Today we received a question from NicholasG asking about something called… ‘a sulfur water test’.

Don’t know if you can help, but what in the world is a sulfur water test? An older couple came by to look at our house today and before they left the man asked us the last time we had a sulfur water test done. So what is a sulfur water test and why did he ask that?


Given that he asked about a ‘sulfur water test’, we will assume your home has a private well as its water supply. The term ‘sulfur water test’ usually refers to any test that detects dissolved hydrogen sulfide in water.

Iron and Hydrogen Sulfide Removal System -- Whole House
Iron & Hydrogen Sulfide Filter
Whole House

If you’ve got an iron or hydrogen sulfide problem, you may find the answers you seek in a whole house iron and hydrogen sulfide filter. Using a specially blended filtration media that includes glauconite green sand, the system effectively removes iron, manganese and hydrogen sulfide.

Why would drinking water contain hydrogen sulfide?

Pinpointing the exact source of hydrogen sulfide in water sometimes takes a bit of effort. The gas occurs naturally in groundwater and may come from microorganisms referred to as ‘sulfur bacteria’. That same type of bacteria may also exist in a well and or in the water distribution system after a well. To make matters even worse, sulfur bacteria may also live in water heaters and chemical reactions within certain types of water heaters can also result in the addition of hydrogen sulfide to water.It can be produced also by sulfur bacteria or chemical reactions inside water heaters.

Though not nearly as common, specific types of pollution may also add hydrogen sulfide to a water supply.

Sulfur bacteria and hydrogen sulfide… Dangerous?

Most times a rotten egg smell coming from water does not mean the water poses a significant health risk. But, in the absence of other contributing factors, one should always remember that in rare cases hydrogen sulfide may occur as a result of a contamination from sewage or other types of pollution — and in those cases serious and/or life-threatening health hazards may exist.

As a precautionary measure, we suggest that anyone whose water suddenly develops a rotten egg smell have their water tested for other water parameters such as coliform bacteria and nitrates, as unsafe levels of either in water make the water unsafe to drink non-potable and unfit for human consumption.

Another thing to remember about hydrogen sulfide gas, at high levels in the air it poses a danger. Therefore one should always take steps to properly vent any area where the gas may build up, such as around the well head, basements where well water enters, etc. Entering an area that has a built up hydrogen gas in the air could very well prove fatal without the right protective gear so if a you suspect a buildup, call in a professional.

Testing for hydrogen sulfide in water… Difficult?

Before you can choose a hydrogen sulfide removal systems you must first know how much you have present — or risk purchasing and installing the wrong size or type of filter!

While the majority of people will have the ability to pick up the distinct aroma (odor!) of rotten eggs in a sample of water, most people do not know that it takes only a small amount of hydrogen sulfide gas in water to make quite a huge stink. Therefore you will need a test kit for hydrogen sulfide to determine how much you have.

For drinking water applications, the Low Range Hydrogen Sulfide Test Kit will work quite well since it has a low detection level of 0.3 parts per million hydrogen sulfide and an upper detection limit of 2.0 ppm. Most people with a hydrogen sulfide problem will have a level somewhere in that range.

Testing for hydrogen sulfide in industry?

OK, since we know some people in industry have uses for water containing much greater concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, we figure they, too, may want to test hydrogen sulfide levels — and for them we suggest the WaterWorks Hydrogen Sulfide Test Kit which has a detection range of 5 ppm to 80 ppm and gives results in under a minute.

Filter Water: Hydrogen Sulfide Test
Hydrogen Sulfide Test Kit
for Drinking Water

Filter Water: Hydrogen Sulfide Test
Hydrogen Sulfide Test Kit
for Industrial Applications

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