How To Get Rid Of Sulfur Smell In Water

The smell of sulfur is an unpleasant experience for anyone to have to deal with, but if you find that it is prominent in your water supply, then it will certainly need to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

How To Get Rid Of Sulfur Smell In Water

But what exactly causes a sulfur-like smell to occur in the water in your home, and how do you get rid of it? In this article, we are going to be answering these questions so that you can eliminate the odor- and the source- from your water supply.

What Causes A Sulfur Like Odor In Water?

The rotten egg-like smell of sulfur can become present in the water supply and your household plumbing due to high levels of bacteria or a gas called hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is a gas that can be found either naturally or inorganically.

Naturally, it can be found in petroleum, hot springs, and also as natural gas. It is also a byproduct of organic materials and both animal and human waste.

As well as that, hydrogen sulfide can also be produced by certain industrial activities, including natural gas and petroleum drilling and wastewater treatment.

Water that becomes contaminated with hydrogen sulfide is referred to as sulfur water, for obvious reasons!

Is Sulfur Water Dangerous?

Hydrogen sulfide in water isn’t highly dangerous to humans in small concentrations, though in large concentrations it can become very much so.

However, it is rare for concentrations to become that high in a water supply. Some issues that can crop up from regular concentrations of sulfur water include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Stomach Pains
  • Unpleasant Smell 
  • Bitter Taste
  • Respiratory Problems
  • Skin Issues
  • Irritated Eyes

How To Remove The Sulfur Smell From Your Water

Now that we know exactly what causes this sulfur-like smell and what kind of issues it can lead to, let’s now take a look at what exactly you can do to prevent it in your home.

First things first, you need to nail down the source of the problem. The most important thing you need to do is thoroughly check your water source, as this will narrow it down.

When doing this, check to see if both the hot and the cold water have that telling rotten egg smell. If they both do, then it is likely a problem with your water source directly. If it is only the hot water, then it could be the anode rod within your hot water heater.

If The Water Heater Is The Problem

If you find that the problem is coming from the water heater, you will need to sanitize the tank, as sulfur-consuming bacteria easily thrives in environments with hot water and can produce high levels of hydrogen sulfide.

The following steps should help you when it comes to sanitizing your hot water tank:

  • Disinfect the tank with four cups of hydrogen peroxide and forty gallons of water.
  • Let some of this solution run through the lines, but keep most of it within the heater.
  • Allow the mixture to sit for two hours before turning the hot water back on and refilling the tank.

If this does not work, you’ll need to check to see if the anode rod is corroded. Here is how to do this:

  • Turn off the power and water of the heater.
  • Open the hot water faucet of your tank and partially drain it.
  • You should be able to pull up the anode rod once you have turned the hex head with a socket wrench. If the rod is very thin, it is corroded and will need to be replaced.
  • If you are ever unsure, speak to a professional so that you don’t accidentally hurt yourself!

If The Water Source Is The Problem

If The Water Source Is The Problem

There are various ways to treat the water source if you find that this is where the sulfur smell is originating. Here are a few suggestions:

Oxidizing Filtration Systems

Oxidizing filters are useful as the reaction caused by the oxidation within the filter will create sulfur particles that are rendered inert. These particles can then be easily removed from the water by a filter made from carbon.

However, oxidizing filtration systems do require a fair amount of maintenance, as the oxidizing chemicals that are used will need to replenish. You’ll also need to make sure that you check the filter for clogs, as the buildup of contaminants can lead to blockages.

Chlorination Treatment

Alongside other water treatment procedures- including the aforementioned filtering as well as methods such as sedimentation and coagulation- chlorination is also an effective way of disinfecting water and treating issues such as sulfur water.


Aeration is another method of water treatment that is viable to use with sulfur water. As the name suggests, this is the process of adding air to water.

An aeration filter for a home system is made up of an air charger carbon filter and a closed tube that features a compressed air pocket. The contaminated water will enter the closed tube and will be aerated thanks to the oxygen-rich water within it.

These systems will also feature a vent used for three particular tasks: air compression, air changeover, and discharging the hydrogen sulfide.

Ion Exchange

This process is used in water softeners to remove minerals that cause water hardness. This method can also work in regard to hydrogen sulfide, seeing as it exists in ion form within water.

There is a specific technological process used for this, known as packed-bed anion exchange. These beds are full of specialized resin beads that have a strong ionic charge, much like those used in water softeners.

When utilized appropriately, these beads will replace the sulfate ions with softer (and odorless!) ions.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, we have given you plenty of useful suggestions as to how to get rid of the sulfur smell within your water supply. If you are unsure, make sure to contact a professional who will be able to guide you through the process of eliminating the odor for good.

Mandy Anderson