The presence of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) in water and that in particular which comes from a well makes it have a characteristic odor of “rotten eggs,” and this is especially noticeable in hot running water. Though such waters may not have health implications, being in an environment with such smells can be quite irritating.
Such waters will discolor tea, coffee, among other beverages and change the appearance and taste of cooked food. Water that contains H2S corrodes brass, iron, copper, steel, and any exposed metal parts on appliances that use water. Corrosion on iron and steel builds up ferrous sulfide, which causes discoloration of brass and copper utensils. The corrosion is responsible for darkening of silverware as well.
Sources of Hydrogen Sulfide
There are multiple sources of hydrogen sulfide including sewage pollution. Other sources include sulfur and iron bacteria that are present in environments that are oxygen deficient. That means that wells from an appropriate environment for such bacteria to thrive and in the process, these bacteria use sulfur and iron as a source of energy and transform sulfates to produce H2S gas.
The sulfur, in this case, is from decaying plants, soil or rocks and the bacteria responsible for the production of H2S gas do well in an environment that is rich in iron. They may not be harmful organisms but are responsible for the bad taste and odor in water.
Testing your water
When experiencing well water smells, it is important to determine the source of the foul smell, and this should be the first step. If you realize that the smell is from your well, you need to carry out a mineral water analysis. Through the analysis, you will be able to check on tannin, pH, ORP, iron, sulfates, and hardness composition of the water.
The results of the analysis will help you identify the appropriate water treatment measures to take and the best system to use as well. If infants and children are set to use such water for drinking, it should be tested for metals, minerals, coliform and e-coli (fecal coliform), to ensure the water is safe for consumption.
If the source of water you are using is from a public water system and you are experiencing some foul smells, it is wise to contact a utility official. They will be in the best position to check whether the smell is coming from the piping or plumbing system of your home, or the public system.
When you decide to test the water you use at home; you need to check it when it is hot and cold by filling a bucket with the water. You can use one bucket for cold water and the other for hot water, which will help you identify if there is some odor from one bucket that is not present in the other.
If the water produces a cucumber smell or sewage, that indicates the presence of sulfur and iron bacteria. A ‘”rotten egg” odor signifies the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas, while and asphalt or the smell of oil signifies the presence of manganese in the water. It is important to test water the moment you start experiencing well water smells. If this simple test shows some signs of strange odors in your water, give Crystal-Clear Water a call, and we can come out to your house and do a more comprehensive test to determine what is wrong with your water, and how to fix it. Once a solution is found, the water will be safe both for household use and consumption as well.