Pool Iron Removal. Why The Bucket Method with Pillow Stuffing Works (S
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  • Pool Iron Removal. Why The Bucket Method with Pillow Stuffing Works (Sometimes)

    May 13, 2018 3 min read 5 Comments

    If you have been looking for a solution for discolored water in your pool caused by iron, you have probably already come across a few "miracle" internet solutions. One of the more popular youtube videos shows how you can simply take a five gallon pail, pack it with pillow stuffing, fabricate a connection to your pool filter's return hose and be crystal clear the next day. Does it work? Well, sort of, but not always A good number of our customers have tried this method without success and we have actually done some experimentation ourselves. Read on to reveal our findings.

    What actually clears the iron rust from the pool water.

    Normally to filter something out of a liquid, the spaces that the liquid passes through must be smaller than the target particle. The dirtier a filter gets, the more efficient it becomes since larger particles lodging in the spaces leave a remaining smaller space and smaller particles fill them in. At some point, it becomes so efficient that even the liquid that you are trying to clean will no longer pass through it and it would need to be cleaned or replaced.

    Pillow stuffing is just a fairly loose bundle of tangled plastic threads. The space between the threads is fairly large when compared to the size of a rust particle. Comparing how they relate in terms of commonly know items, it would be comparable to expecting a window screen to catch baking flour. Your main filter (even a basic one) is capable of capturing much smaller particles. DE filters are capable filtering iron. Sand filters are as well, but can take some time and depends on the sand type used in the filter. Cartridges seen to struggle with iron and many are simply ineffective

    What is Really Happening
    The unique thing about oxidized iron in that the particles are rough enough to get "hooked" on pillow stuffing fibers in the bucket. Some settling will occur in the bucket and a  portion of the iron/rust will settle below the outlet holes, making it appear that it has captured the iron/rust. Some will also get caught in the fibers, but good bit will slip through and be hopefully caught on the next pass through. If there is a lower concentration of iron, the bucket may be sufficient to clear it up. In many cases, the level is high and it won't be efficient enough to clear it in a reasonable time, if at all.  This is a widespread issue and just by the rule of averages, some will actually have success, while many  pool owners will be left wondering what could possibly have gone wrong and end up pouring chemicals in. Chemicals don't remove any iron. They convert it back to a soluble (invisible) state and require multiple applications.

    A Picture Worth A Thousand Words
    Above is a "before" and "after" picture sent in by one of our customers who had just replaced their liner and refilled the pool. The after is the result of using our Brown-B Gone (now known as the Aquabag FE) to remove iron from their pool. Notice the bucket on the ladder? So did we. We asked about the bucket method and you guessed it. It didn't work.

    Why A True Filter Is Better
    Unlike a bucket, complete filtration occurs on the first pass through an Aquabag FE. The openings between the fibers are smaller than that of oxidized iron.

    No DIY Construction Or Tools Required!
    Our filters connect in minutes to your existing pool water return fitting and we offer a broad line of adapters to fit most pools. Since it connects inside of the pool, there is no worries about leaks or balancing/handling a heavy bucket.

    Learn More About The Aquabag-FE
    See Actual Customer Results.

    5 Responses


    May 23, 2023

    I watched my neighbor spend a Saturday creating the bucket and stuffing thing. It took almost a week and it was still not completely clear, so it does work I guess for whatever reason. I got a pool as a gift and gave myself an Aquabag for the iron (our well water is terrible). My water is clear after two days. Thanks for this article. It saved me a lot of grief!


    April 08, 2022

    I tried the DIY bucket thing ta few years ago. After investing a day in buying the parts and making one, it didn’t work for me either. This filter works, was easy to use and I just bought another one as a gift.

    David Apthorpe
    David Apthorpe

    April 08, 2022

    I used the bucket and stuffing method and after several days it worked as advertised. The problem for me was fabricating the bucket and getting a seal that was right and rigging it and rinsing etc. etc. I don’t have unlimited time and it wasn’t a solution I was interested in pursuing again. I’m going to try the rust filter because it’s a way more cost-effective solution if I place any value on my time.


    December 04, 2018

    This article makes complete sense after my experience. I looked at the youtube videos of the bucket and gave it a whirl. No dice! The most popular video uses a small stuffing filled soda bottle and they also add a chemical. I don’t want to swim in even more chemicals and I believe that it was the chemical and not the filter that removed (or just hid) the iron. My pool was crystal clear in two days using the brown b gone. I wish that I had found this sooner and just bought one for my in-laws for Christmas. Maybe they will use their own pool more next year. Ha!

    Carlie Gainey
    Carlie Gainey

    July 11, 2018

    This product is great. I give it a 10 out of 10. We had real rusty water and tried everything to get it out. We bought this hooked it up to our pump and saw a difference with in hours. This product works 100%.

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