water with too much sulfur

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My little piece of NE W. Va. has a well that reeks of sulfur, and being on a veterans pension I do not have funds to go buy a $1500.00 purifier. It is so bad that I gag whenever I try to do dishes. Has anybody built their own purifier; I can build about anything if I have the consept I just to know how. Thanx....

-- mitch hearn (moopups@citlink.net), September 27, 2001


a simple charcoal filter should take out sulfer smell. Or how about a solar distiller?

-- stan (sopal@net-port.com), September 27, 2001.

If I leave the home for a day or two I will also have that rotton egg smell. It seems that if your using the water alot you don't get it. I wonder if it is in the hot water heater in our house. Now, the sulfur in my well is actually good because I irrigate my blueberries with that water and they love it.

-- Debbie (bwolcott@cwis.net), September 27, 2001.

You should be able to get a decent whole house carbon block water filter for a good deal less than $1500 and if that's still too expensive then carbon block undersink filters will work. Lowe's and Home Depot both carry them and they do work. Plenty of sulfur water here in Florida on the coasts and I know several folks who use their carbon block filters for removing it.


-- Live Oak (oneliveoak@yahoo.com), September 27, 2001.

A solar distillery will be by far the least expensive, but you need to control the sulpher gases within the house. They will destroy any copper or cast iron fittings over a period of time. Be sure to keep a close inspection on any propane or natural gas lines in your house if they are copper (If your gas feeds are fairly new they should already be of a sulpher gas resistant alloy).

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (jayblair678@yahoo.com), September 27, 2001.

Poor Mitch, even in Paradise, a little rain must fall.....

A cheap fix to make the water more palatable for drinking, cooking, and coffee/tea making is a pitcher water filter, Brita and PUR are two brands that cost under 20 dollars, the filters are under 7 dollars and last around a month or two, depends on use. I like the PUR because it tells you when the filter needs changed, no guessing.

On the plus side, eventually you will get used to, and accustomed to the smell, just like hog farmers who don't smell the stink from their hogs anymore!

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (annie@1st.net), September 27, 2001.

I spent a great deal of my childhood on my grandmother's farm in Canada, and the well water there had the same problem. Maybe I grew used to it more quickly because I sort of "grew up on it", but it's perfectly good drinking water, assuming everything else about the water checks out. It just smells funny. The resident doctor used to tout it as "the healthiest stuff on earth", which, coincidentally, is why so many people with health problems used to visit the spas in Bath, England. So, drink up, and may you live to be a hundred!

-- Leslie A. (lesliea@mm2k.net), September 28, 2001.

A carbon filter system should work fine, but this might also work, it would be worth comparing its cost over time anyway:

If it is hydrogen sulfide in your water supply (which is what I imagine it is), exposing the water to atmospheric oxygen should oxidize it (the hydrogen sulfide) back to elemental sulfer, which doesn't have the "rotten egg" smell. This problem is very common in the part of Alaska in which I live, my water has it also. I've noticed that leaving water in open jugs for a day or two will clear up the smell. When I hook up my house's water I will have a 150 gallon holding tank (due to a low production well) that should allow the hydrogen sulfide to oxidize. Adding an aquarium type pump would speed up the process if necessary. If there's any way you can add some type of an open tank to you system this may work for you as well.

-- Garth Morgan (gmorgan@gci.net), September 28, 2001.

I have to agree with Leslie. My grandparents had a sulfer water well and I always associate sulfer water with vists to them. You CAN get used to it. I'd go with a sink side Brita filter pitcher and try to get used to it. Or start saving pennies! Frankly, $1500 to clean up water that is already safe to drink seems a bit much, though.

-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (jlance@nospammail.com), September 28, 2001.

Mitch, do you especially notice it in the hot water? If so, take the "tube" out of the center of your water heater, and see if that helps.

My daughter had a water heater that had a thin tube down the center from the top (supposed to help with hard water or something), and her water smelled awful. A plumber told her to take it out (we just unscrewed it and put a plug in the top of the heater), and now there is no smell to her water. Perhaps that's not the case in your situation, but it might help. Seems the metal in the tube reacts with some types of water and makes a horrible smell. Water heater works just great without the tube.

-- Bonnie (chilton@stateline-isp.com), September 28, 2001.

Assuming you don't have a bacteria in your water which is making the smell, then I think Garth has the answer. We put an ozone system on our house water and it works pretty well...but knowing what I do now, I would have put in a cistern to pump the well water into then pumped that into the house. If you fill a glass from the faucet, does it fizz? If so, that's the gas Garth mentioned coming off the water and where it goes so goes the smell/taste. You have to be able to oxidize the water though, so the aerator mentioned is probably a good idea.

-- Louise Hansen (Rockinhorse@knoxy.net), October 04, 2001.

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