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Pyrolox Iron Filter Media for Iron Removal in Well Water Systems

by Feb 25, 2011

birm and pyrolox filter media

Pyrolox is a granular water filter media that is manufactured and processed by Prince Minerals. It used in Iron Filters for the removal of Iron, Hydrogen Sulfide, and Manganese.

This article will cover what Pyrolox is and how it works. We will also highlight an example of how it could be used in a whole house iron filter for well water.

It’s important to remember that filter media is only one component of an Iron Filter. Pyrolox, like KDF is exceptionally heavy, and very hard to maintain. If great care is not taken, a system can fails quickly, and costs $1000’s to maintain or replace.


What is Pyrolox?

Pyrolox is an NSF certified natural mineral form of Manganese Dioxide. This granular filter media is black in color and is extremely dense.

This natural mineral is sold under the name of Pyrolox, Filox, or MetalEase. These 3 products are identical and share the following characteristics:


Pyrolox Filter Media Specifications

Service Flow Rate 5gpm/sq. ft.
Backwash Flow Rate 25-30gpm/sq. ft.
Density 120lbs/cu. ft.
Average Life 10-12 years


How does Pyrolox compare to Greensand, GreensandPlus, and Birm?

Pyrolox is a pure granular form of Manganese Dioxide. Greensand, GreensandPlus, and Birm are manufactured by coating a mineral like silica with Manganese Dioxide. As you can see below, the percentage of Manganese Dioxide varies greatly between these products:

Filter Media Comparison

Pyrolox 75% – 85% Manganese Dioxide
Greensand and GreensandPlus 0.5% Manganese Dioxide
Birm < 0.01% Manganese Dioxide


How does Pyrolox Work?

Dissolved Hydrogen Sulfide, Iron, and Manganese cannot be removed by a filter. They need to be oxidized and precipitate into larger “chunks” so they can be removed by a filter.

Pyrolox acts as a catalyst that oxidizes those contaminants as they come in contact with the filter media. Once oxidized, Pyrolox strains the contaminants out of the water.

Eventually the oxidized solids will coat the surface of the media and the oxidation capacity will be reduced. At this point, a powerful backwash is needed to clean the media off. If the cleaning is not complete, the oxidation process will not continue and the filter will stop working.

Most filters backwash every 2-3 days, but Pyrolox MUST BACKWASH EVERY DAY to continue operating.


Pre-Treatment Recommended, But Not Always Required

While Pyrolox may act as a strong enough oxidant on its own, the use of additional pre-treatment is usually recommended if iron is over 2ppm. The same is true with Hydrogen Sulfide and Manganese.

An oxidant feed will improve both the removal performance and removal capacity of Pyrolox.

Chlorine injection into a retention tank up stream of the filter is the preferred oxidation method. Other acceptable oxidants include air injection and potassium permanganate.

Hydrogen peroxide is specifically prohibited for use as an oxidant.


Pyrolox Iron Filter Example

Let’s say your family needs to be able to operate two sinks at once, and has a flow rate requirement of 5gpm (gallons per minute). If you have marginally poor water with 1.5ppm of Iron and no other contaminants, you could use a simple backwashing filter – WITHOUT PRE-TREATMENT.

A 13” diameter filter has 0.92 sq. ft. of surface area. Pyrolox’s service flow rate is 5gpm, so a 13” filter would provide4.6gpm of filtered water (0.92 x 5). So far, so good.

Here’s where Pyrolox has problems:

Pyrolox requires a MASSIVE 30gpm backwash and rinse rate. In comparison, our Iron Curtain systems require 11gpm.

Pyrolox also requires DAILY regenerations!

This means that a 13” diameter filter will require 27.6gpm to backwash and rinse. The system would use 359 gallons of water to regenerate EVERY DAY. That is A LOT OF WATER for any drain to take!

A better system would use (3) 8” diameter filter vessels plumbed in parallel. This system would deliver 5.2gpm of filtered water, and only require 10.5gpm to backwash. The total water usage for all three systems would increase to 410 gallons, but the slower discharge would be much easier for a drain to take.
Iron Filters fail from inadequate backwash more than anything else. A system will plug up in a matter of months if the system can’t deliver the required amount of water to flush itself out!

Pyrolox’s huge water requirements make a proper backwash almost impossible to achieve.



Pyrolox is pretty slick when water chemistry allows the system to work without pre-treatment. That being said, most water in the Twin Cities has too much Iron for a Filter-Only system to work.

Like KDF, Pyrolox’s extreme backwash requirements make it almost unusable. A much simpler Iron Curtain filter system, with fewer but larger tanks, could achieve better filtration with a smaller footprint, and FAR LESS water use.


Who We Are

Premier Water is a local, family-owned water treatment company based in Chanhassen, MN. Since 1978, Premier Water has successfully implemented 1000’s of Residential and Commercial Filters and Purification Systems. We offer a FREE WATER TEST to gather information and help our clients with the right solution for their needs. We can also be reached at (952) 479-4553 for more information.

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