What is Sulfur (Hydrogen Sulfide) in Well Water?
Sulfur Water or Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) is a colorless dissolved gas present in some well water. Sulfur when released by opening a faucet has a disagreeable "rotten egg” smell and is quite noticeable even at low concentrations of down to 0.25 ppm/mg/L. Sulphur can be poisonous to humans at high atmospheric concentrations, can also be flammable, and is corrosive to most metals (can tarnish silverware). Sulfur water is created by sulfur-reducing bacteria present in ground water supplies that uses the element for energy and produces the foul smelling gas as a byproduct. The bad smell of sulfur bearing water can come and go; it can be worse in the summer because of higher ground water temperatures and changing water levels in a well.
What is Iron in Well Water?
Iron in well water can be very troublesome by staining kitchen and bathroom fixtures, laundry, dishwashers, and other water using appliances. It will make hot water smell terrible by reacting with the anode rod in an electric water heater, giving the water a smell similar to sulfur, and iron can also eventually clog piping. The water will have a distinct irony taste even if used in coffee or tea. Clear Water Iron (ferrous) is totally clear when drawn from a faucet but soon turns brown as it reacts with the oxygen in the atmosphere. Red Water Iron (ferric) as the name implies, is red and or brown when drawn from a plumbing fixture. Bacterial Iron or Organic Iron develop over time in a well system and can create an infestation deep down and between the rock fissures causing serious clogging of pipes in the well and in the home, an oily sheen and foul taste, and sometimes a smell similar to diesel fuel. Colloidal Iron can be seen in a water sample, as can Red Water and to some degree Organic Iron, but it has a pink color and specks of iron can be seen floating, seemingly never settling out, because it has a specific gravity nearly that of water. Water from a well can contain one or more forms of iron, this of course complicates the process of finding the correct solution, but a permanent fix for this perplexing problem can be found.
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