Sulfur Smell In Water: What to Do About It

Is the water in your house giving off a pungent “rotten egg” type of smell? If so and you want to get rid of it, then you’ve come to the right place.

This article will help you discover the origin of sulfur smell in your water and how you can get rid of it before it becomes an even bigger problem later on.

tap water smells like sulfur

What Causes A Sulfur Smell In Water?

Why does water smell like sulfur? The source of this intolerable odor is the high levels of gas or bacteria, known as hydrogen sulfide, that is present in a household’s plumbing system and water supply.

Other names for this type of gas include state damp, manure gas, swamp gas, and sewer gas.

Hydrogen sulfide occurs naturally in hot springs, natural gas, and petroleum. The gas is also produced by the structural breakdown of human and animal wastes (sewage) and organic materials.

There are also some industrial activities that can produce the gas such as wastewater treatment, natural gas/petroleum drilling and refining, kraft paper mills, tanneries, and coke ovens.

Why Is A Sulfur Smell In Hot Water Common?

The reason a sulfur smell in hot water is so common is that heat forces the pungent smell into the air, thereby causing the order to be irritating, especially when one is showering. A hot water heater also serves as a possible source of the heinous sulfur smell.

A water heater sulfur smell occurs due to a magnesium corrosion control rod that can reduce sulfates chemically, but then result in hydrogen sulfide.

Health Risks Associated With A Sulfur Smell In Water

Although hydrogen sulfide isn’t exactly harmful, it is considered both a chemical asphyxiant as well as an irritant that is capable of affecting the central nervous system and oxygen utilization.

The health effects of hydrogen sulfide or sulfate usually depend on the concentration and time of exposure. Constant exposure could aggravate health effects that were previously tolerable. Some of the many ways in which hydrogen sulfide can be considered irritating include.

Irritated Eyes and Throat

Being exposed to low concentrations of hydrogen sulfide or sulfate can irritate the nose, throat, eyes, as well as the respiratory system. Some of the most notable symptoms may include coughing, wheezing, and tearing/burning of eyes.

When exposed to low levels of this gas, the effects can be delayed for a couple of hours or even a couple of days. However, constant exposure to the gas may result in headaches, inflammation of the eyes, irritability, fatigue, weight loss, digestive disturbances, and insomnia.


Exposure to 20 ppm of hydrogen sulfide or sulfate can worsen respiratory and eye irritation, leading to symptoms like fluid accumulation in the lungs, difficulty in breathing, coughing, vomiting, nausea, excitability, greater fatigue or dizziness, and staggering.

Digestive Issues

50-100 ppm exposure of sulfur levels in water could result in slight conjunctivitis as well as respiratory tract irritation after an hour. It can also upset the digestive tract and result in a loss of appetite.

Warning: higher concentrations of hydrogen sulfide or sulfate are reportedly very dire, which not only could result in a series of serious health issues such as extremely rapid unconsciousness, inability to breathe, convulsions, shock, and coma but can also possibly lead to death. Such effects can sometimes occur with a couple of breaths or just a single one.

These concentrations are extremely rare in water, though.

What To Do About A Water Heater Sulfur Smell

Now that we know the potential dangers that come with the rotten egg smelling odors of hydrogen sulfide, the question that we should be asking ourselves is “how do you get rid of a sulfur smell in water?”

Here are a couple of solutions that we prepare to help you along the way:

Remove The Sulfur Smell From Water With Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach is an effective cleaning agent for a lot of awful stains and smells including medium to high levels of hydrogen sulfide.

The chlorine within this solution reacts chemically with the hydrogen sulfide, thus getting rid of the awful “rotten egg” smell. The cleaning agent also reacts with manganese or iron and can disinfect water supplies.

You can also use a chemical feed pump or an automatic chlorinator which can add chlorine to your house’s water plumping system. With the help of a filtering system, iron, manganese, and sulfur sediment that is formed is then removed.

Sometimes, a settling tank will need to be used instead of a filter system. A settling tank of 500 to 1000 gallons is more than enough.

Install A Carbon Filter

If you want to get to those smaller concentrations of hydrogen sulfide without leaving any bacterial residue behind, you have to install an air charger carbon filter.

You must ensure that the filter is replaced periodically in order to maintain its optimal performance. This, of course, depends on how frequently water is used

Is the water in your house giving off a pungent “rotten egg” type of smell? If so and you want to get rid of it, then you’ve come to the right place.

This article will help you discover the origin of sulfur smell in your water and how you can get rid of it before it becomes an even bigger problem later on.

Fit Your Tank With An Air Compressor Or Ozone System

Hydrogen sulfide can also be removed through a process known as aeration. This process involves bubbling air through the water tank and then “stripping” or separating the hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere by venting it outdoors.

For this, you need to install an air compressor or blower in your tank to introduce a large volume of air in order to execute this process properly.

You can also inject ozone gas into the tank to quickly get rid of the pungent sulfur smells. This is the more expensive option, but effective nonetheless.

Why Does Water Smell Like Sulfur? Conclusion

So now you see how to remove sulfur smell from water. After you’ve done that, you and your family will be able to drink and use water for several other reasons in your house. Pretty encouraging, right?

All this is exactly why you have to make sure that you follow each and every single thing in the sky to maintain a healthy life and drink nothing but clean, purely filtered freshwater.