Techniques Used To Remove Hydrogen Sulfide From Drinking Water

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There are different treatment options for eliminating hydrogen sulfide from household water. The type of treatment will vary depending on the concentration of this compound in water. If the concentration is high, a whole-house treatment will be a great option. Common treatment options are as follows.

Exchanging the hot water heater magnesium rod

If the rotten egg smell is detected from your hot water faucet only, the problem may be caused by your water heater. The magnesium corrosion control rod (anode rod) in the water can react chemically with sulfate, forming hydrogen sulfide. You can eliminate the problem by replacing your magnesium rod with one that is made from zinc or aluminum.

Shock chlorination

If your well water has a distinct rotten egg smell because of sulfur-reducing bacteria, the problem can be eliminated by shock chlorination. A single high dose of ordinary household bleach should be placed in the well and circulated within the plumbing system. You should allow for 12 to 24 hours contact time for the chlorine bleach to eliminate the sulfur-reducing bacteria and then flush the bleach out. The concentration of chlorine that is used in shock chlorination is usually 100 to 400 times higher than that used for treating water in city water. 

Granular activated carbon

If the concentration of hydrogen sulfide in your water is below 0.3 ppm, then you can reduce the unpliant taste and odor with a granular activated carbon (GAC) filter. A GAC filter may be quickly exhausted because of limited ability to effectively absorb hydrogen sulfide. This means that for concentrations higher than 0.3 ppm, activated carbon may not be efficient. Check out for the best hydrogen sulfide filter system for your home.

Catalytic carbon

Advancements in the catalytic carbon technology offer an excellent alternative to chemical-based treatments. Catalytic carbon has all the adsorptive characteristics of conventional GAC and it can also change hydrogen sulfide to elemental sulfur. Catalytic carbon systems are also used for treating much higher concentrations of hydrogen sulfide than the normal GAC filters. It maintains a consistent catalytic activity (oxidation), treating sulfur water without need of chemical additives.


Since hydrogen sulfide gas easily escaped from water causing an odor, it can be eliminated by aeration. This process involves bubbling air through the water tank and stripping or separating the hydrogen sulfide gas in the air by venting it outdoors. Aeration is effective when the concentration of hydrogen sulfide in the water is less than 2.0 ppm. Aeration on its own cannot eliminate hydrogen sulfide to undetectable levels. However, by adding a GAC filter after your aeration system, all the trace amounts of the gas will be eliminated.

According to the current drinking water standards of the Environmental Protection Agency, hydrogen sulfide is not considered as a primary or secondary contaminant. However, if the hydrogen sulfide concentration in water exceeds 0.5 parts per million (ppm), it will have an unpleasant rotten egg-like smell. This sulfur water will also corrode iron, copper, brass, and steel in the well casing, bathroom and plumbing fixtures and stain bathroom fixtures and laundry black or yellow. It will also discolor beverages and alter the taste and appearance of cooked food. With the aforementioned techniques, you can completely eliminate the rotten egg smell from your water.

If in doubt, consult water filtration experts, who can advise you on the safest choices for your family’s drinking water purification.