Snuffing out stinky water

Rotten Egg Odor

13 Sep, 2018

Jodi Larsen

Why does my water stink?:

Water that is giving off a distinctive “rotten egg” smell is most likely contaminated with hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide does not usually pose immediate health problems at the levels that are found in domestic drinking supplies. However, it is certainly an inconvenience — especially to one’s nose.

What is it?:

Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless gas that can exist naturally in groundwater. Bacteria present in groundwater, uses sulfur as an energy source to chemically change sulfates to hydrogen sulfide. The bacteria use sulfur from decaying plants and other organic matter in oxygen-deficient environments. They can occur in deep or shallow wells and reside in plumbing systems. Yes, they live in your plumbing, pipes, hot water tank, etc.

Is it harmful?:

Hydrogen sulfide gas is flammable and poisonous at high concentrations. Usually it is not a health risk at concentrations present in household water.

Health effects vary with how long, and at what level, you are exposed. Asthmatics may be at greater risk.

  • Low concentrations – irritation of eyes, nose, throat, or respiratory system; effects can be delayed.
  • Moderate concentrations – more severe eye and respiratory effects, headache, dizziness, nausea, coughing, vomiting and difficulty breathing.
  • High concentrations – shock, convulsions, unable to breathe, coma, death; effects can be extremely rapid (within a few breaths).

Other issues are that Hydrogen sulfide is corrosive and can leach metals from plumbing systems into the water. Corrosion of metals by hydrogen sulfide forms a black precipitate that can stain laundry and bathroom fixtures, darken silverware, and discolor copper and brass utensils.

Now that you know what it is, let’s figure out how treat it:

There are various methods of treatment. They should be chosen based on the level of hydrogen sulfide, the amount of water being treated, the levels of iron and manganese, and the water pH, among other factors. Methods to reduce or remove hydrogen sulfide include activated carbon filtration, shock chlorination, manganese greensand filtration, oxidation, oxidizing filtration, ozone treatment, and water heater modification. These are all great options, but the simplest method may be the use of a Cascadian Water Integrated Cartridge Solutions (ICS). The ICS system is small, easy to install, easy to understand, and has a changeable filter cartridge. There is no drain, electricity, or special knowledge required for this method. For more information on water quality issues and treatment methods please visit our website at or call 509-674-4000

Jodi Larsen
Jodi Larsen joined the Cascadian team in 2017. Jodi is new to the water treatment industry but is eager to learn and assist our customers in any way possible. Jodi grew up on the westside of the state and graduated from Puyallup high school. She moved to the Cle Elum area in 1998 where she has worked in a variety of jobs. She has an extensive background in customer service and feels that people truly are her strong suit. She enjoys working with customers, helping to define a problem, and collectively finding the best solution. When she’s not at work Jodi is very active in our local Rotary Club where she advises our Interact club. Interact is a youth-based community service club comprised of students from 6th to 12th grade. She has taken kids on several international trips to developing countries where they focus on clean water, sustainability, and educational opportunities. She is also a long-time board member for ARRF Animal rescue, was recently elected to The Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce board and has served on our local City Council. She truly enjoys being part of the solution both professionally and personally. We are happy to have her on our team and know that you will be well cared for should you need anything.