Sulfur is one of the most common well water contaminants, and is associated with an unpleasant rotten egg smell and taste. When you smell or taste sulfur, it’s a sign that you have particularly high levels of hydrogen sulfide in your water.
I can’t believe you would ask me to do something as gross as drinking water that smells like rotten eggs! If you’re not already familiar with hydrogen sulfide, you should avoid it. I’ll be sharing how to test for hydrogen sulfide in your water and, most importantly, how to remove it.
Why Does My Well Water Smell Like Sulfur?
There are two common reasons why your water may take on a rotten egg odor. Sulfur has leached into your well water, or you’re having issues with your water heater. If you’re seeing the smelly side effect of your drinking water, there are two likely causes.
Through the natural process of composting, this organic matter absorbs a lot of sulfur and other naturally-occurring pollutants. Additional wells may be drilled to tap the gas reserve in an oil or gas field, which could produce a noticeable sulfur odor.
Hydrogen sulfide can also build up inside your hot water heater, which can cause it to smell like rotten eggs. If you have never used your water heater in a while and have sulfate-producing bacteria left to build up in your water system, your water heater will likely develop a problem.
A less common cause of rotten egg smell in your water heater is if you have a water softener, and your water heater has a magnesium rod. Soft water entering your water heater may cause it to break down the magnesium, which can result in high levels of hydrogen sulfide being produced as a byproduct.
Causes of Rotten Egg Smell
The causes of rotten egg smell in the water are sulfur bacteria or natural organic decay.
Bacterial life depends on the availability of sulfur. When sulfur is present in soil, bacteria that live there will feed on it. The sulfur bacteria cause an excess of hydrogen sulfide gas to be released as a waste product. When your drinking water has a rotten egg smell, it’s likely that sulfur bacteria is to blame.
Natural Decay in the Ground
Natural decay in the ground There are a number of common causes of a rotten egg smell, including natural chemical reactions in the ground. Hydro-sulfur dioxide is the gaseous form of sulfur, and it is a common constituent of the flue gas produced by power plants.
Effects of Hydrogen Sulfide Gas
Drinking water with a high hydrogen sulfide content can cause diarrhea and dehydration. While the small amount that people are exposed to is harmless, large amounts can be toxic and cause severe illness.
You don’t need to wait for your body to get used to the minerals in the water to begin drinking it. The flavor of sulfur gives water an unpleasant smell and taste, and it’s no fun to drink water that smells like rotten eggs. It’s hard to get rid of a strong, lingering odor like this.
If you have sulfur bacteria, you need to take action because it is unsafe to drink and can encourage the growth of slimy, thick iron bacteria. Iron is a metal that can cause problems if it collects in your sink, shower, tub, and other plumbing fixtures. It can get into your pipes and affect the flow of water.
Water with high sulfur content can corrode metal parts. Iron and steel are especially vulnerable to corrosion when exposed to a strong water supply. Black stains are difficult to remove from most surfaces. They can cause significant damage to household items such as your appliances, sinks, faucets, and more.
How to Detect the Issue
If you think your water has hydrogen sulfide in it, you’ve probably noticed that it smells like rotten eggs. Hydrogen sulfide is a gas that gives rotten eggs their distinctive smell. Even if your well water doesn’t smell, it still may contain enough sulfates to cause problems such as nausea and diarrhea. The rotten egg odor is simply a sign that your water contains enough hydrogen sulfide to cause problems.
The easiest way to see if hydrogen sulfide is present in your household water supply is to test for it. Water testing kits are available for detecting contaminants, like iron, manganese and hydrogen sulfide in your well water.
Water tests are affordable, usually costing less than $20, and they’ll tell you within minutes what’s in your water. It’s easy to detect sulfur water – but it’s even easier to tell whether that water may be leaking from your pipes, plumbing, or your water heater.
To ensure that you get the healthiest water possible, you should take a sample of the water coming from your hot and cold water faucet. To find out where the gas is coming from, you’ll have to test your hot and cold water for hydrogen sulfide gas. If you’re testing your well water yourself, follow the test’s instructions. Use a testing strip and drop it into each water supply sample.
Then wait for the strips to change color and only then should you put the strips in your sample of water. If the hot water sample changed color, but the cold water sample remains the same, it’s possible that your water heater could be the culprit.
Hydrogen sulfide is an odor that occurs naturally in water. When the level of hydrogen sulfide rises in your well, the gas can cause odors. The best way to remedy this problem is to test your water to determine the exact cause of the odor and repair it accordingly.
Finding a laboratory that can test your water for you will tell you more about exactly what kind of gas (hydrogen sulfide) is in your water, and whether it comes from your well, your water heaters, or a combination of both.
I recommend TapScore by Simplelab.
- Identify cause of smell
- 3 options to choose from
- All tests include hydrogen sulfide testing
- 10 day turnaround time
- Self-serve report on the website
- Free shipping both ways
How to Get Rid of Sulfur in Water Well
If you know why your water smells like rotten eggs, then you can determine an action plan for getting rid of the smell from your water. Here are the three most common methods used to eliminate hydrogen sulfide gas from your water.
Oxidizing Media Filters
An oxidizing media filter uses manganese dioxide to turn hydrogen sulfide gas into insoluble sulfur particles, which are then trapped in the filter media. Iron Oxidizing Filters are also very effective at removing iron, another common household contaminant that’s commonly found in our well water.
Air injection is a type of media cleaning system that removes air pockets from the media. In a traditional aeration system, water comes into contact with an air pocket, and the contaminant-laden water is oxidized by air, which leaves the system. The system requires a potassium permanganate solution for regeneration.
In order to reduce the amount of hydrogen sulfide in water, chemical treatment such as hydrogen peroxide and chlorine bleach may be used. Hydrogen peroxide is used to remove odors, like rotten eggs or spoiled meat. If you have a sour odor, this is the perfect product to use!
Other disinfectants that work well for treating iron and manganese-contaminated water include hydrogen peroxide and chlorine bleach. These substances can also be used to disinfect water supplies, and they kill bacteria and viruses.
If you’re going to add your own chlorine or hydrogen peroxide to every batch of water you plan to drink, you can use a chlorine chemical feed pump for your well. This pump will automatically detect how much chlorine your well water requires – or you can usually set your own chlorine concentrations if you prefer – and will add it to your water to eliminate sulfur before it reaches your home.
A chlorination system is normally located outside of the house and pumps a steady supply of chlorinated water into a tank that stores it until it’s time to use it. This will give the chlorine gas enough time to do its job, eliminating all the contaminants in the water. Water that leaves your chlorination tank is replaced automatically with new water from your well.
Activated Carbon Filters
The activated carbon filtration is suitable for the removal of a low concentration of sulfur contamination in water. This kind of water purifier can be installed at your home’s point of entry, providing your plumbing, pipes and heaters with clean, pleasant-smelling water.
An activated carbon filter uses the process of adsorption to remove pollutants such as sulfur and chlorine and to enhance taste, odor and appearance in water. Water that flows through the activated carbon filtration media is treated, attracting any harmful chemicals in the water that are stuck to the media’s surface.
The water molecules flow around the filter without being attracted to the media, so the media becomes clean, odor-free water. This is an excellent filter to use in your whole-home filtration system, because it filters chlorine and a wide variety of other contaminants from your water. It’s also highly effective at removing harmful bacteria and can be used as a stand-alone filter.
Sulfur in Well Water FAQs
What are the most common signs of sulfur in well water?
If you experience any of these issues, you may find the answer by following these simple steps. First, try to remove the source of the odor or corrosion and then, make sure that the problem is solved.
Is a water softener good at removing sulfur from your well water?
Water softeners are primarily designed to reduce water hardness, and they can’t be used for removing sulfate particles from water.
In high-sulfate situations, it’s common for a softener to become clogged and blocked, and this can negatively impact its performance.Q: How to remove the ‘?’ mark when the cursor is on an input field in Bootstrap?
A water softener may also break down the magnesium rod in your water heater, which will result in even more sulfate production. You can replace the magnesium anode rod with one made from zinc or aluminum to prevent this.
What is the best method of sulfur removal?
There are so many options for a sulfate removal treatment, from shampoo to face scrubs. Which one is right for you? If you want to remove sulfates, then perhaps you should consider using a cleaner that doesn’t have sulfur in it.
The most important thing to know about your tap water is that the most common contaminants that can cause serious health problems include bacteria and heavy metals like iron, lead, and mercury. Budget is something that will help you decide what you can get for your well.
The cheapest option doesn’t come cheap. While many treatments are offered at under $100, they may require a lot of maintenance. It’s a reasonable expense, but not worth the health risks involved. You should think about other ways to spend that money instead.