Is Sulfur Water Safe? Treating Sulfur Water In Your Home

Sulfur water is not a pleasant experience to have to deal with in your home. If you notice that the water in your home has started to take on a rather horrible smell of rotten eggs, this could be a sign that you have a rising level of sulfur in your water supply.

Is Sulfur Water Safe Treating Sulfur Water In Your Home

But what exactly is sulfur water, is it safe, and how can you go about treating it in your home? We are going to be answering these questions and more in our handy guide on sulfur water, so let’s get started. 

What Is Sulfur Water?

Sulfur water relates to a condition wherein water is exposed to a certain kind of gas: hydrogen sulfide.

This gas is what gives sulfur water that unpleasant, rotten egg-like smell. You might notice that the smell of sulfur is more prominent in hot water, as warmer water is able to release gas that is trapped within it much faster than colder water. 

This occurs when the hydrogen sulfide begins to dissolve in the water, which releases various sulfates (naturally occurring minerals found in soils and rocks).

Some of these sulfates can include gypsum, baryte, and epsomite. Sulfates themselves will dissolve over time and make their way into groundwater, which is the source of well water.

It is the hydrogen sulfide gas that causes the foul odor, though, as sulfates are odorless due to their lack of gas production. 

When it comes to hydrogen sulfide gas, it is a gas that occurs naturally and has various sources where it can originate from under the ground, such as bacteria or even rotting plant material.

These aren’t the only possible sources of hydrogen sulfide, though, as it can also occur from factors such as water heaters with magnesium rods or wells that have been drilled in shale.

In terms of bacteria, the source of the hydrogen sulfide gas in sulfur water is even more unappealing. Bacteria will feast on sulfur and then produce hydrogen sulfide gas as a form of waste.

So the sulfur water that you are experiencing in your home might be the byproduct of bacteria waste. Perhaps unappealing was not a strong enough word!

Is Sulfur Water Safe?

Now that we have dived into how sulfur water is created and what it is made up of, let’s now look at the big question that comes about when discussing the topic of sulfur: is it safe? The answer to this question is a little more complex than you might think, so let’s take a closer look. 

When it comes to sulfur water possibly making you sick, it all comes down to the amount of sulfur that is present in your water. Of course, any amount of sulfur isn’t going to be pleasant to consume due to that nasty smell and equally nasty taste.

When speaking technically, low amounts of sulfur isn’t particularly dangerous for consumption if you do happen to accidentally drink some.

Thankfully, most households will only have to deal with a low level of sulfur if it does happen to get into the water supply. That being said, whilst a dangerously high level of sulfur water is highly unlikely, a high level is sometimes possible.

There can be certain issues that occur if you do ingest water with a high level of sulfur, including the following:

  • Stomach Pain
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea

The issues surrounding dehydration and diarrhea stem from the fact that a high sulfate content can have a laxative-like effect. This can then lead to diarrhea and- in turn- dehydration.

These issues can be even more problematic for children and infants, so it is advised to deal with it immediately if you find that you have a sulfur water problem in your home. The bitter taste and foul smell should help you avoid it, but accidents can still happen!

The Negative Effects Of Sulfur Water

The Negative Effects Of Sulfur Water

As well as these health issues that can occur upon the ingestion of sulfur water, it also has a wide range of negative effects in other areas too. Let’s take a better look at some of the problems it can cause

  • Unpleasant Smell: As mentioned, the smell is usually the first thing that people will notice when it comes to sulfur water. The smell is so potent that even a very tiny concentration of sulfur within a water supply- as lone as 0.5 parts per mullion (or ppm)- can be detected by most people. If the concentration is any higher than that- between 0.5 and 1ppm- the smell will become even stronger, resulting in that well-known rotten eggs smell.
  • Slime: Sulfates in water can create a thick slime, which is bad news for your plumbing! This slime can clog up your pipes and even stain your clothing if it makes its way into the water used for the washing machine.
  • Bitter Taste: We also mentioned the unpleasant taste that sulfur water can produce, which comes from the scale deposits that it can cause in your plumbing.
  • Reduces The Effectiveness of Bleach: Bleach is a cleaning product that can be very useful when it comes to the toughest of stains, but an increase in sulfates can make bleach much more ineffective.
  • Corroding Metal: The hydrogen sulfide element of sulfur water is able to wear away various metals such as copper, iron, and steel. This can lead to corrosion that can cause irreparable damage to your plumbing.
  • Ruined Utensils and Fixtures: Not only can hydrogen sulfide cause corrosion, but it can also lead to black or yellow stains on fixtures where water flows prominently- such as the kitchen or the bathroom- and also leave stains on brass or copper utensils and tarnish silverware

Treating Sulfur Water

Let’s now take a look at how to go about treating sulfur water, should you happen to be dealing with it in your home.

There are several steps that you can take to do this, but before we get into those points, the first thing you need to do is get your water tested by a professional. Water testing will be able to pinpoint exactly where the contamination is coming from.

It could be that it is not what you think it is, as there are other contaminants that can cause issues with your water supply, such as sewage pollution.

Once you are completely sure that it is sulfur water you are dealing with, you can then start deciding as to which treatment you can go with. Here are some of the treatment options that are possible.

  • Chlorine Bleach: This is a great option for removing hydrogen sulfide, as chlorine bleach reacts with the gas and will destroy the odor. The chlorine bleach method involves using an automatic chlorinator. This will feed chlorine into the water, whilst the filtering system removes any sulfur or sediment.
  • Aeration: This is a method that involves adding air to the water, which can lead to a reduction of hydrogen sulfide. An aeration system is needed for this.
  • Iron Removal Filter: This is another method that is able to remove hydrogen sulfide from the water. This works via a chemical reaction between the gas and the iron filter, transforming it into insoluble sulfur. This sulfur is then easily able to be removed by the filter.
  • Neutra Sul: Neutra Sul- a form of hydrogen peroxide- is able to neutralize any pollutants and destroy that nasty sulfur smell via oxidation. Neutral Sul has an excellent reputation when it comes to preventing corrosion and scaling- as well as unnatural tastes and colors- that can occur frequently with water pollution in the home.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! A handy guide to sulfur water and some methods that you can use to remove sulfur water from your home!

If you do suspect that you could have sulfur water, make sure to get your water tested immediately, and in the meantime, do not drink any water with an odd smell or taste!

Hopefully, our guide will help you to fix the problem of sulfur water in the home sooner rather than later.

Mandy Anderson