How to Get Rid of Sulfur Odors in Water Well

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How to Get Rid of Sulfur in Water Well

Does your underground well water smell and taste different? Naturally, clean water is tasteless and should be odorless. But, what if it has an awful taste or rotten-egg-like odor? Have you ever experienced such an incident? If so, this discussion on (How to Get Rid of Sulfur in Water Well) will help you know the root cause of that problem and how to solve it.

It’s worth noting that understanding the source of your water smell is also vital in knowing what to treat. Sometimes, the source can even be the water heater and not the well itself. Let’s discuss how to treat well water.

Why the Rotten Egg Odor in the Water?

The main reason water smells like that is sulfur, which is a common well water contaminant. Smelling or tasting sulfur in your water is a clear indicator that it has high levels of hydrogen sulfide. How does sulfur get into your well and pollute the water?

It can get leached into the well in hydrogen sulfate through rainwater or groundwater penetrates the earth and rocks. Even wells drilled in sandstone can produce a significant amount of sulfate and sulfur odor. What of the smell in the water heater?

A build-up of hydrogen sulfide in the water heater can also cause hot water to smell like rotten eggs. It can occur due to the heater’s failure for a while; thus, sulfate-reducing bacteria accumulate in hot water. So, the two major causes of the rotten egg odor in water are the sulfur bacteria releasing hydrogen sulfide gas and the natural decay in the ground.

Hydrogen Sulfide Can Affect You

Besides resulting in water producing a rotten egg odor, hydrogen sulfide can be harmful gas, especially at high levels. Thus, it is vital to eliminate the gas from water if not in the air. While it might not cause health issues at low levels, when it becomes too much, it can cause problems such as metal corrosion, stained fixtures, tarnished utensils, and poor taste in drinks and food.

Additionally, the hydrogen sulfate ions can cause diarrhea, dehydration, bitter taste, pipe-clogging slime, and reduce the power of bleach, making it challenging to clean clothes effectively. Sulfur water is not healthy for drinking, and that’s not a good dietary source for the mineral. Foods like fish, poultry, eggs, and some fruits contain the natural sulfur needed for the body.

How to Detect Hydrogen Sulfide

How can you detect the presence of sulfur in water? The obvious red light would be the rotten egg smell, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, water might contain sulfates even without smelling – the awful smell is only an indication that the water contains a considerable amount of hydrogen sulfide that can cause the effects discussed above.

There are other ways to ascertain if hydrogen sulfide is present in the water. These may include; – bacterial slime (white, grey, black, or reddish-brown), black stains on plumbing fixtures or silverware, pipe corrosion, and laboratory tests. Several water testing kits are available to assist in detecting contaminants in well water.

What if you can detect the sulfur in water but cannot identify whether it’s associated with groundwater, plumbing, or water heater? The first-aid action would be to run a check for both the hot and cold water faucet. If the smell comes from hot water alone, then the heater is the problem. If it’s the cold water faucet, check whether it’s from the one connected to the water softener. If so, then the well or plumbing system is the problem. However, if both the cold and hot water faucets produce a rotten egg smell or taste, the issue is with the well.

How to Get Rid of Sulfur in Water Well

If you happen to find out that both the cold and hot water faucets have hydrogen sulfide, that would mean your well is the problem. How do you treat the water and ensure that the sulfur is removed? You can carry out any of the most common treatment processes for hydrogen sulfide elimination from the well water. Some of them are as below:


This can take two forms; – using chlorine bleach to shock the well and temporarily remove the sulfur odors or using a chlorinator (chlorine injector system). The latter is the most effective way and would involve continuous chlorination when the water is running. The chlorinator is installed on the wellhead and combined with an Air Charger self-cleaning backwash carbon filter. It can remove odors continuously.


This can be done using an Air Compressor Tank Aeration System, which injects a lot of air under pressure to eliminate the odor under certain conditions.

Use of Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide neutralizes the rotten egg smell through oxidation. It has proven to be an effective agent in preventing color formation, taste, or corrosion. You can install the chlorinator system, but use hydrogen peroxide (neutral sul) instead of chlorine.

Oxidizing Filters

They both oxidize and filter hydrogen sulfide in one unit. They can be manganese greens and filters treated with potassium permanganate to form a coating that oxidizes the hydrogen sulfide. Even iron removal filters that chemically react with the gas and turn it into insoluble sulfur can also be used.

Carbon Filtration

This is especially convenient when the water contains only a small hydrogen sulfide concentration. Activated carbon filters can be used to remove the gas by adsorbing it on the surface area of carbon particles. Another form of activated carbon (catalytic carbon) can also be used for higher concentrations. It first adsorbs the gas and then oxidizes it. This method requires no chemicals.


Injecting ozone gas under pressure is also efficient in removing hydrogen sulfide through oxidation. The process, though, is costly and might require much maintenance.

Final Thoughts

Sulfur water is not only disgusting when washing but worse when drinking it. While there is no indication of severe health issues related to its concentration in water, it has other effects. Thankfully, you don’t have to wait to smell or taste sulfur in the water with modern technology and insight. You can always run checks and take your water samples for laboratory tests to ensure it is purely safe for drinking.

Jeremy Lee is a researcher and part-time blogger who has a passion to discover cutting-edge technologies related to water filtration. He knows the importance of purified water in our lives and started this blog aiming to provide the best product reviews, buying guides, and other useful information related to water. When not working, he loves to spend time with his beloved wife and two kids.