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Recognizable by a foul-smelling "Rotten Egg" like odor, sulfides, particularly hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a serious issue that affects millions of Americans. Although hydrogen sulfide is a poisonous gas, the levels of this type of sulfur in water are more of a nuisance than a health threat. When your water smells like sulfur, turning on the hot water for a shower or washing dishes can release a burst of foul-smelling odor. Your water may also taste bitter or like rotten eggs, making it unpleasant to drink, and it can also affect the taste of foods cooked in it.
At US Water Systems, we have been removing sulfur from water for decades, and our professional water treatment specialists are here to help you choose the perfect water treatment solution. When it comes to choosing a whole house sulfur water filter, oxidation followed by carbon filtration is a very effective option. Our best selling systems use hydrogen peroxide as an oxidizing agent, as it’s safe, effective, and has a relatively low cost.
We always recommend a water test to ensure we provide you with the best possible water treatment solution.
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.
Both of our inFusion 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. These systems also utilize backwashing catalytic carbon filters that capture and hold the solid particles, their catalytic nature promotes 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 also 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.
We also offer water aeration systems that 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 as efficient as our inFusion Systems and is not typically recommended.
As a general rule, we suggest that our customers purchase one of our water tests before buying a system. The test is sent off to an independent 3rd party laboratory for testing. This allows us to provide independent and unbiased facts to our customers regarding the underlying cause of their current water issues. More importantly, it allows us to provide different solutions to the water issues that our customers face. Even better, if you choose to go with one of our recommended systems, the water test acts as a $100 credit towards the purchase price.