Abstract The encapsulated potassium ferrate(VI) (K 2FeO 4) samples were successfully prepared by phase separation method in organic solvents. The ethyl cellulose and paraffin were selected for the microcapsule wall materials (WM). The as prepared microcapsules were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). The stability can be enhanced greatly when ferrate(VI) was encapsulated in the microcapsules with a mass ratio of Fe(VI):WM in the range of 1:1–1:3 for the same conserved time in air compared for pure K 2FeO 4. The sustained release behavior of the microcapsules with different Fe(VI):WM mass ratios in 8.0 M KOH solution was also investigated. The results indicated that the Fe(VI) release was reduced with increase of Fe(VI):WM mass ratios from 1:1 to 1:3. The release kinetics of the microcapsules is found to obey Ritger–Peppas equation. The prepared Fe(VI) microcapsules has been used for the removal of a typical alkyl dinitro phenol compound, 2- sec-butyl-4,6-dinitrophenol (DNBP), from aqueous solution. The effect of pH, microcapsule concentration and reaction time was studied thoroughly. The optimal pH for DNBP degradation was 6.5, and at this pH and a microcapsule concentration of 1.2 g/L, approximately 93% of the DNBP was degraded after 80 min. The encapsulated ferrate(VI) samples were found to be very effective in the decolorization and COD reduction of real wastewater from DNBP manufacturing. Thus, this study showed the feasible and potential use of encapsulated Fe(VI) samples in degradation of various toxic organic contaminants and industrial effluents.