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How to Remove Sulphur or Rotten Egg Odors from Drinking Water

  • WATER ODOR TREATMENTS, CURES - SULPHUR - CONTENTS: Water sulphur odors or rotten egg smells: diagnosis and cure. How to get rid of or treat stinks, smells, rotten egg odor, sulphur odors in water. How to diagnose the cause of rotten egg sulphur odors in drinking water, Are there health risks associated with some water odors?
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Smells & odors in drinking water:

This article describes water treatment methods to remove sulphur odors or rotten egg smells from the building water supply. This is the second part of our article discussing how to identify, diagnose, and cure common odors that may be present in drinking water.

We also discuss which of these odors may warn of unsanitary conditions.

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Treatments for Sulphur Odors in Water

If the source of rotten egg smells or sulphur in your building is not traced to a water supply problem, see these related articles

Because sulphur-reducing bacteria are normal flora, or naturally occurring bacteria, you probably can't get rid of them altogether, but annual dosing of your well with chlorine bleach will help keep them at bay.

Shock chlorinating your home system may, or may not solve the problem because the chlorine might not circulate into the dead-leg area of plumbing. If this happens, just have a plumber remove that portion of pipe. The easiest way to get rid of sulfur odor is to use a filter with activated charcoal or carbon.

If your sulphur odor is from the water heater, changing the anode should do the trick.

Water treatment systems to remove sulphur odors are available from water treatment companies. What you need to cure a sulphur odor depends on the duration (seasonal versus all year), cause (water supply versus piping or water heater), and severity.

Water Softeners to Remove Sulphur Odors

Water softeners are designed to remove minerals from water, such as calcium or magnesium that make "hard" water. However many softeners will also handle low levels of sulphur odor. Just be sure the odor source is not a dirty water softener salt tank!

Water Treatments to Remove Sulphur Odors

Common treatment methods use "green sand" filters or exchange tanks (potassium permanganate) or other chemical treatments, or chlorinators followed by a charcoal filtration system.

Water or Well Treatment to Remove Bacteria-produced Odors

Above we discussed odors in drinking water caused by Manganese, Iron in the water supply which in turn support the growth of foul-odor-producing bacteria such as Gallianella. You probably can't get rid of Gallianella because they are normal flora, (naturally occurring bacteria), but annual chlorination of your well will help keep them in check.

An ultraviolet disinfection system can disinfect the water as it comes into distribution to remove bacteria within the system [but keep in mind that UV treatment does not remove any other contaminants such as particles or chemicals]. Chlorination may also be used, but is not a great choice if there is a lot of iron and manganese, as the chlorine will precipitate the metals out of solution and discolor the water.

If it's necessary, a (more costly) cascade of water treatment equipment, installed in the proper sequence, can first remove un-wanted minerals such as iron and manganese, second, chlorinate the water to reduce bacterial levels, odors, and other chemical contaminants in water, and third, post-process the water often using charcoal filtration, to remove remaining chlorine from the water.

Here's A Free and Simple Way to Get Rid of Sulphur Odors in Drinking Water

A great way to get hydrogen sulfide reduced water to drink for free is to fill a clean milk jug three fourths full of tap water. Cover, and shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds. Remove the cover and let set on the counter for ten minutes or so, allowing time for the hydrogen sulfide you released from the water to vent out of the jug - providing you with sulfur free or reduced drinking water - at no expense!


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