Why Does My Water Smell Like Sulfur? (4 Ways to Fix It)

Why Does My Water Smell Like Sulfur? it’s annoying to turn on your tap water only to notice the smell of sulfur or a strong rotten egg smell. If you’ve been there you know the kind of nuisance this unpleasant smell causes. So, why does your water smell like sulfur?

The water smells like rotten eggs or sulfur because of the high concentration of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) in the water. Even in small amounts, Hydrogen sulfide makes the water develop a horrible taste and smell. In addition, the accumulation of hydrogen sulfide in the water heater can also trigger a strong sulfur smell every time you use the heater.

Details: Why Does My Water Smell Like Sulfur?

Besides the strong egg smell, You’ll notice corrosion on your metal plumbing system and on pipes. These may indicate accumulation of hydrogen sulfide. Have an expert look at your water distribution system to settle all doubts.

If your plumbing fixtures and silverware have black stains, you could be dealing with hydrogen sulfide gas.

You’ll also notice bacterial slime. This may be black, white, or grey paste on your water appliances. These may indicate signs of sulfur bacteria.

What Can You Do?

Test the Water

Although the sulfur smell is not indicative of any health risk or sanitary quality of your water, its goo to have the water tested. In rare circumstances, the gas can come from sewage or other source of pollution. To ensure safety, have your water tasted to clear all doubts.

You can also consult a state certified laboratory to have the water tested. Checkout this website for a list of certified drinking water laboratories.

Find the Source of the Smell

By finding out where the smell is coming from you’ll know the best treatment option to consider. Leave your house for a few hours, when you return smell the water from your cold and hot faucets. Establish which of the faucets has the sulfur or rotten egg smell.

In most cases, the water heater is likely to harbor sulfur bacteria since it creates a warm environment for them to thrive. In addition, the aluminum and magnesium rod in the water heater reacts to form hydrogen sulfide gas. When switch on the water heater, you’ll notice sulfur or rotten egg smell.

Disinfect Your Plumbing System

Use a strong chlorine solution to disinfect the plumbing system. If you have a well, it’s good to also disinfect it. Consult a well expert to do the job for you.

Install a Home Water Treatment

Depending on your budget, likes, and your location, the market has many Water treatment options for hydrogen sulfide removal. The best home water system for removing hydrogen sulfide gas are many. They include Continuous chlorination and use of Activated carbon filters.

Is Sulfur Harmful?

Well, at low levels, sulfur is not harmful. Nevertheless, ingesting excess sulfur can trigger diarrhea or a burning sensation. It can also irritate the skin and eyes. On top of that, Breathing in sulfur is linked to airway irritation and coughing.

What usually happens is that, the sulfur taste and odor are so unpleasant; as a result, most people avoid drinking it.

Beverages like tea or coffee prepared using water containing sulfur can discolor and the taste and odor of the drinks become horrible.

In addition, hydrogen sulfide gas causes black and yellow stains on bathroom or kitchen fixtures

Furthermore, excess concentrations of hydrogen sulfide can create unpleasant smell on the resin media of a water softener.

If you notice a rotten egg smell on your softened water, then it means the system has sulfate-reducing bacteria. Water softeners provide a perfect place for these bacteria to thrive. If you see a black slime inside your water softener, then you’ll know you have an infestation of these salt-loving bacteria

Is The Smell Of Sulfur Dangerous?

Although the sulfur smell is unbearable, at low levels the smell of sulfur is not dangerous. The Environmental Protection Agency has not put a regulation on the level of sulfur in water. In simpler terms, there’s no official regulation about acceptable level of sulfur in drinking water, hence, we’ve no threshold to determine between healthy and unhealthy limits.

The sulfur smell in water is actually the hydrogen sulfide gas. Hydrogen sulfide gas makes the water smell like sulfur or rotten eggs. This smell is not harmful to heath. However, At high levels, the hydrogen sulfide gas is dangerous. Therefore, it’s crucial to remove this gas from your water.

Can Sulfur Make You Sick?

Excess sulfur in drinking water can cause dehydration and diarrhea. Sulfur stinks and makes water smell and taste horrible. In addition, it damages plumbing, stains toilets, sinks, and clothing.

We’ve mentioned that the sulfur smell is as a result of high levels of hydrogen sulfide in water. Hydrogen sulfide gas can affect various body parts and systems. Long-term exposure can cause fatigue, dizziness, headaches, poor memory, and irritability. At low exposure, person is likely to experience shortness of breath, eye irritation, and a sore throat. However, these symptoms go away after a few weeks.

How Can You Reduce Your Exposure To Hydrogen Sulfide Gas?

You can reduce your exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas by ensuring timely and effective installation and maintenance of the pipes and all plumbing fixtures.

You can also identify and eliminate the source of the hydrogen sulfide gas.  Contact your local public health department or call in a licensed plumber to fix the problem.

Is It Safe To Shower In Water That Smells Like Sulfur?

You can shower in water that smells like sulfur; the only problem is that you might get the sulfur scent on your body. You can install showerhead water filters to remove the sulfur smell as well as other contaminants in your shower water.

How to Get Rid Of Sulfur Smell in Water


During the aeration process, atmospheric air reacts with hydrogen sulfide to produce sulfate.  After the water with the sulfur smell is aerated, you also notice some yellow particles those are sulfur particles. Further, by help of an expert, you can introduce compressed air into the water distribution system.

Chlorination/Chlorine Injection

Chlorine reacts with hydrogen sulfide gas to produce unscented, yellow particle. Addition of chlorine into sulfur smelling water will eliminate the hydrogen sulfide. However, yellow particles would remain behind and these can stain clothing and fixtures. Therefore, you need an aggregate filter or sand to eliminate the yellow particles.


So, Why Does My Water Smell Like Sulfur? We’ve seen that sulfur in water is not harmful to health, but its horrible smell makes the water unbearable. It’s important to have your water tasted when you notice the rotten egg scent or any smell for that matter. If you discover that the water contains hydrogen sulfide gas, introduce chlorine into your plumbing system, call an expert to do aeration, or invest in a water system for hydrogen sulfide removal.

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