Q:

What causes well water to smell like rotten eggs?

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Quick Answer

Sulfur present in groundwater can seep into wells and other standing bodies of water and cause a smell often described as similar to rotten eggs or to other rotting proteinmatter. Sulfur is largely benign in drinking water, except for the negative effect it can have on certain metals and the smell that it produces, which most people find offensive.

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What causes well water to smell like rotten eggs?
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Full Answer

Hydrogen sulfide gas is the form in which sulfur causes its extremely noticeable smell. It is absorbed into water and remains present in it. In sufficient concentrations, it can corrode certain pipes and other metal apparatuses meant for channeling or holding water.

Hydrogen sulfide gas is only found in foul-smelling concentrations in groundwater, as it escapes from exposed water very quickly. When it is underground, it is trapped along with the waterand unable to escape, thus it lingers and builds up until the characteristic stench of rotted eggs forms.

Chlorine bleach and iron filters, as well as simple aeration, can deal with sulfur buildups but not with many of the problems that come along with those buildups. These problems include buildup of other substances, such asmanganese, which often occur alongside sulfur buildups and can also stretch to bacterial infestations of wells and water filtration systems.

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