Sulfur Smell in Your Water

At US Water Systems, we have decades of experience in removing sulfur from water, and we can recommend the best filter system for your needs. When it comes to choosing a whole house sulfur water filter, oxidation followed by carbon filtration is a very effective option. Our systems use hydrogen peroxide as an oxidizing agent, as it’s safe, effective, and has a relatively low cost.

What is Sulfur?

Sulfur is a naturally occurring element that’s found in many different forms and compounds all over the earth. You can often tell if a compound includes sulfur, as it will have a noticeable odor. In water, sulfur is typically found in the form of dissolved hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas, known for its distinct smell of rotten eggs. Sewer gas also contains high levels of hydrogen sulfide, and water with high sulfur levels is often said to smell like a sewer.

Hydrogen sulfide gets into your water in one of two ways. This gas is naturally produced when organic substances break down, so gas produced underground decaying plant matter, for example, can be dissolved in local groundwater. It’s also common in wells that are drilled near coal deposits or oil fields, or those drilled in areas with high shale or sandstone concentrations. Most hydrogen sulfide is produced by bacteria that feed on sulfur and live in low oxygen environments, like those found in deep wells and water distribution systems.

Sulfur Removal System Options

While there are a number of ways to remove sulfur from your water, a combination of oxidation and filtration is one of the most cost-effective and reliable. When hydrogen sulfide is exposed to oxygen, the sulfur is separated and becomes a solid that can then be filtered out. At US Water Systems, we recommend hydrogen peroxide as a relatively inexpensive yet very effective oxidizer for use with a sulfur filter. It’s safe, it’s powerful, and it works.

Fusion OXi-Gen Whole House Backwashing Filter for Iron and Sulfur RemovalThe sulfur water filter systems from US Water Systems inject a continuous flow of hydrogen peroxide into the water, causing an immediate reaction with the hydrogen sulfide – as well as any iron or magnesium that are in the water. These elements become insoluble, meaning that they are no longer dissolved in the water and can be removed. Adding a backwashing catalytic carbon filter to the system has a number of advantages: not only does the filter capture and hold the solid particles, its catalytic nature encourages the oxidation process and, in fact, adsorbs and oxidizes some of the hydrogen sulfide itself. This makes the entire system more effective.

Small amounts of sulfur can be removed from drinking water with a reverse osmosis filter or a granulated activated carbon filter, but neither method is very effective on its own. Oxidizing filters that use potassium permanganate are more effective, although this chemical is a poison that must be handled and stored carefully. Chlorine is a common oxidizing agent, but it is less effective than hydrogen peroxide, requires longer contact time, and you may need an additional filter to remove the excess chlorine from your water.

Another type of sulfur filter uses water aeration to expose the sulfur to oxygen. In this treatment method, water enters the system and is then sprayed as a fine mist into a storage tank. As the water is strayed, any volatile gasses – include hydrogen sulfide – are released. While this can be an effective method of removing many dissolved gasses, including methane, radon, and carbon dioxide, it’s not an efficient sulfur water filter and is not typically recommended.