How To Remove Smell From Well Water -4 Easy Ways For Curing Sulfur Odor In Water

If you happen to detect a stench from your drinking water, the chances are that your well water is contaminated. The most common smell people get is one that is similar to a rotten egg, which comes from the amount of sulfur in the water. 

Read this guide on how to remove smell from well water if you have the same problem!

Why Does Well Water Smell? 

When extracting drinking and bathing water from a well, detecting some kind of smell is inevitable. That’s why the majority of families like yours make use of a water filter before the stream reaches their tab. Even so, occasionally, you may still get a scent of rotten egg – that’s when you should start to take action.

Here’s why your water starts to have the stench of sulfur after a while:

1. Sulfur Bacteria

Wells that have contact directly with soft soil can be infected with coliform bacteria. The breed feasts on sulfur for sustenance, birthing sulfur bacteria, and hydrogen sulfur gas as a side product.

Most cases of sulfur water are from this particular bacterial activity.

2. Natural Decay in the Ground:

Aside from natural microorganisms, the soil itself can house decomposing parts of plants and small animals, consequently causing your water to smell like sulfur. There are also countless chemical reactions happening under where your naked eyes can’t see, whose products may infiltrate your well water.

How To Remove Smell From Well Water
Watch out for natural decay, or your water will stink!

How To Remove Smell From Well Water 

Now that you know where the smell comes from let’s work on how to deal with the whole ordeal one case at a time. We will take turns looking at hot sulfur water, cold sulfur water as well as dealing with contaminated drinking water.

1. With Hot Water Only:

If the smell only comes from the hot or boiling tab, your best guess is the reaction between the anode (positive charged) rod in the heating tank and the natural sulfate ions. Have a look in the tank, and you will be able to spot the part.

Your anode rod’s main purpose is to prevent your heater and water container from ever rusting or corrode from the constant exposure to mineral water. However, if the rod produces side-products, your water will smell. Magnesium rods tend to do this more often, so you might want to switch to using one made of aluminum instead.

Once the aluminum rod starts causing the stench to appear, you should start looking for ways to eliminate the use of rods entirely. Replacing your rods with FDA-listed corrosion inhibitors will give you the same protection for your tank.

Another option is to remove the sulfate ions from the water already in the tank. This is rather easy to do since it uses the same method to cure hard water. Install a dealkalizer, and you will rest worry-free!

2. With Cold Water:

When your cold water is the one that carries the rotten egg smell, you can pinpoint the cause of SRB – also known as Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria, as we have mentioned at the beginning of the article. The bacteria are not pathogenic, but they take in the sulfate ions from their environment and release hydrogen sulfide back into their surroundings.

Bacterial activity may cause odor.
Bacterial activity may cause odor.

After the bacteria have been in your water source for a while, the water will naturally become stinky, as hydrogen sulfide gas carries the same smell as typical sulfur. Same as before, you will find the problem most evident in the water tank, where water does not flush out quick enough for the odor to leave.

If you want to cure the water of the bacteria completely, you will need to involve professional testing as well as shock-chlorination for your well. The treatment will continue for a while if the odor returns too quickly after you’ve purged it from your water source.

3. With Both Hot And Cold Water:

When the odor does not leave, no matter how many times you release it from either cold or hot tab, the aquifer is the sole cause. From this lead, you can consult for a lot of different treatments such as carbon filtration, chlorine or hydrogen peroxide chemical feed, a Culligan Iron-Cleer or Culligan Sulfur-Cleer filter, and a Culligan Softener-Cleer Plus system. 

The difference between these methods lies in the level of hydrogen sulfide gas you have in your tank, along with other factors like contamination levels in other minerals and peak flow rate. Your daily rate of water usage will also factor into the choice of cure.

4. With Drinking Water:

With drinking water, you will have to be more careful. Aside from the tests and treatment above, you should do some additional testing, including but not limited to bacteriological, metals, and mineral tests. These tests serve to ensure whether your water will be safe enough for consumption, especially with children around.

If you are extra careful, you can also look into an E.coli test. It is part of the standard set of testing since it determines if your water qualifies for drinking. Without this test, you run the risk of causing infection and digesting difficulties in your body.

What Are The Effects of Sulfur Water?

Consuming sulfur water may seem harmless at first since the level of sulfur is quite low and diluted in the liquid. However, your body will definitely suffer from the ingestion of contaminated water, especially with your digestive system. Even if you are proud of your body’s ability to get used to minerals, you should not use the water for a long time or at a high frequency.

The effects sulfur water has on your body are dependent on the level of sulfur concentration. Here are the specific symptoms for you to notice and avoid, aside from the stench itself:

1. Low Concentration Immediate/Short Term Exposure:

If the content of sulfur is low or you only have a cup or two, your face will still react to the stench. Your eyes will water, causing your nose and throat to block. People with asthma will start to cough and go short of breath immediately at the whiff of sulfur in the air. 

2. Low Concentration Repeated/Prolonged Exposure:

If you have the water for a week straight or keep ingesting it throughout your daily life, your face will suffer from inflammation, especially with your eyes. Being in the presence of sulfur gas for long can cause headaches and fatigue, as the gas takes up space in your lungs and belly instead of oxygen and carbon dioxide. 

The irritation is most evident in older adults and young children, as they respond to head pain and insomnia more accurately. You will also notice your family losing health and contracting diarrhea more often.

3. Moderate Concentrations:

If the water you drink and bathe suffers from sulfur contamination for a longer time or with a higher degree, your entire body will complain even more. Your eyes will become visibly red and irritated, and you will catch yourself having wet coughs and shortness of breath in higher severity, even without pre-existing conditions.

You will catch yourself dizzy enough to become nauseated or even throwing up. This is where the most stubborn people usually cave in and hire professionals to have a look at their water source and plumbings.

4. High Concentration:

If the degree of sulfur in your daily water is too high, you will start to show symptoms of food poisoning, such as shock, convulsion, fainting, and coma. A high concentration of sulfur bacteria will also encourage the growth of iron bacteria, enhancing the effects on your body.

Too much high-concentrated sulfur water can cause death, so whatever you do, do not let it get to this degree of poisoning. You should also take note of your clothes if you wash them in sulfur water. There will be an unpleasant smell, of course, along with yellow stains over a few months. 

High-concentrated sulfur water will also cause your plumbing works, cookware, and other metal parts that come in contact with it to rust and clog. Before your water becomes this bad, please act quickly, or you will have to replace every tube in your home for good!


That should be the end of this guide on how to remove smell from well water for you to use in your daily life! Even when your water does not smell “that bad”, it can still do harm to your body and your home. 

Take a bit of time out of your day and eliminate the source of the smell, and you will be enjoying clean and healthy drinking water from wells for a long time!

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