


A $1,200 for an 80% success rate.

Though this blog is long and honest, it is not as comprehensive as it could be. Feel free to leave a question below, or give us a call at 800-608-8792. We are here and happy to help.

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February 17, 2021 Robert McFarlin

I have well water and multiple problems: bacterial iron, tannins, and some sediment. I’ve put in a Stenner pump and chlorine contact tank to deal with the bacterial iron, which seems to be successful, and I have a 1-micron string filter to deal with the sediment, and those problems seem to be fixed, but tannins continue to come through. I’ve recently installed one of your Pulsar Disruptor filters and it immediately stopped the tannins. I’ve had completely clean water for about a month now.

But my question is this: After a month, the Pulsar filter sure looks dirty. I wonder if it will last anywhere near the six months or so that I was hoping for. Would it be any value for me to take it out of the housing and try to clean it, or is that a waste of time? I could send a picture if you’re interested in looking at one. Thanks for listening, would appreciate any advice.

February 18, 2021 Mark Timmons

It is a sub-micron filter that uses a Zeta-Charge, so it cannot be cleaned. Just make sure you have plenty of pre-filtration ahead of it and that is all you can do. It’s a good sign it has gone this long.

July 30, 2023 Bonnie

My neighbor bought the 1200.00 unit and is pleased. How much more to have it pumped out to sewer. My neighbor did not do this. I don’t like her results

September 06, 2023 Mark Timmons

I am not sure what you are asking. Call us at 800-608-8792 and ask for a Certified Water Specialist.

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